I’m never surprised by the vile filth spewed by the pro-Israel far right: sometimes here in the comment threads, but more often on social media platforms.
On the other hand, I react with skepticism to similar criticism of the supposed vitriol spewed by so-called Bernie Bros online. It’s always seemed to me to be manufactured, feigned outrage seeking justification. But today, after Pete Buttigieg “suspended” his candidacy, even I noticed some outrageous abuse heaped on him by those calling themselves “socialists” and #bernie2020 activists.
Look, we’re all delighted that Mayor Pete dropped out of the race. We all hated his politics. But what I don’t understand is the level of hatred directed at him now that he’s gone. I read a tweet by a self-described “socialist” calling him a “rat-faced fuck.” She even boasted she hadn’t voted for a Democrat “since 2008” as a badge of honor. I read a tweet saying he was “dickless.” Actually, the tweet was much more graphic and I’ll spare you the details. That’s probably only the half of it. I couldn’t bear doing further research to find worse examples. I purposely did not offer screenshots of any of this because it’s just too depressing to replicate.
Yesterday, a woman tweeted that a Bernie supporter on Twitter wished that she and her daughter would be raped. At the time, I thought this was either invented or the product of GOP or Russian dirty tricksters impersonating Bernie Bros. Though I still find such a claim hard to stomach, I have to admit it becomes a little more believable after my own experience.
When I responded on Twitter that this was cruel and self-destructive, I got a torrent of personal abuse directed at me which was profoundly ageist. Keep in mind that I’ve been a proud leftist for over 50 years. Further, I come out of a Jewish tradition that respects elders for their wisdom, and doesn’t attempt to discredit them due to age. Not to mention that Bernie himself is almost half a generation older than I.
I raise this to say that we all want to win this thing. And we have a chance. The best chance for a genuine left candidate in more than a generation, perhaps even 100 years. But as leftists we must believe that all human beings deserve a minimal amount of respect. I’m not saying we have to love Pete or shed fake tears over his demise. But if we want to win, we shouldn’t do so on the corpses of our opponents. This shouldn’t be hand to hand combat in the trenches, taking no prisoners. Those “prisoners” are the very ones Bernie wants to govern after he wins. How will he be able to if we do this to our opponents? Can’t we be gracious and decent?
And yes, there are probably a thousand deceitful things Pete did or said that raised our ire. But he’s gone. So why dance on his grave? It breaks my heart to read such rage from the left. It does a disservice to Bernie and the cause we dream of.
I think that Sanders and Warren both make a big mistake when they attempt to tear each other down. Though he has not directly attacked her, he did just hold a major rally on Boston Common in her own backyard. Some may view that simply as Bernie being competitive and others may view it as a warning shot across her bow. Warren, for her part, has attacked Sanders. That’s unfortunate, because I don’t see them as cannibalizing each other’s constituencies. I see them as complementing each other. She is certainly not as radical as he is, and some of her proposals fall short of the sweeping change embodied in his. But if you support Bernie and want him to win, the energy and voters she represents will be critical to winning the nomination and the general election. She will likely withdraw from the race in due time. It is important that she be allowed to run her race and end it with the dignity she deserves.
The MSM, eager to fuel the Stop Bernie juggernaut has tentatively described both the South Carolina primary and Buttigieg’s withdrawal as a Democratic firebreak against his steamrolling to the convention. There is an element of hope you can almost hear on the page or screen as you read these articles. 538 has downgraded Bernie’s chances of entering the convention with a delegate plurality, which would make it more likely the superdelegates could steal it from him in the second round.
It is true the end of Buttigieg’s campaign does offer hope to Biden. After all, they are both centrists with only their respective ages separating them. By rights, BIden should expect many of Mayor Pete’s voters to flock to him. But that’s not necessarily what will happen. Pete’s voters were largely young people hoping for a moderate voice of their generation. Biden is certainly not that. Then there’s Amy Klobuchar, who is much closer to Buttigieg in age, with not dissimilar politics. Though she’s polling poorly, she could pick up a decent percentage of his voters.
We will have to see how polls in Super Tuesday states shake out after this major change in the race. But my guess is that while it will make Biden more competitive, it’s too late to stop the Bernienaught. If, by some chance. he fails to win on the first ballot and the superdelegates steal the nomination from him, then all that vitriol will not only appear more justified to me, but it will be 1,000 times worse. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen for the sake of the Party and the nation. A nomination won in this fashion would not be worth winning. And the victor would limp into the general election with a disastrously divided Party.