But this isn’t a story about Hitler.
No, today we’re going to be talking about something I’ve talked about before, since it appears to be relevant once again.
So let’s talk about Berniebros.
Admittedly, we might as well be talking about unicorns, since they’re about as real as the dreaded Bernie Bro. There are, of course, a plethora of cloven-hooved, horned mammals out there, though perhaps not with pelts of shimmering white and a propensity for virgins, but unicorns aren’t real.
Neither is the Berniebro.
He’s a manufactured identity, a blatantly pejorative (to progressive eyes, at least) label applied to any Sanders supporter that they don’t care for, because the Clinton campaign is nothing if not media-savvy and has full understanding of what I said last October: If you want to vilify something and you can’t attack it on its own merits, attack its supporters.
And Bernie Sanders is functionally beyond reproach, from a progressive standpoint. Personally I think he’s a bit naive, idealistic, and with a limited understanding of economics, and even on issues where we agree on a given course of action, the rationale behind it is radically different.
But I digress.
Attacking Sanders on the issues is, for the Clinton campaign, like tugging on Superman’s cape, or quite possibly spitting into the wind. Nothing good will come of it, since when it comes to liberal policy cred, Sanders has Hillary so thoroughly beaten that the mercy killing rule should come into immediate effect.
So what to do?
Well, if you’re courting support among the left, the easiest tactic is to find the vilest supporters of Sanders that you can dredge up from the slime pits of the internet and present them as the norm.
Hence, the “Berniebro”.
Y’know, Hitler was a vegetarian.
Glenn Greenwald recently wrote a far longer and better researched piece on the exact same topic than the one you’re reading right now, incidentally. Which is probably why he gets paid a pretty fair sum of money to write, and I do not. But hey, I basically made this same point a year and half ago, so at least for once I’m ahead of the curve in theory, even if I’m behind it in writing on this particular phenomenon.
It’s not to say that there aren’t more than a few vocal assholes who support Bernie Sanders. The fact of the matter is that when you get enough people into a single group, particularly one with no admission standards, that is going to happen. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes, and considerably harder to evade than either.
But when you look at the Berniebro, consider what he’s being framed as, beyond his support for Sanders. The picture painted is almost invariably of an affluent white male, the same sort of fellow that might rush for a fraternity, the “bro” who lurks upon his shadowy throne at the very pinnacle of privilege.
And in progressive eyes, there are few things more horrible than being privileged. Never mind that Bernie Sanders probably has a much keener appreciation of the issues than a woman who was born into wealth and has never faced hardship; he’s a white male, therefore privileged, therefore of inferior understanding.
So too is the mythical Berniebro; an out-of-touch white male, a misogynist no doubt, filled with vitriolic hatred at the very notion of a female president and in no way motivated by a profound distaste for Clinton’s history or policies or a sincere belief in Sanders rhetoric and ideals. No, the Berniebro just hates women and wants to keep politics safe for bros everywhere.
But the Berniebro doesn’t exist. He’s an illusion, a phantom, a trick of the light, the flashy right hand while the subtle left picks your pocket, and more than anything else, a sign of desperation.
Because Hitler was a vegetarian. Therefore, vegetarians are evil genocidal maniacs, because just look at Hitler. Look at how evil and genocidal and maniacal he is!
You don’t wanna be like Hitler, do you?
Yeah, that’s what the Berniebro is about. It’s not about Bernie Sanders, it’s not even about his actual supporters, who are a fairly broad coalition, admittedly trending younger than Clinton supporters, but not some monolithic block, instead a fairly varied mosaic, and the caricature of the Berniebro is an attempt to shatter that mosaic, to drive out those who might not want to be associated with such a horrible fiend, and don’t worry, come to the Clinton campaign, and we’ll protect you from the awful Berniebros and their bro-ness.
I’m sorry, I may have just thrown up a little in my mouth.
The Berniebro is being manufactured if not by the Clinton campaign, then for the Clinton campaign, and the fact that he exists at all should tell you basically everything you need to know about the situation:
Clinton ran up and tugged the mask off the old Lone Ranger and holy shit it was Bernie Sanders the whole time.
So avoid the issues. Don’t try to match credibility. Trade on the progressive weakness for oppressed minorities, their distaste for privileged majorities, spin the situation as best you can, and create a bogeyman to taint Sanders by association, since doing so directly is tantamount to suicide. Hell, be “magnanimous”, and just call on Sanders to control his Bros rather than decrying him for their existence; put him on the spot in progressive eyes, force him to run around putting out a thousand brushfires while you sneak off with the prize.
It’s a desperate tactic from a campaign that is finally waking up to the fact that its victory is not assured, despite its extensive list of allies in the media, ties to business, and influential spokespeople. That perhaps we will not follow the first black president with the first female president and that maybe, just maybe, the Democratic Party voters will actually pay attention to what their candidate stands for rather than what they piss with.