Bernie Shouldn't Run
Like any halfway decent progressive, I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary despite a fervent belief that he would not win the nomination, and if he did, he would be slaughtered in the general election. As an outsider, underdog, cult figure, Sanders had enormous appeal. As a Presidential contender he was just too goddamn old, too far to the left and too goddamn Jewish.
If Sanders had won the Democratic primary, we’d all have a wonderful opportunity to re-learn just how profoundly anti-Semitic our country is, just as Hillary Clinton’s run reminded us how sexist we are and Obama’s presidency really drove home just how central racism is to our national identity.
Alas, Sanders got farther than anyone could have imagined, but he did not get close enough to the big prize for the big guns of anti-Semitism to come firing wildly in his direction.
I would have preferred Bernie, of course, but by the time I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton, I felt okay with the compromise.
In the years since Donald Trump’s election Bernie has remained a cult figure, a progressive icon too damned pure for a corrupt and degraded political world. But he’s also emerged as a figure of camp and kitsch, the charismatically grouchy figurehead of the Bernie bros movement. “Bernie would have won!” devolved from a genuine outcry of anger against a Democratic establishment in the tank for Clinton to a glib mockery of the cult-like group-think that had made Bernie bros some of the most maligned figures in the contemporary political landscape.
During the 2016 race for the Democratic presidential nomination I thought that phenomenon of the “Bernie Bro” was either overblown or non-existent, that the stereotype of Sanders supporters as aggressive, sexist and more interested in personality than policies was a weapon used to disparage his followers.
I don’t feel that way anymore. I’ve encountered enough Bernie bros, supporters of a man I voted for and whose politics I largely share, to know that they exist and they are a toxic force in American politics and American culture.
So I was less than overjoyed when Bernie Sanders decided to run for president again despite being seventy-seven. If Sanders was too fucking old to win in 2016, he sure as fuck will be too goddamned old for 2020 and especially 2024. I’m not saying that to be ageist: I just think that the American people would prefer to vote for someone with an excellent chance of living through their term in office.
I also think that Donald Trump is too old to be president but his deal with the devil apparently protects him from dying from exceedingly natural causes. That Sanders is running for President when he would be close to eighty upon entering office speaks to enormous arrogance and ego on Sander’s part. I implore him to enjoy his time left on earth and not spend it trying to become the most powerful man in the world.
The political landscape is incredibly ugly and heated and divisive right now. The last thing we need is for Bernie to activate all the Bernie Bros by officially announcing his presidential run. It’s like he’s putting up the Bat-signal to alert his followers to switch into campaign mode and begin angrily debating supporters of other Democratic nominees, particularly women.
I worry that the presence of big dogs like Sanders in the race will give his cultists all the reason they need to attack supporters of the many female candidates in the race with the same dogged, personal, nasty intensity they did Hillary Clinton and her followers. I’m worried that we’ll waste our time fighting each other in pointless internet dog-fights instead of focussing on defeating Trump.
I voted for Sanders in 2016. Now I just hope he finds a way to go away quietly.
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