I’ve been called a Bernie Bro more times than I can count, which is kind of funny because I’m a middle-aged woman.
It happens on Twitter, where I have a profile that doesn’t specify my gender; and it also happens here on Modern Liberals, where readers for some reason assume I’m a young man and criticize my “aggressive” style of writing and point of view.
All I have to do is make a positive comment about Bernie on social media, something as benign as saying that a campaign financed by small donations was revolutionary, and Dems and Republicans alike hurl “Bernie Bro!” at me like it’s some kind of mind-blowing epic mic drop; and then everyone in the thread starts verbally high-fiving each other with “STFU up, Bernie Bro!” like they’re belligerent frat boys playing a game of virtual beer pong.
If that’s not bro behavior, I don’t know what is. What makes it even funnier is that it’s mainly women who join in, engaging in the same bullying behavior they accuse so-called Bernie Bros of promoting.
If I don’t get accused of being a Bernie Bro, I’ll get a “Go away, bot!”
Calling someone a Bernie Bro or a bot (especially when it’s so easy to detect bots by looking at profiles and Tweet history) is just lazy. It’s the same thing slacking students do when confronted with the task of writing a paper on a book they have no intention of reading, saying dismissively “I didn’t like it.”
Ultimately, it comes down to stereotyping.
Republicans, you hate it when people lump you all together as racist, sexist Deplorables, right?
And Democrats, you hate it when people lump you all together as SJW, socialist snowflakes, right?
Yet Republicans and Democrats both have no problem lumping all Bernie supporters into the bro category, united, at last, in their embrace of ignorance and ad hominems.
Equally frustrating are the people who assume every Bernie supporter thinks exactly the same way. Just last week a woman on Facebook scolded me with “Why are we still talking about Bernie? He didn’t win the primary. He couldn’t have won the presidency. He’s too old to run again.”
This is a fundamental misunderstanding of what Bernie supporters believe Bernie’s campaign achieved: It’s not really about Bernie, and it never was.
It’s Our Revolution – not The Bernie Sanders Party.
Actually, there are lots of ways both Republicans and Moderate Democrats are wrong about Bernie supporters.
Sometimes, it just takes a chick to mansplain it:
1.Obviously, we’re not all Bernie Bros. The Bernie Bro stereotype has become so ubiquitous, such simplistic shorthand for “Bernie supporter,” that it’s a trope. If I ask you what a Bernie Bro looks and acts like, even if you’ve never known one in person (assuming they actually exist), you’ll be able to describe him. Even my 74-year-old Mom knows what the term signifies.
But it wasn’t just kids who voted for Bernie. Although he indisputably won the youth vote, in my state of New York, for example, he also won 47% of the 30-44 year old bracket. And New York isn’t the only state with that kind of turnout.
2. We’re not all white and we don’t only care about “white” issues. Did you know that black voters under 30 favored Bernie in the primary?
Or that Bernie secured 36% of the Latino vote in the New York State primary (with similar results in other states)? Do you have any idea how many people of color and women candidates Our Revolution is endorsing and Justice Democrats have recruited? Don’t take my word for it; see for yourself. White men, in fact, are in the vast minority of candidates.
Republicans and Moderate Dems have a lot of catching up to do.
To call Sanders a racist, or accuse him of being unable to represent minorities and women simply because he’s an old white man representing a mostly white state, diminishes everything he’s ever stood for. It’s like saying Maxine Waters doesn’t care about anyone but old black women because she’s an old black woman representing a state with a lot of black voters, and no reasonable person would say that.
The ideas that formed the basis for Bernie’s platform: raising the minimum wage, making health care affordable and available to everyone, going after Wall Street and predatory lenders, making college free or affordable — these aren’t white issues. They’re not men’s issues. They’re human issues that cut across class, gender, and race.
3. We didn’t all vote for Stein, Trump, or forgo voting altogether. Actually, a whole lot of us voted for Hillary—in fact, every Sanders supporter in my circle of friends and extended social media network, except for two. Granted, anecdotal evidence doesn’t count for much, so it sure would have been helpful if some major exit poll had actually bothered to ask the question “Were you a Bernie Sanders supporter before voting for Hillary?” because the results would have been illuminating.
But what we do know is that when Pew asked Sanders supporters who they planned on voting for in the general election, 90% chose Hillary.
Many of us were smart enough to realize that a vote for Hillary was a vote to save the country. We knew what a Trump presidency would mean. The signs were clear early on if you cared enough to pay attention, and Bernie himself encouraged us to cast our votes for Hillary and campaigned on her behalf.
You can imagine, then, how pissed off we are when we continually get accused of being responsible for Trump’s presidency even though we did the reasonable thing and voted for a candidate we never wanted in the first place.
Yes, many of us voted for her begrudgingly. Not because she wasn’t qualified, and not because she’s a woman, but because she represented politics-as-usual, even after taking a half-step to the left on the issue of affordable college tuition in an attempt to sweep up Bernie supporters.
4. We don’t all think Bernie would have beaten Trump. Although their messages regarding the working and middle class were similar (except Trump was lying and Bernie wasn’t), the simple truth is that Bernie probably wouldn’t have been able to compete against someone who had gotten so much splashy media coverage and who had a behemoth oil-powered party machine cranking behind him.
Even if Russia hadn’t tampered with the election, and even without gerrymandering, Bernie still would have been at a disadvantage because he was, essentially, a candidate without a party. Dems treated him like he was the weird new kid at school, not good enough to sit at the popular table, even though he’d been there all along.
5. We don’t all want Bernie to run in 2020. Bernie motivated young voters to become politically aware and active in greater numbers than even Barack Obama, but despite the fact that he’s the most popular politician in America, it’s not Bernie or bust. Bernie’s just the beginning of something much bigger.
Naysayers from both parties love to dismiss Progressives, saying things like “Why don’t we ever hear about them if their movement is so big?” But just because mainstream news rarely covers Progressive issues and candidates doesn’t mean they don’t exist: Our Revolution, Indivisible, Brand New Congress, and other organizations are attracting and recruiting candidates at all levels of government and their campaigns are every bit as intimidatingly tech and media-savvy as establishment Dems and Republicans are afraid of.
Sorry, but we’re not just going to slink off into the woods to whimper and lick our wounds, tightly clutching onto guns and racism, like The Tea Party did when it was beaten by Bad Ass Black Pres. No, our revolution has just begun, and it will not be televised. It will be social-media powered, diverse, and digitized.
6. We’re not all soft on gun control. But maybe, just maybe, we’re smart enough to understand that a senator from a state with a rural population full of sport hunters has to address the needs of his own constituency. I don’t know many Bernie supporters who have a gun, but that doesn’t mean they thought a vote for Bernie was the same thing as handing America over to the NRA either.
Sometimes, it’s just not black and white, but our polarized, two-party system has conditioned us to think that way. For example, you can be a Democrat, and pro-life, yet not want to take the right to have an abortion away from someone else (Right, Dems? You know, like Tim Kaine.) And you can be a Progressive, and a gun owner, but still be concerned about gun violence and the NRA’s influence on legislation. Just ask Manny.
7. We’re not all socialists; most of us are democratic socialists. There’s a huge difference between socialism and democratic socialism, and until you research the distinction, you’re going to sound as dumb as Trump every time you call a Bernie supporter a socialist (or a communist or fascist). It’s essentially the difference between The People’s Republic of China and Denmark, and if you believe citizens of those two countries have the same opportunities, rights, and privileges, reading this article is probably interrupting your daily brainwashing session with Sean Hannity.
Take a look at this list of the twenty-three cities in the world with the best quality of life based on measures like “political and social environment,” “medical and health considerations,” and “schools and education,” etc.
Notice what they have in common? Democratic socialism. This is what Bernie supporters want for America: a government that takes care of its own people, yet holds free elections and encourages capitalism. Anything less is shameful and inhumane – especially for one of the richest countries in the world.
In the end, what ties these seven myths together is that they’re disseminated by both Dems and Republicans. Both parties see Bernie as a useful scapegoat. But what Moderate Dems don’t seem to understand is that if they’d just run a candidate who isn’t in bed with the big bad wolf of business, one willing to fight for raising the minimum wage and universal healthcare, more of us would be willing to follow her down the path towards the presidency.
Until then, we’ll find our own path. And with millennials now the largest, most diverse generation and politically active in unprecedented numbers, Moderate Dems are going to need us a lot more than we need them.