If the 2020 Democratic nominee ends up just being a ziplock bag full of fire ants, I’ll go door to door campaigning for the fire ants. It’s that important that we oust Donald Trump in November and put an end to his terrorizing crime spree. But “vote blue no matter who” doesn’t mean that we have to pretend every current Democratic candidate is equally perfect, as we have to make a wise choice about who’s going to take on Trump.
Crucially, what we can’t have right now is supporters of one Democratic candidate making up phony conspiracy theories about other Democratic candidates. The incompetence of the Iowa caucus was embarrassing. But it was even more embarrassing to see so many Bernie Sanders supporters promoting a deranged conspiracy theory about Pete Buttigieg having somehow paid off a group of people to sabotage an app so that the results would be delayed. Anyone who believes that tinfoil hat nonsense is in need of immediate psychological attention.
Things have gotten even worse in New Hampshire. Yesterday, Buttigieg gave a speech at the New Hampshire State Democratic Party Dinner. Bernie Sanders fans booed him in “coordinated and loud” fashion, in an attempt at preventing him from delivering his speech. Then, Bernie fans did the same thing to Amy Klobuchar.
Every candidate has a handful of supporters who are conspiracy loons, turds, and mentally unwell people. But within the Bernie Sanders movement, these loons are consistently speaking the most loudly on his behalf – and Bernie does nothing to stop it. It’s been about twenty hours since Bernie’s goons began disrupting Democrats’ speeches in New Hampshire, and Bernie has yet to disavow it. He’s there in the state. He and his campaign are well aware of what’s going on. They’re just rolling with it. At this point it’s clear that either Bernie approves of this behavior because he thinks it helps him, or that even Bernie is afraid of how deranged his own goons are. Either way, his silence is enough to disqualify him as a candidate. If he doesn’t have the strength to take on his own most toxic and deranged supporters, he sure as hell isn’t fit to be president.
I’m not the only one who feels that way. When Larry David portrayed Bernie Sanders on Saturday Night Live last night, he made a point of calling out the “Bernie Bros” for their psychotic trolling – and he also called out Bernie for refusing to call off the dogs. Some Bernie apologists have suggested that the people booing in New Hampshire right now are merely Trump fans disguised as Bernie fans. But if that were the case, why isn’t Bernie disavowing them? For that matter, why has he so very rarely disavowed this kind of behavior from his fans going back to 2015?
New Hampshire doesn’t vote until Tuesday, and the behavior of the Bernie goons in the state is likely to grow even more egregious between now and then. We’ll see if Bernie finally ends up calling them out for it, or if he continues to endorse this divisive behavior by remaining silent about it. Either way, the rest of us have a duty to call out these kinds of antics, and to call Bernie out for refusing to shut it down. If the Bernie Bros keep getting more divisively out of control like this, and Bernie remains complicit in it, you have to figure some of Bernie’s reasonable supporters are going to decide they can no longer be a part of this. What started as a progressive movement is now dissolving into an anti-Democrat freak show.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report