“Not me. Us.”
The motto for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign is a message of unity. Yet hardcore supporters of the Vermont senator project a different image — one of confrontation that includes surrounding people with whom they disagree and screaming at them.
That was the case on Monday night in Springfield, Illinois, when a group of Sanders supporters surrounded Democratic congressional candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan as she left a campaign event.
Londrigan is running in the Democratic primary for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. According to Illinois Capital News, the demand of the protestors was for her to debate one of her primary opponents — Stefanie Smith.
Smith, like Sanders, is a democratic socialist.
There is clearly a lot of division in the Democratic Party regarding the core issues of Sanders’ campaign.
What sets the so-called Bernie Bros apart is how willing they are to go after other Democrats on these topics.
The complaint in most cases, as with Londrigan, is that the Democrat in question is not radical enough.
In a video of the incident Monday, one question being yelled at Londrigan was whether she would support “Medicare for All.”
Not everyone in the Democratic Party shares the extremist views of the current front-runner for the party’s nomination. There are plenty who want the party to maintain a more traditional stance that does not include demolishing all major American institutions. There are some notable figures who even think it possible both to be a Democrat and to think America is a decent place.
But the candidates who attract the support of the Bernie Bros seem to have no objection to their views or their tactics.
Smith praised the aggressive actions of the group in a video she posted on Facebook, calling it a “nonviolent protest.”
“I can’t tell you how much it meant to me when I watched the video of what happened,” she said.
The incident might not have devolved into actual violence, but it seems clear it was designed to intimidate. As the protesters surrounded Londrigan’s vehicle, they shouted to each other, “Block her in! Block her in!”
Another defining factor of the Bernie Bros is how nothing seems to appease them. Smith referred to the actions of the protesters as people “demanding a conversation.”
In fact, Londrigan had been open to having conversations with Smith and addressing the issues of concern for her supporters. Her campaign said she had been open to debating Smith or any other candidate. Before the event in Illinois, Londrigan had attended a candidate forum and indicated she would be supportive of Smith if she prevailed in the primary and became the party’s nominee.
For the democratic socialists, these attempts at unity are not enough. They want a full-scale revolution or nothing. Attempts at peace-making from moderate Democrats do not seem to resonate.
Sanders distanced himself from the toxic Bernie Bros in a debate Wednesday. When asked about his aggressive supporters, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination said, “I disown those people. They are not part of our movement.”
There is evidence that people with this mentality are very much a part of the Bernie Sanders movement. In a video released by Project Veritas, a Sanders campaign organizer indicated that cities will blow up if President Donald Trump is re-elected.
He went on to say that if Sanders is denied the nomination at the Democratic convention in Milwaukee, the host city “will burn” and descend into such a state of chaos that the National Guard will have to intervene.
Others in the Democratic Party seem to be as oblivious to the toxicity of the Bernie Bros as they are to the flaws of the candidate himself. Conservatives, however, have long been aware of the threats posed by both.
As the party establishment gets nervous at the thought of Sanders winning the nomination, some are pointing out the complicity of the media in promoting him thus far and covering up problematic statements he has made throughout his career.
In a tweet Monday, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro pointed out that the front-runner’s revolutionary statements are nothing new.
Who buried those words? And why haven’t the media hammered him on, you know, his words of support for EVERY COMMUNIST REGIME OF THE LAST HALF-CENTURY https://t.co/LCnqNxtMCE
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 24, 2020
As Sanders gains momentum, the Democratic establishment is waking up not only to his record of radical remarks but also to his inability to withstand criticism or tolerate dissent.
In an instance that demonstrated the stark difference between his views and those of the electorate at large, Sanders lashed out at the audience in a debate after they booed him for praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
In the movement of the Bernie Bros, there is no room for compromise and no gray area. You are either part of the social revolution or you are against it.
It is “Not Me. Us.” — but only for those who agree.
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