Over the past month or two there have been a number of articles, blogs and many discussions about Bernie supporters and their behaviors online. They viciously attack Hillary Clinton and her supporters. Not her policies, but her personally. They don’t debate views or stances with her supporters, they call people names, insults and use derogatory terms.
Some of the headlines read:
Bloomberg: Clinton Campaign Warns Sanders Against ‘Bernie Bros’ Attacks
BBC: Bernie Sanders supporters get a bad reputation online
Salon: Bernie bros, stop this meme: Your dumb joke about Hillary’s music taste isn’t funny – it’s predictably sexist
Cosmopolitan: Bernie Sanders Has a #BernieBros Problem
The Guardian: I Like Bernie Sanders. His Supporters? Not so Much
Forward Progressives: Bernie Sanders is great, but some of his most vocal supporters are becoming a problem
The list continues. These articles talk about a range of supporters for Bernie from the Bernie Bro phenomenon to his other dedicated supporters online. I’ve experienced what these headlines and articles are talking about. There has been a negative rhetoric and outright attack from the Bernie supporters I haven’t seen from the democratic party ever before.
As these articles have started popping up there has been a natural backlash from Bernie’s supporters. I’ve seen everything from people protesting the validity of these articles to people saying they’ve never seen Bernie supporters being negative.
I’ve also been accused of being no better than the Bernie supporters being discussed in these articles I repost on my Facebook page or Twitter feed. Yet, I think that is mostly untrue. The problem I take with Bernie supporters is the language, tone and way they go about interacting with Hillary supporters and the debate they take when engaging online.
My problem with Bernie supporters is when they troll the internet in search of Hillary supporters and then viciously attack them calling them things like dumb, fag, ass, stupid, etc. These are things I would never do, but have seen and personally experienced. I don’t troll for people simply to attack them for the sake of attacking them. When I go on twitter it is to discuss policy. It is to discuss my disagreements with Bernie and his stances or to debate the policy views I have and how they differ from Bernie’s and his supporters.
Sometimes it can get heated, but for the most part I am pretty sure I keep it pretty clean. I have slipped a few times, but when that happens I have apologized and moved on. I will also admit I have swung unfortunately hard at Donald Trump supporters and used language I regret like “uneducated” and “redneck” when interacting with his supporters online, but that has nothing to do with Sanders and Hillary… None-the-less I feel as if I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit to that.
An example of how I differ from Bernie supporters, but get accused of being no better was last night in the following exchange:
What “Dave” is missing here is that I am not attacking anyone. I am stating an opinion on Bernie Sanders and his foreign policy view-point. I am questioning why his supporters don’t see that he doesn’t have foreign policy experience. I had used the Democratic Town Hall hashtag so my tweet would be part of the conversation so undecided voters could see that my opinion is that Sanders has no foreign policy experience outside of one Iraq vote.
What I didn’t do was use a curse word. What I didn’t do was target an individual. What didn’t do was attack someone. What I didn’t do was pull a Bernie Bro.
But let’s follow the rest of the conversation where this guy completely washed his own argument out with the bathwater by cursing, insulting and using derogatory terms that have no place in political debates and discussions.
The insults kept flying, but I refused to curse back. Do you see where I am going with this? Bernie supporters are not seeing the difference in how to exchange ideas and it’s hard to be dragged into an argument when it is made personal with attacks. It is turning both sides of the democratic primary angry, heated and thirsty for blood. I can see my anger in my own responses to this guy no matter how much I tried not to engage. You can debate policy and view points and do it civilly. You can be part of a “revolution” if that is what you believe Sanders is offering you and still be polite.
I wish I had the cool of Hend Amry when she exchanged with a Troll earlier this week in an epic trolling of an internet troll:
Another example of the negativity experienced online due to Bernie supporters is a challenge I made on Twitter earlier this week. I asked my followers and anyone on twitter that came across my tweet to say something nice about Hillary Clinton if they supported Bernie Sanders and to say something nice about Bernie Sanders if they supported Hillary Clinton.
I am not joking when I say 100% of the responses from Hillary supporters were positive comments about Bernie and 100% of comments from Bernie supporters were stabs and negative comments about Hillary. It’s simply disgusting!
I post articles “attacking” Bernie Sanders and his policies, his campaign tactics and his chance of being a successful president everyday. What I don’t do is attack people to the best of my ability. I won’t do that. I’ve put a lot of thought into whether I am just as bad as the Bernie Bros and other Bernie supporters who are on the attack (and I realize that is not all Bernie supporters), and I don’t think I am. There is a different dialogue coming from those people that needs to stop.
Our party can’t be torn apart over a primary. We all want the same if not very similar things. The hate coming from the Sanders camp is extremely upsetting and I hope he can get it under control soon. I know he has lost my faith in him. Will he lose the trust of even more democratic voters thanks to the vicious attacks of his supporters?
My prediction is yes!