Bernie Sanders

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally at the Douglas County Fairgrounds on March 3, 2016. Opinion columnist Jaleah Cullors argues that some Sanders supporters go too far in supporting their candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Opinion

Although it has been a long time coming, there are now three candidates in the running for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

We have our household names like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, and then there is Tulsi Gabbard, who unsurprisingly is not getting any attention. Bernie came out swinging during the first two Democratic primaries and it has been downhill ever since.

Bernie blames the lack of votes from younger voters for his recent defeats. However, in my opinion, it boils down to Biden’s success with black voters. The most interesting characteristic of Bernie’s campaign right now is its determination. Even after the not so great performances in the latest primaries, and almost every other former Democratic candidate backing Biden, Sanders is still trucking.

Don't get me wrong, Sanders is a great candidate.

Even after being targeted by the Democratic National Committee in the 2016 presidential election, facing anti-Semitism on the campaign trail and suffering from a heart attack in 2019, he is still dedicated to “[restoring] dignity to the White House.” His perseverance is admirable, even though it might not last him much longer.

The same can be said for his supporters, aka Bernie Bros, but in a more destructive way.

On top of the fact that some female supporters of Sanders’ campaign believe the term “bro” is exclusionary, the Bernie Bros, as a whole, have gone completely overboard with their stances. You do not have to search too far on Twitter or Instagram to see a Sanders supporter up in arms about his treatment at the hands of the Democratic Party.

I understand where they are coming from, for it seems as if every setback Sanders encounters is one they feel personally. That is what happens when you are passionate about the state of your country and truly believe your candidate is the solution to a plethora of problems.

What I do not agree with, however, is their way of achieving results or expressing their frustration. There is a thin line between being an ardent supporter and being an unruly troublemaker, a line the Sanders fan base frequently crosses. There have been numerous incidents where Bernie Bros have personally attacked and threatened reporters, supporters of different candidates or seemingly anyone else with different opinions than them.

According to a 2020 Vox article, #WarrenIsASnake started trending on Twitter and Warren’s feed was filled with snake emojis and comments about her being a backstabber. This came after Warren claimed Sanders allegedly made the misogynistic comment that a woman could not win the 2020 presidential election. 

To make matters worse, this kind of behavior originally started during Sanders’ first presidential run in 2016. A 2016 tweet by Amy Chozick, a political reporter covering Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, detailed how she would no longer answer unknown phone numbers due to her life being threatened by Bernie supporters.

The behavior of Bernie Bros is unacceptable and should be condemned. The only person able to get through to them is Sanders himself. In my opinion, Sanders has not done enough to rein in his supporters. A few statements here and there from his campaign criticizing Bernie Bros’ behavior is obviously not solving the problem and honestly seems like a slap on the wrist. 

Prominent figures within the Democratic Party agree. In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Warren described the nastiness she faced at the hands of Bernie Bros and how damaging their behavior is to his campaign. Considering Bernie Bros’ actions have gotten worse over time, I doubt that all of a sudden they will choose to act with more civility. 

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that electoral politics has gotten ugly and it will definitely not be the last.

Jaleah Cullors is a sophomore from Overland Park studying political science and global and international studies.