Just a little while ago as of this writing, Rachel Maddow aired a one-on-one she did with Bernie Sanders earlier in the day. Toward the end of the interview, she confronted him about the behavior of some of his supporters, specifically those who protested both outside of a Hillary Clinton rally in East L.A. on Thursday and inside the rally. The constant disruptions inside the hall where Clinton was appearing forced her to cut short her comments to her own supporters, those who had come to hear her and her alone speak. When pressed about this by Maddow, Sanders stated that he doesn't agree with protesters' trying to stop Clinton from speaking by interrupting her. What he said he doesn't have a problem with, however, is protesters gathering -- even by the "thousands" -- outside of a venue where Clinton is appearing and making their voices heard.
At first blush there's nothing wrong with a statement like this, given that Sanders is right when he says that it's the right of every American to peaceable assemble and protest. But here's the thing: today, report after report from witnesses on the scene of Thursday's Clinton rally are saying that the Sanders supporters who showed up there were anything but peaceful. No, no one actually engaged in physical violence like at a Trump rally, but there are now numerous stories circulating on social media about Sanders fanatics shouting obscenities at Clinton supporters as they left the rally, grabbing campaign posters out of the hands of Clinton supporters, and hurling insults even at small children who happened to be there with their parents.
Through various accounts and actual photos and video of the scene, a picture is painted of enraged Sanders fans forming a kind of gauntlet around the rally attendees and forcing them to endure genuinely shocking verbal abuse, all for no other reason than the fact that they support Clinton and not Sanders. Read these tweets and watch these images and you'd honestly think the men, women and children being shouted down -- people from all walks of life, a couple of whom were even handicapped -- were common criminals and the Sanders supporters were angry townspeople who had gathered to shame them. But then, that's where we apparently are now with the Sanders zealots: they not only viciously attack anyone who dares to speak a kind word about Clinton online, they also arrogantly shut down her speeches and publicly, shamelessly thrash anyone who happens to be there. As one person who was at the rally wrote Friday at Medium, "They were cussing at people, calling women whores, and telling people to kill themselves. They were shouting in children's faces, blowing sirens in their ears, and making them cry."
Take a look for yourself.
Make no mistake: this situation is only going to get worse the closer we get to the Democratic National Convention. Bernie Sanders is not only vowing to turn his quixotic quest for the Democratic nomination -- which he simply cannot and will not win -- into a fight on the convention floor. What's more, while he reiterated during the Maddow interview that he would do everything in his power to ensure that Donald Trump isn't elected president, in an earlier interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, Sanders refused to say whether a Democratic presidency was more important than a Sanders presidency. He was pressed on it, but wouldn't answer. That speaks volumes about where his head seems to be.
The thing is, if Sanders doesn't either immediately at least try to call off his dogs and change the tone of his campaign with respect to attacking Clinton or just drop out altogether, Democratic unity may be impossible. If that's the case -- and considering the relentless obsessiveness with which his fanatical following approaches this crusade of his -- you can look for the convention to potentially be drowned out by chaos. Never mind that the Democrats were supposed to be the adults in this room this election cycle. Never mind that the alternative to the Democrats is Donald Trump. Sanders's acolytes will risk all of that and so much more to make their entirely moot point. And if their anger won't sway the nomination -- and it won't -- they could very well spend months exacting their revenge on Hillary Clinton, potentially even if Sanders endorses Clinton and campaigns for her.
Because that's the problem. These lunatics are very likely well beyond Bernie Sanders's control at this point.