A few days ago, a friend of mine, a guy who runs a popular political website, posted a minor rant as a Facebook status update. He claimed to have come to the conclusion through his various online interactions that Bernie Sanders’s more fanatical followers were irrational knee-jerks who responded to even good-faith questions about their candidate’s campaign and agenda by immediately shouting down the questioner. Now he wasn’t quite as accusatory as I’m making him sound; he simply pointed out what he’d been seeing and experiencing and commented on what a strange feature of the Sanders campaign this was — that his most fervent supporters weren’t supporters at all but were instead True Believers, witnessing for their seemingly unassailable prophet.
Do I even need to tell you what happened next? Just in case you’re not someone who talks Democratic politics online, let me fill you in: within just a few hours, the comment section below the post was packed solid with the very people this person had called attention to, exhibiting the exact same behavior he’d been so perplexed by. It was honestly a flawless representation of a larger phenomenon we’ve seen again and again this election cycle: make a statement and within minutes dozens of people show up, insulted and thoroughly lacking in self-awareness, to prove that statement completely true. Say something negative about Bernie Sanders, or something positive about Hillary Clinton, and just sit back and wait for the frenzy to begin, for the buzzwords to appear — “corporatist,” “$hillary,” “criminal,” “political revolution,” “#FeeltheBern” — and for the intransigent faithful to promise to hold their breath for a year before ever casting a vote for that scumbag Hillary Clinton. Forget logic or reason, delegate math or negative poll numbers, it’s Bernie or bust.
Maybe this is old news, given that the “Bernie Bro” thing was written about in detail months ago. But as we draw closer to Super Tuesday and it becomes more and more clear — at least according to the historically accurate predictions of polling savant Nate Silver — that Hillary Clinton may soon be sticking a fork in the race, the lunacy among Sanders’s most nihilistic acolytes is being ratcheted up to near-deafening levels. On Monday I wrote about the Bernie-or-bust crowd and the way it had responded to Clinton’s win in Nevada over the weekend — with pro-Bernie propaganda site “US Uncut” and Twitter exploding with accusations of voter fraud and promises of political hostage-taking should Clinton get the nomination instead of Sanders — and as of right now there are more than 1,300 comments on the piece and it’s been shared nearly ten-thousand times. Exactly as with my friend’s Facebook post, you simply have the temerity to write down a few words that aren’t 100% praiseful of Bernie Sanders, that merely question the efficacy of his crusade or his ability to push a radical left-wing agenda through a stubborn right-wing Congress and the ground opens up and hell swallows you whole.
In one of the very first comments on that piece, a guy promises not to stay home on election day if Sanders doesn’t win but to “burn down the house” and vote for Donald Trump. Think about that for a moment. Think about the irresponsible batshit craziness of a statement like that. And I wish I could tell you that that sentiment is an outlier, but a quick scan of the vitriolic Two Minutes Hillary Hate across not only the comments after my column but in the face of any other opinion that doesn’t show an appropriate amount of Bern-feeling and you come to realize that this kind of self-sabotaging nihilism is par for the course. It’s unimaginable that the supposedly intellectual and analytical electorate on the left would even consider the prospect of a Trump presidency — finding any rationale at all for bringing it to fruition — but these people are neither intellectual nor analytical. These people are fucking nuts. The same way that the angry minions who worship Trump and do his bigoted bidding at a mere suggestion don’t deserve a voice in the discourse — because they’re just that irresponsible and dangerous — the arrogant Sanders fanatics who swear that a Trump presidency is just the object lesson we all need if we pass on Bernie Sanders don’t deserve a voice either. At the very least, their fatalistic threats should preclude them from ever being taken seriously by anyone talking about politics.
Put it this way: If you honestly believe that a Donald Trump presidency is a more favorable outcome in November than a Hillary Clinton presidency, you are a goddamn moron. To consider those two candidates comparable — or really any Democrat comparable with any of the current Republican clown car in Congress or running for president — renders any opinion you have to offer moot. Again, there’s no need to even pretend to show you an ounce of respect or allow you equal footing in a debate about presidential politics. Tragically, you’ll get a vote in November and you’ll be able to stick out your bottom lip and throw a little pouty tantrum as you figuratively shoot yourself in the foot, but that’s between you and your god. Until that time, as long as you’re making your galactically stupid intentions public, we all get to ridicule you mercilessly. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating over and over again: the Democrats are the only thing standing between the United States and a lunatic oblivion — the living, breathing Idiocracy finally fully realized. Whoever the Democratic candidate is once the dust settles, that’s the person who gets your vote — at least if you’re a responsible, thinking individual and not a petulant child.
Granted, here in the middle of the fight for the nomination — or what appears to be the middle of the fight, anyway, given that come Super Tuesday Hillary Clinton will likely have the race sewn up — there’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth. As we move forward with a clear victor and a convention designed specifically to engender unity among the Democrats, the whines from the self-proclaimed “Berniecrats” will likely die down, especially when Sanders himself endorses Clinton should voters indeed make her the nominee. But for now, it’s both depressing and infuriating that these toxic ideologues seem to clog every social media thread with threats to actually hurt the country because of some wrong-headed crusade against one candidate and the unyielding worship of another. The irony is that Bernie Sanders is a decent and admirable person who I have to imagine wouldn’t want to see the country fall into the hands of someone who represents literally everything he’s against. He definitely deserves better than some of these mindless shrieking disciples of his.