So last night during the big Bernie Sanders rally-slash-NYU mixer in Washington Square Park, a surrogate for Sanders said something predictably stupid and offensive. Dr. Paul Song, a healthcare activist and Sanders warm-up act, slammed Hillary Clinton for her dismissal of “Medicare-for-all” — what Clinton actually said back in January was that people who need care now can’t wait for a plan that will never happen — and then busted out a phrase that drew cheers from many in the audience and raised eyebrows with however many adults are still left in the room this election cycle.
“I agree with Secretary Clinton that Medicare for all will never happen if we have a president who never aspires for something greater than the status quo,” Song shouted. “Medicare for all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us.” Corporate Democratic whores. A Bernie Sanders opening act said this in a comment aimed at discrediting a female candidate for President of the United States. While Sanders himself didn’t immediately condemn the remark on-site, his Twitter account this morning stated that what Song said was “inappropriate and insensitive” and further added, “There’s no room for language like that in our political discourse.”
Except that there absolutely fucking is. And that’s the problem.
True, Song quickly apologized for using the term “whore” to, as he said on Twitter, “Refer to some in congress who are beholden to corporations and not us.” He seems to deny the comment was aimed directly at Clinton, even though he’d just spent several minutes talking about her. (As our own Tommy Christopher writes at Mediaite, you have to assume he regards her as the “chief whore.”) Either way, this wasn’t your average gaffe. It wasn’t some innocent campaign trail slip of the tongue, the kind of thing that comes out of left field and deserves to be quickly forgiven because, hey, people are human. Calling those who supposedly subvert single payer healthcare in this country not simply “whores” but, much more tellingly, “Democratic whores” sits at the very foundation of what the Bernie Sanders campaign is all about and what its most frenzied supporters deeply believe.
More and more, Sanders’s official surrogates are sounding like his most rabid online acolytes, the people who attack anyone not ideologically pure, sufficiently Bern-feeling, or, God forbid, unwilling to label Clinton a corrupt, lying, criminal murderer. (The lattermost because, well, she did vote for the Iraq war, even though, actually, she didn’t specifically vote to go to war.) Proof of that comes from the fact that Song’s comment was immediately turned into a hashtag that, as of this writing, is the third most popular trending topic in the country. And if you think everyone using it is coming out against it or is merely circulating the story, well, go take a look for yourself.
In addition to the Song remark, you have Rosario Dawson, who also appeared at the Washington Square rally last night, saying just a couple of weeks ago that Clinton should be ashamed of herself and that she doesn’t have a moral leg to stand on given her e-mail scandal (the one Sanders initially said wasn’t a subject worth discussing, as it was essentially a line of attack for Republicans). Again, a direct echo of the “language” Sanders’s most fervent supporters have engaged in for months. Dawson also attempted to shame labor activist Dolores Huerta for having the temerity to support Clinton, which once again is a page right out of the Sanders Online Fanatics Playbook, as they’ve time and again targeted anyone not pro-Sanders, no matter his or her liberal bona fides.
Throw in Susan Sarandon — who, like the Bernie-or-Bust crowd wonders whether handing the country to Donald Trump to “hasten the revolution” would be preferable to a President Clinton — and Tim Robbins — who diminished and demeaned the racially and ethnically diverse states of the South that voted for Clinton in a landslide — and Sanders’s surrogates are in fact a perfect representation of the tone of his increasingly hostile and fact-resistant campaign. Paul Song’s crack about “Democratic whores” wasn’t a fluke. It was a window into the very soul of Sanders’s “political revolution,” a revolution that sounds every bit like a mirror image of the Tea Party “revolution,” only from the left — complete with inchoate rage, “hitlists” of their enemies, and a furious need to purge anyone not 100% ideologically pure.
Back to that most revealing part of Song’s comment. It wasn’t when he called his political adversaries — of which Clinton is obviously near the top of the heap — whores. It was when he singled out Democratic whores for his and the movement’s scorn. Once again, we get a clear idea what Bernie Sanders and those who support him think of the very party Sanders claims to be representing as a candidate. From the beginning, Sanders exploited the Democrats’ vast resources and voting infrastructure to help elevate his campaign above third-party oblivion, but never doubt his contempt for that party and all it represents — and what it represents to Sanders and his supporters is the dreaded establishment, the very thing they’re fighting tooth and nail. Song’s railing against the Democrats — many of whom may have lost their seats for supporting Obamacare, an advancement Sanders wants to trash — isn’t surprising, but it’s certainly selfish and misguided.
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: Bernie Sanders has nothing but loathe for the very party he’s running as a candidate for. He’s been nothing but antagonistic toward the party brass and toward its sitting President of the United States, and nothing but indifferent toward its platform and to the need to support its down-ballot candidates. Put simply, if he thought at any point that he wanted to run against the Democratic party he should’ve had the balls to run as an independent, since that’s the realty he’s staked out in Congress for years. But running as an independent might very well have made his entire candidacy an afterthought — and he was apparently cunning enough not to let that happen.
As we get closer to the New York primary — which Clinton is heavily favored to win — and beyond to the primaries in its wake, you can expect the kind of rhetoric we heard from Paul Song yesterday to be ratcheted up to near-deafening volume. It will be loud and it will be ugly — and it will come from Sanders’s official surrogates, his army of minions online, and likely from Sanders himself. As the path to victory narrows to a close, because that’s exactly what’s already happening and what’s been happening for months, this angry insanity is only going to become more offensive. But at this point, that’s what’s at the center of the whole campaign. Bernie Sanders may say there’s no room for this kind of language, but this kind of language is so much of what the Sanders “revolution” has devolved into.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.