Bernie and his Bros

Bernie and his bros can make me sick. I’m not supposed to say that. People who support Hillary are supposed to be careful so Bernie supporters won’t sit out the election or vote for a Trump or a Cruz. I don’t hear anyone say that about Hillary’s supporters . We are taken for granted because we are very focused on getting a progressive, or a liberal, or whatever title you might put on a person, into the White House. Bernie is behind and we’re reliable but we should get some respect from him. He should worry about offending us even if we will vote for him in the fall.

For me it started early. When asked about possibly being a spoiler in a historic election Bernie gave no consideration to the possibility but instead claimed he would be historic also. Yes, an older  white male in the White House, that is something we’ve never had before. These days we have statistic for everything so everyone is first somehow but first female President is different. It’s as historic as the first black President. That doesn’t mean Bernie should not compete hard, Hillary supporters don’t want or expect a coronation. Like us, she is used to competing and she knows that as a woman she is expected to be better, more qualified, than the men in the race. Compete, yes, but acknowledge the call of history, and don’t claim the same for yourself.

We are not allowed to be of offended when Bernie, his surrogates, and especially his online supporters, use the methodology  in their attacks, that is to familiar if you are a woman. We are threatened with rape or death or just subjected to really crude  remarks and that is just the way things are. Bernie preaches a revolution. We cannot have a revolution if we don’t change things. That change cannot just be about the banks or campaign finance reform. Language matters, everyone is going to slip now and then but it shouldn’t be every day. When you say a woman has made a deal with the devil it falls into the subconscious as an image of good and evil. It may not be fair that Bernie and his supporters carry this weight of change but he is running to be the next President of the United States and every word that he speaks will matter. As President he will be expected to help navigate and hopefully move us toward ending some of the  prejudices. It is the same with other communities. When Bernie says that black people are poor and live in ghettos he is furthering a stereotype.

Change needs to begin deeper than that. For a while, we need Bernie and his bros to be more aware. It’s not about Hillary. She can take it. It’s not about Claire McCaskill being told to dunk her ancient body in embalming fluid. She can take it too. They are both used to hearing awful things and being held to a higher standard. When you’ve been in the workforce at all you are used to it. Unfortunately, if  you are a girl you have felt it also. Some of the young people who are just starting out, who share mounds of debt with their fellow students, want to believe that this struggle is done. They want to think the world has changed. They want their idealism. I’m not supposed to say that also. Saying things like this might offend them but women are still discriminated against. We still earn less than a man and people still do question whether a woman can do the same jobs as a man and yes, they question whether she should be allowed to lead the country. It’s the word allowed that still gets to the pit of my stomach.

There is more to it. It’s  about the sum of the whole. It’s about history. It’s that females as a whole are experiencing the same thing. We are still judging women differently. When you challenge a woman of Hillary’s calibers experience you are doing more than making a political move. You are telling young women that even when they  get all of the qualifications, when they dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s, they will still not be good enough You tell young girl that their aspiration may not be possible. My niece wondered if it is ALLOWED for a woman to lead the country. She wanted to know how other countries would see us. Questioning the qualification of a woman like Hillary is continuing stereotypes that have existed for to long. When you question speeches based on what she earned you are demeaning her and us. A male with her level of experience is frequently paid a million or more for a speech. It’s a lot of money one way or another but let her have it. Your stump speech has become a great line that grates my nerves because I resent hearing that a woman shouldn’t earn that much.

We aren’t supposed to say any of this. We aren’t supposed to say that any of this is chauvinism or misogyny. We aren’t supposed to complain. Just like African Americans or Muslims or Asians aren’t supposed to notice that they are profiled and sometimes killed. We are supposed to sit back and say that things are better. I strongly believe that we need to be cautious first. When you say or do things that make women’s blood boil, when you make us sick to our stomachs, you might consider an apology. It matters and it sends an important message to men and women both. Hillary doesn’t care about it. She has been attacked for so many things one more, especially one that is that ridiculous, does not make a dent, but she knows what that means for all of us who have heard the same thing.

When Bernie started this race he promised a campaign that would be different. He would focus on the issues.  I thought he was really going to raise the tenor of the conversation. I expected more of him just as I expected more of John McCain in 2008. He gave us a moment of it when he stopped a woman who was calling then Senator Obama other, but then he gave in to the hate and he has only magnified it since because a black man could not have won over him, could not lead better then he. I’m afraid that as Bernie got big crowds, when he began to win, he began to have the same thoughts, how could a woman be doing better than he. He was visibly upset when she challenged his record on guns, after all he claims to have lost a race in 1980 by a few votes because of his stance on guns, and he has a d- rating from the NRA. He became more angry when she called him a one issue candidate. Whether he likes it or not those are both related to the issues but his responses really did not.

Bernie doesn’t show depth. When he interviewed with the New York Daily News he did not do well. There were a lot of “I don’t know” moments and he fell back on his stump speech talking points and was thrown when the questions went deeper. He is a hero, he is leading a revolution. We aren’t supposed to question him. When Hillary did the interview she showed a depth of knowledge that is impressive. Bernie and his bros didn’t like that. Bernie is guided by headlines and innuendo and his bros fell back on the paper being “in” for Hillary. It wasn’t fair. Their questions were confusing. If Hillary made those claims she would be pilloried. The interview was fair and Bernie failed. His stump speech is all that we hear and so he attacks Hillary the person instead of her policies. I have never heard Bernie make a point by point comparison on any of his policies versus Hillary’s. What I hear is that polls say that he beats Hillary by more points in the fall as if that means something. Instead he points to the one speech in the early 90s where she said the word super predator. He says over and over that she supported the crime bill that Bernie voted for and her husband signed. During that same time Bernie called people sociopaths. I have heard her apologize. I have heard Bill apologize. I haven’t heard Bernie apologize.

Bernie and his supporters are ardently sure that he has been fighting for just about everything he talks about for decades. I don’t question his passion or his good intentions but I do question his results and I get tired of hearing that his passion is the equal to depth of experience and accomplishment. That he somehow is better for his ardent stance and his fiery speeches. It is what women have experienced for generations. We do the hard work. We get the qualifications. We know our stuff. We put in the time. We don’t tend to claim more than we are. I’ve listened to Bernie surrogates, male and female alike, stumble when they are asked what Bernie has done. When it comes to civil rights he marched in Washington, he sat in, and he got arrested – in the 60s – I don’t hear much of what he did between then and now. I hear that is because his state was mostly white. I hear he didn’t have a platform. But he did and he could have been there for the fight. He could have done enough so that his colleague, the great John Lewis, would feel his support. Instead John Lewis was skewered into an apology for saying that he had not felt Bernie Sander’s support.

I want to see Bernie Sanders answer some hard questions that show the depth behind his fiery language. Yes, we need campaign finance reform and yes Wall Street has done damage but they aren’t what we need to fix. It’s not about free college either. It’s about the down deep discrimination and prejudice that lies within our country. It’s about men who feel that they are perfectly justified in making deeply personal attacks on a woman who does not agree with them. It’s about women hearing the same words, feeling the same pain, and not being able to say that it is wrong. We aren’t supposed to cry foul. We aren’t supposed to complain, but if we can’t call out the behavior how is it supposed to change. If you don’t know that what you say makes me sick to my stomach, makes my blood boil, because I’ve heard it all of my life how are we supposed to change. I spent my life working in a male dominated field. I know what it is like to earn less than every male around me even though I held more responsibility. I know what it was like to not get the opportunities, to see a man given a title and a salary different than mine even when I know I did more than he. I know what it’s like to have a man who harassed me apply for a job and to tell people that and still have him in the pool for consideration because he was well known in the community.

Hillary can go toe to toe with Bernie on every issue. on every qualification, but make it about that rather than about her. Bernie could acknowledge her for who she is and still compete with her. He could help elevate the conversation. If he can’t do that and win then he loses. If she can’t do that and win then she loses. He would make a lot more progress if he would step back and support the historic part of the race rather than beat in at it. People say that he failed when he didn’t go after her on the non-issue of her emails but I think that was part of why he succeeded. At that moment, he acknowledged that was a nuisance issue created by the Republicans, and he was the better man for it. I respected him. Today, I don’t. Today, I just want to turn Bernie down or turn him off. I can say his stump speech with him. It doesn’t change and if you try to dig deeper you are attacking Bernie or you aren’t listening to him or you can’t dream big.

I do dream big. I dream of a White House where the woman is in the oval office and she is bringing a fresh perspective to what our country does. I want that and I don’t want to be assaulted for saying so.





4 thoughts on “Bernie and his Bros

    1. It took me a while to find the words to answer this. Have I been physically assaulted – no but the words, the vitriol addressed to me personally and to other Hillary supporters more broadly is an assault. I get tired of the constant worry about how someone is going to respond to what I say. I’m all up for a good discussion but I don’t need to be called a whore or worse. I don’t need to hear that my thoughts and experience, or any other woman’s are less important or lesser somehow than a man’s. It needs to change. We have to change the tone of the conversation. I have a close friend who works with Mom’s Demand Action and she receives regular threats of rape, being killed aimed at herself and her children. That is the world that we live in and that is the world that I want to see changed.


      1. I absolutely agree that rape and death threats are unacceptable from anyone to anyone. I was hoping you yourself had experienced a “Bernie Bro” on this level of vitriol, as it’s a narrative I’m skeptical of..but I haven’t dug too deep and and open to the evidence for it.


      2. I’ve had some pretty nasty interactions but I try disengage before it gets to that level and I’ve been very careful of what I say. Given what I’ve seen and what I’ve experienced I don’t want to experience it on the personal level if I can avoid it.


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