Bernie Bros Prefer Bullying Over Bloomberg


Bernie Sanders' dedicated fanbase is nothing if not passionate, but sometimes its members can cross the line. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Lindsay Grippo, Editorial Director Emerita

The supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have a reputation for being quite enthusiastic about his cause.

In a recent tweet, Sanders posted a video in which he says the lack of passion garnered by former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg’s campaign cannot be made up for with his multi-billionaire budget, or even be enough to win the Democratic nomination, let alone the presidency.

In response, Bloomberg tweeted a video compilation presenting online harassment from various Bernie supporters, as well as clips from articles that appear to condemn such behavior. The video ends with Sanders urging everyone to “engage in a civil discourse,” regardless of their political views.

No one should face abuse over the internet. During a time of rising suicide rates and increasingly worse mental health conditions, the spewing of online vitriol, for whatever purpose, is not only divisive but also dangerous.

However, the adverse effects of such criticisms even from the most biting of Bernie bros are marginal in comparison to the systemic oppression faced by marginalized communities under this country’s many classist and racist frameworks.

Bernie supporters, in all their passionate fervor, are committed to changing the course of this nation by pushing it towards a future that finally begins to take care of society’s most vulnerable.

Part of why these individuals are so unforgiving to those who do not hold this same vision of the future is because they are fed up with the unequal distribution of our country’s resources and care. Their critiques that can sometimes border on bullying are aimed at the individuals preventing our nation from progressing past the unethical structures it was built upon.

Within the context of such radical change, radical action becomes understandable. American leftists are no longer tolerating “good enough” from the politicians that hope to represent them and are instead requiring, however militantly, that they do better.

Herds of internet-savvy young people are rallying under the unifying messages of Sanders utilizing a particular blend of passion, wit and encyclopedic meme knowledge because they truly believe he is the key to a more equitable America. And that, in contrast, most of his opposition is not.

In a recently resurfaced audio clip from 2015, Bloomberg claims the best way to reduce gun violence among minority communities in New York City is to “throw them up against the wall and frisk them.” Though Bloomberg (mayor of New York City from 2002-2013) inherited the controversial Stop-and-Frisk policy from his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, he nonetheless bolstered its impact on the city.

Over 685,000 people were subjected to targeted police stops and street interrogations during the policy’s peak in 2011, an overwhelming percentage of whom were black or Latinx individuals. However, nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to a 2019 report by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The policy was a blatantly racist tactic, one that encourages the NYPD, under the law, to specifically target black and brown bodies in an attempt to stoke fear among minority communities.

It is unsurprising, then, that voters who want better for America than institutionalized fear-mongering aimed at marginalized groups would be skeptical of a candidate with Bloomberg’s track record. For the former mayor to spin their criticisms into a spectacle of impassioned hectoring shows just how out of touch he is with the very people he is trying to win over.

In response to the audio clip resurfacing, Bloomberg has said his words “don’t reflect the way that I’ve governed, or the way that I run my company or the way that I live.” Though he has lamented on not changing the policy “faster and sooner” in an official statement, he claims “This issue and my comments about it do not reflect my commitment to criminal justice reform and racial equity.”

Many Americans Sanders included believe an important aim of the 2020 election is to defeat Donald Trump. “Vote Blue No Matter Who” is a common sentiment among liberal thinkers hoping to rid the country of the current president and the classist, racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic and ableist ideologies he stands for.

But many Bernie supporters believe that party affiliation comes second to the ideals a candidate commits to fighting for. American leftists do not want another president who will enact racist policies or pass laws that continue to disenfranchise our country’s most vulnerable.

Bernie bros are fighting for a better future, and they’re fighting in the ways they know how: with wit, consistency and purpose. Their mission includes the defeat of our current president, but it is by no means driven solely by this step.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg tweeted: “Young voters will help decide this election … If you want to beat Trump, join us.”

However, young people are realizing that Trump is a symptom of an inherently broken system, not the cause of its rupture. And what many Bernie supporters already understand is that it will require a particularly formidable candidate to begin work on a new one.

Lindsay Grippo, FCRH ’20, is an English major from Long Island, N.Y.