White. Upper-middle class. Male. College educated.
These are the characteristics that define BernieBros: the fanatical supporters of Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
They are often volatile, and lash out at anyone who publicly criticizes Sanders. They swarm comment sections, Twitter feeds, and chat rooms, sniffing out dissent and striking, as if with a single hive mind. These zealots attack with impunity, hurling personal attacks against bloggers and journalists.
Other politicians have their groupies, but none are as toxic as BernieBros. The term was coined by Robinson Meyer, in an article for The Atlantic. He paints a highly satirized, but extremely accurate, picture:
“The Berniebro is someone you may only have encountered if you’re somewhat similar to him: white; well-educated; middle-class…and aware of NPR podcasts and jangly bearded bands…The Berniebro asserts that this country needs highly principled, pie-in-the-sky progressive policies, regardless of how likely they are to become legislation….The Berniebro had an equal chance, four years ago, of being (a) an Occupybro or (b) the kind of bro who asked…what Occupy’s concrete policy proposals were…The Berniebro always writes with an urgent, anxious seriousness when discussing national politics.”
They don’t seem to believe in anything concrete, just some abstract ideal of progress for the sake of progress.
Not all of Sanders’ supporters are Bros. In fact, most aren’t. But the Bros are the ones yelling the loudest. The ones who believe they have all the answers. The ones who refuse to see any other candidate as a legitimate contender. The ones with tunnel vision so bad it’s a miracle they see anything else at all.
At this point, they’ve basically become caricatures of themselves and I don’t know how anyone takes them seriously.
Bernie Bros are predominantly white and male, so their attacks are unsurprisingly laced with sexism or racism. However, they are too caught up in being performative SJWs that they don’t realize how much their rhetoric hurts the very people they claim to want to help. They’ll preach about feminism until they’re blue in the face, while ignoring the women who came forward about sexual harassment while working for Sanders’ 2016 campaign. But being a supporter of a progressive candidate doesn’t absolve you from actually putting in the work to make those ideals become a reality.
Day 2 of Bernie 2020: explain that you agree with many of his policies but are disappointed in his failure to meaningfully engage people different from himself…then get a HUGE private message from a man who berates you for calling Bernie a racist, WHICH YOU NEVER SAID.
— Heidi McDonald for Hire (@Death_Bow) February 20, 2019
Bros continue to demand fealty to Sanders, assuming him to be the only true progressive candidate.
When the Working Families Party chose to endorse Warren, and not Sander, they “received hundreds of furious messages, including several using racial slurs against black staffers and at least one celebrating a junior employee’s rape.” When staffers tweeted about the harassment, they were accused of lying. This kind of behavior is unacceptable. Period.
While Sanders has done a lot to help pull the Democratic party back towards the political left from which it has strayed, his ideas are no longer novel. Every candidate is promising to raise the minimum wage and make healthcare more accessible.
This extreme loyalty to a candidate, rather than larger ideals and goals, is dangerous. It prevents supporters from seeing other candidates, with similar ideas and track records to prove it, as real possibilities, and giving them the backing they deserve. At this point, Sanders could promise the most absurd things to his base (like promising to release information on aliens and UFOs) and the Bros would defend it until their dying breath.
— Matthew Embrey (@embrey_matthew) September 24, 2019
So why are Bernie Bros still so adamant that he is the only one for the job?
I think there are two reasons:
- The familiar is comfortable. They already know everything there is to know about Sanders and his policies. It’s easier to continue supporting the same candidate over and over again than to switch gears and get on board with an entirely new person.
- Ego. Imagine, after having gone on tirade after tirade, declaiming Sanders to be the only one for the job, and then having to admit that, maybe, you were wrong. Imagine all the apologies a BernieBro would have to make if he admits his blind faith was misplaced.
Sanders has condemned the bullying done in his name, but has done little to stop the harassment from taking place. And, really, why would he want them to stop? The Bros carryout a tremendous amount of unpaid labor for the campaign. Sharing posts on Facebook and engaging others in dialogue. It’s every candidate’s dream to have such grassroots activism.
But in the heat of online debate they sometimes cross the line from supporter to fanatic.
So, the Bernie Bro, with his mob mentality and un-groomed beard, will continue to prowl the internet in search of even the slightest whiff of anything anti-Bernie.