…[Bernie] Sanders has always carried his white male privilege into his politics, even when discussing issues of race and class.Ijeoma Oluo, Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America
Like many other progressive white men, I was initially enamored with Bernie Sanders when he catapulted onto the scene ahead of the 2016 Democratic primaries. Unlike many other progressive white men, my infatuation did not last long. He had big ideas, yes, which he championed vociferously at every turn. I agreed with the majority of his policy platforms. But every time another candidate challenged him or asked him to explain how he would enact his grandiose visions for a newer and greater America, he simply shouted over them.
I wanted someone with a plan, a real plan with achievable goals and clearly delineated steps toward completion. I didn’t like the screaming and the fist-pumping. While that’s all well and good if you’re at a WWE wrestling match or cheering on the Minnesota Vikings, that kind of rabble-rousing has no place (or at least it shouldn’t) at a venue where the American people are deciding who they want to represent them as the leader of the free world in the nation’s highest office.
White dudes love a red-faced screamer. Irrespective of content, if you can get someone to shout it out over loudspeakers to the rest of the world, it has to be pretty great, right? The Bernie Bros wanted an iconoclast, a progressive populist. I wanted the whip-smart tactician who could face down the bullies and remain calm the entire time.
Another major problem with the Bernie Bros was that they were so in love with Bernie that they ignored the concerns of more marginalized Democratic contingents, especially Black women and other BIPOC. No candidate is or should be considered beyond scrutiny or reproach, and if you’re looking for that sort of Christ figure, you needn’t look in politics.
Before I start fielding comments, I want to say that I’m not saying every single white man who supported Bernie Sanders was a Bernie Bro or of their ilk. But there was a major race problem within that contingent of voters, and there will be when the next Bernie makes his move.
Further Reading: Bernie Sanders and the Lies We Tell White Voters by Zak Cheney-Rice (November 11th, 2018) (New York Magazine)
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