A small and intimidating group of self-described Bernie supporters are a stark reminder of the core reason Donald Trump has to go. Democracy and Bullying don’t mix.
Most of the time, authoritarianism is about leveraging and abusing power against the populace for a tyrant’s personal gain. Trump did it with the Ukraine. He did it again last Friday during his meeting with New York governor Andrew Cuomo and he did it again with the wedding present he gave Stephen Miller.
Stephen Miller got married this weekend and Donald Trump gave him door-to door-searches in sanctuary cities as a wedding present.
One of the key traits that distinguishes us from banana republics is the idea of voters freely choosing whom they want to represent them at all levels of government, including the presidency. When a faction of a candidate’s supporters starts threatening people, they are as much a threat to our democracy as anything Donald Trump has done.
This came during a week when all the prosecutors on the Stone case quit because they didn’t want to be a part of destroying the rule of law. One of them quit the Federal government, making it clear he didn’t even want to watch it in silence.
The rule of law means the law is applied equally to all people, regardless of whether they are the president, a recent immigrant, someone popular or someone who is an awful person. There is an elegant parallel between standing up for the rule of law and standing against voter intimidation. Both recognize the inherent equality and worth of all humans regardless of their station, ethnicity, religion or even their character.
That is jarring. But for all the disturbing things that happened last week, the most disturbing was the story of the Culinary Workers Union leaders who were attacked by self-identified Sanders supporters.
The original reporting came from The Nevada Independent
There is one paragraph that is particularly disturbing.
Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline, for instance, has come under attack for her Nicaraguan heritage, and union spokeswoman Bethany Khan was accused of being paid off by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Democratic establishment types. In tweets, the union and its leadership have been referred to as “bitches,” “whore,” “fucking scab” and “evil, entitled assholes.”
We do not do this in America. We do not do this even if the political opponent is the worst person known to humanity, which Donald Trump is, but I digress.
This approach does not reflect well on Bernie Sanders or on the majority of his supporters who understand that bullying is a tactic used by authoritarian tyrants.
We can have all the constitutional fixes that will provide stronger remedies against abuses of power that Trump turned into an art form. We can have Medicare for all. We can assure that everyone has the financial ability to meet their needs and we can do it with free and fair elections. We can have it without resorting to attacking union leaders for making choices some don’t like but which do reflect the wishes of their membership.
More than anything, democracy relies on a good-faith agreement to respect differences in opinion and thought. It’s the faith in democracy that keeps it alive.
This is not a new problem. Whether the people doing the attacking this year are genuine Bernie supporters remains to be seen. It has, however, gotten more serious since 2016, where individuals who were less than sufficiently committed to Sanders could be on the receiving end of the so called Bernie bros. They’ve moved on to threatening women of color who lead the Culinary Workers Union, hardly a group of privilege.
Even the national mainstream media is paying attention, as are some of the Democratic Party’s candidates.
For his part, Bernie Sanders questions if they are really his supporters. Sorry, but I’m old enough to remember when Trump used a similar line about David Duke and the KKK.
Beating Trump is the most important goal of this election, but it’s not the only goal. The reasons we think Trump should be defeated play a role in what the other goals should be.
If you believe in democracy, it means condemning the anti-democratic tactic of intimidating voters, especially by attacking leaders who think for the best interests of their constituents.
Belief in our democracy means condemning those tactics when used not just by supporters of an unappealing candidate, but also by supporters of someone whose policy objectives may be attractive.
It means condemning those tactics even when used for someone whose policy objectives may be attractive as much as it means condemning them when the candidate is unappealing. Ironically, condemning the Bernie bros takes as much integrity as it took those prosecutors to quit the Stone case.