Last week, I unfriended a Democrat on FB because he went on an irrational rant about Bernie, calling him “an egomaniacal old buzzard,” accusing him of being a weak thinker and a fake progressive, and saying the only thing he’s ever achieved is handing Trump the presidency. Dozens of his friends chimed in, agreeing with him.
Most of the Never Bernies on this thread, including my friend, were Baby Boomers. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised: In the 2016 presidential primary, only 1/8th of Bernie’s voters were sixty-five and older.
The thing is, I’ve always liked this guy. He’s a talented musician and writer, and an intellectually-curious person, which makes this one blind spot all the more troubling. And this wasn’t an isolated incident: It’s happened multiple times.
Here’s how it usually plays out: I make a post about Bernie; a Never Bernie (usually a Boomer) raises some bullshit objection (see the list below); I counter the objection with proof from a credible source (like the ones you see later on in this piece); and then the Never Bernie says, “It’s too early to talk about candidates. Let’s not eat our own. Anyway, we need to focus on Russia.”
It’s the old bait-and-switch, a classic Deplorable move.
Let me state for the record that I’m not in the habit of shutting people out of my life simply for espousing political views that are different from mine. I find conversations with well-informed people of all political persuasions to be productive. The operative word here, of course, is “well-informed.” When these conversations turn into propaganda shitshows, it’s peace oot.
If you aren’t willing to entertain evidence from credible sources, if you choose to remain ignorant, or if you won’t bother do any research, there’s simply no reason for us to continue to talk. One of us is living in the world of facts and the other isn’t
I refuse to deal with birthers, pro-lifers, anti-vaxxers, religious zealots, and climate change deniers, so it only makes sense that I’d refuse to deal with people who promote anti-Bernie propaganda. It’s all irrational. And I shouldn’t even have to contend with this garbage in 2019 anyway because, well, this little thing called The Enlightenment happened in the eighteenth century, even here in America, but you wouldn’t know it from the way so many people willingly hand over their power to charlatan talk-radio hosts, prosperity theologians, New Age gurus, junk science purveyors, Russian bots, and entertainment outlets masquerading as news.
Look, I’m fine with critics raising issues about things like Bernie’s voting record, his platform, or the complaints about sexual abuse made by women working on his campaign. And as much as the haters like to insist otherwise, I don’t know a single Bernie supporter who thinks Bernie’s a messiah. He started a revolution, but he never proclaimed he’s the only person who can see it through. That’s our job.
But the objections Never-Bernie Boomers raise are rarely logical or legitimate. They’re right-wing talking points proliferated by bots or half-truths promoted by corporatists who want to hold onto power. Here are the five I see most often:
Bernie’s too old. Someone please explain why it’s okay to keep Pelosi, Waters, and Feinstein in office, but Bernie’s too old to run for President. Just because we have a senile president now, and had one in the 1980s, doesn’t mean age has to be a liability. This is like saying just because Hillary didn’t win the presidency, all women should be disqualified from running.
And seriously, have you heard Bernie speak? (You really should if you plan on criticizing him in good faith.) The guy has an encyclopedic knowledge of politics, law, economics, and history; he’s energetic; and as far as I can tell, healthy. Despite this, I’ve seen plenty of liberal Boomers calling him “Crazy Bernie,” taking a page right out of Trump’s bullying playbook. Somehow, I doubt you guys would call Maxine Waters “Low IQ Maxine Waters,” so how do you explain the difference?
Bernie’s not a Democrat. This mantra conveniently ignores the fact that Bernie caucuses with the Dems and has championed Democratic values his entire career. Yet you guys keep chanting it like it’s some sort of incantation you say in front of a mirror three times to make genial Joe Biden appear and grant you your fondest wish: to have a President who will keep things exactly as they were before Trump.
Problem is, I’m not sure the rest of us are as invested in the Democratic Party as you think. Fifty years ago, in 1970, when Boomers were young voters, Dems made up 43% of voters, Republicans 27%, and Independents 28%. As of January 2019, those numbers have changed to Democrats 34%, Republicans 25%, and Independents 39%. Maybe it’s time to consider how the two-party system is going to fail your children and grandchildren after you’re gone?
Bernie’s a socialist. First of all, cut the shit: You know very well there’s a difference between socialism and democratic socialism, between Venezuela and Norway. Every time you make this disingenuous statement, you’re parroting a right-wing talking point. I listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh on my commute, and every day they make a point of summoning the specter of socialism to spook their listeners.
But we’re not living in the 1920s or 1950s anymore, and half of all millennial Democrats identify as socialists or democratic socialists. The word “socialist” doesn’t mean the same thing to them as it did to you. They didn’t live through the Second Red Scare, but they sure as hell are living through the Big Blue Corporate Buyout.
We can’t afford all this free stuff. This one has the potential to be a legitimate criticism if you didn’t always follow it up with statements like “And why should they get free college when I didn’t?” Short answer? When you were in college it cost an average of $2,378 per year, which includes tuition, room and board; and you weren’t victims of predatory lending. By 2017, it was $20,778 per year. In fact, students leave college now with an average of $37,172 of debt.
The better question is, how can we afford not to raise the minimum wage, make college free, and guarantee universal healthcare so that young adults can begin their working lives on a more level playing field and money circulates through the economy instead of going directly to Wall Street?
Besides, this “we can’t afford all this free stuff” argument is just another right-wing talking point. Do you really want to keep doing Sean Hannity’s dirty work?
It also seems kind of selfish that the generation who has already had the chance to accrue wealth, is already cashing in on Social Security and Medicare, isn’t carrying any college debt, and whose houses are paid for keeps mindlessly supporting the kinds of candidates who are doing nothing to make sure future generations can achieve that same level of success and stability.
In Bird Culture, this is considered a dick move. (Boomers, you might have to Google that. Sorry, I couldn’t find a relevant quote from Matlock.)
Bernie didn’t condemn the Bernie Bros for sabotaging Hillary and harassing her supporters. Hate to break it to you, oldsters, but Bernie Bros don’t exist. They’re the Bigfoot of the political world. The entire concept is Russian propaganda, and you swallowed it like a big gulp of Ensure.
Seriously, think of all the Bernie supporters you know, among them your grandkids. How many of them fit the Bernie Bro stereotype? Next, do a search online. Has a self-identified “Bernie Bro” ever been interviewed by a respectable news outlet? If they’re real, why haven’t we ever seen one?
The evidence is real. If you choose to ignore it, you’re no more rational than the Deplorables who believe Trump when he tells them he’s already building the wall and that Mexico will pay for it through NAFTA.
Obviously, I’m not trying to argue that all Boomers are Never Bernies. And I’m not even saying all Never-Bernie Boomers spread propaganda. But enough of them do to create a problem for millennials, who will inherit the mess we could have at least in part avoided by electing progressive presidents.
So, what do you say, Boomers? How about you guys stop automatically supporting feel-good candidates who don’t challenge your belief systems; and stop automatically trashing candidates who don’t “inspire” you because they’re not sugarcoating the truth: America is owned lock, stock, and barrel (literally, since the NRA = the GOP) by an oligarchy that is squeezing the middle class dry. Big business controls the politicians you place your faith in; and the 1% is the final arbiter of whether you succeed or fail, thrive or subsist, and live or die.
If you can’t bring yourself to do this, maybe you should step aside and let Our Revolution fix this broken country the same way we always end up fixing your damn computers: We’re gonna reboot this bitch.