The Bernie Sanders campaign, very much in the autumn of its life, is starting to show the strain. The frustration of his supporters, who are certainly among the most passionate we’ve seen this election cycle, boiled over somewhat at the Nevada convention over the weekend, when Sanders fans took it upon themselves to doxx the Nevada Democratic Chairwoman, Roberta Lange. Sanders should have simply condemned the behavior, full stop. Instead, he used it as a jumping-off point to complain about his treatment by the establishment. That's selfish.
Either Sanders is being shortsighted here about damaging his party's chances in the general election, or he just doesn't care. The line between what makes a fanatical Trump supporter and what makes a Sanders one has always been thin when it comes to a few core issues — anti-establishment sentiment is one of them. Sexism, whether directed at Clinton or someone like Lange, is another. When it surfaces - and lately it seems to be surfacing all the time — Sanders, a candidate running on a platform of morality and integrity, needs to speak on it wand address it as what it is, without scapegoating or making it about what he, a man who has long avoided aligning himself with a party, suddenly feels the Democratic establishment owes him.
Look, Sanders has made it very clear that he’s in this thing right up until the end, and so I understand that it’s still too early for him to say anything that might be parsed as him throwing his weight behind Clinton; the media and his supporters would instantly translate it as him giving up. But the end of the primary race is in three weeks. If it’s too soon for him to align himself with Clinton outright (whether he really wants to or not) the time has definitely come for him to stop making comments he’ll have to distance himself from later in the summer if he wants to engender — or make it looks like he wants to engender — any kind of party unity come November.
The Sanders camp did respond to this in the way it knew it had to, with campaign manager Jeff Weaver saying the campaign condemned such threats of violence “absolutely, categorically.” Good start. But a start is all it was – instead of expanding on the point, Weaver & co. slipped into a stump speech about how this has all been very unfair to Sanders, echoing a statement the Vermont senator released Tuesday in the wake of the events in Nevada.
Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence.’ That is nonsense. Our campaign has held giant rallies all across this country, including in high-crime areas, and there have been zero reports of violence. Our campaign of course believes in non-violent change and it goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals. But, when we speak of violence, I should add here that months ago, during the Nevada campaign, shots were fired into my campaign office in Nevada and apartment housing complex my campaign staff lived in was broken into and ransacked.
If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned. I am happy to say that has been the case at state conventions in Maine, Alaska, Colorado and Hawaii where good discussions were held and democratic decisions were reached. Unfortunately, that was not the case at the Nevada convention. At that convention the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place."
He then launches into a literal list of grievances: the Chair should have allowed for a headcount and did not; the Chair's manipulation of delegates allowed Clinton to pull ahead; the Chair refused to accept petitions. Sanders has every right to lodge these complaints, but this was a horrible way of doing it. The threats against Lange deserved a statement all their own.
Did the Democratic establishment (and the media) favor Clinton from the beginning and write Sanders off before his campaign began? Absolutely, but he’d hardly be the only candidate to ever find himself in that kind of situation (see: Trump). Does that excuse Sanders from doing anything other than condemning threats of violence from his supporters in the strongest possible terms, without pivoting to a complaint about how unfairly he’s been treated (again, sounds familiar, right?) Definitely not.
Image: Dawn Foster/Bustle