The Daily Beast tells the story of how Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, appeared on The View and ran into some direct questioning from co-host Meghan McCain about the so-called Bernie Bros, unsocialized white males who not so much support but worship Bernie Sanders. After peppering AOC about various questions on policy, such as how her candidate for president intends to pay for things like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, the daughter of the late Sen. John McCain went for the heart of the matter.
“I want to talk about the Bernie bros, The one thing that connects women on the left and women on the right, I have found at least a lot of guest co-hosts, a lot of guests that have come on over the three years I’ve been here is the abuse that we have all been subjected to by the Bernie bros.”
Ms. McCain went on to relate that “It is by far, of anything I’ve ever seen in my life, the most violent, most misogynistic, the most sexist, the most harmful, my mother has cried over doctored photos that Bernie brothers have sent me. He (Bernie) has a real problem, and I don’t think he’s doing enough to tamper it down.”
Ms. McCain concluded by asking AOC how it is she thinks that Bernie Sanders has so many misogynists, violent people.
AOC was uncharacteristically uncomfortable at the line of questioning. She responded with a kind of milquetoast answer about how we all have to contend against hate and intolerance and that anonymous online actors on social media are hard to control. The response did not sit well with Whoopi Goldberg, who suggested that Bernie needs to do more to rein in his unruly supporters.
First, it has to be observed that it must have taken quite a bit to dethrone President Donald Trump from the top of Ms. McCain’s list of people with “misogynist” tendencies. The McCain family has had a feud with the president ever since Trump opined that he preferred heroes who “don’t get captured” referring to the late senator’s time at the Hanoi Hilton. Ms. McCain had even gone so far as to endorse former Vice President Joe Biden for president as a result.
The exchange between Ms. McCain, AOC, and Goldberg illustrates a problem Bernie Sanders has that almost matches his crazy, socialist policy proposals. Women, especially those who have been on the receiving end of Bernie Bro ire, find his followers positively creepy.
Bernie Sanders’ problem with women predates the rise of the Bernie Bros. CNN reminds us that Bernie is alleged to have told Sen. Elizabeth Warren in private that a woman cannot win the presidency. Sanders has denied it. However, the story has raised doubts about his attitudes toward female empowerment.
Vox also reminds us of a 1972 essay in which a much younger Bernie Sanders wrote about a woman fantasizing about being raped by three men simultaneously. Bernie has since recanted that article as a result of a youthful indiscretion – he was about 30-years old at the time. However, the essay suggests that he was a Bernie Bro before there was Bernie Bros.
The reason that the Bernie Bros and Bernie’s indiscretions terrify Democrats is that they need suburban women who bolted to the Democrats in 2018 to pull the D lever if they hope to dethrone Donald Trump in 2020. Having a candidate whose supporters do the things that Meghan McCain described is not exactly a prescription for accomplishing this feat.
Suburban women find President Trump a little off-putting. They find his flamboyance on Twitter unpresidential. And a lot of people, pundits note, still remember the Access Hollywood tape, which ought to have ended Trump’s 2016 campaign, but somehow didn’t
The Bernie Bro narrative has even caused problems for women who support Sanders for ideological reasons. Lauren Martinchek notes on Medium:
“Together, these accusations contribute to the narrative that Sanders’ base is mostly young, white bros and that their sexist online behavior reflects poorly on not just the campaign but also Sanders himself. The added subtext is that women would be wrong to support Sanders; no self-respecting feminist should be associated with a campaign that has such an ingrained and toxic culture.”
Just like AOC, Ms. Martinchek is in denial about the bad look the Bernie Bros have given the Sanders campaign. She and AOC can pontificate all they want that the Sanders coalition includes women and Latinos. But the Bernie Bros are the face of the Bernie Sanders for President movement and unless and until they are expunged, they will be as a millstone on the senator’s hope to gain the Oval Office.