Note: this article contains coarse language that may offend some readers.
There's something not right on part of the left, and it's not just with the so-called “Bernie Bros,” a segment of Bernie Sanders supporters who have been deepening the seismic rift among liberals that opened during the 2016 Democratic primaries.
Yes, a few of them have been making spectacles of themselves lately, but we were also recently treated to the spectacle of plain old bro Bill Maher impatiently dancing his way out of a hugely racist f*ck-up.
These “liberal” bros might pay lip service to traditional liberal values like social justice and equality, but like Maher's frequent sneering promotion of the conservative “political correctness” narrative, it doesn't take much to get them to show their true colors, which are White and Arctic Snowdrift.
That's cool, then. BTW, loved you in Django
Shortly after I retweeted Graziano's message, he locked his Twitter account. But instead of apologizing, he doubled down with the following message on his profile page:
Since Twitter is currently not letting me access my account due to targeted harassment from #TeamSlavery, I'm going private until I'm out of jail
The problem with this is that Graziano associates himself with both Bernie Sanders and The Young Turks (a condition I suspect will end shortly), which makes this behavior difficult to dismiss as part of the “Myth of the Bernie Bro,” as Sanders's supporters have dismissed it.
Their true numbers may be difficult to determine, but there have long been huge swaths of people on the left who are attracted to progressive messages about income inequality, who are also just as resentful of “identity politics” as the average Breitbart reader.
Those folks on the left who lean hard on the bigoted end of the spectrum were naturally attracted to Bernie Sanders, not just for his economy-focused messaging, but his explicit rejection of “identity politics” and more naked appeals to white voters, which date back years.
The truth is, there is no wing of the Democratic Party that doesn't have baggage, but Bernie seems to have scooped up all of the refugees from the Democrats' current embrace of core liberal values of inclusion and equality.
Unfortunately, it looks like that embrace may be weakening in the Trump era, knocked back by the tide of white supremacy that swamped the election.
As of this writing, not a single white member of the House of Representatives has tweeted about the Philando Castile verdict, and in the Senate, only Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Catile's home Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) have. Democrats may feel caught between the bases these days, but they cannot win without turning out minority and women voters, and especially minority women voters.
It's even more problematic, though, for a significant and influential bloc of liberals to be so publicly represented by people who go around calling those voters “Team Slavery,” or manufacturing an altercation with one of their most prominent figureheads.
I happen to disagree with Bernie Sanders, especially on his idea of “identity politics,” but he doesn't deserve to be associated with this kind of garbage. Bernie doesn't have it in his heart to call anyone “Team Slavery.”
But the Philando Castile verdict should be a powerful message to Bernie, and to the Democrats who are edging away from “identity politics” along with him. Police accountability is central to liberal values, and to what Bernie calls “identity politics,” and they abandon both at their peril.
Coddling resentful white voters to the exclusion of their most loyal and active voters is not just a fatal political mistake, it is a critical moral failing. Resentful white Democrats don't need to be wooed, they need to be led.
Update: After publication of this article, Sen. Bernie Sanders sent this tweet:
Additionally, Republican Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) retweeted this:
And Senator Al Franken (D-MN) tweeted about the verdict shortly after it was delivered. This post has been updated to reflect that omission.
Graziano is also back on Twitter, and has issued a statement apologizing for what he says was intended as “snark.”
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.