My Life with the Bernie Sanders Cult
While Bernie Sanders’ campaign was doomed by demographics, the awakening he’s ignited among young Whites is not going away. My experiences at a Bernie Sanders dance party/fundraiser in Brooklyn opened me up to the fanaticism of his supporters.
This is the way the Bernie Sanders campaign ends: not with a bang, but a whine. All the desperate donations from unemployed Millennials and riots at Trump rallies have resulted in Lizard Queen Hillary ascending to the throne, albeit only after a protracted struggle. Try as he might, Sanders couldn’t contend with the fact that his party’s base is now primarily non-White, and his dried-out, Depends-sporting countenance has zero appeal to the dusky hordes who – Obama willing! – comprise America’s future.
That won’t stop him from trying, though. As of this writing, the presidential primaries have ended, with Clinton scraping past the finish line thanks to the support of party apparatchiks (formally referred to as “superdelegates”). However, Sanders has indicated that he’ll be fighting all the way to the Democratic convention in July, and last month, he decided to burn his bridges by endorsing DNC Chairyenta Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s opponent in the Democratic House primary.
More importantly, Sanders’ fanbase of overeducated, underemployed kids are not going gently into that good night. The mandarins running the Democratic Party assume that this year is a re-run of 2008, when Barack Obama came out of nowhere to schlong Hillary into submission. Thing is, the Obama vs. Hillary match-up was just a political version of Hulk Hogan vs. the Ultimate Warrior, only with cheesier dialogue. Both candidates relied on Wall Street and corporate donors and were thus beholden to them, making it easy for them to kiss and make up when the primaries ended.
His personal spinelessness notwithstanding, Bernie Sanders is no corporate muppet. By relying exclusively on individual donors and eschewing Super PACs, he’s ensured that he will never have to kowtow to the banksters. His supporters know this, and they also know that Hillary is a rented mule whose G-string is overflowing with Wall Street cash. They are not going to back her out of some whiny call for “party unity.”
I saw this two months ago, when I spent three days in New York City covering the Empire State’s primary. The highlight was going to “#BerninUpNYC,” a hybrid dance party/Sanders fundraiser in Brooklyn, ground zero of the hipsterpocalypse. Yes, these things actually exist. I attended with friend and fellow writer Goldmund, and it convinced me that short of massive foul play or an incomprehensible screw-up, Trump will demolish Hillary in November. The foot soldiers she needs to win – the much-maligned “Bernie Bros” – aren’t interested in playing her games.
#BerninUpNYC was held at Lot 45 in Bushwick, the feeble heart of the Great Midwestern Trust Fund Migration. Formerly an Irish and Italian ethnic enclave-turned-Latin ghetto, Bushwick now teems with emaciated Wisconsinites, who’ve converted its abandoned factories and row houses into artisanal coffee shops and overpriced brewpubs.
Goldmund and I showed up a half-hour after the doors opened, and there was already a line down the block. Hilariously, there was also a detachment of NYPD officers on the scene, presumably afraid that a couple of beardos might have too many peach daiquiris and start slapping each other. We got in the door relatively quickly, after spending a few minutes mocking the self-styled “Berners” around us.
The party was separated into two rooms. In the foyer, Sanders campaign volunteers had set up tables to beg people to donate and/or volunteer, while off in the corner, the Working Families Party (a New York-based Leftist third party that had endorsed Sanders) was hocking “Fuck it, I Guess I’m a Democratic Socialist” T-shirts. The main room featured the dance floor and a DJ, while behind him, a projector screen featured a rolling video of Bernie Sanders memes. As Goldmund put it, “This is the first presidential election fought with memes!”
A few minutes later, the music stopped long enough for a few guest speakers to enter stage right and pep up the crowd. In a surprise move, actor Tim Robbins made an appearance; he was slated to speak at Sanders’ rally in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park the next day. Another fat, pierced volunteer declared that she wasn’t going to “vote with [her] vagina”:
Goldmund then bought me a special “Bernie-themed cocktail” from the bar, a concoction made from Skyy vodka and pineapple juice, all the better to make the girls puke their guts out in the toilet. Drinking it, I could feel my testosterone levels dropping.
After the music started back up and the hipsters resumed their awkward air-grinding – actually rubbing their bits together is too patriarchal and heteronormative, I guess – Goldmund and I headed out to get some interviews. He’d brought his camera along and we were hoping to talk to some girls and get some honest answers on why they were feeling the Bern.
After a few minutes, Goldmund sniffed out a target: a chunky hormone therapy experiment with translucent skin and Sailor Jerry tattoos. I asked her my first question: “Why are you supporting Bernie Sanders?”
“Well, I’m just really into the democratic revolution he’s inspiring,” said the hipsterette, her vocal fry stinging my eardrums.
“Well, is there a specific issue you care about?” I inquired. “Healthcare, education, climate change or something?”
“I just really like everything Bernie’s doing. He’s reaaalllyyy inspiring.”
“Okay, next question: what do you think of Donald Trump?”
“I think he’s a piece of shit!” she slurred, her head bobbing back and forth in a fashion reminiscent of convalescent home patients.
“Mmmm hmmm,” I nodded. “Okay, last question: Bernie Sanders loses the primary and it’s Trump vs. Hillary. Who will you vote for?”
“Ummmmmm…” I could practically see the gears in her head slowly begin rotating, trying to formulate an answer that wouldn’t get her banned from all the cool hipster parties.
“Errrrrr, I think I’d vote for Hillary, because Donald Trump is a piece of shit,” she slurred, a full ten seconds after I asked the question.
“Okay, why is Donald Trump a piece of shit?” Goldmund snapped, getting irritated. “Is it his personality? His politics?”
“Well, I’ve just never voted for a Republican in my life and I’m not going to start now,” she spat.
We thanked her for her time and walked off. Goldmund didn’t bother posting the video footage online for obvious reasons.
Around this time, we tapped out: Goldmund had been taking swigs from a flask that was poisoned, sending him from buzzed to blackout in the span of two hours, and I was winded from several straight days of driving, working, and substance abuse. On the way out, we mugged for pics with a Bernie Sanders muppet that admonished us to “remember to vote on April 19th!” We took a cab home and called it a night.
While I attended two more major Sanders events that week – a rally in Manhattan’s Washington Square Park the next day, and a debate watch party in Bushwick that promised a Donald Trump piñata and didn’t deliver – the sentiment at each was the same. Hell, just prior to the Indiana primary a few weeks later, I attended a Sanders rally in South Bend where a vendor was hocking “Hillary is Bush” buttons, featuring Dubya’s face photoshopped over Hillary’s.
The Bernouts, as dumb and silly as they may be, have had it with the corporate-owned leadership of the Democrats. Sanders’ unwillingness to play ball with the Democratic leadership is just him responding to the demands of his base. While he lacked the numbers to topple Clinton in the vote – exit polls from New York showed them splitting Whites 50/50, with Hillary’s victory due to landslide margins among Blacks and Latinos – his supporters want nothing to do with the Democratic Party as is.
I predict that the conflict between Hillary and Sanders will result in mass riots at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next month, making the DNC in 1968 Chicago look like a day at the beach. I also predict that the Democrats’ action will lead to Sanders’ supporters either staying home on election day or voting for Donald Trump. Trump is already polling unusually well in ordinarily Democratic states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, as union workers flock to his protectionist platform.
On the day of the California primary two weeks ago, there was a trending hashtag called “#ThankYouBernie.” Well, I’d like to say #ThankYouBernie… for helping make Donald Trump the next President of the United States.