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My evening with the Bernie Bros

‘What motivates you?’ I asked one man. ‘Bitterness,’ he said, without a pause

January 16, 2020

3:10 PM

16 January 2020

3:10 PM

The stench of beer and cheap deodorant filled the bar in which the ‘Bernie Bros’ were meeting. The scene looked straight out of Fight Club except that the young men assembled there were hairier and none of them had abs.

Your humble correspondent watched as the barman prepared a cocktail that combined Jack Daniel’s and Monster Energy.

‘What’s that?’

‘Our speciality,’ he said, ‘It’s called “Hillary Clinton’s Tears”.’

‘I’ll have a Coke,’ I said. (I was driving.)

‘What are you?’ he sneered, ‘some kind of woman?

I surveyed the crowd. Most of the men were bearded. About half of them were bespectacled. They were all either obese or rail thin. Some of them were gaming. Some of them were podcasting. I heard snatches of conversation about bastions of Bernie Bro ideology like ‘Cum Town’ and ‘Red Scare’. 

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I spoke to one large young man scratching his Cheez-Wiz-splattered ‘I ️ The Philippines’ t-shirt.


‘I know Bernie Sanders talks about “universal healthcare” and “canceling college debt”,’ he said, ‘but the real reason I like him is that he is good at keeping women down.’

Another man, fiddling inside his Chapo Trap House fanny pack, nodded and smiled.

‘I don’t like Trump,’ he said, ‘but we have to recognise the real threat, which is a woman in the White House.’

The assembled Bros had gathered to exchange tips and tricks on trolling nice middle-class women who like Elizabeth Warren. Bernie Bros have re-emerged as a significant political force in this election. Young male supporters of Bernie Sanders – who occasionally hide behind female avatars with mischievous names like Elizabeth Bruening (BROnig, get it?) — they invade the replies and comment sections of rival Democrats with such devastating posts as ‘very normal behavior’ and ‘sir this is a Wendy’s’.

Respected political analyst Meghan McCain, who knows a thing or two about having to work twice as hard to get ahead as a woman, has called them ‘misogynistic’ and said, ‘Stop doing this to women!’ Stephen Colbert, the comedian and TV host who has done so much to revive the reputation of the Late Show after its disastrous run with David Letterman, has called out Sanders supporters who say ‘terrible things…in comment sections’. It was high time someone had the courage to expose the sinister influence of comment sections.

The actress and author Amber Tamblyn has used her platform to defend Elizabeth Warren’s beleaguered supporters. ‘To the people being harassed, bullied, and talked down to,’ she wrote:

‘…both in public and behind closed doors, because they believe wholeheartedly in the message, momentum, and brilliance that is Elizabeth Warren — Keep going. Keep fighting. She’s the one.’

Not since 2016 has it been so difficult to be a member of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit. I got a taste of the hatred that Warren’s admirers receive every day when I said the Massachusetts senator was ‘not that bad’. I was assaulted from all sides with such viciousness that you would have thought I had said Hitler was a decent man or e-cigarettes have unpleasant health consequences.

Of course, the misogyny of the Bernie Bros comes straight from the top. Bernie Sanders has been criticized for displaying such woman-hating antics as ‘denying that he said a sexist thing’ (if there is anything more sexist than saying a sexist thing, it is denying it) and ‘looking a bit put out when Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t shake his hand’. Of the last controversy, Virginia Heffernan of the LA Times wrote:

‘Sanders (I-Vt.), who’s notoriously irritable and suffers from cardiac issues, was riled by whatever Warren said, and by her refusal to be touched. He shook a finger at her. Then again. He seemed intent on freeing her right hand to grab it.

‘We all know this stock male move: come on, baby, give me a hug; we’re still friends.’

Absolutely. Had the cameras not been rolling Sanders would have probably called her ‘sweet cheeks’ and invited her back to his room for ‘coffee’. Not for nothing has Meghan McCain, the moral spokeswoman of a generation, said she doesn’t want ‘another misogynist in the White House’.

The Bros were delighted with Sanders’s behavior. They exchanged fantasies about their man winning the 2020 election and then throwing Warren ‘into a jail cell with Hillary Clinton’. At this thought, they erupted into baboon-like laughter, apparently inspired by the Papadopoulosesque Greek ‘Bernie Bro’ ideologue Stavros Halkias.

‘What motivates you?’ I asked one man, who, like everybody in the room, bore a strange resemblance to a host of Chapo Trap House.

‘Bitterness,’ he said, without a pause, ‘I look at the face of Warren, or Clinton, and all I see is Anna, that girl in junior high with the cute smile and ginger hair who went on one date with me and then said she was “too busy” to meet me again. Why did you do it, Anna? Because my breath stank? I had a medical condition, Anna! It’s called xerostomia. Just because that idiot Darren had nice breath it doesn’t mean he wasn’t stupid.’

He wiped the corners of his mouth.

‘I also support single-payer.’

As I walked out into the street my phone buzzed. A Twitter user called ‘Antonibro Gramsci’ had called me a ‘moron’. As I stood in the bitter chill of a Brooklyn evening, a single tear ran down my cheek.


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