The Bernie Bro Narrative Erases Women Like Me
Sanders’ base is more diverse than the angry online mob of white men people love to complain about
Of all the enduring and bad-faith narratives to spill over from the 2016 presidential election, one stands out in its inability to evolve or die down: the story of the Bernie Bros. For the past five years, the bros have been painted as a mob of young white men, whose toxic online culture embodies the worst of modern political discourse. And as Bernie Sanders emerges as the polling front-runner in the Democratic primary, the Bernie Bro narrative is back with new, breathless urgency.
The topic was front and center on the debate stage on Wednesday night, when Sanders was repeatedly called on to distance himself from his online army. Earlier in the week, Michael Bloomberg tried to turn the energy of Sanders’ base against him, releasing an ad with a reel of vile tweets, messages, and memes circulated by the Vermont senator’s supporters. This follows a reported feud between Sanders and Elizabeth Warren last month, in which unnamed sources claimed Sanders said a woman would never win the White House, deepening a narrative that his campaign is marred by sexism and misogyny.
This mirrors a persistent line of attacks from pundits and political elites in recent years. Last July, MSNBC’s Mimi Rocah said that Sanders makes her skin crawl, for reasons she was unable to identify. In her mind, Sanders is not a very “pro-woman” candidate. Hillary Clinton gave an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last month, accusing Sanders of being complicit in his supporters’ sexist attacks. Meghan McCain responded on The View by saying she could have gone a step further than Clinton in condemning Sanders and the “Bernie Bro sexism that we’ve been talking for days about.”
It’s as if women’s contributions are secondary to the bros — or that we don’t exist at all.
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…