The cult that is Bernie-or-Bust

Social media certainly is the perfect petri dish for growing all sorts of “cultures.” Like in the lab, some are good and some are not so good.

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The “culture” I’ve experienced lately includes all manner of ad hominem attacks from strangers and, sadly, from people I thought were my friends. One such incident has compelled me to leave my role as an admin and contributor to a Facebook page that I had hoped would be a place to rally people like me who want to fight corporatism, get rid of big money in politics, protect peoples’ rights, and so much more. Yes, we were and are Sanders supporters. I still am, but what I finally decided today is that when one admin publicly says, “you were duped into thinking this was a real encounter? How sad,” it’s probably time to move on.

Before anyone thinks this is about hurt feelings, let me be clear. My reason for leaving goes much deeper than that. In fact, I think it has relevance for the entire extremist wing of the Sanders followers. The people who proudly proclaim themselves to be Bernie-or-Busters (BorBers, for short).

The following is an edited excerpt from my penultimate post. It’s my response to the other admin. It’s been edited for brevity and to concentrate on this question of cultism among the BorBer community.

 

Experience tells me that there’s little point in debating anything with anyone who acts and speaks and writes in ways that reveal a blind devotion to anything. It’s why I mostly refuse to debate religion with a believer. They can’t be persuaded or dissuaded. As I’ve often said, you might be able to change someone’s opinion, but you’ll almost never change their beliefs. This is on full display from the most devout Bernie-or-Busters I’ve encountered, and it sadly seems to be on display in your comments, Dan.

Beliefs tend to demand purity, and when believers resort to insult and attack of any and all non-believers, well, that’s when they chase away even their own friends as they execute their scorched Earth strategy in the pursuit of that purity. Here, I’m actually less convinced the most devout BorBers understand this point. If they do, perhaps they simply refuse to accept the responsibility and consequences of their decisions and actions. Puritans don’t need to trouble themselves with such trifles, I suppose.

All of which is to say that this is why I have somewhere between little and no respect or admiration any longer for the whole Bernie or Bust “movement.” It has become one, giant disappointment. In my view, it seems to have taken on all the characteristics of a cult of personality. I’m not the cult follower type, and I’ve never been a hero worshiper.

Now here’s what I find to be sad, Dan. Somewhere along the way, I decided to accept the reality that Sanders didn’t have enough support to win, and that another way forward for now would need to be considered. As part of that, I encountered and shared the thoughts of others that apparently you and other devotees of Bernie didn’t like. That’s fine, and that’s fair. What isn’t is you presuming to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t pure enough and correct enough to be seen without being publicly attacked for not being pure enough. This article and your responses to it are a perfect case in point.

Yes, I’m still angry with the system, with our corporatist politicians, with the policies they enact that hurt us on too many levels to list here, but I will not be associated with people who launch into unfounded personal and public attacks on their own friends for not demonstrating the requisite level of purity being demanded. When someone does that to their friends, well, that strikes me as the very definition of a cult.

So goodbye, farewell, and au revoir. I wish you all well.

I also wish for a day when this country has more people like Sanders deciding to run for public office and more people voting for them.

I wish for a day when people like the Busters stop acting like the entitled and privileged people the author of this article says he encountered. I’ve encountered them, too. Guess that makes us both liars,eh, Dan?

Finally, I wish for a day when people stop acting against their own self-interests in the way that poor people do by thinking they’re Republicans and the way BorBers do in thinking the way to attract people to “the movement” is to attack and insult the very people who are their allies but who just aren’t quite as “pure” as they are.

 

Further Reading/Listening

Not willing to consign the marginalized to a life under Trump – This Week in Blackness (@TWiBPrime)

Fascism and the Bernie Luxury Vote

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