Season of the Bro

It’s interesting for me, reflecting upon the months and months that I’ve been called a bro because of my support for Bernie Sanders. Me, who listens to Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, who couldn’t throw a ball if my life depended on it. What’s interesting is that the Clinton supporters in the media and on Twitter would never call men in the military or major league sports a bro. Those people they accord a fawning, almost embarrassing, reverence and deference.


  1. zenner41 July 6, 2016 at 10:29 am | #

    Hey, this is America. Socialists and their fellow travelers get smeared, even in the bright new era of 2016.Tell me what’s new.

  2. Tom R July 6, 2016 at 10:41 am | #

    I have seen friends morph from “I prefer Bernie but will vote for whoever the nominee is” to “Hillary is evil” and posting memes that I also see from my conservative friends. I have seen others stake out the “If Bernie doesn’t get the nom I’m voting Trump” position. I have also seen conservative friends morph from “#NeverTrump” to “‘Trump is better than corrupt Hillary’ ‘Bernie’s not corrupt’ ‘but he’s a socialist'”.

    And I have seen some Bernie supporters say they will vote for Stein (which makes sense on policy but ignores voting system practicalities IMO) or Johnson (much saner than voting Trump but still not quite rational on policy (‘rational’ is conditional on assuming Bernie support is policy based.)

    So Republicans are willing to overlook just about everything and vote based on the idea that electing Jabba the Hut as long as its a Republican will advance their long term agenda. But Democrats got to be purists, and turn their nose up at Hillary, even if she agrees with Stein on >90% of issues. They dismiss that the likely consequence of voting third party would be to elect a President whose policy positions are much less agreeable. Hypothetically, if their ideal candidate were elected in 2020, they would be lucky to reverse 4 years of Trump politics, let alone advance their own agenda. And the Never Hillarys do not seem to consider whether they are being played by a subversive ‘attack their base’ campaign of the right.

    And while I have read about the ‘Bernie Bro’ concept, it seems to be more a media creation than something that my Hillary friends push. I haven’t seen much anti-Bernie prop from my Hillary friends, although I suppose that the lead she has through the campaign might have something to do with that.

    • Roquentin July 6, 2016 at 11:57 am | #

      “But Democrats got to be purists, and turn their nose up at Hillary, even if she agrees with Stein on >90% of issues.”

      No, she does not agree with her on “>90% of the issues.” I don’t know how you could even say such a thing with a straight face.

      • Tom R July 6, 2016 at 4:16 pm | #

        Okay, I just went to “Isidewith” and got 83%, not 90%. That is a lot closer to my claim than to your “she doesn’t want any of it”.

        As for her actual positions on the issues that you list, they are not what you say they are.

    • Roquentin July 6, 2016 at 12:16 pm | #

      Also, I can’t tell you how sick I am of this canard that Hillary somehow wants what Sanders, Stein, and the left want but is just more “practical” and “moderate” in her approach. No, no, no….a thousand times no. She doesn’t want any of it to happen at all. It’s not about being moderate, it’s that she actively opposes these things (fracking, free college, any concrete actions towards easing climate change, single payer healthcare, etc). They are not ideologically the same. They want entirely different things.

      The two greatest PR propaganda victories of 2016 for the Dems have been as follows:

      1) A white, former Goldwater girl who once used the term “superpredators” became the anointed representative of all minority interests in the country.

      2) An entirely different political agenda was presented as a “moderate” from of an opposing ideology instead of a separate political program.

      I have to hand it to them, HRC has a fine propaganda machine behind her. These distortions are manifestly bad, but I have to admire the sheer force of it.

    • Edward July 6, 2016 at 8:23 pm | #

      “…even if she agrees with Stein on >90% of issues”

      Were you paying attention to the platform fight? They couldn’t even agree to oppose the TPP or tie a minimum wage to inflation. What has Clinton done to reign in Wall Street? She is promising war with Syria and possibly Russia and Iran. What has she done to Honduras, Libya, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, and Syria? What about the evidence for election fraud in the Democratic primary? Did Sanders actually win the primary? That woman has far more blood on her hands then Trump.

    • Sandra July 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm | #

      “(which makes sense on policy but ignores voting system practicalities IMO”

      I don’t understand why Clinton supporters keep making this argument–the realities of the voting system in this country is that there are only a handful of battleground states in which individual votes actually matter. If you live in a blue state like NY or Massachusetts, or a red state like Alabama or Texas – dissident voters can vote as they please because their states are rock solid reliable red or blue. So only a very few Sanders voters who refuse to vote for Clinton actually matter.

      • SpringTexan July 7, 2016 at 9:36 am | #

        Agree. If you do not live in a battleground state, why would you vote for Clinton? If you do, yes I can see doing it.

        Not to mention that people focus on their (often meaningless) vote in the presidential election when their down-ballot votes — not for the House of Representatives which is hopelessly gerrymandered but in races like school board, city council, and governorship — really DO matter.

  3. Tom R July 6, 2016 at 10:43 am | #

    One might also suspect that the title is sub-referencing a sexist insult of Hillary.

  4. Roquentin July 6, 2016 at 10:47 am | #

    Reflexively, my first reaction to the term “Bernie Bro” is “I am talking to a fool.” That’s what it translates into. Sorry, not sorry. The first emotion I feel is contempt. I’ve reached new depths of cynicism towards liberalism during this election, something I didn’t even really think was possible.

    Not coincidentally, in my experience more men use the term than women. “Bro” is generally an insult men use on eachother. It’s roughly the same as “basic” is for women. Most of this goes back to high school, the sort of identity and ego-ideal you crafted for yourself back then. Honestly, I feel like going into any more detail is giving this bullshit more credence than it deserves. Who gives a shit? It’s almost as bad as “flip-flop” was in 2004.

  5. graccibros July 6, 2016 at 11:04 am | #

    On the Clintonians attitude towards sports pros and military pros, deference and fawning: reminds me of Thomas Frank’s characterization of the “professionalization” of the Democratic Party, and the 10-20% of the income demographic which migrated from the Republican Party into the Dems (a big change since the 1950’s), especially noticeable, Frank says, beginning with the suburban support for McGovern in 1972. And how they did or didn’t, mostly didn’t get along policy-wise or culturally with the remains of the old “de-industrialized” working class, many of whom have done their own migration “right” out of the party.

    I keep my own tab on that “cultural” tension line with the “economic left,” and inside the Democratic Party. You can add another one, despite Naomi Klein trying to meld them together, between the economic left and the ecological left (add another level with decentralizers vs national political people) Don’t look now, citizens, but the 15 member Dem. Party Platform Committee, the drafters, rejected almost all the major Bernie Planks in St. Louis, Friday. June 24th, despite the left stars arguments. Of particular note: rejected $15.00 per hour, the anti-TPP plank, the moratorium on fracking…the Sanders position on the Palestinian question…so bad that Cornel West abstained from voting…next round July 8-9th in Orlando before the full 187 member Platform Committee..

    And the broader background to this skirmishing, which is not purely symbolic, although it is surely partly that, since it is a signal on how deeply the Sanders movement has moved the DNC – the fascinating deeper background is what was said, and not said or emphasized at the People’s Summit held in Chicago June 17-19th. One of the important questions is what Sander’s people at the convention should do now, even more urgent now with the clear platform rebuff: walk-out, sulk but stay, silent present protest…Film-maker and activist Annabel Park, who lives in Silver Spring, MD…has in interesting ten minute segment on the Real New Network where she leans towards characterizing the relationship between the left and the DNC as “abusive” – and we all know what the advice is on abusive relationships…

    In tension with that framing, Juan Gonzalez cautioned, on the opening panel, not to repeat the 1968 Chicago street trauma…

    I guess it Bros vs Orphans vs Exiles…or “All in the family,” an increasingly dysfunctional one, it seems to me. It probably can’t hold together over the next four years, maybe long enough to reject Trump, but who can make projections with any degree of certainty this year.

  6. Like I said in the comments in your previous post: You, Corey, and the other leading lights of real progressive analysis for a popular audience, are something new and threatening to the neoliberal project and its acolytes. The question worth asking is, “Why?”

    At first I thought it was merely about pushing “us” out of public discourse (when in the old, pre-blog days, we’d just get ignored) in a manner like that described by Thomas Frank who references conservatives’ pushing liberals out. Just get rid of them by any means necessary, from the vote to funding.

    I now have a different but related hypothesis: this “Bro” stuff is not about you (or me or any of us, our gender identification notwithstanding).

    This is about THEM. This effort to police US, by these trolling interventions, is about keeping THEM in their own ranks in line.

    Look, you and folks like you are the unruly democratic (small “d”) embodiment of critical disobedience. Youse’all be growin’ online and beyond it. YOU get fire because you are meant to be an object lesson of what happens when they in their own ranks dare to step out of line. Be it Israel, or Salaita, or Clinton vs. Sanders. Seriously, does ANY regular reader of this blog really think that these “Bro” spitting types have had ANY effect on you, me, or anyone else? Go ask Mondoweiss — ask’em how are hasbarists doing over there?

    The only faint hope these people have is that they will make you pack up and go away. They have failed in the past, they have failed now, and they will fail in the future. They always fail. They know this.

    And you know what? They know that WE know this.

    So what’s the deal?

    These trolls have bosses in campaigns to protect Clinton or Israel. They are paid to do this (again, see Mondoweiss).

    It really is nothing personal.

    But take pride in their interest: they think you matter.

    And you do.

    They fear you, Bro.

    • Corey Robin July 6, 2016 at 11:53 am | #

      Were we on Facebook, I’d click “like.” But we’re not, so I’ll just say: thanks!

    • patthale July 6, 2016 at 12:28 pm | #

      I agree. They are scared to death of the Bernie movement,

      A )It exposes HRC’s hypocrisy on taking Corporate and PAC money to run a presidential campaign, while claiming that if she’s POTUS, she’ll work to end the practice.

      2)Bernie platform items were summarily dismissed, even though HRC purported to support some positions, once again, showing HRC delegate actions speak louder than Hillary’s words.

      3)Bernie’s detractors like to say that only the young and naive backed Bernie, discounting the millions of people like me, a retired educator, who support Bernie and still support Bernie.

    • Joel in Oakland July 6, 2016 at 1:49 pm | #

      Supporting evidence for theory?

      I did get the impression that the actions of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz had a lot to do with her position, but besides her I didn’t sense careerism in play. I wasn’t looking for it,however, so may have missed it.

      I supported Sanders, hoping the Chuck Schumer corporate wing would be weakened. Mostly, what I heard from Hillary supporters was that they agreed with his overall goals but thought his particulars were counterproductive. Various parts of Hillary’s campaign website were quoted to me to show what was felt to be superior policy details while laying out concrete steps toward goals both she and Sanders share. I never disagreed with that. The website is impressive. Go read it if you haven’t.

      There was a lot of alarm over the Hillary bashing and the amount of recycled right wing slime. But I thought that *finally* getting out a message with both sizzle and steak – as opposed having neither – is the most important issue in Dem politics. (Second is having someone who knows how to effectively counter the right wing’s juggernaut of a propaganda-slime machine – someone with some spine & an effective way with words. I’ve long given up hope on on Sen Franken). But I agree that some of my fellow Sanders supporters seem very reactionary while I don’t get that at all from the HRC supporters.

      • “Supporting evidence for theory?”

        You just provided it for us, bub.

        • Joel in Oakland July 6, 2016 at 4:25 pm | #

          Really? Debbie W-S? Seems like pretty thin gruel.

          And haven’t heard *any* signs of panic, anger or circling the wagons from the corporate wing.

          I certainly could have missed it, but the reactionary responses I heard came almost entirely from the left, mainly in the form of “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” Lots of echoes of the 60’s, for that matter. Unfortunately, the new Wavy Gravy and Abbie Hoffman are Trump & Palin. They didn’t/don’t complain about lack of media coverage, because the media is forced to pay attention – i.e. suckered into it by being handed stories with its life blood – drama. Eventually Bernie’s people seemed to figure that out, but I kept suggesting they pick up the phone & consulting with Wavy, to no avail. He’s alive, if not exactly kicking. (I used to see “the 3rd Romney” – i.e. Hugh Romney, aka W.G. – tooling around Berkeley/Oakland in his Prius, but it’s been along time). He may be the senior advisor on the left on manipulating the media. Oh, well.

  7. Rachael Sotos (@arendtiana) July 6, 2016 at 2:33 pm | #

    neoliberalism corrupts feminism, revealing its potential to serve venal ideological interests…we need bell hooks more than ever

  8. JAMES_SCAMINACI_III_PHD July 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm | #

    In my experience, the whole “Bernie bro” was an attempt to shut down any substantive criticism of Clinton. I would point out serious disagreements with her policies as a retort to the “Bernie bro” stuff coming across my Facebook page from feminist, pro-Hillary writers. I would get no return fire on substantive policy. The whole Hillary thing was about putting a woman in the White House. They were all “ready for Hillary” when Hillary still supported the TPP, when she still supported the Keystone XL Pipeline, when she still had prison lobbyists on her campaign and accepted prison industry money, when she had Monsanto lobbyists on her campaign. Clinton’s administration was heavily in favor of Monsanto. It was never about policy regarding Hillary. Even today, with House Democrats booing Bernie it is not about policy. This is a Democratic Party that has laid down before corporate money. They are going to be elated that Hillary is trouncing Trump–an idiot, racist, and religious bigot.

    I did a mental experiment and wondered which Republican presidential candidate would she be able to beat. The 1968 Nixon? Very doubtful. On foreign policy he could talk all day and night. The 1980 Reagan? Tough race. Very close. The 1988 George HW Bush? Probably she wins, but close. The 2000 George W. Bush? Maybe. The 2008 John McCain? Maybe not, but toss-up. The 2012 Mitt Romney? Probably, but closer than Trump. If she were running against Ted Cruz or John Kasich? I dislike both, but I’d see the Kasich race as very close. Cruz is as bad as Trump, just sounds better and is better debater. It is only Donald Trump that gives her a very comfortable margin. She has vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an anti-establishment Republican, just not Trump, who is a walking advertisement for white supremacy and religious supremacy.

  9. Edward July 6, 2016 at 8:28 pm | #

    The word “bro” makes me think of millenials; it makes me think all Sanders supporters are 18 years old.

    • kevin July 7, 2016 at 12:20 am | #

      Exactly. The Bernie Bros are not called bro because they are jocks or wanna be tough guys. Obviously. They are called Bernie Bros because they brought that exact 18 year old bro-level of dignity and intelligence and self-awareness to politics this year — next to none.

      To pretend otherwise is either willfully obtuse or painfully obvious in its dishonesty. No one wants to shut down Bernie because he represents anything meaningful. They are tired of the self-aggrandizing wailing of a 40% vote-getting candidate acting like a 60% vote-getting candidate. He was always nothing more than a lightweight slogan spouter, completely incapable of getting any change accomplished.

      Since 5 days after California primary, he has been done. No one will pick up the torch and keep his “movement” together. But still all the special snowflakes continue to insist that they are the special-est ones who must be . . . . what? acknowledged as the most special? agreed with? submitted to? told they were right all along that Bernie won??

      • Benjamin David Steele July 7, 2016 at 9:20 am | #

        You seem to be projecting. It’s because your level of intelligence and integrity, which is to say low, that we have these kinds of pathetic politics.

        The two least popular and least trusted presidential candidates ever recorded (both having been under criminal investigation) face off to gain the position of greatest power in the world, the presidency of the United States. We are the laughingstock of the world.

        Any intelligent, rational, and honest person knows and is forced to admit that we don’t have a functioning democracy. We are in banana republic territory at this point. That’s been true for a while now, but it’s become increasingly obvious as of late.

      • Edward July 7, 2016 at 11:16 am | #


        I think this is sarcasm.

  10. jonnybutter July 7, 2016 at 9:58 am | #

    the Bernie Bros are not called bro because they are jocks or wanna be tough guys. Obviously.

    Obviously! That would be *you*

    You know, it’s easy to criticize someone for being (esp. deliberately) dim, but doesn’t an American have a right to be that way? Especially since we now vote with our wallets: what about the Dipshit-American perspective? Why should *they* be discriminated against? True story.

    (I am so upset about these police shootings that I can barely think this morning. Clearly, the solution is at least another hundred thousand police officers.)

  11. Christine July 7, 2016 at 2:14 pm | #

    The analogy here is wrong because it confuses leaders with followers.

    I would not call Sanders, a legitimately elected government official, a “bro”, in the same way that I wouldn’t call elite sports players that name either.

    But their younger, naive, unnecessarily aggressive, frequently misogynistic fans? Have you ever been to an NFL game?

    (I would say the same applies to high-ranking military officials vs. flag-waving nationalist hawks, but not to rank-and-file soldiers generally. Hopefully, that deferential treatment toward soldiers you referred to arises because the media–and the general public–realize how horribly we’ve treated our soldiers returning from horrific wartime deployments in the past; soldiers who often had little to no choice about being there in the first place. So, again, it’s a misplaced analogy.)

  12. Eric Apar July 7, 2016 at 2:33 pm | #

    The irony is that it’s the Clinton orbit that most resembles a college fraternity–their oleaginous defenses of the fraternity elite (Bill, Hillary, and their inner circle), their insistence on closing ranks (see the reported booing of Bernie Sanders by Hillary supporters in the House yesterday), their elevation of people (always powerful people) over principle.

    While we’re on the subject of maturity, I’ll say this–if I could kill off just one idea, it might be the notion that incrementalism can be taken as a proxy for seriousness. Serious people don’t fiddle around with an unserious reality; they transform it.

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