TL:DR – Centrists are sounding a lot like Trump supporters.
During the Democratic primary, there was seemingly non-stop press coverage about toxic Bernie Bros bullying people online and making mean memes (say that five times fast). The coverage was unrelenting and suggested that this was a unique phenomenon of the Sanders campaign, and it was akin to the way Trump stoked flames and divisions.
With Sanders now out of the race, it seems Biden Bros are prepared to fill the non-existent shoes Bernie Bros left. It has been a non-stop barrage of demeaning tweets, divisive rhetoric, and outright sexism and racism.
This would not a be a huge deal if it were just Biden supporters. Unlike some in the media, I don’t believe candidates and public figures are 100% responsible for the comments of their supporters.
I do however, think they have to take accountability for their surrogates, which is where Joe Biden has a particular problem. People associated with his campaign as well as public figures with massive reach have worked over-time to pump out some of the hottest takes this side of 2016. The most popular one to trend recently is right here:
Richard Komi, a Manchester Democrat, has since resigned his position. Yet his tweet is part of a longer trend of dismissal and denialism.
Should scrutiny be applied to the Tara Reade case? Sure, as scrutiny should always be applied. But there is a difference between being skeptical and dismissing the stories of sexual assault survivors.
In the case of Tara Reade or anyone else, there is nothing wrong with saying “I want to reserve judgement until we have all the facts.” That is intellectually honest, if nothing else. It is entirely different to fabricate reasons for why the story is not true. And that doesn’t even touch on the Russian Bot trend (which I will get to later).
With Tara Reade’s story, centrist Democrats are making their position strikingly clear: that they will weaponize sexual assault and the stories of survivors for political gain, then promptly dismiss them when they are inconvenient.
Centrist democrats make it increasingly difficult to support Joe Biden and the party at large when their responses to Tara Reade are near identical to Republican statements on rape victims.
It doesn’t end there. When Bernie Sanders claimed that the Washington Post was overwhelmingly critical of him, the mainstream media went into a frenzy and called it a Trumpian claim. Of course, it wasn’t. The Washington Post’s negative coverage of Sanders is objectively verifiable. It is in no way like Trump, who dismisses negative coverage as “fake news” and calls on reporters to be investigated.
Oh, and Biden supporters. They do that too. Just replace “fake news” with “Russian bots.”
Unlike Bernie’s claim of media bias, calling for the investigation of journalists reporting politically inconvenient stories is Trumpian. Chris Jackson is an elected official, so his call for it is particularly odious. Lindi Li is a delegate candidate and surrogate to the Biden campaign.
Reade’s story has also been accused of being a Russian plant and the story is perpetuated by Russian Bots i.e. Bernie supporters. This is the centrist version of fake news. There is a credible sexual assault claim against our candidate? That’s Russian propaganda. Joe Biden’s climate plan isn’t good enough? What are you, Putin’s puppet?
It’s a hilarious and depressing form of cognitive dissonance that will likely end with the decimation of our species through climate disaster.
I can already hear the hate mail calling me a Russian bot pinging in my inbox.
But the Democrats have to come to terms with this, and it goes well beyond Tara Reade. Demanding dissenters to shut up and fall in line will not work. It only disengages the base and gives Republicans more ammunition for the general.
If they want to win, it is time to stop dismissing everyone who criticizes Biden as Russian asset, a secret Trump supporter, or a troll. It is time to pivot from authoritarian loyalty to the party (a party many people – particularly young voters – aren’t even technically part of).
Instead, to reach out to actual voters and galvanize the base, Biden’s camp needs to pivot to actual policy and have a real discussion of the future of this country. It really isn’t that difficult.
Otherwise, the future will be four more years of Donald Trump.