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Truthout - September 2019

"Mia Arievitch, a 24-year-old socialist who attends the City University of New York School of Labor and Urban Studies, believes Sanders and Warren are running completely different presidential campaigns, with Sanders focusing on grassroots movement-building while Warren homes in on federal policy. Lauren Christianson, a native Wisconsinite now based in New York, said that while she loves Warren for “supporting many of the same progressive platforms as Bernie,” she doesn’t find her to be “as progressive” as Sanders. Magray said she believes there’s a “wide gulf” between the two candidates’ politics, emphasizing that Sanders is a democratic socialist while Warren is a self-professed capitalist “to her bones.”

New findings from The Economist show that women under 45 make up a larger share of Bernie Sanders’ base than do men in their same age group, contradicting a popular narrative that says the 2020 Democratic candidate's supporters are overwhelmingly white and male, to the virtual exclusion of other groups.

This narrative often hinges on the “Bernie Bro,” a term Atlantic writer Robinson Meyer coined during the 2016 election to describe a type of mansplaining internet harasser that some came to see as representative of all Sanders voters. Bernie Bros were a “mob” flooding the Twitter mentions of Hillary Clinton supporters; they were “sexist,” even “enthusiastically” so; and they were loud and aggressive when expressing their uncompromising support for their candidate.

Polling has continually proven that Sanders’ base is much more diverse than the figure of the Bernie Bro would suggest: An analysis of polling between November 2018 and March 2019 found both that Sanders was more popular among people of color than among white people, and that women supported Sanders just as much as men did, “if not more,” according to Vox. Earlier this month, a Univision Noticias poll found Sanders was the candidate Latino voters favored most after current Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. And The Economist’s latest numbers show Sanders in the number-two spot behind Biden with Hispanic and Black voters.

Yet the Bernie Bro concept continues to endure, much to the chagrin of Sanders’ women supporters, who say it ignores a significant portion of the Vermont senator’s base.

“It’s really frustrating to see that the idea of the ‘Bernie Bro’ is still so pervasive,” said 24-year-old Megan Magray, a reproductive health advocate. She also serves as a co-coordinator for NYC-DSA’s Brooklyn electoral communications committee. “It’s insulting to see women, women of color, and people of color being erased from his campaign because they’re really integral to it.”

Mari Toro, a 27-year-old community advocate and data entry specialist in Boston, told VICE she didn’t find the perception of Sanders’ base frustrating so much as she found it irrelevant. As a young Puerto Rican woman, the description of a supposedly archetypal white male Sanders supporter simply didn’t apply to her. ...
Read full commentary at Truthout