The Bernie Blame Game Has Begun

The Democratic Party and mainstream media pundits have never seemed to care much about the opinions of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) or anything their members have to say. Until yesterday, that is.

DSA set Twitter ablaze by announcing that it would not be endorsing Joe Biden for president. That led to several other Sanders groups to mimic the tweet announcing the same. Some critics referred to it as an extension of white privilege. Others used it as a chance to clown leftists and their lack of political tact.

But one thing became clear through all the replies and faux outrage: blaming Bernie Sanders supporters for the Democratic Party’s failures is in full swing.

The Democrats know they’ve circled around a weak candidate. They’ve seen the numbers that show Biden has the least enthusiasm of any Democratic presidential candidate in the last 20 years. And they realize Biden’s coronavirus response has been far from inspiring, even as Trump bungles and lies his way through the crisis. Biden’s ahead in most national polls, but not by a margin that makes anyone comfortable. The possibility of another presidential election defeat is very much in play.

So, Democrats and corporate media types have already started playing the blame game—true to their 2016 form. It kicked off last week when Sanders dropped out of the race and wasn’t contrite enough in his livestream announcement. Pundits like former president Barack Obama, strategist David Axelrod said the onus was now on Sanders to pitch Biden to his supporters—not the other way around.

The shift to what Sanders and his supporters can do feels abrupt because it is. For months, the Democratic Party and its media apparatus downplayed Sanders and his supporters from the jump. They denied Sanders any victory momentum after Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada gifted Biden hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free media following his South Carolina victory, and coordinated the unprecedented dropout of two delegate-leading candidates who were ahead of Biden going into Super Tuesday. And they did all this while manufacturing and reinforcing tired, disproven narratives about how Sanders was unelectable and his supporters were too mean to people online.

DSA not endorsing Biden is fresh chum in the water for left-shaming sharks. But the reality is the announcement surprises and affects no one. The organization was never going to throw its full weight behind Biden anyway, and the Biden campaign would likely dismiss whatever help they offered.

But actual coherent analysis about the incongruities between Biden and Democratic Socialists isn’t what moderate Twitter pundits do. Their outrage is almost entirely performative, a new chance to scold the left for expressing its founded misgivings with the Democratic candidate. Moderates never seem to care about what the left thinks until it comes time to win a general election—or, more specifically, lose an election and pawn off blame.