Forgive me Bernie
I begin this essay by forgiving Bernie Sanders.
He got me on Sunday at the State Theatre in Portland responding to a “we love you Bernie!” shout from the audience.
I felt a spark of the Bern when Sanders yelled back, “I love you, too” or “the love is mutual” or something like that -- and then talked off-the-cuff about spreading love to replace hate.
Maybe it was scripted by the campaign but it was nice to hear Bernie Sanders say the word love along with his promises to fight.
In any event it was a good line to use on the ladies -- like me who soured on Sanders during the 2016 election because of his association with bullyboys and wing nuts.
Don’t believe me? Ask Sarah Silverman.
It was nice to hear Bernie talk about love because the hatred directed towards Hillary Clinton and by extension towards her supporters by some in the Sanders camp in 2016 was heartfelt.
Some Sanders supporters hated with such a passion it was hard to look away and see all the others who didn’t.
The hate’s expression towards me culminated on the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia after a brief but heated discussion with a Bernie delegate at a bar that ended when he got in my face and said really aggressively, “you know what you look like? You look like you need a good fuck,” or words to that effect.
You don’t need to be a rape victim to understand Rape Code, the universal language used by violent misogynists everywhere.
I took his picture. But it was too dark for a good shot unfortunately.
There were several other explosive incidents with Bernie supporters — one guy chased me down the hall of our hotel completely unhinged, screaming and yelling that I had no right to write a satirical column -- as a columnist for local newspaper -- that criticizes and pokes fun at political extremists.
How dare I make him squirm!
When I asked him to be interviewed on the radio about his support for Bernie he said he didn’t “feel safe” talking to me and got himself all worked up again and angry.
I became a hater’s Hillary. I felt their hatred and it was hard not to blame Bernie.
But on Sunday something clicked. It’s not Bernie’s fault these people are assholes.
Or if it is his fault he should be forgiven because Bernie is right about one thing: we as human beings are in it together. We have to spread love to replace hate.
Ben of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream introduced Sanders at the State Theatre and said of his doppelganger what I believe is probably true: Bernie Sanders believes in justice in all its flavors.
Ben also said that as the Minister of Ice Cream in the Sanders Administration he promises a pint in every freezer and a sundae in every bowl. It’s like Bernie Sanders’ promise of Medicare for All that covers everything including hearing aids, glasses, and dentistry and cost nothing, or his promise to wipe clean $1.3 trillion in student debt. Completely unrealistic but not motivated by hate.
So on Sunday as I listened to the real Bernie — the goofy finger-pointing Don Quixote-like revolutionist from Vermont with a great New York accent — I finally stopped hearing the voices in my head of the angry crazy people who tormented me during the 2016 election.
On Sunday I realized that I had basically been doing to Bernie Sanders what the Bernie Bros were doing to me — pinning contempt for somebody on somebody else.
Further self-assessment revealed other potential bias on my part, I admit.
Did I too quickly roll my eyes when the all-white boy band with at least one hick-beard opened for Bernie and sang a new official state ballad with the refrain, “Stand fast, ye are the boys of Maine”?
The Ghost of Paul Revere is not a white supremacist band, it turns out, and the ballad tells the story of Andrew Tozier from Litchfield, Maine who fought with Joshua Chamberlain at Gettysburg during the civil war.
I love Joshua Chamberlain. Who doesn’t?