Bernie Sanders is discovering that it’s a big old world out there, now that he’s ventured far beyond the friendly borders of Vermont. The more he’s taken seriously as a candidate, the more scrutiny he’s starting to receive. Much of it, to this point, from the left; the right and the mainstream media don’t yet see him as a serious contender worthy of scrutiny.
The leftist critique includes a very close examination of his feminist credentials in a four-part blogpost on Shakesville, a progressive feminist blog.
Then there was his appearance at the Netroots Nation conference last Saturday, when he was confronted by activists protesting police violence against black people. And honestly, he handled it with all the grace you’d expect from an old guy who’s been talking from the same script for years.
Before he took the stage, fellow Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley’s own appearance had been disrupted by the protesters. (O’M handled it worse than Bernie did, but he’s gotten less attention because he’s doing so badly in the polls.) And then:
When Sanders approached the stage a moment later, the demonstrators continued. The candidate, a favorite of Netroots Nation, threatened to leave if they continued to interrupt him.
“Black lives, of course, matter. I spent 50 years of my life fighting for civil rights and for dignity,” he said. “But if you don’t want me to be here, that’s OK. I don’t want to outscream people.”
Sanders proceeded to deliver his usual presidential stump speech over sporadic shouting from below.
“Hey, you kids! Get off my lawn!”
Good old Bernie has run into a couple of hard realities:
— What was progressive in 1969 does not necessarily qualify in 2015.
— If there’s one thing the left is good at, it’s circular firing squads.