Bernie and (some of) his supporters have become my dad.

18 May 2016 11:52 am
Posted by: Donna

linda dupree
Yes, this (now former) Facebook friend threatened to murder super delegates

My father was a man whose default setting was bitter and his temper, when he lost it completely, was hot-fire explosive. Growing up in his household was not fun, as you might imagine. One thing I learned about my dad early in life, out of necessity, was his desperate insistence on winning, by whatever means necessary. That meant that rules existed exclusively for him. If they went in his favor, he demanded a strict and relentless enforcement of them. If they went against him, why they were just wrong! Heads he won, tails you lost!

In other words, my dad made the rules. And unless you were amazingly prescient at figuring out what his desires were in advance, you had a yelling at coming to you, and perhaps a slap across the face. He was prone to throwing things and berating you loudly in public. That’s what you could expect if you were his child, this constant feeling of dread and uncertainty. If you were a neighbor who did something that displeased him, like playing music too loud, as the young man who lived in the condo a floor above us did in the mid-1980s, he declared all-out war on you.

At that time Dad placed our stereo speakers atop piled pieces of furniture, such that their tweeters and woofers were abutted directly against the ceiling. He then blasted classical music into them. Which was supposed to, I guess, jar our upstairs neighbors such that the young son who lived there would realize the error of his ways and turn his rap music down. The young man never did. But the cacophony in our house was deafening, our downstairs neighbors were irate (as it was loud enough to bother them), and my own embarrassment was achingly acute.

My Dad, true to his form, was never in the wrong. Sure, he was breaking the rules of the condo, by playing his favorite classical music at a decibel level that could be heard across the condo complex. But Dad had a point to make, by God, and he would make it! He needed to win. This “victory” ended up being a physical altercation between my father and the young man upstairs, in which said young man pushed Dad in the chest (according to my dad) and the cops were called. I honestly don’t remember how that ended, probably because I’m blocking it out of my mind.

I do remember being utterly mortified by the whole thing, and being disliked by all our neighbors, thanks to my dad’s obstinance. My pleas to him to consider that his own behavior in the situation worsened it were met by my dad petulantly insisting that he was right and that I was being disloyal. And, of course, the “system” was rigged against him, as it was in any instance where he couldn’t throw his weight around and get what he wanted. It was always a desperate time, when Dad didn’t get his way, calling for desperate measures.

I like a good argument over politics. I really do. I want a strong debate over ideas and policy directions. But I am utterly terrified by people who simply cannot stand to lose, and who refuse to cope with it. They go off on wild tangents, and that can range from stupid music feuds to calls for murder. Most death threats aren’t sincere but they are intended (obviously) to make recipients and bystanders viscerally uncomfortable and panicked into compliance or silence.

Why do (some) Bernie supporters remind me of my father? Because they remind me of my father, that’s why. The familiar dread and shame welled up in me when I watched videos of their meltdown in Las Vegas this past Saturday. And yes, I hold Sanders himself culpable because defended the obnoxious jerkwad behavior with an “I condemn violence…but…” statement, which is quintessential my dad justifying his bullying bullshit.

Meanwhile, I keep being told that Clinton supporters risk alienating those who support Sanders if we’re not deferential enough to them. Now that they’re at the point of chair throwing and death threats, what does that deference look like? I recall as a kid it meaning being cowed in fear and treated for PTSD as an adult. No thanks.

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