Bernie Sanders Encourages the Rudeness of His Supporters

Judy ReardonDemocratic Primary

Last night supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders repeatedly interruputed Sen. Jeanne Shaheen while she was speaking at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner. In my more than 30 years of attending Democratic events in New Hampshire, I’ve never witnessed rudeness and disrespect like this.

Jeanne Shaheen was the first woman elected governor of New Hampshire. She was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire. She is the only woman in United States history to be elected both a governor and a U.S. senator. Much to the dismay of her campaign strategists during her 2014 reelection campaign, Jeanne Shaheen ranks pretty high on all the various scorecards measuring how liberal senators’ voting records are

Why in the world would Bernie Sanders’ supporters treat this woman who made the Democratic Party a winning party in New Hampshire so disrespectfully?

Because she supports Hillary Clinton for president? That’s too simple. I don’t think people are motivated to heckle a sitting U.S. Senator speaking at a Democratic Party event named in her honor simply because she’s supporting a different candidate.

Every four years in New Hampshire we have NHDP events where all the competing candidates for the Democratic nomination and New Hampshire’s current Democratic officeholders speak. I’ve been attending these types of gathering since 1987. They can be rowdy. Each candidate’s supporters tries to outdo the other with cheers and applause for their candidate. Grown men and women jump up and down cheering. It’s silly and it’s fun. But never before last night have I witnessed one candidate’s supporters heckle another candidate or that candidate’s backer dring a speech.

Not in 2008 when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were engaged in a fierce priary fight. Nor in 2004 when John Kerry and Howard Dean and were battling it out in the days before the New Hampshire primary. Nor in the 2000 contest beteeen Al Gore and Bill Bradley. Nor in 1988 when Michale Dukakis and Dick Gephardt waged very tough campaigns here.

So  what is the difference this time? What would make Bernie Sanders  supporters behave like this?

As Gov. Dukakis used to say, “The fish rots from the head down.”

I’m not saying Bernie Sanders instructs his supporters to interrupt and heckle the speech of a U.S. Senator.

But what Bernie Sanders does is constantly tell us is Congress is corrupt and the political system is corrupt, and he calls for a political revolution. His supporters clearly have internalized this message. And if you believe Congress is corrupt and the political system is corrupt and what we need in this country is a political revolution, why would you show any respect to the senior U.S. Senator from New Hampshire? And not only is she in the corrupt Senate, she supports the devil herself, Hillary Clinton!

Donald Trump is stoking hatred of Muslims and Latinos. Bernie Sanders is stoking hatred of members of Congress. Both forms of populism are dangerous to the future of our country.


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