Tim Robbins is a famous actor and a campaign surrogate for Bernie Sanders. He’s also a useful case study in why so many of Sanders’ supporters are intolerable.
On Monday, he tweeted a theory of why Bernie Sanders is trailing Hillary Clinton: The machines are rigged, as demonstrated by Sanders’ stronger performance in exit polls than in actual election results.
Here’s the meme he sent out:
Of course, the real reason Sanders does better in exit polling than actual votes is that Sanders supporters will not shut up about Bernie Sanders, so of course they’re eager to talk to exit pollsters. That, not a national conspiracy among county election administrators to rig the system for Hillary Clinton, is what is at play.
But Robbins’ nutty conspiracy mongering starts to seem sensible if you place yourself in the mindset of a Sanders supporter, as laid out by Sanders himself.
Remember, Sanders believes that if voters were truly paying attention to the issues and uninfluenced by special interests, more than 90% of people would support his agenda.
If that is really true, there can only be three possible reasons Sanders is losing: Voters are ignorant, they have been bought off, or they actually are voting for him and the machines are rigged. If you honestly believed that, why wouldn’t you approach Sanders’ opponents as ignorant and corrupt?
Robbins (who, in fairness, was very good in “The Shawshank Redemption”) managed to indulge in both the vote-rigging and vote-buying aspects of this theory in just the last few hours. After tweeting the “rigged” theory, some Twitter users responded to say he was wrong. So he accused them individually of being on the payroll of Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton Super PAC.
Here’s a sampling:
It’s common for Sanders supporters to accuse politicians and reporters of being bought off. The remarkable thing here is that Robbins is lobbing these accusations at individual voters. It might seem odd that Clinton allies would bother paying off a Twitter user with just 46 followers — but then, choosing to oppose Bernie Sanders is so weird that it’s hard to understand how else it would happen.
The third mode of Sanders supporter engagement with disagreement is condescension: If you weren’t paid off and your vote wasn’t stolen from you, maybe you’re just too ill-informed to realise Sanders is the candidate you actually want.
We haven’t seen this from Robbins today, but he did say earlier this month that winning South Carolina is no more important than winning Guam, which was definitely condescending to Democrats in both South Carolina and Guam.
If Robbins and other Sanders supporters want to be less insufferable in the future, they might consider that sometimes candidates lose because voters disagree with them on issues — or don’t think they’re the most capable candidates for the job.
Just putting it out there.