Sunday, July 29, 2018

How to Argue With: A BernieOrBuster

The Omnivore Lecture Series 'How To Argue With A' continues with the BernieOrBuster. A Bernie-
Or-Buster is a voter who, at least ostensibly, supported Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary but then, in the General voted for someone other than Clinton (or stayed home). There's nothing wrong with supporting Sanders in the primary--but if it were done for any logically consistent reason then there is no logical path for not voting against Trump in the general election.

What's Really Going On

The Bernie Or Buster suffers a narcissistic injury (don't @ me) when Sanders fails to win the Democratic Primary and retaliates by withholding their vote or even casting a vote for Trump to punish the Democrats. Of course this makes them definitionally petty and vindictive--things they cannot afford to admit (perhaps even to themselves) so they must rationalize the action. There are a number of common rationalizations for this, which we will explore--but mostly they boil down to being "mad at their mom" (whom Hillary and Hillary-voters represent in this self-contained drama).

Let's look:


This logical fallacy is based on the (very real) fact that the DNC preferred Hillary to Bernie. Leaked emails confirm this and it's beyond logical: Hillary has been a champion of and huge fundraiser for the party for decades. Sanders wasn't a Democrat until the race started. What is missing is "what action the DNC took against Sanders."

According to legend the leaked emails "show proof of the fix." They don't. There isn't any. There is Donna Brazille giving Hillary "the answers to the debate." The problem is:

  • She gave Hillary the question (not the answer)
  • The question was on water-quality for a debate taking place in Flint Michigan
  • Nobody cared about this anyway
In any event, if you want to make the case that this bit of malfeasance swung the primary, show your work.

The other conspiracy theory is that Hillary is a super-criminal who, despite being investigated for decades, gives up no proof of having done anything really illegal. The height of this is the theory that she had Seth Rich killed as retribution for his leaking the DNC data to Wikileaks. This is raw nonsense and you should point and laugh.

Solution: Ask them how they feel about the Flat-Earth theory. Keep asking until they are forced to admit they can't really prove the earth is round anyway.


There is a (sliver) of a case to be made that Hillary, being corp-friendly--might have supported the Keystone pipeline--that's possible. However, one thing is really clear: no matter what Hillary did, she would not have been as hostile to the environment and the EPA as Trump has been (and, as we could all see it coming).

Solution: If the BernieOrBuster stakes their claim on the environment, list off the numerous things the Trump admin has done and laugh at them. Finish by saying that Trump has convinced you global warming is a hoax anyway.


Hillary said she would institute a No-Fly zone over Syria. The Kremlin propaganda arm said this would lead to World War III (it would not). The lefty-left adopted these talking points--and a lot of people said they wanted Trump as the "Peace President." This was always incredible nonsense so you should just point out that they're really only carrying water for Putin here and that Trump, blundering around foreign policy, is more likely to spark an unnecessary war than project the strength necessary to keep us out of one.

Solution: Make it clear that their position is "Kiss Putin's ass to prevent WWIII--and that (supine) posture never really works.


  1. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that most of them thought Hillary was going to win, and to be fair most people also thought that, and so they were making a protest vote that had no consequences. People absolutely do stupid things if they think nothing is going to happen to them as a result.

    And, it's also worth pointing out, many of their votes genuinely didn't matter. If you were a Bernie-Or-Bust-er in California, for instance, voting for Trump didn't affect the outcome of the election at all. I'd be curious to know if someone has actually put together data on swing states and the Bernie-or-bust voters, whether they actually had a significant effect on the election itself.

    1. The margin of Trump's victory was smaller than the number of Stein voters in Michigan and Wisconsin, so yes, they had a significant effect on the election.

  2. They all seem to be body counters as well.

  3. The bernie or bust hashtag was Russian AstroTurf, not a local movement. But it is a double straw man. Hillary won more Bernie voters than Obama won Hillary voters, but still lost.


    Obama won on false hope. Hillary lost doubling down on that false hope. Simple as that.