Since Senator Bernie Sanders dropped out of the 2020 presidential election, we’ve seen a lot of centrists and liberals claiming that Sanders has a cult of personality. In other words, we’ve seen people claim that “Bernie or Bust” people are more interested in Sanders’ personality than his policies because if ”Bernie Bros” were actually interested in policy, they would vote blue no matter who.
However, this conclusion by centrists and liberals is wildly inaccurate. Sanders never talked about himself. Other candidates are always so quick to bring up personal anecdotes—Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren brought up their identities as women in nearly every debate and every rally; Beto O’Rourke brought up his experience living in a predominately Hispanic area; even Joe Biden brings up his experience being President Obama’s Vice President. But Sanders strays away from conversations like that. He always tried to stay as focused on possible on his policies and what his policies would mean to people.
It’s not as if Sanders’ doesn’t have an identity or experiences that would be unique to the presidency. He’s a Jewish man who was born during World War 2. When probed about his experiences, he does admit that his father’s family was almost entirely wiped out by the Holocaust. He did admit that growing up in Brooklyn, a predominantly Jewish borough of New York, he had grown up around people that had all been affected horribly by the Holocaust. Those kinds of experiences impact a person’s worldview.
Any lesser man than Sanders would have used those experiences as a talking point to gain more support, but he didn’t think that his experiences should have any affect on the public’s decision to vote for him. He was adamant that if he was to win, it would be on the merit of his policies and not the empathy his experiences garnered. He never wanted his victory to be dependent on him, because that went against his slogan, “Not me. Us.”
Sanders doesn’t have a cult of personality because he doesn’t talk about himself. He has a solid base because his policies offered to solutions to problems that people are struggling with.
I wish I could be mad, but I can’t hate the man for trying to be above the nastiness of making politics personal. I just wonder how the campaign might have gone if he had made it personal.