On Sunday night, John Oliver ripped into the American primary/caucus system and states’ woefully disjointed ways of gathering tallies of delegates, wherein the popular vote often doesn’t proportionally match up with the ultimate support each candidate receives. He introduced the segment with clips of angered Bernie Sanders supporters in Nevada, following Hillary’s garnering of more delegates in a confusing process (“Nevada’s process for sending delegates to the national convention in Philadelphia is among the most complex,” writes The Washington Post, who comprehensively explained what happened at the Nevada Democratic Convention).
And last night, another trenchant (but also more one-sided in her biases) weekly late night TV host weighed in on the aftermath of the Nevada outcome. Samantha Bee looked at the specific(!) Bernie supporters who decided to use the infuriating cause to harass Nevada Democratic chairwoman Roberta Lange with misogynistic or more generally hateful voicemails and texts, calling her the usual epithets and saying things like “you are a sick twisted, twisted piece of shit and I hope you will burn for this” and “people like you should be hung in a public execution to show this world that we won’t stand for this sort of corruption.”
Because of quirks in the democratic system, Oliver had claimed in his segment, there have been news reports like that announcing the disparity in popular vote and delegate assignments in Wyoming — Bernie won 56 to 44 percent, but Hillary got 11 delegates and Bernie got 7 (and these trends were perhaps what angered people in Nevada, even if in the case of that state, the results weren’t so backwards). Similarly, the same fate has even befallen Donald Trump in some states, and Oliver stated, “There is no clearer piece of evidence, no more thoroughly dead canary in the coal-mine than when Trump is actually making sense.”
Those comments sent to Lange were repulsive, but don’t negate the fact that — for people who don’t use threats and hate speech to express their frustration — the system doesn’t clearly speak to what a democratic vote should be. That shouldn’t be negated either, and Bee kind of ends up doing that, which is unfortunate. However, insomuch as it skewers the particular people who fight for a campaign that’s so outspokenly based on equality who’re simultaneously employing insidious and gender-fueled violent speech, it’s quite sharp. She noted how the media called the reactions a “fracas” and a “donnybrook,” saying “apparently that’s what you call civil unrest when it involves white people.”
She accuses Sanders of employing the diplomatic equivalent of “I’m sorry I hurt you, but you shouldn’t have made me so mad” in his letter responding to the outrage — and her assessment here is somewhat fair: his response was underwhelming. “I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals… It is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned,” Sanders said in the statement he issued.
But then Bee again reduces the legitimate frustrations of people who aren’t sexist idiots to a whining white man saying “‘Why am I persecuted?'” (This is not the first time Bee has generalized about Bernie supporters).
You can watch the clip — which sharply and rightly attacks the particular subset of Bernie Sanders voters who suck, while also unfortunately espousing a politics of generalization about the rest — below: