After yet another "Bernie rally" that drew only hundreds rather than tens of thousands -- most of them paid elderly seat-fillers, not cheering young people -- it's worth taking a look at what has happened to the other anti-Establishment uprising of this season.
Like all broad political movements, the Bernie phenomenon was not a monolithic mass. It was a coalition of distinct groups whose only commonality was being ignored, taken for granted, or abused by the senior partner of the party -- the Establishment, controlled by the allah-gahkey.
Although these various groups would have enthusiastically voted for Bill Clinton in the '90s, by now the mask has been removed from the face of Clintonism. This year they all joined together to try to replace the Clintons and even the Obamas with something new. But now with no single Bernie movement left to invest in, they have chosen four separate paths among the existing candidates, according to Emerson's national poll.
The largest group were the well-meaning partisan Democrats, who have gone to Clinton, and who made up around 60% of Bernie voters. They wanted desperately to change their party for the better, after getting regularly kicked around by the callous corporate senior members. But they are fundamentally hopeless and depressive, so they always come crawling back after yet another beating from their wicked stepmother (sometimes referred to as Crooked Hillary Clinton).
To reduce cognitive dissonance, they rationalize this undeserved loyalty as not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, AKA never complain no matter how hard they beat you. They are akin to the cuckservatives on the Republican side, who had kept depressively voting Republican no matter how awfully they were treated by the Establishment.
Then there were the working-class and other populist whites whose main concern is job-killing trade agreements, corporate elite control over the economy, and basic material security. Making up 20% of Bernie voters, they have defected parties to Trump -- who they don't even consider a "real" Republican anyway, and so not the greatest leap in the world to make.
These voters want no part of a party that pushed and defended NAFTA, let alone the TPP which would only further de-industrialize our economy and make working-class people even poorer and facing chronic uncertainty. The only problem was that the Republicans had been equally strong cheerleaders of de-industrialization -- "We found six-figure careers in the knowledge economy, so why don't you?" Now that Trump has promised to re-industrialize our backward economy, it is an absolute no-brainer for them to ditch the Dems.
Next are the ideological progressives, who made up 10% of Bernie voters and are now voting for the Green candidate Jill Stein. If someone was into the Bernie phenomenon because of his positions on major issues, there is only one place for them to go to. Bernie and Jill come from roughly the same background ideologically, only differing on strategy -- attempt a hostile takeover of a major party in order to win and govern, or run on a third party in order to raise issues and make a statement.
Back in the '80s, these types were languishing in a climate of three consecutive Republican victories -- and not liberals like Nixon or Eisenhower, who they might have tolerated. Once the Clinton coalition came a-callin' in '92, they were champing at the bit for a chance to finally win and get something done. But as with the labor-oriented voters, they quickly learned that they'd only been used for their votes, and would receive nothing in return. They were similarly taken advantage of by the Obama coalition, after two terms of another Bush, when they were desperate to unseat the Republicans again.
This time, however, they haven't been suffering under multiple Republican administrations, so they don't have that desperation to join the Democrats in order to knock out an incumbent conservative President. The situation now is more like 2000, when they voted for Nader instead of Gore. (In general, as I discussed in this earlier post, third-party movements split off from the incumbent party, as a way of punishing their senior partners for mistreatment and to deter such mistreatment in the future.)
That only leaves the 10% of Bernie voters who say they're voting for the Libertarian Gary Johnson. They "say" they're voting Libertarian, but this group has the weakest commitment -- just 40% of Johnson supporters are certainly going to vote for him, compared to about 90% of Clinton and Trump supporters having made up their minds, and 75% of Green supporters.
Who are they, and what brings them to the Libertarian candidate? These are the only group of identity politics voters from the original Bernie coalition -- and their identity is young-ish white slackers who have triple-digit IQs and related levels of education. They're largely male, along with girls who can hang with guys. They are the answer to, Who would South Park vote for? Why, naturally it's the goofy white stoner dude who can't be bothered to do his homework about Aleppo.
They were not drawn to the Bernie phenomenon because of his policies, else they would have gone to either Trump or Stein. Their counterparts back in 1992 would have been the incipient slacker culture, who viewed the Republicans as too stuffy and genteel. But now that the Party of Clinton has become so moralistic (social justice warriors), and so focused on hoovering up the mega-donations of limousine liberals, the youthful / man-child underachievers with no PC filter feel out of place voting Democrat.
Since their main concern is the cultivation of their persona, and expressing that through their voting behavior, they were projecting such an image onto Bernie when they first started noticing him. He certainly was a slacker, not having a real full-time job until he was around 40 years old. He probably did drugs. He made meta-ironic jokes about his appearance (hair), about pop culture (Trump-isms like "yuge"), and generally gave off a high-IQ prankster vibe. He came off as a man-child, albeit more of the absent-minded professor type. And he's a white male who despite being on the Left did not drone on about racism, sexism, homophobia, bla bla bla -- at least, not until he became a ventriloquist dummy for Crooked Hillary.
Transferring these identity traits onto Gary Johnson has not gone as successfully as they were hoping. He's a slacker, druggie, and white male who doesn't obsess over PC. But he also comes off more juvenile than young-at-heart (that creepy tongue thing he did in an interview with Kasie Hunt), and as more of a dull moron than a quick-witted jokester (this is your brain on drugs). Johnson doesn't do pop culture irony very well either, even though his supporters keep trying to make dick jokes a thing with his name.
If they're unsatisfied with Johnson, and 60% of his supporters are still open to other candidates, they will not go for Clinton in the end -- totally wrong persona for them to identify with. And probably not for Stein either -- too earnest, purposeful, and ideological. Some will see enough of themselves in Trump to identify with him -- no filter, down-to-earth, white male bored by PC. However, he also represents middle-aged and older people who are high-energy go-getting over-achievers. Left with no cerebral slackers to vote for, perhaps they will just say "fuck it" and stay home, in order to preserve their identity.