In 2016, Bernie was the non-woke candidate in the Democrat primary, since Hillary was hyper-woke. In a contest, everything is zero-sum -- not only ultimate success (a winner vs. a loser), but what qualities the candidates have. If Bernie "supports women's rights," but Hillary is blasting that theme 24/7, then in relative terms, Bernie is the non-woke and Hillary the hyper-woke candidate.
We would have to zoom out to a larger ideological scale to see Bernie as woke -- e.g., if he faced a general election against Ted Cruz. But on the relevant scale, we only look at the actual Democrat candidates in that primary. And in that primary, Bernie was the non-woke choice. In the context of the 2008 Democrat primary, it was Hillary who was the non-woke candidate, running against Obama. That's why West Virginia Democrats chose Hillary in '08, but ditched her in favor of Bernie in '16.
The way things are going in 2020, it's possible that West Virginia will choose Biden, who has largely refrained from the shrill progressive culture-warring that Hillary indulged in ("deplorables," Alt-Right speech, etc.), whereas Bernie has been hijacked by the broader "progressive movement" in the wake of his expectation-shattering 2016 campaign.
This has broken down Bernie's coalition from '16 by shifting those who prioritize progressive cultural issues into Lyin' Liz's camp, and alienating a decent chunk of his culturally conservative white supporters into Biden's camp. Again, everything is relative in a contest -- I don't care if "culturally conservative Democrats" accept gay marriage as fait accompli, if they balk at theatrically reading out the names of "my dead gay tranny POC" like the relatively more woke candidates do.
The defectors to Lyin' Liz were class-motivated -- they are professional-class, and prioritize economic and foreign policies that will benefit the top 20%, with zero regard for the bottom 80%, whom they regard with utter contempt, especially if they live in flyover country or outside of the top 10 metro areas. Their fixation on progressive cultural issues is just a mask for this professional-class war against the working class, but also against against the ownership class, whose manager they demand to speak to in order to get a comfier ride during their professional-class ambitions.
The reason why so many "socialists" defended Warren and concern-trolled Bernie throughout 2019 was because they identified the common class interests with the Lyin' Liz crowd. The socialists, too, are mainly professional-class and are angry that their capitalist overlords aren't giving them enough to satisfy their yuppie status-striving ambitions.
"How am I supposed to live in Brooklyn / Austin / LA / Seattle, without free healthcare and my student loan debt canceled?" Well, in the meantime before the revolution, you can always move back to whatever hick town you actually come from, where life is more affordable. The horror! The indignity! They simply demand to ride high-on-the-hog in the most expensive status-striving zip codes literally on the face of the Earth. They couldn't care less if the bottom 80% languish in squalor back where they actually come from -- it's free stuff for the top 20%, not welfare for the entire nation.
Naturally, these socialists prioritize progressive cultural issues over economic revolution, such as re-industrializing the economy (the center of all socialist revolutions), or de-scaling our over-extended empire (which they only object to on progressive cultural grounds -- empire is just racism backed by an army, to them, so they don't care if the Pentagon continues to occupy Europe via NATO and threatens our own nuclear annihilation by antagonizing Russia, which would only amount to unobjectionable white-on-white violence).
In sum, these SJW-ists -- by whatever label they choose -- will be difficult to get back into Bernie's camp for 2020. Especially now that Lyin' Liz has gone nuclear with her risible #MeToo smear against Bernie. No one believes it's true, since moral panics peak during the vulnerable phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, and we're moving into the first year of the warm-up phase when the backlash to that hysteria will begin.
Even among believers of the smear, contrast their reaction to the other cases during the 2015-2019 hysteria -- they don't fear Bernie, don't feel violated, etc. Now it's just an emotionally empty symbol that they're using to beat him with, since the emotional resonance with themes of rape, trauma, etc. is no longer there. Now it is more openly visible as a tool for the professional class to weaken a politician who threatens to improve the entire nation and not just pamper the bratty top 20%. It's their way of declaring that there's no going back to the Bernie coalition, they're ride-or-die for the candidate who is even more of a girlboss than Crooked Hillary Clinton.
The silver lining here is that Bernie can use this opportunity to get back the culturally conservative whites who left him for Biden over the issue of too much wokeness. Before this smear by Lyin' Liz, it would have been a hard sell for Bernie to walk back the past 4 years of gradual woke-ification of his image and message.
But now he can credibly claim to be a martyr of the excesses of MeToo, and that he was targeted because he wants the best for the entire nation, not just the class of spoiled yuppie girlbosses and their cuckolded partners. He can launch into a broader diatribe against identity politics as a distraction from material issues, used by the top 20% to rationalize their exploitation of the bottom 80%, who in their minds are nothing but racist sexist flyover scum and therefore deserving of their de-industrialized shithole country of the neoliberal era.
This will bring back any working-class whites who left Bernie over wokeness, but it would even bring back some of his professional-class white supporters. Not all professionals are woke -- indeed, the culture war is largely a within-class battle between elite liberals and elite conservatives. Their positions are moralistic rationalizations for why their half of the elite should hold power over society, which would bring in the flow of material and intangible status benefits to their side rather than the other's.
(This within-class war is more intense because more is at stake: no matter which side wins, the elites will continue to exploit the commoners, so punching down on the flyover proles is of secondary concern to them. But if their side wins the within-elite battle, they'll win control over society and get a shitload more stuff than their elite rivals. So most of the culture war is elites battling their elite rivals.)
Some of these professional-class cultural conservatives, who vote in Democrat primaries, were with Bernie in '16 because he was the non-woke candidate, and they prioritize non-wokeness over economics of either stripe (elitist or populist). They're materially comfortable enough that they focus mainly on the culture war, and they want to see the non-woke Democrat win -- even if, as in Bernie's case in '16, that meant they might have to pay higher taxes or whatever. Small price to pay, for comfortable people, in order to keep their country from going down the cultural sewer. They tend to be over 40 (not the campus radical set), which fortunately means they're more influential on the outcome of an election.
They may already watch Fox News over their culturally liberal competitors, and especially Tucker Carlson. If Bernie did the right thing in response to Lyin' Liz's smear, he could make regular appearances on Tucker or the cultural moderates of The Five, and not only coax back the Democrats in the Fox audience, but convince enough independents and Republicans to vote in the Democrat primary, just so they can strike back at the MeToo witch-hunters among the coastal elites, whatever their plans may be for the general election.
This is the only way for Bernie to improve his chances in the wake of Lyin' Liz's feminazi hit job. All other responses leave him at best the same, or weakened -- they won't like his weak response, which amounts to an abdication of his leadership role, so they would likely go to Biden (not Lyin' Liz herself), who is objectively more of a fighter and leader (just not for the issues the Bernie supporter wants).
Such complicated dynamics emerge from multi-candidate contests, where Lyin' Liz will not only steal Bernie supporters directly, but attack him in ways that alienate them into choosing among the other candidates (or staying home). All of which helps Biden, naturally given Lyin' Liz's role as a suicide bomber for the neoliberal establishment Democrats.
And after she detonated the vest right next to Bernie on the debate stage, he should call her out directly as a suicide bomber, a kamikaze pilot, whose sole mission is to keep the brutal status quo in place, by any means necessary. Bernie-to-Biden voters hate Lyin' Liz to begin with, and with that disgusting stunt she just pulled, they must be seething along with the Bernie loyalists. It's the perfect opportunity to persuade those defectors into returning to the Bernie camp.
God knows it's going to be nearly impossible to do so for Lyin' Liz supporters from here on out -- and her pool is tinier anyway, compared to Biden's. And in this move, Bernie would not even be attacking Biden directly to poach his voters (which he could still do later) -- he would simply be robbing Biden of the mantle of non-wokeness, becoming the warrior against the polarizing culture war.
Bernie's campaign has been doing the wrong things for the past 4 years regarding the maintenance and expansion of his coalition, so they will likely continue after this event and either remain in a distant 2nd place, or deflate even further. But any surprise would be welcome -- maybe getting so viciously shivved by a progressive feminazi on national TV will wake some of those leftoids up and put them in do-or-die mode for once.