The war between Bernie Sanders supporters and fans of Beto O’Rourke is real. Despite their similarities, people on the left are engaging in a battle over purity, and only the most “real” progressive will do.

My colleague Kemberlee Kaye described the struggle in a recent post:

Bernie Sanders Supporters Wage War on Beto O’Rourke

According to a report by NBC, Sanders supporters are already putting the heat O’Rourke, attempting to paint him as a less than committed ideologue.

Sanders, a self-described socialist, was the clear left-winger in the 2016 election, but in the two years since Trump was elected, Democrats have wholly abandoned any guise of centrism in a race to prove who is the truest, most leftist progressive.

From NBC:

The main line of attack against O’Rourke is that he isn’t progressive enough — that he’s been too close to Republicans in Congress, too close to corporate donors and not willing enough to use his star power to help fellow Democrats — and it is being pushed almost exclusively by Sanders supporters online and in print.

It’s been the first flashpoint in what promises to be a politically bloody primary — one that has drawn responses from foot soldiers in the Obama and Clinton wings of the party — as Democrats begin to focus on who has the best chance to deny President Donald Trump a second term in the Oval Office.

In a recent column for New York Mag, liberal writer Jonathan Chait wrote about this conflict and highlighted the core issue:

Why the Bernie Movement Must Crush Beto O’Rourke

The rise of Beto O’Rourke poses an obvious threat. The Texas congressman has replicated aspects of Sanders’s appeal — his positivity and refusal to accept PAC money — while exceeding it in some ways. Sanders is charismatic in an unconventional way, the slovenly and cranky but somewhat lovable old uncle, while O’Rourke projects a classic handsome, toothy, Kennedy-esque charm that reliably makes Democrats swoon. Hard-core loyalists find the contrast irksome. “Reading Karl Marx is cool,” said Nomiki Konst, a Sanders loyalist and candidate for New York City public advocate, to NBC. “Doing a livestream while you’re doing your laundry is a gimmick.” The comment sums up the left’s well-grounded fear that Sanders’s hard-core ideological appeal can be easily disarmed with personal charisma…

The frequently invoked comparisons between O’Rourke and the 44th president explain both O’Rourke’s wide appeal within the party ranks and the mistrust he has inspired on the far left. Socialists generally regard Obama as a failure; Sanders often critiqued Obama implicitly, sometimes explicitly.

O’Rourke’s burgeoning image as the next Obama is the very reason socialists reject him. “I think they are suspicious of Beto because he has taken oil and gas money, he’s becoming the darling of big donors, and Obama likes him,” says historian Michael Kazin. “Beto is a lot like Obama, true;” writes Breunig, “it’s perhaps time for left-leaning Democrats to realize that may not be a good thing.” Of course, given that 95 percent of Democrats approve of Obama, this message has fairly limited utility as a line of attack.

Establishment Democrats would probably be just fine with another Obama, but that’s not good enough for the party’s far left base. They want Bernie’s socialist revolution, which they don’t believe Beto will deliver.

 
 
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