In case there was any question of who Bernie Sanders‘ supporters would be more loyal to — him or the Democratic Party — after he announced his endorsement of Joe Biden, the Vermont senator’s former chief spokesperson may have provided a glimpse of what to expect from the “Bros” moving forward.
Sanders on Monday unexpectedly appeared alongside Biden in a live stream and endorsed the former vice president’s candidacy in a moment that was likely meant to inspire and rally the Democratic troops to coalesce around the presumptive nominee. But not everybody is firmly aligned with Team Biden, including Briahna Joy Gray, the attorney who worked as Sanders’ national press secretary and was adamant about not supporting his candidacy.
“With the utmost respect for Bernie Sanders, who is an incredible human being & a genuine inspiration, I don’t endorse Joe Biden,” Gray tweeted Monday afternoon before revealing the reasons for withholding her support. “I supported Bernie Sanders because he backed ideas like #MedicareForAll, cancelling ALL student debt, & a wealth tax,” he added. “Biden supports none of those.”
Gray did concede that if Biden moves farther to the left on some of his policies that she said were too conservative, then she could come around to endorsing him. Maybe. One of Gray’s subsequent tweets included an interview with the New York Times featuring similar criticism of Biden from progressive champion and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That seemed to indicate that Ocasio-Cortez, who previously endorsed Sanders and has not endorsed anyone else, might also stay away from supporting Biden if he doesn’t change any of his policies that critics say will keep America from progressing.
It was unclear if Sanders’ supporters — affectionately known as Bernie Bros — were also willing to withhold their support from Biden even if it meant that Donald Trump could win re-election on the strength of Democratic voters like them either abstaining from voting or writing in the name of someone else who is not on the ballot (like Sanders). Whether rightful or not, Bernie Bros have been repeatedly accused of cyberbullying, an alleged offense that has been condemned by everyone from fellow senators to the candidate himself. But this apparent strong-armed stance of conditional support for Biden could work.
One of the major issues from Biden has been securing support from the younger Democratic voters who disproportionately have supported Sanders. And if there’s one thing that both of President Barack Obama’s historic elections showed, it was the need for Democrats to rally a young voting base, many of whom were participating in their first presidential election. Biden will probably need a similar type of turnout from people 30 years old and younger to beat Trump, who, despite his repeated displays of detrimental incompetence, has proven himself to be a formidable — if not a dirty — candidate.
Gray’s tweet on Monday may have alluded to that fact.
Gray also found herself under fire late last month for a different tweet before Sanders dropped out of the race. After Kamala Harris appealed via Twitter for free coronavirus treatment and testing as millions of Americans who lost their jobs were bracing for a recession, Gray responded to the tweet in no uncertain terms about healthcare that critics called “trolling.” That response prompted an avalanche of tweets against Gray.
She was also one of the people who Jason Johnson — the Morgan State University journalism professor and former political pundit for MSNBC — was referring to that prompted his firing from the Root for his “people from the island of misfit Black girls” comment about Black women associated with Sanders’ campaign.