“Bern the Witch” Bernie Sanders Supporter Speaks Out

And takes nothing back

A witch doll. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins — REUTERS
Mar 11, 2016 at 3:04 PM ET

Whatever the 2016 election is about –jobs, immigration, security– it will not be remembered for its spirit of mutual respect and collegiality. People are pissed, on both sides. So when Joe Smith, a 39 year old who owns Piezano’s Pizza Kitchen in Elizabeth, New Jersey organized a pro-Sanders meet-up in the week before last Halloween, he titled the event “Bern the Witch,” i.e. Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ Democratic primary opponent. A Clinton supporter picked up on the unofficial event today and tweeted it as an example of sexism and misogyny.

But according to Smith, who spoke with Vocativ in between slinging chicken parms during the lunch rush, the event had no sexist intent.

“I’m not criticizing her because she’s a woman,” he says, “her policies and her career are disastrous for working people.” When pressed that titling his event after the gendered immolation of his female competitor easily reads as sexist, he adds “If people wanna look at it one way or another they can. I’m looking to win.” According to him, Sanders supporters should be taking a more aggressive tack against Clinton, “I think we need to be on the offensive,” he says.

Smith says he has donated time and money to the Sanders campaign, but has no official connection to it. Politically, he says he tilts away from the establishment. “I’m not a Democrat,” he says “there’s millions of people supporting Bernie that are not Democrats.”

Despite his firm support for Sanders, he would stand With Her against a Republican opponent. “I think clear minded people should unite to defeat the most dangerous candidate,” he says, whether that’s Trump or Cruz. He sees little relish in such a vote “we’re not for hillary clinton,” he says of himself and supporters like him, “even if we vote for her [to beat] Trump.”

According to Smith, the October event was packed, and he still thinks Sanders has a shot at the nomination. “We’re gonna burn her at the ballot box,” he says, before getting back to work.

Update. Mike Casca from the Sanders campaign responded with the following statement:

Just like the Clinton campaign’s volunteer event maker, our system allows for any user to create an event and have it posted publicly on our website. We have a team of people who scan and delete any events that are deemed inappropriate. This event was removed immediately from our system after its discovery and the user has been banned.”