The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion I would vote for Biden were it not for his aggressive online army of supporters

Menaces! (Tracie Van Auken/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

I think you just need to ask yourself if this is the kind of movement you want.

I agree with everything Joe Biden is for: having been in the Obama administration, incremental change, vague and gauzy nostalgia. I align with him on Medicare-for-some, on restoring the soul of America and on Corn Pops. I ardently oppose everything that Bernie Sanders favors. With so much in common, why hesitate?

There’s just one word for it: the Biden Boys. Or two words. Three, if you include the “the.” My personal experience with them has been nothing short of a nightmare. My mailbox, my physical mailbox, as we speak, is full of typewritten letters that call me a “lying dog-faced pony soldier.” Every time I try to engage on the issues, someone challenges me — in aggressive terms — to a push-up contest. Do these people speak for you, Joe Biden?

Election 2020 live updates

I want to be able to critique my candidate without being told, “C’mon, man!”

This could just be me, but I think it speaks volumes. I think these ardent Bidenites have to ask themselves if this is really the foot they want to put forward — filling my mentions with drawings of the state of Delaware looking angry and sending me envelopes filled with Carter’s Little Liver Pills. I truly don’t know what these are, and I don’t feel welcome!

Follow Alexandra Petri's opinionsFollow

I know that other people online have had very different experiences than I have had and yet are still managing to align with candidates whose supporters have not exactly rolled out a welcome mat for them. Bully for them! But someone spat the word “malarkey” in a cutting tone in my voicemail inbox, and now as a consequence, I have reevaluated all my positions on everything and — maybe I’m a socialist, actually! I’m as surprised as anyone. Think about that before you drop another commuter train emoji in my mentions.

I think we have to wonder what motivates this kind of behavior. Something makes these people comment, “Do you even KNOW Barack Obama?” on all my social media posts. Something makes these barbershop quartets form outside my apartment window and complain in close harmony that I must want insurance companies to die. It just seems counterproductive for the movement, and I also wonder where they find the time to rehearse. But what does it say that I can’t be even mildly critical of Joe without receiving several irate faxes from people who think I won’t even be able to have dates after I’m 30?

Henry Olsen

counterpointBe careful, Biden. You might be inviting a challenge from the left.

I think this kind of rot spreads from the top. You see a candidate who not only doesn’t disavow these Malarkey Men but who himself calls people “a horse’s ass” and replies to their critiques with, “Don’t tell me that, pal, or I’m going to go outside with you, man.” So much for civility! Keep this up, and I might discover I’m a Republican!

Use the Post Opinions Simulator to pick a state and see what might happen in upcoming primaries and caucuses.

Sign up to receive Alexandra Petri’s columns by email as soon as they’re published

Read more from Alexandra Petri:

The coronavirus is under control. Correction: It is not.

No news but good news on the coronavirus

So 2148 was a bust. But next time a woman runs for president will be different!

Submit a question for Petri’s March 17 live chat

Read a transcript of Petri’s March 10 live chat