Since Liz Warren suspended her campaign for President, some of us may seem a little bereaved. We may be sort of coming across like our best friend just died.
In truth, it’s more like a betrayal than a loss. I can’t seem to unclench my jaw for any sustained period of time. The more I learn about this election cycle, the more people I can’t trust. Dirtbags to the left of me, fascists to the right, and no safety in the middle.
Now that she’s out of the race, I see a lot of people calling on her to endorse Bernie Sanders. Not because she owes HIM anything, of course, they plead, but for the good of the “progressive movement,” they want her support for him.
This would seem reasonable, except now I know much of the pressure on her to drop out, well before Super Tuesday, was from Bernouts vilifying Liz as hurting the “progressive movement” by “stealing votes from Bernie.” They call her a liar and a snake. They say she doesn’t really have a progressive agenda. They characterized her campaign as an attack on Bernie, rather than recognize her as a candidate in her own right. They accuse her of “splitting the progressive vote,” and they’ve been telling primary voters around the country that “a vote for Warren is a vote for Biden.” They call her campaign a “spoiler” against Bernie. They wanted her to drop out and endorse Bernie, and because she didn’t do that, they treat her like the enemy. They blame her for Bernie not being in first place. Because she was also a candidate.
I may need another glass of wine. Give me a moment.
You do realize Liz Warren has just as much of a right to run for President as Bernie Sanders, yes? If I have to explain this to you, I don’t trust you to be arguing in good faith.
If Bernie Sanders wants my vote for the Democratic nomination, he can earn my vote. If the Bernouts want me on their team, they can make a case for their guy. A vote for Warren was not “stealing” a vote from Bernie, it was a vote for Liz Warren. If Bernie cannot compete for moderates with Joe Biden, that’s on him. It’s not on Liz to sacrifice her ambition for his benefit. If Bernie cannot compete for progressives with Liz, that’s on him. It’s not on Liz to hand him her supporters with a pretty bow on top.
This is what I’m supposed to recognize as “the progressive movement.” I just don’t belong anywhere.
In terms of Warren lending her support to Sanders, you do realize Biden already has more delegates than her and Sanders put together? With or without Liz cheering for him, Bernie will have to up his game from here on out?
Of course, in addition to the obscene sense of entitlement, accusing Liz of “stealing votes from Bernie” assumes a lot about how the votes would have redistributed if certain candidates had been absent from the race. You think everyone who voted for Liz would have inevitably voted for Bernie if she hadn’t been a candidate? BOLD OF YOU TO ASSUME such a thing. You think everyone who voted for Amy or Pete would’ve inevitably gone to Biden in their absence? Nah. It’s a very mixed bag.
Which brings us to this: while it may feel good to promote the corporate news media’s self-fulfilling prophecy of “electability” by framing a multi-person contest as two elderly white men as the inevitable candidates and everyone else as helping one elderly white man by cutting into the other elderly white man’s delegate share, (*pauses to catch breath*) BECAUSE in this case your guy is one of those two elderly white men, there’s no substitute for making a positive case for your candidate as the best one for the job. Apply the logic of a two-man race to the reality of several people in mutual competition, and find negative campaigning can have unintended consequences. You may succeed in scaring some voters away from one competitor. Doesn’t mean they’ll choose you instead.
So, as for the calculation that Warren’s candidacy fucked up Bernie’s share of the electorate compared to Biden: I wonder how many people wanted to vote for Warren, but they heard too much of the Sanders narrative of “a vote for Warren is a vote for Biden,” and ultimately decided, “okay, I might as well vote for Biden.”? We’ll probably never know.
They said she was hurting the progressive movement by competing with Bernie. Now she’s out, and they want her to endorse him because that would be supporting the progressive movement.
Her answer to that question is the silence of a brilliant woman who knows of better ways to advance a progressive agenda than you do. Sit there and be uncomfortable.