At the end of 2014, while I was working as a political journalist in D.C., progressive groups started agitating for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president. I didn’t know much about Warren and after some research, I came away with an admiration for her clear vision about the grip financial institutions hold on our political institutions and on the millions of Americans living in debt.
I wanted Warren to run for president in 2016, and was happy when she announced her run in 2020. But what is clear now, after former Vice President Joe Biden swept many Super Tuesday Democratic primary states yesterday, is that this is a two-man contest between Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and anyone who supports Warren must choose between them.
Anecdotally— I'm hearing from Warren voters saying they now plan to vote for Biden, and that the mistreatment from the Bernie base is a big part of that calculation. They use words like "rude" and "negative" to describe the vibes coming from Bernie camp.— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) March 4, 2020
While there is no longer a viable woman in the race, there is still a candidate who is committed to making all American women’s lives better. If you care about supporting people of color and women, look at the diverse coalition, particularly among young, working-class and Latinx voters, that the Sanders campaign has built. Teachers — an overwhelmingly female profession — make up the largest share of Sanders donors, followed by food industry workers, nurses and caregivers. These are working people, and many of them are women who do the care work that is largely undervalued in our society. These are women who deserve a living wage, who deserve maternity leave and free child care and pre-K, who deserve to have health care uncoupled from their jobs and marriages, who deserve hope for the future.
It’s instructive to look at the people who overwhelmingly support Sanders: teachers, nurses, bartenders, cooks, servers, maids, builders, pork plant workers. These are working people who want to build a better life for themselves and their families. They haven’t been tricked into supporting Sanders. They are making an educated choice about which candidate has their interests at heart.
Warren will not be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020. It’s okay to grieve she won’t be on the ballot in November. But you shouldn’t let that grief make you give up on the ideals that made you support her in the first place. By refusing to support the only progressive left in the race — someone who can get enough delegates to become the Democratic nominee — you are forfeiting your own power to change the future.
I no longer work as a political journalist in D.C. In 2018, I moved to Chicago. Shortly thereafter, I started working part-time as an elementary school teacher. Last summer, when school let out, I worked as a barista to make ends meet. As a woman, as a worker, and as someone who cares about the future of my students and all the children in this country, and as someone who cares so much about the women I see every day — baristas and waitresses and Amazon delivery people and Uber drivers and in-home caregivers and teachers and nannies and parents — I can see no other way forward.
To put it in selfish terms, I want to have children one day. If Trump is re-elected (which I believe will happen if Biden is the nominee) I can’t imagine being economically stable enough to bring a child into this world. Only one candidate who can still win the nomination is fighting for a future where I can genuinely see myself being able to raise a family one day. This isn’t abstract for me.
The swiftness with which moderates lined up behind Biden must be met with an equally urgent response from people who consider themselves part of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. There is still time to demonstrate your commitment to the promise of a dignified life for everyone, regardless of income, and to do it with the same passion you had for Warren. I’m attending a Text for Bernie webinar tonight. Organize yourself, organize your friends. Text, call, knock doors. Find an event or a canvass near you. Donate if you can. Recognize the stakes. Ask people what they care about. Educate the people you care about. Tell them why this race matters to you.
If the choice is between Sanders who, at age 22, got arrested during civil rights protests in Chicago, and Biden who, as a senator, advocated for keeping schools segregated, the choice is clear. If the choice is between someone who voted for a war that left hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians dead with nothing to show for it, and someone who stood against the dangerous groupthink of the time, the choice is clear. If the choice is between someone who wants to transform the morally wretched U.S. health care system to make it more just and equitable for everyone, and someone who says we should be happy with what we’ve got, the choice is clear.
Between someone with a clear moral vision for this country, and someone who speaks entirely in bizarre platitudes that no one has used in 30 years, who has never grappled with his harmful legislative record, who constantly condescends to a generation which has faced more economic barriers than their parents’ generation, who recently and without explanation called a woman voter a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier,” who has a history of making women physically uncomfortable and making inappropriate jokes about young girls, whose viability as the Democratic nominee would have a giant hole in the shape of his son?
Sanders is not a perfect candidate, because such a thing does not exist. He’s made missteps on abortion and gun control. Some of his terminally online supporters can be assholes. Still, there is a gaping chasm between what a Biden presidency and a Sanders presidency would look like, and the people whose lives would improve under one and suffer under the other.
I am endorsing @BernieSanders for President and encourage my fellow @ewarren supporters to join me.— Paul Newell (@NewellNYC) March 4, 2020
As a pledged delegate candidate for Warren, this was not an easy decision. But supporting Sanders is now the only path to the big, structural change that Warren champions, 1/
I am asking you to try to look past what pundits on cable news say, what one asshole on Twitter might have said one time, and try to look at the man himself. Look at his record. Try to see the man who said this: “The truth is, at some level, when you hurt, when your children hurt, I hurt. I hurt… I believe that when we do the right thing — when we try to treat people with respect and dignity, when we say that that child who is hungry is my child, I think we are more human when we do that.”
Sanders is not a messiah who will single-handedly transform the country. He is a person who many Americans have put their faith in, but he is still just a person. And right now, he needs the help of every progressive in this country. If Elizabeth Warren inspired you to imagine a better way of life, we can still come together to make it a reality.