Super Tuesday Edition

Examining the progressive debate between Sanders and Warren

Welcome to Super Tuesday, the Super Bowl for us political nerds. What's better than watching pundits make premature declarations based on partial vote totals from California and Texas? Or live interviews with frustrated voters in Virginia who cast ballots weeks ago for Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar. It's American democracy at its absurd, chaotic best. I am tracking delegates and the popular vote across all states, in case you're interested in following along.

Rather than make predictions that will surely look stupid in a matter of hours, I want to share some thoughts on the two remaining progressives in the field. (Separately, on the now resurgent Joe Biden, I stand by what I said last summer: that we can simultaneously admire and respect Biden's service and accomplishments while acknowledging that he was on the wrong side of too many big policy questions and is not fit to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.)

Now, on to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I will preface what follows by saying that Warren is my candidate. I voted for her here in Washington State and strongly believe that she would make a more effective president than any person left in the race. No one has a better understanding of the federal government, how it can positively impact the lives of everyday Americans when wielded correctly, and how to combat persistent forms of systemic racism and inequality—structures that were sometimes aided and by the government itself.

That said, I'm under no illusions about Warren's dismal chances in the race at this point. Her path to the nomination likely comes only through a contested convention. What's more, her overall agenda is to my left, as I'm generally aligned with someone like Klobuchar or Cory Booker. But that's beside the point. In my eyes, Warren, not Sanders, should be the progressive standard-bearer because of her theory of change and how to execute it.

Sanders, like Warren, has an aggressive series of policy proposals. However, Sanders, unlike Warren, has not come out in support of ending the filibuster. Sanders can't rely on massive rallies in red states to convince Mitch McConnell or John Thune to back a progressive policy vision for the country. We need structural political reforms to our institutions and rules before we can expect to enact sustainable policies. Warren gets that and has been vocal about it on the trail and in recent debates. What I see too often from Sanders is inflamed rhetoric to drum up a populist wave that will get little done.

A useful contrast to consider is Warren's work to create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPB) in the aftermath of the financial crisis. The agency is widely regarded as a success, so much so that the Trump administration is trying to dismantle it as we speak. CFPB is just one example of Warren's innovative efforts to make a positive change within the current system. Sanders, meanwhile, despite his clear personal integrity and laudable stances over the years on issues like gay rights and the Iraq War, has failed to be a catalyst for notable policy wins. In fact, the Vermont senator was the primary sponsor of just seven bills that became law, two of which renamed post offices.

I will vote for the Democratic nominee no matter what, but let's recognize that we're passing up the stronger progressive choice. - MS

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