With the possibility of former Vice President Joe Biden earning the 2020 nomination now inching ever closer to reality, key progressive legislators are floating the idea of an “alternative” Democratic ticket that embodies a fully far-left platform, possibly pitting the two extremes of the Democratic Party against each other.
The New York Times claims, Monday, that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are each others’ worst enemy and that, despite their “non-agression” pact, if one were to be hounded out of the race, the other would pose a clear threat to the “Establishment” Democrats’ pick, Biden.
“Since the presidential primary race began, the two senators — who have been friends since Ms. Warren was elected to the Senate in 2012 — have abided by a de facto nonaggression pact, rarely criticizing one another and frequently acting as something of a populist tag team on the debate stage,” the Times claims. “Yet with Mr. Sanders enjoying a revival after his heart attack in October and Ms. Warren receding from her summer surge but wielding a formidable political organization in the first nominating states, it’s increasingly clear that their biggest obstacle to winning the Democratic nomination is each other.”
The easy solution would be for one or the other to drop out, presumably Sanders, whose health is now in question, despite his ability to consistently draw large crowds on the campaign trail. But that’s not a perfect scenario, as the Times is quick to point out: Warren isn’t a “pure” progressive, and those that back Sanders, especially at the behest of “Democratic socialists,” aren’t satisfied with Warren’s mixed track record, which includes defending corporations in court, making money off flipping houses, lying about Native American heritage, and defending school choice.
So, perhaps the time has come for another idea, some progressive legislators say: a Sanders/Warren ticket. Or a Warren/Sanders ticket.
“The two of them could usher in a progressive era for the next decade,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). Khanna even compared the pair to another all star team, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, who consolidated the mushy middle back in the early 1990s by appealing to middle-of-the-road Democrats together, rather than splitting what was then the core of the party. “They doubled down on a bet for a centrist vision of the party. This would be a bet on a progressive vision for the party.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) also told the Times that she was thrilled with the idea.
“I think that would just be the dream of all progressives,” she told reporters. “When you’re going into a battlefield, you want your best players to be on the field starting. And they are our best.”
It sounds fabulous, but there’s a big problem: Warren and Sanders can’t agree on minutae, like whether its acceptable to raise taxes on the middle class in pursuit of a wider government safety net. Warren has long denied that her government expansions, including a “Medicare for All” system, a student loan bailout, and a universal public education system that starts with preschool, can’t be paid for by her catchall “wealth tax.” Sanders, on the other hand, is clear that the benefits of universal health care, a universal jobs program, and a “Green New Deal” are worth the extra cash the working class will have to fork over every April 15th.
There’s also the teensy-weensy problem of splitting the Democratic vote. Biden is neck-and-neck with Trump in battleground states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and Florida, and the addition of a “third party” — even an officially sanctioned third party — would be disastrous to Democratic hopes.
Of course, that doesn’t seem to bother Omar or others, who are convinced, as the Labour Party was in the U.K., that socialists make up a “silent majority” of voters, and they’ll accept any outcome — and any socialist leader — in order to widen the government’s reach. It might be a hard lesson, but it doesn’t seem Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, is learning it.