Politics

Bernie Sanders Supporters Must Bridge a Gap — Not Isolate Progressives

Amelie Lee ’23
Political Columnist
March 12, 2020

I voted for Elizabeth Warren on Super Tuesday. Bernie was easily my second choice, but I maintained—and still do—that she was the most practical candidate, and has an acute ability to make progressive policies accessible to more moderate Democrats. She impressed me in every debate, and I believed, with her many plans and list of Day 1 executive orders, she could unite the party enough to win against Donald Trump.

However, I also live in California, and part of the reason I felt confident enough to vote for Warren was my faith that Bernie Sanders was going to sweep the state, and my lack of fear that Biden would even come close to winning California. If I lived in a more hotly contested state, I probably would have voted for Sanders to secure a progressive nominee. As our primary system isn’t one that allows ranked-choice voting, I wanted to cast my first ever vote for someone I believed would make the best president, giving up a more strategic vote for Sanders. In a lot of states, where the race was tighter, thousands of people didn’t make that strategic vote, and 7% of Super Tuesday’s votes went to Warren.

In the aftermath, Bernie supporters weren’t happy. #DropOutWarren was trending on Twitter the days following, and on every social media site, I saw comments repeatedly calling Warren supporters selfish, stupid, and a traitor to the progressive cause. I saw people claiming that Warren supporters were intentionally trying to hurt Bernie by preferring her as a candidate, and plenty of obscenities and insults directed at Warren and her supporters. On Mar. 4, Sanders even condemned the “ugly, personal attacks,” against Warren and her supporters. The next day, Warren ended her presidential campaign.

Do I think that Warren should have dropped out before Super Tuesday? Yes. Should Warren have endorsed Bernie days ago? Yes. But that does not in any way justify the level of abuse that Sanders supporters have launched at their supposed progressive allies in the midst of Super Tuesday results. Sanders supporters need to understand that they need to stop alienating the rest of the progressive base, and in order to pave the way for a Sanders nomination, peaceful conversation and compromise is necessary to win over Warren’s voter base.

Recently, the New York Times released an article titled “Why Warren Supporters Aren’t a Lock to Get Behind Sanders,” outlining the differences between Warren and Sanders voters. The fact of the matter is, Sanders supporters are much too presumptuous in assuming that every former Warren supporter is like me— ready to immediately jump on the Bernie2020 campaign upon our candidate’s departure. For most of the people who were willing to vote for Elizabeth Warren above Bernie Sanders by the time Super Tuesday rolled around, their vote was subject to much more complex reasoning: one of progressive policy versus neoliberalism. Many Warren supporters had, and still have, serious reservations about Sanders as the Democratic nominee. In fact, according to a study conducted by market research company Morning Consult, only a disappointing 46% of Warren supporters named Sanders as their second choice, while 38% said they prefer Joe Biden. Some of those reservations are directly pointed at Bernie’s base: one that has a reputation of wreaking havoc online at any criticism of their preferred candidate. Other reservations focus on Bernie’s divisive nature within the Democratic party, with concerns about his ability to unite the country enough to beat Trump encouraging a “safer,” more electable choice. Ultimately, progressive policies only made up a percentage of what united Warren’s base, and Sanders supporters must bridge that gap peacefully rather than with anger and verbal attacks.

I will fight every step of the way to ensure that Bernie Sanders is in the White House next January, but in order to convince every other Warren voter to agree, there needs to be an understanding that repeatedly attacking her is not the way to go. Instead, Sanders supporters need to convince Warren voters that his progressive policies can be achieved, that Sanders is every bit as practical as he is passionate. They need to convince us that Sanders can be a uniting voice for the country, not just speaking to a small percentage of America’s leftist youth. Sanders supporters need to understand that despite their passion, complex conversation is needed to win over enough votes to secure his spot as president—not misdirected anger.

Image Credit: Vox

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