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Elizabeth Warren Betrayed the Progressive Movement, Yet Again

As the votes are tallied through the night, it becomes increasingly clear that Joe Biden will win Michigan, a state that Sanders won in 2016. With polls giving Biden double-digit leads and barring divine intervention, Biden is likely the presumptive nominee for the Democratic nomination. FiveThirtyEight gives Biden a 99 percent chance of winning the nomination, and that’s likely to increase.

Just about two weeks ago, it was assumed that Sanders was on his way to accumulate an insurmountable lead after Super Tuesday, which would propel him to win the nomination. I predicted the same in an article due to Buttigieg’s strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire, leading to the split of the moderates vote which would’ve given Sanders a path to victory.

But Buttigieg, to the surprise of many and despite being a top-tier candidate, had the political instincts to understand  that his stay would lead to a Sanders win. Two days before Super Tuesday, he dropped out of the race and endorsed Joe Biden. By doing so, he potentially secured himself a high position in a Biden administration. Amy Klobuchar, who also ran an impressive campaign despite being mostly unknown by voters, outperformed expectations and was able to outlast leading candidates such as O’Rourke and Harris. I predict that she will be joining the Democratic ticket heading to November.

On the other hand, Warren fumbled and ignored all signs indicating that her chances were over after Nevada where she ended in fourth position. When moderates coalesced, she stubbornly continued her vanity campaign, hoping to reach viability in as many states as possible. Her poor political instincts led to an embarrassing outcome, where she lost her own state and wasn’t viable in most states including California. The worst part, she split the progressive vote, awarding Joe Biden a decisive win in states such as delegate-rich Texas, liberal stronghold Massachusetts, as well as Minnesota.

There’s no doubt that Warren’s supporters are not a monolith. While many support Sanders, others support Biden over the Senator from Vermont. Nevertheless, a strong and passionate endorsement from her might have swayed a larger portion of her supporters to the progressive candidate – potentially enough to give Sanders a strong chance of coming up as the victor of the night on Super Tuesday. This would have generated the needed momentum to increase his lead and perform better on a night like tonight.

Although Sanders became the underdog in the race, he still had a chance to overcome Biden’s relatively small lead. When Warren announced on Thursday that she is dropping out of the race, progressives waited anxiously for an endorsement that could potentially change the race… an impassionate endorsement that could portray Biden as a risk in the General Election… an endorsement to ask her millions of supporters to back the only remaining progressive in the race.

Instead, Warren sat it out, just like she did in 2016 where she refused repeatedly to endorse Senator Sanders, even when he had momentum by winning New Hampshire in a landslide. She decided to appear on Saturday Night Live performing one of the funnier skits which garnered millions of views on Twitter alone. When asked if she would endorse a candidate, she said she may pull a NY Times and endorse them both.

It was a joke. It was funny, and that’s okay. But the joke became reality, and she waited as progressives await anxiously for her to come out to endorse Sanders. She decided it wasn’t important, or maybe, wasn’t worth the risk of losing potential influence in a Biden administration.

Warren failed the progressive movement. Warren betrayed the progressive movement. I admit that Sanders is not a perfect candidate, far from it. No candidate is. Should he have engaged southern organizers in order to reach voters better? Absolutely. Should he have played harder and hit Biden hard for months with ads all over the country to render him as unelectable and a risk? Definitely. Should Bernie have courted the support of influential politicians such as Jim Clyburn even if chances were low? You bet. I can go on, and on, and on.

But the progressive movement was never about Sanders, the person, and everything about #MeNotUs, the movement and the policies this movement wants to enact for the 99 percent. Biden is the antithesis of the structural change that Warren made a core component of her campaign. Of all people, Warren who said less than two weeks ago that “nominating [Biden] who wants to restore the world before Donald Trump, when the status quo has been leaving more and more people behind for decades, is a big risk for our party and our country.”

Warren should’ve understood that. And yes, Warren owes everything to the progressive movement that backs her. She, as an influential progressive leader, is expected to help the movement win. This time around and for the second election cycle in a row, she let them down. She was the catalyst that broke the movement, and it breaks my heart and the hearts of many who adore her.

Written by Salam Morcos

Salam Morcos is a Managing Editor of Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

Political activist for democracy, social justice, racial justice, women's right and human rights.

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  1. On the scale of King Lear of Macbeth the tragedy of the American progressive movement rests squarely with Elizabeth Warren. She is truly an embarrassment. But to whom or to what. To women, no, they idolize here. To progressives, no, it is to complicated. To herself, no, she has no feeling. No, she is an embarrassment to our nation. And that is the saddest and most indecent and most tragic of all

  2. Many of us who supported Warren see this the other way around. Warren injected new life into the movement and still had strong appeal in areas where Sanders was losing voters to Buttigieg and Klobuchar. Warren outperformed just about everyone in the debates and still showed signs of life in terms of an upswing in donations while Sanders seemed content to replay the same speeches and policies from four years ago without any consideration for whether he could bridge the gap with less progressive minded voters. He boasted about his appeal to Latinos in Nevada and California but completely forgot (and didn’t seem too concerned) about the Latinos in Florida.

    Sanders basically failed to make good on his claims that he’d bring more people into the movement and more young people to the polls. Warren is better prepared to actually serve as president but unfortunately fell victim to this country’s puzzling aversion to actually putting a woman in the Oval Office. Bernie could have helped overcome that by realizing he’s no longer moving the movement forward and thrown his support to Warren. Warren’s appeal to the #MeToo and #StopGunViolence movements along with her equally viable (if not better) plans to reform education and health care could have expanded the movement to the critical mass necessary to beat Trump.

    Ironically, it’s now Bernie who is standing in the way of letting the Dems fully focus on beating Trump. Biden has already moved significantly to the left and will likely continue to do so. If Bernie makes good on his vow to support the nominee the same way he did four years ago (by waiting until it’s too late in the game) and leaves his flock stewing at home in their “protest against the system” then prepare yourself to thank Bernie for another four years of Trump. It’s the second time that he’s pretended to be a Democrat in order to get the big party support but he seems fundamentally incapable of trusting the leadership of the movement to anyone but himself. He can pretend his ego isn’t all wrapped up in this but I, for one, was never fooled.

    Warren didn’t split my vote away from anything or anyone else, this time or the last time. But once again, Bernie’s insistence on his way being the only way has forced me into supporting a far less organically progressive candidate, this time in Biden, in the hopes that at least they’ll evolve enough in time to bring a broader coalition to victory in November. If Trump wins again, I’ll blame Bernie, not Liz.

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Elizabeth Warren Betrayed the Progressive Movement, Yet Again