Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, left, and Bernie Sanders speak at the NALEO Candidate Forum in Miami, Fla., on June 21, 2019. (Photo: Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, left, and Bernie Sanders speak at the NALEO Candidate Forum in Miami, Fla., on June 21, 2019. (Photo: Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

Forget Bernie vs. Warren. Focus on Growing the Progressive Base and Defeating Biden.

The very last thing we need is for the two strongest left/progressive candidates and their supporters to tear each other apart for the next eight months

Naomi Klein

 by The Intercept

A few days ago, I shared what I thought was a fairly innocuous observation about a fundamental difference between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Warren spends most of her campaign unpacking and explaining detailed policy proposals, many of them excellent, while Sanders splits his emphasis between his own strong plans and his calls for the political revolution he has consistently said will be required for any substantive progressive policy wins.

“Smart policies are very important,” I tweeted. “But we don’t lose because we lack smart policies, we lose because we lack sufficient power to win those policies up against entrenched elite forces that will do anything to defeat us.”

Within seconds, I was in the grip of a full-on 2016 primary flashback. I was accused of being a shill for Bernie and an enemy of Warren (I’m neither). My feed filled up with partisans of both candidates hurling insults at each other: She gets things done, he is all talk; she’s a pretender, he’s the real deal; he has a gender problem, hers is with race; she’s in the pocket of the arms industry, he’s an easy mark for Donald Trump; he should back her because she’s a woman, she should back him because he started this wave. And much more too venal to mention.

I immediately regretted saying anything (as is so often the case on that godforsaken platform). Not because the point about outside movement power is unimportant, but because I had been trying to put off getting sucked into the 2020 horserace for as long as possible.

Liberals in the U.S. often say the Trump presidency is Not Normal. And yeah, it’s a killer-clown horror show. But the truth is that from most outsider perspectives, there is nothing about U.S. politics that is normal — particularly the interminable length of campaigns. Normal countries have federal elections that consume two, maybe three months of people’s political lives once every four to five years; Canada caps federal campaigns at 50 days, Japan at 12. In the U.S., on the other hand, there’s a total of about nine months in every four-year cycle when politics is not consumed by either a presidential or midterm horserace.

The very last thing we need is for the two strongest left/progressive candidates and their supporters to tear each other apart for the next eight months.

It’s a spectacle that comes at a steep price. The relentless process of picking electoral winners sucks up intellectual energy, media airtime, movement muscle, and boatloads of money that are badly needed elsewhere. Like organizing to stop war with Iran, for instance. Or supporting movements trying to free migrants from Trump’s concentration camps. Or figuring out what a transformative Green New Deal should look like on the ground. Or building international alliances with people in countries facing their own hate-filled authoritarian strongmen.

There’s another reason to resist attempts to turn Sanders vs. Warren into a redux of the 2016 primaries eight months before the first vote is cast. Today’s electoral dynamics are absolutely nothing like 2016. That was a two-way race between two candidates with radically different records and ideas, in which one candidate’s gain really was the other’s loss. A winner-takes-all race like that pretty much always turns into some kind of death match.

Read full article here.


© 2021 The Intercept
Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein is Senior Correspondent at The Intercept and the inaugural Gloria Steinem Chair of Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. Her books include: "No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need" (2017),  "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate" (2015);  "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism" (2008); and "No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies" (2009).  To read all her writing visit www.naomiklein.org.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Huge Step Forward': China Applauded for Pledge to Stop Building Overseas Coal Plants

"The writing is on the wall for coal power," said the president of upcoming climate summit COP26.

Julia Conley ·


Nearly 50 Groups Demand Passage of Amendments to Cut Pentagon Budget

"Pouring billions more into the military, far beyond even the level requested by President Biden, sends exactly the wrong message at this moment in history."

Andrea Germanos ·


Experts to Biden: Strongarm Big Pharma to Erase 'Moral Stain' of Vaccine Apartheid

"Every day that goes by, another roughly 10,000 people are lost to this disease—what are governments with the power to change this horrific statistic waiting for?"

Jake Johnson ·


'We Are Trying to Save It,' Progressives Say as Right-Wing Dems Sabotage Biden's Agenda

"The Biden agenda—our Democratic agenda—is at stake. It's progressives who are fighting to pass it in its entirety."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo