Members Only | February 20, 2020 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Elizabeth Warren Is a Fighter, Not a Divider
She and Bloomberg are the only anti-Trump candidates.
If you watched the Democratic debate last night, as I did, you witnessed a first-degree murder along with millions of other eyewitnesses. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, with help from Bernie Sanders, cut Michael Bloomberg into pieces before eating him.
It was good to see, not so much because Bloomberg is the wrong choice for the Democratic Party, but because the media mogul, whose products I quite like, has never been tested. It was good to see, moreover, because the debate audience saw what happens to a billionaire exploiting a political system vulnerable to his vast wealth.
Her message, her personality, her rhetoric and her policies are all centered on fighting.
They got to see that system’s deep ironies, too. Even as Warren ate a forkful of Bloomberg, rolling it around her mouth, savoring the flavor and sighing with satisfaction, three House Democrats endorsed Bloomberg after receiving donations.
I think Warren and Bloomberg have something in common other than the relationship between chewer and chewee. Together, they are the only candidates, as I see it, who are explicitly anti-Donald Trump. Indeed, all of them are Democrats (Sanders is an independent running for the party’s nomination), but that’s not the same thing.
Bloomberg, for all his flaws, and there are many, has won respect for being strategically cold-blooded. In terms of policy, he’s quite good with reference to gun control, climate change and the commonwealth. But that’s not how he’s pitching himself. He’s a single-issue candidate, and that issue is defeating the president.
A cold-blooded focus isn’t enough, however. Bloomberg, who’s worth something like $56 billion, has virtually limitless resources. His team can spend all of its time attacking the president instead of fundraising. Resources like that go a long, long way in an information environment like ours in which there are a thousand ways of reaching voters—TV, social media, YouTube “influencers,” Twitter memes, etc.
Yes, he’s buying his way into Democrats’ heart and minds, and they might be OK with that, because the moral imperative to defeat an authoritarian wipes out all others.
Warren’s anti-Trumpism is less obvious. She isn’t a single-issue candidate. (“I got a plan for that” is her signature response to nearly all press inquiries.) But she does have something neither Bloomberg nor Sanders nor the others have. Her message, her personality, her rhetoric and her policies are all centered on the act of fighting.
This was on display last night. She told Bloomberg the Democratic Party can’t have its own version of Donald Trump. She told Sanders that Democratic voters won’t gamble on his “revolution.” She told the debate audience, vote for me and I’ll fight for you. Translation: I will fight the president and the Republican Party, and we will win.
As hard as it may be for some liberals to accept, this is what most Democrats want to hear. Climate change, immigration, corruption—no one thinks these are unimportant. But they do not elicit urgency the way Trump does. Sure, Warren rubbed her belly after dining on Bloomberg’s 78-year-old liver, but the two have much in common.
Up to this point, I have not been explicit about who I think would be a decent Democratic president. I have instead exhorted liberals to just pick a candidate, for Christ’s sake. Let’s just move on to overthrowing the fascist president already. I still believe that, just as I still believe Democratic Party unity is more important than who the actual nominee is. But none of that speaks to my own preference for a nominee.
Warren is my preference.
Indeed, I don’t understand why voters would choose Sanders when Warren is available. Ideologically, they are cut from the same cloth. The only difference is fundamental—Warren wants to fight for the little guy by fighting against power, corruption and authoritarian creep. She does not want, to paraphrase Pete Buttigieg, to “burn the house down.” She does not want, as she said, to gamble of a so-called revolution.
She also lives her values. Meanwhile, Sanders leaves open the use of superdelegates to win the nomination after condemning them in 2016. He says he won’t release his full medical records after a heart attack and after condemning Hillary Clinton in 2016 for not releasing the transcripts to highly paid Wall Street speeches. None of this is to mention his thuggish habit of polarizing would-be allies, suggesting a critic of his policies is just one more person to be added to the list of enemies to be destroyed.
Warren doesn’t do that. She’s a fighter, not a divider.
I prefer that.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.