Elizabeth Warren bets big on party unity

From the debate stage in Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday night, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren activated her closing strategy to lock up the Democratic nomination for president. There’s no way to tell if it will be successful, and many reasons to be skeptical that it will. But it may well be Warren’s most plausible path to the nomination.

In 2020, the Democratic Party is extremely broad in ideological terms. At one extreme, a lifelong democratic socialist who talks of “political revolution” (Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders) is proposing programs that would cost untold trillions of dollars in new spending to implement, while also advocating a complete reversal of direction in foreign policy from the consensus that has prevailed in Washington for many years.

At the other extreme, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar advocate slightly varying modes of continuity with the Democratic Party’s pragmatic conventional wisdom both at home and abroad. Further out toward the leftward edge of the Republican Party, Michael Bloomberg hopes to use his personal fortune to pull the Democrats to the right.

That’s an awfully big tent. It’s hard to see how Sanders could placate voters who incline toward Biden, let alone Bloomberg, just as Bernie enthusiasts will be exceedingly unlikely to rally around a center-left nominee.

That’s where Warren comes in. She’s clearly situated herself between these extremes — though she just as clearly wants to be perceived as closer to the left than the center. She showed no signs of changing that approach on Tuesday.

In the lengthy foreign policy discussion that took up the opening half-hour of the debate, Warren positioned herself right next to Sanders, even going so far as to advocate pulling all American troops out of the Middle East. That’s a stance that places her far outside of the centrist foreign policy consensus in both parties.

On the revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or the USMCA), Sanders staked out the left-wing-ideological-purity position, claiming to support what’s in it (which several major unions have endorsed) while nonetheless promising to vote against it because it doesn’t include an adequate statement of principles about fighting climate change. The more centrist candidates all support it, and so did Warren, who nonetheless made a point of throwing some sharp digs at NAFTA in the name of defending American workers.

The pattern repeated itself on health care, child care, and student loan debt — with Sanders defining the left, Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and billionaire Tom Steyer staking out positions closer to the center, and Warren defining herself as just slightly less left-wing than Sanders.

If that were the entirety of Warren’s appeal, it would be a pretty weak bid for party unity. But it had one more component that came to the fore in the highly anticipated exchange roughly halfway through the debate when she and Sanders were asked about Warren’s claim that Sanders told her during a private conversation in December 2018 that a woman couldn’t …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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