After the post-debate blow up between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders there were two different reactions. Some excitable Bernie Bros. began lashing out with hashtags like #NeverWarren and #LyingLiz to vent their fury. Here are a couple of examples I noticed yesterday:
I want to apologize to everyone who I told that Warren was the “other progressive” or an “ally” etc.
I was so wrong.
The great beneficiary of her vicious attack has been the corporate establishment and their puppet Joe Biden. #NeverWarren
— (@SocialistBoomer) January 15, 2020
Elizabeth Warren can’t credibly claim to be a “unifying” candidate after alienating the left with a dirty trick worthy of Karl Rove. She threw a grenade at Bernie & set our movement on fire. All for some praise from CNN & Van Jones. #NeverWarren #LyingLiz
— LeftOfTheDial (@EricShapiro3) January 15, 2020
But many of the people using the #NeverWarren hashtag were counseling the online combatants to settle down and focus on winning the White House instead of escalating the intramural battle:
Tweeting #NeverWarren does not help @BernieSanders. What helps is door knocking and phonebanking. We have to work with Warren’s delegates to win the nomination. Stop letting your feelings dictate a winning strategy instead of the organizing.
— Moumita🌹#nowaroniran (@disruptionary) January 15, 2020
Rather than #NeverWarren, I’m voting blue no matter who. I hate seeing this Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren drama. The CNN moderators and producers wanted to stir things up again because they care more about ratings than democracy. I love Sanders and I love Warren.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) January 15, 2020
It’s a sign of how concerned many progressive were about the schism that a coalition of progressive groups has already formed to call for unity before things get worse:
Leading progressive groups are issuing a call for unity as the public rift between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren widens ahead of the first round of Democratic presidential primary voting.
Eighteen days out from the Iowa caucuses, 18 influential organizations with ties to both candidates — and strong stakes in the wider movement — are launching a campaign to unite the Democratic left and push voters to act strategically on caucus night by not leaving their sites “without casting their final vote for one of the top two progressives in the race.”…
Democracy for America, which stepped up almost immediately following reports of disquiet between the two campaigns, issued a warning along with its commitment.
“When progressives fight each other, the establishment wins,” Charles Chamberlain, the group’s chair, said in a statement. “We saw it in 2004 when progressives took each other out and John Kerry slipped through to win Iowa and then went on to lose in November to a very unpopular Republican incumbent.”
Other groups in the coalition include the Working Families Party (Warren), Our Revolution (Sanders), Justice Democrats, and the Sunrise Movement (Sanders).
It’s a smart move to tone this down before one candidate or the other draws some additional blood, but will it work? The problem is that Warren and Sanders are still part of a primary contest in which they have to compete to win. Sanders has been leading Warren in polls, so he can probably afford to play nice and hope his momentum continues to carry him forward. Warren on the other hand needs to make a case that she’s the better choice and she can’t do that if she can’t say anything negative about Bernie.
Also, if you look at Warren’s reaction after the debate, she refused to shake Sanders hand when it was offered. I’ve already expressed my skepticism that she is telling the truth about what was said at the private meeting, but clearly she believes her version of events. Isn’t telling one of two women left in the race to make nice with the man who told her she can’t win because she’s a woman sort of off-brand for progressives? Wouldn’t her silence equal complicity with Bernie’s behavior and if not, why not?
Remember when “Nevertheless, she persisted” became a feminist mantra because Warren refused to be stopped by Mitch McConnell? In that case her persistence in pressing her point over objections was cause for celebration. Now it seems the left would prefer if she would sit down and shut up.