Shots were fired at the Democratic primaries’ front runner, Bernie Sanders by his fellow candidate, Elizabeth Warren, in the battle for the party’s nomination for President, with the first primaries set to take place imminently. Warren’s camp has claimed that Sanders told her in a private conversation that a woman cannot be president.
As reported by CNN, Sanders told Warren in December 2018 that a woman cannot win a presidential campaign.
Anonymous sources, two of whom were spoken to by Warren after the meeting and another two who were “familiar” with the meeting, claimed that Warren and Sanders met over the possibility of facing off in a primary race, where Sanders allegedly claimed that a woman would not be able to win an election.
In response to CNN’s query on the matter, Warren confirmed the anonymous testimonies by responding, “I thought a woman could win; he disagreed”.
Meanwhile, Sanders released a statement denying the accounts.
“It is ludicrous to believe that at the same meeting where Elizabeth Warren told me she was going to run for president, I would tell her that a woman couldn’t win,” Sanders said. “It’s sad that, three weeks before the Iowa caucus and a year after that private conversation, staff who weren’t in the room are lying about what happened. What I did say that night was that Donald Trump is a sexist, a racist and a liar who would weaponize whatever he could. Do I believe a woman can win in 2020? Of course! After all, Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes in 2016.”Bernie Sanders on the allegations
So, what we have here on a purely factual basis is anonymous claims, which are described without any context. Then we have Warren’s abrupt response which confirms the accounts of these sources. So really, especially considering that the sources are anonymous, the claims have no real value. Only Warren’s and Sanders’ testimonies mean anything at all here. Senator Warren makes a claim, Bernie denies it. They’re conflicting arguments that amount to hearsay – there are no facts and there never will be unless the sources reveal their identities and can provide corroborating evidence via their on-record testimonies.
We’re certainly at an impasse in terms of who to believe and how to rationally inform our opinions here. The best way to look at this is Sanders’ record with regards to gender biases or sexism. Many Sanders supporters have been (fairly or unfairly) labelled as “Bernie bros” after Hilary Clinton was assaulted with online vitriol after she emerged as the nominee for the 2016 general election, which Sanders fans believed to be illegitimate.
However, the Vermont Senator actually ended up not only endorsing Clinton, but helping her campaign across the country in an effort to keeping Donald Trump from winning office.
In addition, Sanders’ political record speaks volumes, considering that he has championed women’s rights for almost 40 years while occupying numerous political positions. In fact, here is a video of Sanders speaking up about women’s rights, among several other issues such as his opposition to war, defence of gay rights and pursuit of economic equality.
In fact, way back in February 2015, it was Sanders who was asking Warren to run for president, despite her decision not to do so in 2016. If Sanders not only endorsed Hilary Clinton in the general election but believed Warren herself to be both capable and the favourable candidate to run five years ago, what will have changed and why would his position be different?
It’s a question to which we may never have a solid, concrete answer without context. But perhaps the anonymous sources will come forward and provide context to the conversation, if Sanders even said it at all.
However, here is the real crux of the matter… these claims appear to have emerged from the Warren campaign, so what are the political consequences?
Firstly, it’s an ill-advised strategy, because, even though they’re opponents, Warren and Sanders share largely the same ideology. Warren is the mind behind the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011, which mitigated a lot of the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, and has been a major voice behind the people of Massachussets, having served as senator since 2013 and has been a strong progressive voice for the Democratic Party ever since.
Breaking ranks with Sanders appears to be a move to win over some of his support, but it’s more likely going to turn voters off of both candidates and move to more centrist candidates like Joe Biden or Pete Buttegeig. Or perhaps Warren is trying to outflank Sanders on the left… However, a politician that has successfully held office for nearly 40 years as a self-described “socialist” in America is unlikely to be outflanked.
Much like when Warren released her healthcare plan which distanced her from her original support of Medicare-For-All (Sanders’ flagship policy in many ways), Warren’s numbers in the polls are only likely to diminish and, on her part, this is a bad move, politically speaking.