Progressives Urge Elizabeth Warren to Rally Behind Bernie Sanders

Senator Elizabeth Warren suspended her bid for the presidency Thursday, leaving the 2020 Democratic presidential race down to two older white men: former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. Warren’s decision to end her campaign comes after she failed to perform as well as she had hoped in early primary states and on Super Tuesday, including placing third in her home state of Massachusetts. Warren gave no indication whether she will endorse either of her former rivals. Supporters of Sanders say they hope she will throw her support behind their candidate in order to form a united “progressive front” and take on powerful corporate forces now lined up behind Biden. Six more states are set to hold presidential primaries and caucuses on March 10, including delegate-rich states of Michigan, Washington and Missouri. We get response from Raquel Willis, a journalist and activist and former executive editor of Out magazine who had endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president. We are also joined by Norman Solomon, co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org, which is supporting Bernie Sanders.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Elizabeth Warren has suspended her bid for the presidency, leaving the 2020 Democratic presidential race down to two older white men: former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. Warren broke the news in a call with her campaign staff Thursday, then made her announcement to reporters outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: So, I announced this morning that I am suspending my campaign for president. I say this with a deep sense of gratitude for every single person who got in this fight, every single person who tried on a new idea, every single person who just moved a little in their notion of what a president of the United States should look like. I will not be running for president in 2020, but I guarantee I will stay in the fight for the hard-working folks across this country who have gotten the short end of the stick over and over. That’s been the fight of my life, and it will continue to be so. …

I was told at the beginning of this whole undertaking that there are two lanes — a progressive lane that Bernie Sanders is the incumbent for and a moderate lane that Joe Biden is the incumbent for — and there’s no room for anyone else in this. I thought that wasn’t right. But evidently I was wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator Warren’s decision to end her campaign comes after she failed to perform as well as she had hoped in early primary states and on Super Tuesday, including placing third in her home state of Massachusetts. Warren gave no indication whether she’ll endorse either of her former rivals, Sanders or Biden.

REPORTER: Will you be making an endorsement today? We know that you spoke with both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders yesterday.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: Not today. Not today. I need some space around this and want to take a little time to think a little more. I’ve been spending a lot of time right now on the question of suspending and also making sure that this works as best we can for our staff, for our team, for our volunteers.

AMY GOODMAN: Supporters of Senator Sanders say they hope Warren will throw her support behind their candidate in order to form a united “progressive front” and take on powerful corporate forces now lined up behind Biden. Terminally ill healthcare rights activist Ady Barkan, who had previously endorsed Senator Warren, announced Thursday he’s now backing Sanders. Barkan supports for Medicare for All and tweeted, “@BernieSanders has done more than anyone else to build the movement for #MedicareForAll. He has reshaped American politics. Reshaped what we think is possible. Reshaped how we dare to dream. But, of course, it’s not about him. It’s about us. And I’m all in,” Ady Barkan said.

Senator Warren’s departure from the presidential race means there are no major candidates left who are women. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has failed to qualify for any recent debates and won just two delegates on Super Tuesday, but she told The Hill she has no plans to drop out.

REP. TULSI GABBARD: Everywhere we go, we’re continuing to draw large numbers of people who are really hungry for the truth, for strong leadership and a candidate that’s raising the issue that I am about the need for a commander-in-chief who will have the courage to bring about a sea change in our foreign policy and these wasteful regime change wars, new Cold War, nuclear arms race, all of which are not making us any safer, and actually get our priorities straight.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as Sanders and Biden are fiercely competing for votes in half a dozen states in upcoming primaries: Michigan, Washington, Missouri on March 10th; a week later, Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio.

For more now, we go to Raquel Willis, journalist and activist, former executive editor of Out magazine. She endorsed Elizabeth Warren, as she’s joined us previously to talk about. And in Berkeley, California, we’re joined by Norman Solomon, co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org, which is supporting Bernie Sanders. His latest column for Common Dreams headlined “A Profound and Historic Question for Elizabeth Warren: Which Side Are You On?”

We want to welcome you both to Democracy Now! Raquel Willis, let’s go first to you. You’re a major supporter of Senator Warren. She has just dropped out. Your thoughts on her run and her withdrawal?

RAQUEL WILLIS: Absolutely. I think that Senator Warren had a great run. I think that all of us who supported her, not to speak for other folks, but just from what our conversations have been about, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support a once-in-a-lifetime candidate, and that we stick behind everything we did. We have no regrets about supporting her, her policies and her vision and her outreach. I think she did a phenomenal job, as well, with outreach to particularly thought leaders of marginalized communities. But it’s definitely very sobering, very disheartening, but after Super Tuesday, I don’t think that it came as a surprise at all to many of us.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to Senator Warren’s press conference Wednesday, where she addressed the issue of sexism.

REPORTER: And I wonder what your message would be to the women and girls who feel like we’re left with two white men to decide between?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: I know. One of the hardest parts of this is all those pinkie promises and all those little girls who are going to have to wait four more years. That’s going to be hard. … Gender in this race, you know, that is the trap question for every woman. If you say, “Yeah, there was sexism in this race,” everyone says, “Whiner!” And if you say, “No, there was no sexism,” about a bazillion women think, “What planet do you live on?” I promise you this: I will have a lot more to say on that subject later on.

AMY GOODMAN: Raquel Willis, if you can respond to Senator Warren on sexism?

RAQUEL WILLIS: Yeah, I mean, I definitely understand that for a lot of people, they don’t kind of think about or want to think about and confront how sexism plays a part in everything that we do. I mean, the patriarchy is everywhere. And so, I have to be clear. I think what Senator Warren, all things being equal with male candidates, with her liabilities, because every candidate has liability, I think she would have had a different run if she had a different gender experience. And so, we have to continue to confront those issues. I think a lot of it is about political education that needs to happen on the ground about all of these systems of oppression, so people understand what implicit bias really is, how that played a part in who determined who was electable and who was not in this race. At the end of the day, I will always feel like and know in my heart that Senator Warren was the most capable, most effective and most impactful candidate in this race.

AMY GOODMAN: Raquel Willis, what about her decision, at least yesterday, not to throw her support to either Biden or Sanders? And I want to also ask where you’re headed in terms of your support.

RAQUEL WILLIS: Yeah. So, I respect her decision not to make a formal endorsement just yet. I think that there’s so much volatility right now. And when I think about the base and the folks that I know, there are people more like me, who supported her, who were more progressive. There are people who would be considered more moderate but appreciated her pragmatic approach to progressive policies and ideals. And so, I think that — you know, I don’t think that an endorsement would necessarily go the way that many Bernie supporters think that it would go. I don’t think that that shakeout would happen exactly the way that they think it would. I also think that she has to consider what her best chance at being impactful in politics and being impactful in this race is, and maybe that means not weighing in until the convention, until we get a little bit closer down the road and see what can happen.

As well, let’s be clear, you know, I think that, yes, we say it’s neck and neck between Bernie and Biden, and that’s great, but there are a lot of things that I think the Sanders campaign is reckoning with and they need to get a grip on. Particularly for me, I’m very concerned about the approach to black voters, particularly in the South. You know, the news came out yesterday that Sanders was forgoing a stop in Mississippi to go to Michigan. And I think that that has really concerned a lot of folks who were hoping that there would be a better push towards black Southern voters and black voters in general. And so that concerns me.

So, I get it. I understand why she hasn’t endorsed. I think, for me, it’s, at the end of the day, always about values and policies. And so, if we’re thinking about the vision, the most progressive vision that I would like to see in the world and many of the folks that I am in community with, that vision is — you know, if we can’t have Warren, then I think it is time to rally around the policies and the vision that Bernie is putting forward.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Norm Solomon right now. Norm, you just wrote a piece. You’re national coordinator of RootsAction.org, which is supporting Bernie Sanders. And your piece is about pushing Senator Sanders to support Bernie Sanders — Senator Warren to support Bernie Sanders. You’re saying, “A Profound and Historic Question for Elizabeth Warren: Which Side Are You On?”

NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, you can’t really be neutral at a time when profound historic moments are upon us. Of course, we should praise Elizabeth Warren. I heard her speak many times on the campaign trail, including last Monday night in Los Angeles. She articulated very profound messages about corporate power and the need to challenge institutionalized corruption.

Right now I can’t think of a more incarnated candidate to personify patriarchy than Joe Biden. And women across this country are suffering because of the economic policies that he has pursued in the Senate and then under the Obama administration to bring in Wall Street in terms of policymaking and failing to challenge the poverty and near poverty that so many families are suffering under. And if you look at foreign policy, we should know, if we don’t know, that women and children bear the brunt of endless war, that Joe Biden has supported for now just about 20 years.

So, you know, we’re in a place where there is a challenge to have finger to the wind or, on the other hand, to really stand for the kind of progressive values that often Elizabeth Warren articulated and that are fully embodied in the Bernie Sanders campaign.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go right now to Senator Sanders being interviewed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Wednesday. [He] said it’s too early to discuss whether Warren could serve as his running mate.

RACHEL MADDOW: Would you consider asking Senator Warren to be your running mate?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It’s too early to talk about that, but certainly I have a lot of respect for Senator Warren and would love to sit down and talk to her about what kind of role she can play in our administration.

AMY GOODMAN: Sanders also responded to attacks some of his supporters have made on Warren on Twitter, like calling her a snake.

RACHEL MADDOW: I wonder if that sort of vitriol toward her has hurt the prospects of you two working together from here on out?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I talked to her. It was a very cordial discussion. I am absolutely aghast and disgusted with any kind of vitriol online. And by the way, Rachel, if you think that doesn’t come in to our campaign, talk to Senator Nina Turner —

RACHEL MADDOW: I’m not talking about incoming. I’m talking about outgoing, to her.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yeah, no, I know, and I condemn that. You know, it’s ugly stuff. What we want our supporters to be doing is talking about the issues.

AMY GOODMAN: Rachel Maddow also interviewed Senator Elizabeth Warren last night, and Warren said that the ugliness she saw online from Bernie Sanders supporters related to online abuse broadly in American political discourse.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: It’s not just about me. I think there’s a real problem with this online bullying and sort of organized nastiness. And I’m not just talking about, ooh, said mean things; I’m talking about some really ugly stuff that went on.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s Senator Warren. Norm Solomon, if you could respond?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, this is a political phenomenon that’s often racist and sexist. We should condemn it. We should fight against it. Nina Turner, as co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign, has been subjected, online and elsewhere, to vicious attacks that are racist, that are sexist.

Let’s face it, MSNBC and CNN, huge and powerful cable networks, have been engaged in all sorts of slander and innuendo and sometimes smears against Bernie Sanders. And for Rachel Maddow and MSNBC and other networks and media to act as though this is only coming from one direction and toward one direction is of a piece of a pattern of bias against Bernie Sanders that shouldn’t be a surprise, but should outrage us. These are corporate-owned entities. MSNBC is owned by Comcast, a very anti-labor, anti-consumer huge corporation. They don’t want Bernie Sanders to be president. He would tax their profits. He would challenge the prerogatives of the wealthy to determine the policies of the U.S. government.

And overall, I think we should note that corporate media have been on a assault against Bernie Sanders. We’ve gone through several phases. A year ago he was old news. Other candidates were saying the same things. Then, when he stuck with Medicare for All, which is an affirmation of the human rights of all people, then he was portrayed as an extremist or too radical, out of step. Then we were told he had no chance to win the nomination. Then, after New Hampshire and especially Nevada, he was being trashed. The mud was flying from corporate media.

To pretend that, therefore, progressives should stay neutral until the convention, I just don’t understand that. We have Elizabeth Warren saying now that she’s going to stay in the fight. Is the fight for Medicare for All? Is the fight against corporate power? If that fight is to affirm the human rights of all human beings, how can she stay neutral? This is very disturbing to me, because every day goes by and Elizabeth Warren fails to endorse Bernie Sanders and go out and campaign for him is a de facto assistance to corporate power, to corporate America and Joe Biden. And I don’t think we should pretend anything else.

AMY GOODMAN: Raquel Willis, if you’d like to respond?

RAQUEL WILLIS: I definitely would. You know, it’s so interesting to hear Norm talk about the patriarchy and who embodies the patriarchy. Let’s be clear: Both of these candidates, Biden and Bernie, embody the patriarchy. And so, when we’re having this discussion about how that impacts our world, how policies play out, let’s be clear. Even though we may have a lot of support around Bernie’s values, he’s still an embodiment of the patriarchy. And I think, for a lot of Warren supporters — and, you know, I’ll speak for myself — what is concerning is that out of the two candidates left, we’re still going to have to choose a similar version of leadership that is barely empathetic, barely showcasing vulnerability. And so that’s going to be difficult at the end of the day, regardless of who you support.

I think the other piece of this is that we can’t blame Elizabeth Warren for any pitfalls for Bernie anymore. That has to end. She’s been blamed, even before she dropped out of the race, for any pitfalls that many of the supporters felt like the Bernie Sanders campaign had. And we’ve got to let that go. That’s also an element of the patriarchy.

And then, the last thing I’ll say is that, you know, it bothers me to hear people who are not black women, people who are not women, using our voices and our stories to deflect about the very real issues of harassment that have come from the Sanders supporters. As a black woman, a black trans woman, who was very vocal in the 2016 election online, I was among many black women who were talking about the harassment issue on the Sanders side of the Democratic Party. And that has not changed. It really has not. And I think a part of that is that you can’t just really rely on a few token black women’s voices. You’ve got to actually reach out and talk with us. So, when Warren dropped out yesterday, I think about all of the black women, all of the women of color, all of the marginalized people who were supporting her, who did not get a word from anyone in the Sanders campaign reaching out to us, saying, “Hey, we know that this might be a hard time for you, but we’d love to be in conversation with you, bring you over to our side.” That’s the work. And if the Sanders camp is not going to do that work, we are not going to see the win that we want to see moving forward in this election.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Solomon?

NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, I don’t think that Bernie Sanders would have the overwhelming support that he has from younger African Americans if, for years, Sanders and his campaign and his supporters haven’t reached out to those folks. I think to call Nina Turner a token is really inappropriate. We have not only African Americans, especially those who are young, under 40 or so, but Latinos, as well, who have flocked to and overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders. And on Sunday night in Los Angeles, among 20,000 other people, I saw that half of the audience was Latinos, and many folks were African Americans.

Patriarchy is not only a gender. It is a system. It is a way of devaluing people because they don’t have money and they don’t have power and they don’t dominate. And I think if we’re going to move the conversation forward, we need to find the common ground. And this is part of my disappointment as we speak, that the common ground between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is profound, and the common ground between the supporters of those two candidates is also profound, and meanwhile, we have what Dr. King called the madness of militarism, which is embodied by Joe Biden, and who is challenging that? Who is challenging the reality that the military-industrial complex is stealing food and medicine and healthcare from, yes, women, yes, children, yes, the elderly. That is theft. That is patriarchy. That is systemic human rights violations. Bernie Sanders is challenging those violations, and we should support him.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, Senator Warren did not make an endorsement as she was dropping out yesterday, but she did tell Rachel Maddow she thought Michael Bloomberg was the riskiest Democratic primary candidate and the least likely to defeat Donald Trump and that she purposely tanked him during the debates.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN: In my view, he was absolutely the riskiest candidate for Democrats on that stage. And let me tell you part of the reason why. All of those things in his history mean that he could never launch any of those attacks against Donald Trump. Think about the things we are going to need to talk about — hiding your taxes, history with women, embracing racist policies, when you’re in charge, helping bazillionaires and leaving everybody else behind. Shoot, he wouldn’t even be able to launch the autocrat argument against him.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Senator Warren talking about Bloomberg. Raquel Willis, your final words? And again, your endorsement now?

RAQUEL WILLIS: Absolutely. So, again, I say I am voting for values, voting for — voting for Bernie, you know, voting for values and policies that were put forth by Warren. And we can’t forget her impact.

The last thing I will say is, we have to have a real conversation about these systems of oppression, about the patriarchy. And so, I don’t appreciate this idea that the patriarchy and white supremacy do not exist on the left side. That is something that we also have to work through. And so, that’s what I’m looking forward to, moving forward, with this support of Bernie Sanders.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us, Raquel Willis, journalist and activist; Norm Solomon of RootsAction. His latest column, we’ll link to, at Common Dreams, “A Profound and Historic Question for Elizabeth Warren: Which Side Are You On?”

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America. Stay with us.