There has never been a better time to be a progressive than right now. Since 2016, the Democratic party has embraced progressive ideas, many of which have come from Senator Bernie Sanders. What defines a progressive? For myself, and for many others, a progressive is someone who recognizes the failings of neoliberalism, the plague of incremental politics and cronyism, and who values left-wing social, economic and political reform for all Americans. Some examples include pushing for a single-payer healthcare system, the elimination of student debt and refusing to accept big money from powerful individuals and corporations. There are those who complain of the various political “litmus tests” – required political positions for Democratic politicians, such as support for a Medicare for All or increased wealth taxes on the rich – but these are not without warrant. After all, decades of political backpedaling and failed promises have enraged the American people, so why not hold politicians accountable?
In the Democratic primary, there are two candidates who either fit or come close to this definition: Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders. While both embrace bold, progressive ideals, there are various differences between the two firebrands. So, what is the major difference between the two? Senator Warren’s progressive push is relatively recent in regards to her career, while Senator Sanders’ has been impeccably consistent and bold throughout his.
Sanders has been running on the same platform for over 40 years because his concerns have always lain with the working American man and woman. For example, in a 1988 campaign event for presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, Sanders decried the immense economic inequality of the time by saying that, “It is not acceptable to him, to me, or most Americans that 10 percent of the population is able to own 80 percent of the wealth.” His message has not changed, as seen in the last Democratic debate where NBC News reported him advocating for, “An economy that works for all of us, not the 1 percent.” His rallying cries around Medicare for All, imposing a wealth tax on the ultra wealthy and standing up to the military industrial complex are all elements that Americans, at least those who want substantial change, support. While Senator Warren has definite progressive proposals, Sanders seems to go the extra mile. For example, according to Bernie Sanders’ campaign website, he supports eliminating all medical debt, while Warren does not. Sanders has called for the elimination of all student debt, while Warren has called for some to be forgiven. Perhaps the most striking instance of this would be the nuance between the two candidates’ wealth tax plan. According to Senator Warren’s campaign website, her plan would propose a 2 percent tax on household’s net worth above $50 million dollars, which would raise $2.6 trillion dollars. However, Senator Sanders recently released his own wealth tax plan, which would impose a 1 percent tax rate on net worths between $32 and $50 million, which would rise to 8 percent on net worths above $10 billion dollars. This would raise around $4.35 trillion dollars (more than half in comparison to Warren’s plan), which is extremely aggressive and quite progressive.
One does not need to look at how Sanders eclipses his opponent, as Warren’s voting record is quite controversial. Have progressives forgotten that Warren originally voted to confirm Ben Carson, the same individual who called poverty a “state of mind, as the housing and urban development secretary?” Let’s also not forget that Warren voted for President Trump’s absurd $400 billion dollar increase in military spending for the fiscal year of 2018, as reported on the United States Senate website. What should hurt progressives the most is Senator Warren’s misleading claims that she has not accepted any money from groups that lobby on behalf of corporations, when it reality she funneled big money from her 2018 senate campaign to her 2020 presidential run. What does this say about Senator Warren? For me, this spells out her vulnerability as being impressionable and liable to any sort of political backpedaling if elected to the Oval Office. That is not to say that Senator Warren won’t fight for progressives. As aforementioned, her tax plan, albeit lacking in some parts, would still do wonders. She’s also proven to be tough on Wall Street as evidenced by her career in the Senate, and by the fact that Wall Street bankers fear her. However, the facts are laid out, and if you are a progressive and you truly care about achieving left-wing, progressive policies, then it is clear who to support. It’s simple: Bernie is better.