On Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) took center stage and easily flattened their opposition when attacked. The two Northeastern senators may just be the ticket that could oust President Trump in 2020, whether that ticket is Sanders/Warren or Warren/Sanders.
The perception of Democratic-leaning Twitter users during the debate was that both candidates held their own in making the case for a single-payer, “Medicare for All” healthcare system while fending off attacks both from other more conservative candidates, as well as moderators (namely, CNN’s Jake Tapper). Most of the first half of the debate focused on healthcare, and both Sanders and Warren got regular applause from the crowd while defending their healthcare policies, while other candidates (like former Maryland Congressman John Delaney) seemed to flounder.
ICYMI: John Delaney was beautifully owned by Elizabeth Warren & Bernie Sanders during the Democratic debate. pic.twitter.com/igY4Ajzg4S
— Jezebel (@Jezebel) July 31, 2019
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders teaming up against the centrists attacking them pic.twitter.com/k7iC3jtmcM
— Krishan Patel (@IAmKrishanPatel) July 31, 2019
the performance the sanders-warren tag team last night was incredible, absolute shame that cnn thinks being unbiased is framing questions in the most reactionary way possible
— hasanabi (@hasanthehun) July 31, 2019
I can't believe Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are the new WWE tag team champions thats so wild pic.twitter.com/QmiFhkxepS
— lexi ghobadi (@heyghobadi) July 31, 2019
The significant applause Sanders and Warren received from Detroit bodes well for Democrats if Sanders/Warren (or Warren/Sanders) is the 2020 ticket. Michigan is a must-win state for any ticket that seeks to stop President Trump, given that the Mitten (along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) was the linchpin of Trump’s 2016 victory, giving him a slim victory over Hillary Clinton by a margin of roughly 10,000 votes statewide.
If both senators appear on the debate stage in Houston for the September debates and have another electric performance, it could further make the case that a Sanders/Warren ticket would excite voters not just in a purple state like Michigan, but in Republican strongholds like Texas. Especially when considering the fact that Sen. Warren graduated from and taught courses at the University of Houston and could attract hometown appeal as a presidential or vice presidential nominee.
Given that then-Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) nearly unseated Ted Cruz in 2018 and narrowly lost by less than three points, a dynamic presidential ticket could be what turns a red state blue. Census data shows that five of the 15 fastest-growing cities in America are in Texas, and by November of 2020, enough of those new residents could prove to be the change-makers and vote for a Sanders/Warren ticket.
It’s more likely than not that if Sanders or Warren emerge as the leader in delegates prior to next year’s Democratic National Convention, one will choose the other as their running mate as opposed to someone else in the Democratic field of candidates. Both candidates are ideologically similar in their goals (Warren has openly stated “I’m with Bernie” on healthcare), both are from neighboring states, both are colleagues in the U.S. Senate, both are counting on grassroots support for their campaigns as opposed to corporate money, and both are running on implementing sweeping changes in both the political system and the economy.
It could be that a Sanders/Warren ticket could happen prior to the convention.
In a column earlier this month, Splinter writer Hamilton Nolan suggested that in order for a pro-working class agenda to take shape in the White House, either Sanders or Warren should drop out after the first four early primaries and caucuses in February of 2020 (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada) and endorse the other based on which candidate has the delegate lead. Nolan argued that such an alliance would be necessary to stop a corporate-friendly candidate like Joe Biden before the March 3 “Super Tuesday” primaries and caucuses, in which a majority of delegates in more than a dozen states will be up for grabs:
If, god fucking forbid, Joe Biden has a strong Super Tuesday, he would emerge with an almost unstoppable tailwind of media narrative and establishment support propelling him to the nomination. It would be hard to reverse things at that point. The easiest way for Biden or another relative centrist to get there would be for Bernie and Warren to divide the lefty, progressive vote between them… Bernie unreservedly endorsing Warren or Warren unreservedly endorsing Bernie, explaining in the process the fundamental difference between them and the other candidates in the race, should unite enough of the progressive side of the Democratic party to secure the nomination.
Intercept contributor Naomi Klein made a similar argument in June, encouraging progressives who favor either Sanders or Warren to not take jabs at the other, but to instead coalesce around a unifying progressive agenda in order to stop Joe Biden from becoming the Democratic nominee. Klein cited recent examples like the European parliament elections — in which hard-right, nationalist candidates made big gains over what she called “tepid” centrist candidates — as a warning of what could happen if a centrist like Biden is the nominee, versus someone with a more progressive track record:
[T]he very last thing we need is for the two strongest left/progressive candidates and their supporters to tear each other apart for the next eight or so months, in a desperate bid to discredit a perceived rival. What should be happening instead is exactly what Sanders and Warren have been doing (with only a couple minor lapses): steadily building their bases by talking about ideas and strategies, thereby sharpening the contrast — in policies, track record, and electability — with Biden.
Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren made a dynamite team in last night’s debate, and they may be the winning ticket in 2020 — and that duo may form sooner than we think.
(Featured image: CNN/Fair Use)
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.