Comparing Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren

Samira Kassem

 As the nation approaches the 2020 primary and the field of Democratic candidates dwindles down to a handful of the frontrunners, it is time to take a serious step back and really consider who is best equipped, not only to beat Trump, but to make real change in our nation. 

Since announcing their campaigns for president, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (D-VT) have been labeled as the ‘progressive’ candidates. 

After months of misleading press, this false equivalency needs to be put to rest. 

At the end of the day, Senator Warren is an ordinary liberal while Senator Sanders, a Democratic Socialist, is the only true progressive currently in the race. 

In recent polls from Emerson and Marquette (RealClearPolitics), Warren is the only Democratic frontrunner who is not predicted to beat Trump in battle-ground states such as New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

When it comes to support from the working class and people of color, Senator Sanders leads Warren by more than ten points among both demographics (Politico). 

And with support from a respectable 21 percent of black voters, Sanders beats Warren by an astonishing 14 points (Morning Consult). 

From these polls, it is evident that Warren’s support comes primarily from college-educated, white, upper-class men and women, while Bernie draws his support from the working class and people of color.

Both candidates boast progressive ideas to help the working class and oppressed minority groups, but only Senator Sanders’ record and base of support back up those claims. 

Warren supporters claim that support of Sanders over Warren is inherently ‘sexist,’ and are quick to label his supporters as so-called ‘Bernie Bros.’

Yet young women (ages 18-29) were shown to support Sanders over Warren by a ratio of 29 to three (Harvard Institute of Politics). 

Sanders leads Warren in nearly every category of people for whom progressive policies would have the greatest effect.

When it comes to background, there is no question who has the more solid record.

Bernie Sanders has been in politics for nearly three decades, fighting for the same progressive platform that he advocates to this day. 

His ideas in the 2016 election completely transformed the Democratic Party and shaped the content of the 2020 race and debates. 

Before Senator Sanders, universal healthcare, free college and student debt forgiveness, now central focuses of the presidential race, were hardly ever discussed at the national level.

Senator Sanders fought alongside civil rights activists in the 1960s; he has a 100 percent rating from The Human Rights Campaign, The League of Conservation Voters, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (Gov Track). 

Senator Sanders has been the most popular politician in the Senate for 11 consecutive quarters, with a 64 percent approval rating from his constituents (Morning Consult). 

Senator Warren’s approval rating is a full 13 points lower. 

While Sanders was running as an independent and fighting for his constituents instead of toeing the Democrats’ restrictive party line, Warren was a member of the GOP until 1996. 

Senator Sanders has always believed in the ‘bottom-up’ approach to politics, while Warren’s Senate career has placed her comfortably among the elites. 

“While Warren wants to be at the table with elites, arguing for progressive policies, Sanders wants to open the doors and let the public make the policy,” said Zaid Jilani of the leftist magazine Jacobin.

“He [Sanders] generally distrusts elites and decision-making that does not include the public,” said Jilani. “Warren, on the other hand, generally accepts political reality and works to push elite decision-makers towards her point of view.”

Perhaps Sanders is beating out Warren when it comes to minorities because he was fighting to give them a voice while she was pretending to be Native American on law school applications. 

Both candidates have stressed the need to “get money out of politics,” but only Sanders has consistently put his money where his mouth is. 

“Last winter and spring, she [Warren] transferred $10.4 million in leftover funds from her 2018 Senate campaign to underwrite her 2020 run, a portion of which was raised from the same donor class she is now running against,” said Shane GoldMacher (Jacobin). 

It was Sanders in 2016 who revolutionized political fundraising by campaigning completely with grass-roots techniques and refusing money from political elites and corporations. 

“Warren’s campaign strategy has been to promote the idea that she’s every bit as progressive as Sanders, only with more fleshed-out plans,” said Megan Day of Jacobin.

“To shore up that impression, she’s smartly opted to forego big money for the time being. But laudable though the decision is, ‘for the time being’ won’t cut it,” said Day.

“To make lasting change in working-class people’s lives, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to make enemies of capitalists—to be feared by them, not just for a short stint, but for life,” said Day. 

Elizabeth Warren is using Senator Sanders’ popular and revolutionary ideas in her bid for the presidency. 

Why vote for someone who is “playing politics” with someone else’s ideas, though, when you can vote for the real thing? 

Bernie Sanders has fought for the people—all the people—for the entirety of his decades-long political career, and as a young activist in the years before he entered public life. 

Sanders has proven that he is not just here to win, but to make change.

Elizabeth Warren, with her inconsistent record and questionable progressive promises, cannot say the same.