One of you must die.
Photo: Getty

Those of you wise enough to read Splinter should understand that the two best candidates policy-wise in the Democratic primary are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. In order for their good policies to triumph, they must both be willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause if necessary. Sooner, rather than later.

I don’t want to argue here about whether Bernie and Warren are, in fact, the best candidates policy-wise. Go argue that shit on the New York Times op-ed page. Here we have actual morals.

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Here is the electoral situation as it now stands (keeping in mind the permanent caveat that anything resembling an actual prediction of results is worthless so don’t say we didn’t warn you): Democrats should win in 2020, barring a serious fuckup. I say this based on the very simple calculation that Hillary Clinton would have won in 2016 had she only had slightly better turnout, and in 2020 Democrats will be much more motivated to turn out and vote against Trump. Hillary Clinton’s voters plus a small increase in turnout among Democrats should give Democrats the election and that is what I expect to happen. Because Democrats should win, they should also nominate the most left possible candidate—that is, the candidate whose policies will do the most to fix the actual fundamental problems plaguing our country today. To nominate someone like Joe Biden, or other, more centrist candidates, would be to squander a golden opportunity unseen in my lifetime to install a true leftist candidate, who might actually have a chance of beginning to reverse decades-long trends of inequality and mass incarceration and global warming and other significant things that “moderate” Democrats have failed to fix time and time again.

I would never completely rule out the capability of the Democratic Party to blow an inherent advantage, but the inherent advantage is there nonetheless.

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Because of the value of the opportunity that we have before us, I consider it extremely important for the left wing of the Democratic Party to unite behind a strong leftist candidate. I can see a winning leftist coalition in 2020, rather than the high-minded but ultimately unsuccessful leftist coalition that I have been used to seeing my whole life. The nightmare scenario for this Democratic primary is one in which Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the two sufficiently left-wing candidates, split the vote of that coalition, and open the door for a centrist to walk through to victory. For this reason, I did not want Bernie Sanders to run in the first place. (He and Warren each have their stronger and weaker points but he is very old and I think it would be meaningful to have a woman president and I believe that Warren’s concrete policy accomplishments in office would be very similar to his, and so I would have preferred that he not run and back Warren, rather than vice versa.)

Surprisingly, Bernie did not take the advice of some writer he doesn’t know and now he’s running for president anyhow. Fine. I love Bernie. I would be happy with either Bernie or Warren as president. I think that they are the only two candidates running whose policies have any chance of mitigating the deep problems we face. It is now July of 2019. The first official votes of the Democratic primary will be cast in Iowa in just over six months, on February 3. The New Hampshire primaries come a week later, followed by Nevada on February 22 and South Carolina on February 29. After that, on March 3, is Super Tuesday, when more than a dozen states—including California and Texas, the two biggest delegate hauls in America—hold their primaries. At this point, solid electoral advantages will be apparent, and the “momentum” narrative will doom any candidates who have not demonstrated strong success already.

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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. It would be utterly stupid and a disastrous waste to allow that to happen. So I propose a simple agreement: at the end of February, whichever of those two candidates is behind should drop out and throw their support behind the other. Both have formidable fan bases and strong fundraising and good name recognition and a reputation for moral force. Their endorsements will carry weight. If either of them drops out, the other one is the candidate whose policies are most similar, making them a natural destination for the other’s former supporters to flock to. 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. The decision to drop out and unify the left would be a noble sacrifice to the cause. And it would allow voters to unite behind a single left-wing candidate before the largest states vote.

If we fuck around and let Biden or someone coast in because we disagree with five percent of what Bernie or Warren says I swear to fucking god I will be insufferable when it comes to telling people that I predicted this. Don’t allow that to happen. For the good of everyone. There are things to be done and there are only two candidates who will do them. What matters is that they get done.

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Win or drop out. And don’t dawdle with it. We’ve been waiting too long for a chance like this to blow it like we usually do.