On the Working Families Party Decision to Endorse Elizabeth Warren.
Did they make the right choice, and did they go about it the right way?
The further left of the democratic base is fortunate to have two incredibly solid top tier candidates for the nomination (Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders), and we are quickly approaching the point in the primary season where progressive organizations and political parties begin to decide which candidate they will endorse.
In 2016, Bernie Sanders secured the endorsement of the Working Families Party. This time around however, Elizabeth Warren received the party’s support.
While I may disagree with their overall decision, Elizabeth Warren is overall a good candidate and there are fair arguments in favor of her support. That being said, it is is the lack of transparency after the voting process, and the reasoning behind the decision that are definitely troubling.
According to Common Dreams:
“While WFP declined to provide a breakdown of the votes, it did release a statement announcing that “the two highest vote-getters were Senator Warren with 60.91 percent of the vote, and 35.82 percent for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders” in the party’s ranked choice vote… The controversy stems from the weighted approach to voting used by WFP. The party had two groups vote for the endorsement and weighed both equally. One was the party’s national committee, 56 people. The other was the party’s members and grassroots supporters, who number in the thousands… For results of the leadership vote and the membership vote to be weighed the same struck some observers as an example of the WFP adopting the Democratic Party’s “superdelegate” system to overrule the will of the people.
It appears clear from the numbers, and the reluctance to release them, that Sanders won the membership vote, but WFP leadership sided with Warren by a sizable enough spread to lead to an endorsement of Warren anyway,” Grim wrote at his Bad News newsletter.”
Again, Warren is a decent candidate, but I know I’m not alone in thinking that this doesn’t feel right.
While I’m not necessarily against the lead organizers of a grass roots party or organization having some more sway than an average member in a decision like this, the fact that fifty six people had their votes count as much as thousands of others is just wrong. Party leadership’s vote should count for no more than twenty percent as opposed to fifty percent of the vote in my opinion, but it was the idea that they could get away with not disclosing the vote breakdowns that really bothered me.
Let’s put it this way:
With the margins that she won by, if all fifty six of the party leaders voted for Warren, only ten percent of the thousands of other party members would have to vote for her in order for her to get the endorsement. I would hardly call that democratic, let alone progressive. That being said, the whole process would feel much more honest if the party leadership would just allow the members to know that’s how it worked out. Of course, it seems naive to expect them to reveal something that would undoubtedly result in their members demanding a change to the way their party politics is done.
Nevertheless, members have been persistent in their demands to see the voting breakdown, and days later the leadership’s lack of response has been absolutely embarrassing.
Even more embarrassing have been comments from party leaders in regards to the endorsement. According to National director Maurice Mitchell,
“If our focus is on victory, we can’t be delusional about it. You don’t defeat the moderate wing of Democrats through thought pieces or pithy tweets, you defeat their politics through organizing.”
To her credit, Elizabeth Warren has done incredible work. She succeeded in creating the consumer finance protection bureau before she was even elected in to office, and has been one of the most policy driven candidates in the race.
But even so, there is only one candidate with a career of organizing and fighting for the working and middle classes that spans over forty years. There is only one candidate who has been responsible for shifting the entire national conversation on a number of issues in the span of four years. There is only one candidate who’s promised to be the organizer in chief, and is working towards a complete and necessary overhaul of the United States government.
That one candidate is Bernie Sanders, and it appears that the vast majority of Working Families Party members know this. If the leadership went against their will by the wide margins that it appears to indicate, then those voters have a right to know.