You will see a lot of headlines to the effect of “Tensions increase between Warren and Sanders” or “Progressives’ fight heats up.” That is not exactly correct. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been lashing out at several of his rivals. What seems to have changed is that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has finally decided to fight back.

On Sunday, she responded to anti-Warren talking points in the Sanders campaign:

CNN reported Monday, “The stakes were high when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren met at Warren’s apartment in Washington, DC, one evening in December 2018. ... That evening in 2018, Sanders expressed frustration at what he saw as a growing focus among Democrats on identity politics, according to one of the people familiar with the conversation. Warren told Sanders she disagreed with his assessment that a woman could not win, three of the four sources said.”

Sanders denied the report. CNN reported that two of its four sources were people Warren spoke to and that the other two were people “familiar with the meeting.” Does that indicate Warren’s team has had enough of Sanders’s attacks and is now fighting back?

Warren would be smart to stop honoring the supposed “non-aggression” pact between the two since Sanders seems to have unilaterally decided to junk it. Such a front against Sanders would serve four purposes.

First, it would revive the notion that Warren can be the candidate who unites the far left and center left, a stance that was frayed so long as she was following Sanders’s lead on Medicare-for-all. She needs to expand beyond the base she shares with Sanders. This may help.

Second, she is going to get a whole lot of sympathy from many Democrats who are increasingly worried about the possibility that Sanders could win and wreck the chance to dump President Trump. That group, The Post reported, includes plenty of moderate House Democrats: “House Democratic leaders credit their success in the last cycle to a blueprint emphasizing noncontroversial ‘kitchen table’ issues designed to draw support from Republicans turned off by Trump’s controversies. But Sanders and his allies are advancing a strikingly different strategy.”

Third, this addresses the diversity issue head-on. With the departure of Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Monday and former housing secretary Julián Castro before that, the field is increasingly white. Warren is the only woman among the four candidates routinely polling at the top both in early states and nationally. As with African Americans, women are a critical segment of the Democratic electorate, even more so as Trump scares off more suburban and college-educated white women. Warren may see women voters as winnable for her, regardless of ideology.

Finally, it is about time someone directly took on the notion that because Hillary Clinton lost, women are more risky this time around. That would have us avoid all of the external challenges (e.g., then-FBI Director James B. Comey) and internal errors. It also skips over 2018, when women won up and down the ballot. If the party is concerned about electability, the notion that white men are the most electable should be demolished.

There is always a risk that in mixing it up with Sanders, another candidate benefits. Nevertheless, Warren is smart to show some muscle. Besides, it will be good practice if she goes up against Trump in the general election.

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