On Tuesday night, Warren forcefully sounded a “unity” message, deriding efforts in other camps (that means Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and his booing Bernie Bros) to attack other candidates. “These harsh tactics might work if you’re willing to burn down the rest of the party in order to be the last man standing. They might work if you don’t worry about leaving our party and politics worse off than how you found it,” she said. “And they might work if you think only you have the answers and only you are the solution to all our problems, but if we’re going to beat Donald Trump in November, we are going to need a huge turnout within our party. And to get that turnout, we will need a nominee that the broadest coalition of our party feels like they can get behind.”
As she tries to differentiate herself from Sanders and pose as a uniter, she sets herself up for two major problems. First, being a uniter is somewhat at odds with being a proponent of “big, structural change” and deriding incrementalists. Can she unify those she has scorned for timidity? If the status quo exists in part because of Democratic establishment figures and entities, is she going to fight them or link hands with them? Second, there are no less than four other candidates — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former vice president Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg — who present a much more credible unity message.
On PBS’s “NewsHour” on Wednesday evening, Buttigieg explained: “The ideas that I’m putting forward are bold ideas. They would make me the most progressive president we have had in a half-century. But I’m also building them in a way that is inclusive. This is not the time for a politics of ‘my way or the highway.’ ”
Likewise, on election night Klobuchar told a joyful crowd of supporters, “We know that we cannot win big by trying to out-divide the divider in chief. We know that we win by bringing people with us instead of shutting them out.” She reminds audiences that she has run in the “reddest” parts of her state, in both urban and rural areas and then gone on to pass 100 bills. (“I have done it because I know how to stand my ground and also find common ground,” she told a gathering before the Iowa caucuses.)
Then there is Bloomberg, a former Republican, who has been able to line up a slew of endorsements from African American mayors and who can boast of governing one of the world’s biggest polyglot cities. In Philadelphia last week he sounded a unifying message as well. “Bloomberg’s message was simple: I can unite the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump,” reported the local PBS station. “'I’m the un-Trump,' he said. .... [Trump] breaks promises. I keep them. He divides people. I unite them.”
Warren’s pivot to unity — or maybe simply adopting two discordant messages (big change, but everyone’s on the same team!) — is the sort of thing candidates do as they scramble to survive. Unfortunately, coherence used to be one of Warren’s strong suits. Throwing that overboard does not seem to be the way to turn her campaign around.