Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made one thing clear this past weekend at the California Democratic Party state convention:

So-called middle ground candidates like Joe Biden should not become the party’s torchbearer come election time because in their eyes the only way they can defeat President Trump is embracing a far left agenda. They both believe that candidates like Biden aren’t progressive enough and too willing to play nice with Republicans instead of playing hardball.

Neither of them mentioned Biden by name, but both left very little doubt as to who they meant in the speeches they gave:

“There is a debate among presidential candidates who have spoken to you here in this room and those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room about the best way forward,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), referring to Biden’s absence.

“In my view, we will not defeat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into the campaign and unless we give millions of working people and young people a reason to vote and a reason to believe that politics is relevant to their lives. We cannot go back to the old ways. We have got to go forward with a new and progressive agenda,” Sanders told the crowd.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) had a similar message.

“Some Democrats in Washington believe the only changes we can get are tweaks and nudges. If they dream at all, they dream small,” she told delegates. “The time for small ideas is over.”

Watch this news report from KPIX on Sanders’s thinly veiled attack on Biden:

Sanders filled with his tweets with a “no middle ground” message and hashtag, including these from over the weekend:

Here’s a video of Warren’s sideswipe of Biden:

The audience applauded loudly.

Besides Biden, who has consistently led in presidential polling even well before he declared his candidacy, another non-compliant Democratic party candidate who came under fire from the party’s ultra-progressive wing:

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper – one of the more moderate candidates in the field of two-dozen contenders – elicited loud boos from the crowd in a viral video moment when he declared “socialism is not the answer” to enacting progressive policies and beating Trump.


Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland also sparked a chorus of boos from the audience when the centrist Democratic presidential candidate declared that “Medicare for All may sound good, but it’s actually not good policy, nor is it good politics.”

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a rising star among the progressive wing of the party, took aim at Delaney, saying it was time for him to “sashay away.”

“Since there’s so many people running for President (& not enough for Senate), instead of obsessing over who‘s a ‘frontrunner,’ maybe we can start w some general eliminations,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “This awful, untrue line got boo’ed for a full minute. John Delaney, thank you but please sashay away.”

Here’s the segment of Hickenlooper’s speech that turned the crowd against him:

Listen to the boos rain down on Delaney after his comments about Medicare for All:

The Washington Post noted that some high profile California Democrats provided some clues as to why Biden has maintained such an advantage in polling in spite of the sustained efforts from far left activists and Democratic hardliners to dim his star. The main reason? The belief that Biden is the most electable presidential candidate of all of them:

But the power of their newly emboldened movement remains unclear. Even here in deep blue California, it faces hurdles. Late Saturday, the state party overwhelmingly elected a labor leader from the mainstream ranks of the party as its new chairman. He defeated a liberal activist backed by many Sanders supporters.

And interviews with current and former elected officials, strategists and donors in California revealed a relatively high level of confidence in Biden’s ability to defeat Trump. Many Democrats see that as the most important quality in a candidate.

“This is not a normal presidential election,” said former U.S. senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who called beating Trump a “moral imperative.”

Asked who fits that bill, she replied, “I think the only one right now is Joe.” That could change with time, said Boxer, who has not yet endorsed a candidate.

They may be on to something. Polls that go back to February and March indicate that Democratic voters are prioritizing “electability” over everything else this election cycle.

Because Biden has been portrayed as the party’s most “electable” candidate by the mainstream media and some political analysts, that has led to absurd characterizations of the word electable as misogynist and racist by other candidates who have struggled to gain traction in the crowded field.

While Democratic party infighting is music to Republican ears, Biden himself will have to face up to Sanders and Warren soon enough instead of continuing to run his “sleepy” campaign from a safe distance. The Democratic debates are set to start at the end of the month, and you can be assured of one thing if nothing else the sparks will fly.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.