NY Times endorses two candidates: 'radical' Warren and 'realist' Klobuchar

Democrats are united behind progressivism, but need to decide how they want to implement it, the paper argued.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (L-R) greet each other on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., July 30, 2019 (photo credit: LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS)
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (L-R) greet each other on the first night of the second 2020 Democratic U.S. presidential debate in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., July 30, 2019
(photo credit: LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS)
The Democratic Party must decide between two competing and compelling visions for America's future when picking its presidential nominee, The New York Times has written, as it endorsed two candidates in the race.
The split in the party is commonly characterized as being between moderates and progressives, but in an editorial, the Times has largely dismissed that depiction, arguing that the similarity of the candidates' policies in the Democratic primary is such that "nearly any of them would be the most progressive president in decades on issues like health care, the economy and government’s allocations of resources."
Rather, the Times believes that the real split in the party is not over what the candidates want to achieve, but how they plan to achieve it – specifically regarding "whether they believe the country’s institutions and norms are up to the challenge of the moment." The question facing the Democratic Party, they claim, is whether the progressive framework for America should be delivered through working with state institutions, or by reforming them entirely.
"There are legitimate questions about whether our democratic system is fundamentally broken," the paper argues. "Events of the past few years have shaken the confidence of even the most committed institutionalists. We are not veering away from the values we espouse, but we are rattled by the weakness of the institutions that we trusted to undergird those values."
For this reason, the paper has endorsed two candidates, the "radical" Elizabeth Warren and the "realist" Amy Klobuchar.
Dismissing Bernie Sanders as "over-promising" and "divisive," the Times favored Warren from the radical wing of the party as a more credible candidate.
"Senator Warren is a gifted storyteller. She speaks elegantly of how the economic system is rigged against all but the wealthiest Americans, and of “our chance to rewrite the rules of power in our country"," the Times explained, adding that, "the word “rigged” feels less bombastic than rooted in an informed assessment of what the nation needs to do to reassert its historic ideals like fairness, generosity and equality."
POINTING TO Warren's plans to reform the fundamental structures of both government and the economy, the Times praised her "serious approach to policymaking that some of the other candidates lack." In particular, her promises to increase government funding for housing construction and reform in planning regulations to encourage building; plans to invest in clean energy research; and her ideas for reducing the economic and political heft of large corporations by empowering unions to engage in more collective bargaining, all caught the eye of the Times.
Her familiarity with the use of regulatory agencies rather than lawmaking to shape America also won her praise, as the paper pointed out that promoting a progressive agenda through new laws will be difficult under a conservative judiciary.
However, there were reservations over her political instincts. "She sometimes sounds like a candidate who sees a universe of us-versus-thems, who, in the general election, would be going up against a president who has already divided America into his own version of them and us," the Times wrote.
Warren has already had to soften her approach to Medicare, given voters' opposition to her plans to socialize America's health care system, and the Times calls for her to likewise temper her stance on capitalism.
"American capitalism is responsible for its share of sins," the editors wrote. "But Ms. Warren often casts the net far too wide, placing the blame for a host of maladies from climate change to gun violence at the feet of the business community when the onus is on society as a whole. The country needs a more unifying path."
 THAT MORE unified path may be better served by the Times' moderate pick: Amy Klobuchar, whose vision, the newspaper wrote, "goes beyond the incremental. Given the polarization in Washington and beyond, the best chance to enact many progressive plans could be under a Klobuchar administration."
Klobuchar has pledged to invest in green infrastructure and introduce legislation to achieve 100% net-zero emissions by 2050, to cut child poverty in half by 2030, and to expand food stamps and overhaul housing policy. She has also put forward a detailed plan for treating addiction and mental illness, and backs a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.
A member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar serves on subcommittees overseeing the Department of Homeland Security as well as borders and immigration affairs. She has sponsored votes on national defense, including military action in Libya and Syria, helping her to hold the record among Democratic senators for passing bills with bipartisan support.
"Ms. Klobuchar speaks about issues like climate change, the narrowing middle class, gun safety and trade with an empathy that connects to voters’ lived experiences, especially in the middle of the country," the Times wrote.
"Her record shows that she is confident and thoughtful, and she reacts to data – what you’d want in a crisis."
Both candidates have the potential to unite America, and both will need to negotiate challenges personal to their campaign, the paper argued, writing: "Any hope of restoring unity in the country will require modesty, a willingness to compromise and the support of the many demographics that make up the Democratic coalition – young and old; in red states and blue; black and brown and white.
"For Senator Klobuchar, that’s acknowledging the depth of the nation’s dysfunction. For Senator Warren, it’s understanding that the country is more diverse than her base."
However, the decision before the party – whether to take the radical or moderate route to reforming America's institutions – needs to be a decision for the party and the voters at large, not for any commentators to dictate, the editorial said.
"There will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives. But it’s a fight the party itself has been itching to have since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat in 2016, and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth. That’s the very purpose of primaries, to test-market strategies and ideas that can galvanize and inspire the country."