Three of the four members of the infamous all-female House “Squad” are gearing up to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. While Rep. Ilhan Omar has formally expressed her support for Sanders’ candidacy, reports indicate that Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are expected to publicly throw their weight behind the 78-year old Vermont senator soon.
Omar’s ringing endorsement letter was shared by the official “People4Bernie” Twitter page late Tuesday night following the primary debate. It highlighted the various projects Omar and Sanders are working together on—including legislation to “cancel” all student debt and provide every student in America “free” breakfast, lunch, and dinner (words such as “cancel” and “free” are friendly euphemisms the left uses to justify forcing people to pay for others’ expenses).
Given Sanders’ recent heart attack, the latest batch of endorsements may reinvigorate a campaign that has spent the last week and a half of on uncertain footing. In a party perpetually preoccupied with gender, the decision of a majority of the squad to refrain from supporting far-left female candidate Elizabeth Warren seems, if anything, to be a definitive jab. The radical Squad is sending a message to Warren – they don’t believe she’s woke enough to lead what they envision to be the new (and radical) Democratic Party.
Despite Warren’s promise to torpedo the banking industry, push Medicare-for-all, and to tax the wealthy into oblivion, her remarks in 2018 to the New England Council, which included the assertion, “I am a capitalist to my bones,” have become the battle cry of the Sanders’ progressives. To many, Warren’s more cautious embrace of socialism translates into failing the woke purity test needed to win the progressive base.
The Squad’s endorsements are meaningful because the foursome have become quasi-pop culture figures among those millennials and Gen Zers unthinkingly hungry for socialism, which unfortunately comprises a not insignificant chunk of young voters. A poll published by Axios earlier this year revealed that a staggering 61 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 had a “positive reaction” to the word “socialism,” besting capitalism, which clocked in at 58 percent.
Thus, givenSanders has advocated for total government control of nearly every facet of life (in exchange for “free” everything), it is unsurprising that he would earn the earnest endorsements of multiple Squad members eager to usher in an era of genuinely socialist policies.
There’s a dark underbelly to these endorsements, however. Omar’s endorsement of Sanders—and his warm embrace of it— arguably relitigates the left’s embrace of antisemitism. Just last month, Sanders welcomed disgraced Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour as a campaign surrogate. Sarsour has a long history of supporting the antisemitic BDS movement against Israel and paling around with fans of the antisemitic, anti-white, homophobic Nation of Islam preacher Louis Farrakhan.
As noted by Jonathan Tobin of National Review, it’s likely that Sarsour’s defenders will use her support for potentially the first Jewish president as evidence she is not an anti-Semite. But there’s a large gap between the hateful rhetoric she historically has espoused and her recent attachment to the Sanders campaign.
In the case of Omar and Tlaib, the constructed narrative will likely be the same. Both officials have come under fire for their support of the BDS movement, Omar in particular for several past tweets in which she relied on antisemitic tropes to express her opinion.
Thus, Omar and Tlaib’s endorsements will likely help to shield them from accusations of antisemitism down the road, should they opt to engage with antisemitic actors or spread antisemitic tropes. Tobin notes, however, that unlike the alleged antisemites Sanders manages to attract in his midst, he himself has never advocated for Israel’s economic or physical destruction.
Sanders is likely relieved to gain a boost, however big or small, from the Squad. However, it’s too soon to tell whether their respective endorsements will be effective in reining in millennials and Gen Zers tempted to jump ship for a rising Warren.