Prominent progressive activist endorses Warren

Prominent progressive activist endorses Warren

Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorsed Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: The center strikes back Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax MORE (D-Mass.) for the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday, giving the Massachusetts senator a prominent voice in left-wing circles and a well-regarded health care expert to provide cover for her Medicare for All plan. 

In an article published by The Nation, Barkan acknowledged the difficulty many progressives are having in deciding whether to support Warren or Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: The center strikes back Sanders against infrastructure deal with more gas taxes, electric vehicle fees Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight MORE (I-Vt.). 

Barkan described the conundrum over who to back as a “difficult and wonderful choice to have.” He said he “love(s) and admire(s) Bernie,” but that the time is right for Warren to lead.

“Of the hundreds of elected officials, activists, and policy wonks I have worked with over the past two decades, Elizabeth Warren is the individual who I believe would make the best president,” Barkan wrote. “I believe that she, more than any other person in America, has the skills, the temperament, and the knowledge to lead us toward a more just and equitable future.”


The 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls have been name-dropping Barkan on the campaign trail as an inspiration in the fight for universal health care. Barkan suffers from ALS and is confined to a wheelchair.

The 20-year veteran of the progressive movement has met with about a half-dozen of the Democratic contenders this year.

Barkan appeared in a promotional ad released by the Sanders campaign earlier this year and in his op-ed for The Nation, acknowledged his long history with the Vermont senator. 

“I have schemed with him, worked with him, and campaigned by his side," Barkan wrote. "He has done more than anyone else to build the movement for Medicare for All.” 

However, Barkan listed five reasons he said led him to back Warren this time around, saying she has the “moral clarity,” “policy chops,” an “eagerness to learn and listen,” the “courage to fight,” and a “mastery of leadership.” 

Barkan also praised Warren’s Medicare for All plan, a campaign policy she has struggled to defend amid an onslaught of attacks from both centrist Democrats and liberal progressives.

Warren, who cosponsored Sanders’s Medicare for All Plan in the Senate, has steadfastly refused to say that her plan would raise taxes on the middle class, even though that is part of the Sanders' plan.

Sanders has said that the trade-off for higher taxes is that prices will go down and consumers will no longer be on the hook for deductibles and co-payments.

Warren’s latest plan would phase in Medicare for All over the course of three years and would preserve private insurance coverage in its first stage — an effort to blunt criticism that it would immediately do away with ObamaCare and eliminate private coverage. 

The Warren plan would also require Democrats to be in control of the Senate in order to leverage a fast-track reconciliation procedure.

“We can and should talk about our strategy and our tactics,” Barkan wrote. “But what matters most to me is that Warren is all in for Medicare for All. Her plan says clearly that by the end of her first term, everyone will have comprehensive guaranteed Medicare — whether you are rich or poor, young or old; that there will be no co-pays, premiums, or deductibles; and that we will bring down the costs of health care because private insurance companies will no longer be able to put profit over patients.”