Warren 2020

It’s far too early for me to say that Elizabeth Warren is my top choice for the Democratic nominee, but she’s definitely up there and I think too many people are too skeptical of her.  She’s super-smart with amazing policy chops and she knows how to stick-it to Trump.  I really liked this from Jon Cohn:

That includes a new 4½-minute video that ought to remind everybody why she became a progressive hero in the first place ― and why, despite her liabilities, she remains such a formidable contender for both the Democratic Party nomination and the presidency itself.

The reminder is necessary because the last few months have been rough for Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts who first won election to the Senate in 2012. The trouble started in October when she tried to defuse the controversy over her past claims of Native American ancestry by taking a DNA test and producing yet another video, this one featuring relatives vouching for her side of the story.

The test and testimonials actually backed up her repeated statements that, as a child, she’d been told she had a Native American ancestor. They came on the heels of an exhaustive Boston Globe investigation showing that claims of Native heritage had played no role in Warren’s getting law faculty positions at the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard.

Even so, Warren ended up angering Native American activists and provoking a new round of “Pocahontas” mockery from President Donald Trump, creating a media scrum that raised new doubts about her political judgment rather than quelling old ones about her ancestry and honesty…

Warren really does have some serious political liabilities. But it’s an open question just how much those liabilities would matter at the polls ― and Democrats should know this better than anybody, just based on recent history.

Five different Democrats have run for president since 1992, and the two that won carried massive, potentially fatal vulnerabilities into their campaigns…

Arguably two of Trump’s biggest vulnerabilities are his history of personal corruption and his pursuit of the traditional Republican economic agenda, which showers benefits on corporations and the rich while taking away programs and supports for everybody else. A Democrat with a strong record of fighting corruption could exploit the corporate largesse. A candidate with a strong record of fighting for the middle class and poor could exploit the weakening of the safety net. Warren happens to be both.

As the campaign video reminds viewers, she first became a political headliner by attacking banks for taking advantage of unsuspecting poor and middle-class customers. She can legitimately claim credit for developing the idea of a new government agency to protect consumers and then lobbying for it until it became reality. She can also take some credit for pushing the entire political discussion about the finance industry in a more progressive direction.

It helps that Warren is a bona fide policy wonk who long ago worked out her own political identity and her own preferred ideas on many key issues. That might not sound like a big accomplishment, but surprisingly few politicians have done the thinking and research it takes. Even among the ranks of serious presidential contenders, it’s not easy to find candidates who can articulate exactly why they want to be president, beyond the mere pursuit of power, and what they’d actually do if they were to win. [emphasis mine]

Not the most important part in winning an election, but a big reason I’m a fan.

Warren has a few other things going for her, too. They include a compelling, impressive biography of facing and then overcoming challenges familiar to so many Americans ― like growing up in a family that teetered on the edge of financial catastrophe or struggling, as a working mom, to find decent child care that she could afford…

Whether all of this is enough to make Warren the Democrats’ best candidate, obviously, is another question entirely. The reality is that many of the Democrats intent on running have significant strengths. They also have significant weaknesses, which Trump would exploit just as surely as he has Warren’s.

Democratic primary voters will have to judge for themselves which candidate is most likely to win and which has the most to offer as a potential president. But an awful lot of people wanted Warren to run back in 2016, and the qualities that made Warren attractive then would seem, if anything, to be even more relevant now.

There’s a number of compelling Democrats out there with lots of reasons to like them, but the idea that I should right off Warren because of a DNA test is absurd and that I should right her off as too liberal is to not actually engage with what she has had to say about most policy.

Oh, and the gender.  As is often the case, nothing beats good satire.  In this case, McSweeney’s, “I don’t hate women candidates– I just hated Hillary and coincidentally I’m starting to hate Elizabeth Warren.”

I have no problem with women. My wife is a woman and I have daughters who will likely be wives and mothers of daughters one day. I only had a problem with Hillary Clinton, and my problem with her is completely separated from her gender, and is solely based on the fact that she was so dishonest when compared to other prominent politicians who ran for president. How could anyone vote for such a liar? …

And I never chanted LOCK HER UP or created memes showing her in prison, but I did laugh a little at those memes, because the thought of this accomplished woman behind bars with all her agency stripped away from her was funny to me.

So I’m a perfectly reasonable, women-friendly fellow who is completely open to the idea of a woman president. And I never thought I’d hate anyone as much as I hate Hillary Clinton. But to my surprise, I’m actually starting to hate Elizabeth Warren.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve heard that Elizabeth Warren is a champion of consumers and the middle class who battled the big banks and advocates for economic reform. Nonetheless, she rubs me the wrong way…

And you know the DNA test is a huge deal, because Breitbart published five different stories about it over the course of 24 hours. Though I have never once in my life given a thought about the welfare of Native Americans, I am totally offended on their behalf. The fact they have criticized Elizabeth Warren just bolsters my claim that she’s the worst person ever, besides Hillary Clinton, and thus endeth my Native American advocacy until the day I die.

Another thing about Elizabeth Warren: She claims she advocates for the poor, yet she isn’t a poor herself. She lives in a fancy house with her fancy Harvard salary. I’m no fan of Trump, but that Elizabeth Warren is such a phony. That’s a thought, and thoughts are true, and I will never examine how that thought got into my head

I always tell my daughters they can be anything they want, so long as they don’t make other people feel uncomfortable. They can be as ambitious as they want, so long as they do it in an acceptable manner. They can reach for the stars, which you can see right up there on the ceiling painted to resemble a sky.

So bring it on, ladies! I’d love to see a female President. Just not Hillary Clinton. Or Elizabeth Warren. I am totally open to all other women leaders, but I have to admit that Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar are beginning to make me angry and I’m not sure why yet, but I know the reason will become clear soon, and I’m also wondering what they might look like if someone photoshopped their heads onto the bodies of prisoners and put them behind bars.

Reach for the stars, girls!

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

5 Responses to Warren 2020

  1. Nicole K. says:

    Really not a fan of Warren. I have no idea what her foreign policy views are. And while anything would be a significant improvement over what is occurring now, I think it’s crucial that our next president is able and willing to fix the damage to the world order that Trump is regularly inflicting on a whim. I also don’t want to bestow endless tax cuts and benefits on the wealthy and large corporations, but I would prefer someone who is not so extreme in her views. I think markets are necessary and good when they are regulated properly.

    • Steve Greene says:

      I suspect Warren would wholeheartedly endorse your final sentence (as would I, of course). There’s quite the range of opinion on “regulated properly” obviously. And I don’t think Warren is as extreme as you perceive her.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    Elizabeth Warren has a sure idea of how most Americans are being robbed by this rigged economy. She can explain it forcefully in terms that don’t require a degree in finance to understand. And best of all, in such matters she knows how to end this rigging and establish economic justice in the United States.
    As for foreign policy, she has been working for at the least the last six years on broadening her knowledge of international affairs. She has a sharp mind with a well honed BS detector.
    She is energetic and is dedicated to build a strong middle class which, as we all know, is the bulwark of democracy.
    I don’t think there is another Democrat among the possible candidates who can surpass her intelligence and who has the energy and the will to push through her policies if elected President.

    • Nicole K. says:

      Yeah, I know she knows a lot. I just don’t care for it when people use such emotionally-charged, hyperbolic language, for example, terms like rigged and robbing on a regular basis. But that’s because I don’t like populism no matter where it comes from. I think it’s overly simplistic and manipulative. Plus I think she’s about as polarizing a figure as Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton. She isn’t appealing to people with more moderate viewpoints (like me). There’s no way I’ll be voting for a GOP candidate no matter who it is, but I really hope someone with serious foreign policy experience and less polarizing emerges. I’d prefer someone more like Joe Biden.

      • R. Jenrette says:

        Sorry, but I think strong language is very appropriate for describing the economic state of the middle class and all classes lower than the 9% today. Just look at how anti pollution laws and consumer protections have been emasculated. Look at the ever growing gap in wealth, the suppression of the vote, the corruption of all kinds in many of our elected officials.
        Sometimes a clarion call is needed to penetrate through the fog of political myths.

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