An observation in a 4.21 Ross Douthat column (“The Democrats After Sanders”) woke me up this morning.
Bernie Sanders, he says, “was in many ways a non-ideal standard-bearer for a left-wing youth movement…he struggled to win over African-American and Hispanic voters, he seemed like too much of a long shot to win endorsements from the party’s most liberal interest groups, and his obvious lack of interest in foreign policy prevented him from fully exploiting Hillary Clinton’s major weakness.”
He follows this with a no-big-deal comment that Elizabeth Warren “would have had fewer of these problems if she’d decided to run, and given how well Sanders has done it’s reasonable to suspect that Warren could have actually defeated Clinton.”
Damn! Probably right. Warren is a firm proponent of the same economic populism Sanders has been voicing for the last several years and certainly since announcing his candidacy, and if she’d run she would have said so emphatically and repeatedly, and it’s entirely possible — “reasonable to suspect,” as Douthat puts it — that she would have siphoned away a sizable chunk of Hillary’s gender-based support, and that she very possibly might have won the Democratic nomination in the end.
Yes, that’s water under the bridge but think what a shot-in-the-arm it would have been for the progressive cause if Warren had beaten Hillary. We’d have a real Democrat running against Trump instead of a corporate-friendly, center-right incremental Obama with more hawkish foreign policy views.
Why didn’t Warren man up and run? Was it just…what, cowardice? A lack of gumption? Some kind of hesitancy over her age or health? The likeliest reason, I suspect, is that sometime in the winter or spring of ’15 Warren was advised by Democratic party power-brokers to play ball and not cause trouble by launching a renegade campaign against Hillary.
One of their arguments would have been that if she ran there would be no money for a campaign war chest, etc. But look what Bernie accomplished with his grass-roots support and those $27-per-person donations.
Warren, alas, couldn’t see it. So she decided to bide her time and just be a responsible, impassioned Senator from Massachusetts and play it one bill, one speech, one step at a time. She folded not just her own tent but abandoned the only real chance progressives had to put one of their own in the White House.
Shame on her. Warren could have won everyone over if she’d only summoned the courage to run and had given it holy hell. She might not have fared as well as Hillary did among African Americans, but she would have done quite well among women across the board. She was the original anti-Wall Street rock star, remember — the one everyone wanted from the get-go. Bernie ran because she wimped out and he felt it was vital to run a campaign against corruption and 1% dominance of both parties and against Citizen’s United.
I think it’s unforgivable what Warren didn’t do. She should be ashamed of herself. This is a serious stain on her table cloth that can’t be bleached out.
The Maud Muller quote: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”