It’s every liberal’s fantasy, especially among those who view Hillary as a tad too hawkish on foreign policy or too cozy with Wall Street. Hillary Clinton is the current front-runner, but this lacks the enthusiasm found during President Obama’s first bid for office. Despite numerous assertions that she will not run for President, Elizabeth Warren has unintentionally inherited the progressive energy that propelled Obama into the White House.
While the momentum surrounding Senator Warren is contagious, we must remember that the road to 1600 Penn is not typically fit for those who scoff at the status quo.
The 2012 Presidential election cost over two billion dollars. While Political Action Committees and outside groups donated more on behalf of Mitt Romney, President Obama’s campaign had more cash on hand.
This isn’t to say Senator Warren couldn’t fight on the same scale. Her 2012 senate race, one of the most buzz-worthy of the cycle, racked up an $82 million bill. It was the second most expensive race of the year.
Warren has dealt with big name donors before; a lack of experience in this domain is not the issue. The issue is that running for the executive chair, as opposed to a seat in the deep-blue enclave that is Massachusetts, would require a shift in temperament. Warren’s biggest donors in 2012 were EMILY’s List (a Super PAC that promotes female pro-choice candidates), Moveon.org, Harvard University, MIT, and Boston University.
Why is it important to recognize who bankrolled Senator Warren’s 2012 campaign? Because these forces embody America’s intellectual elite, a persona which not many voters can relate to. In order to win 270 electoral votes, and conquer swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, Senator Warren will have to tone down her rhetoric. Obama had a little more wiggle-room in this regard: during his most recent bid for President, he was able to win 80% of the minority vote.
While America’s Left is lining up behind Elizabeth Warren, her star power is limited to that demographic. This is the only bloc of voters she has in her back pocket. While minority voters may be more likely to vote for a Democrat, it is less likely that these folks will actually turn out to vote on Election Day. The non-white demographic had the largest increase in voter turnout in 2008 implying that the historical nature of Obama’s candidacy galvanized voters of color. It is unlikely that Warren will be able to sustain this trend. She will have to make up for this by winning a larger portion of the white vote (a voting bloc that Mr. Romney won by 59% compared to Obama’s 39%).
I’m not suggesting that she should buddy up with Wall Street, or that she should abandon her stances on key social issues, such as abortion, but there will have to be compromises. I’m not sure exactly what these compromises would look like, but it is likely that they would involve mitigating her views on regulation in the private sector. Senator Warren has the educational institutions and, in all probability, the entertainment industry behind her, but these forces aren’t strong enough when stacked against America’s financial elite and the socially conservative interest groups that would back her opponent.
Hillary Clinton is the front-runner because of her centrist nature. She definitely strays to the left on social issues, especially on gender equality, but don’t be fooled: the former Secretary of State has a lot of friends on Wall Street. After all, her husband was responsible for the repeal of Glass-Steagall – a decision that has been pinned with triggering the Great Recession by allowing investment & commercial banks to converge, which enabled individual firms to grow to unprecedented heights. Many financial leaders anticipate that Mrs. Clinton will govern in the same pragmatic manner. This isn’t just bluster: Goldman Sachs is a loyal donor to the Clinton Foundation and some hedge funds have already donated millions of dollars to a Super PAC promoting Clinton’s candidacy. This is a far cry from their views on Mrs. Warren, who they consider a liability.
It’s not that Elizabeth Warren couldn’t form an equally strong political coalition by applying a little elbow grease. Above all, it’s about what this country needs. The Presidency is a position of compromise. Democratic voters are all too familiar with frustration when it comes to the Obama administration.
Take, for example, the recent budget that passed in both the House and Senate. President Obama worked against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to get the bill through. The American left was livid when they discovered what was hidden inside the budget, including setbacks on Dodd-Frank (financial regulation), increased leniency on campaign spending, and cuts for both the EPA and IRS.
Who best voiced our outrage when the $1.1 trillion cromnibus passed?
“Mr. President, the American people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts” declared Senator Warren in a nearly 10 minute speech on the senate floor. She went on to argue that the bill does “nothing” for America’s middle class and that Dodd-Frank should have broken the big banks to pieces. This was a declaration of war.
It’s typical for Americans to view the Presidency as the definitive political position. This is understandable, as it is one of the most powerful positions in our Republic, but this view doesn’t do justice to those working within the legislative or judicial branches of our government.
A President must effectively navigate America’s polarized political discourse in order to reach the few pockets of compromise he or she can. They need to cut deals across the aisle, whip votes, cater to special interests, and most importantly, act as the figurehead for all the actions taken by our federal government, whether it be drone strikes or bailouts.
This is not where Elizabeth Warren best serves the American public.
We need her unfettered, unfiltered, and pissed off. Thanks to high approval ratings, not only is her seat in the Senate safe, but she has also been offered a position in the Democratic leadership after serving for only two years. Personally, I would love to see her become the majority or minority leader for Democrats.
Her career in the Senate has just begun. As a former teacher and lawyer, Elizabeth Warren is exactly the type of voice we need informing legislation. This past spring, she introduced a bill that would have allowed young Americans to refinance their student loans to today’s lower interest rates. After congressional Republicans filibustered the legislation, Senator Warren pledged to keep hitting at the issue until some form of tangible reform was reached. She has spent decades advocating for consumer protection and she has already made enemies out of forces that have ended political careers with a snap of the fingers.
Senator Warren’s battle cry has resounded with the American public and people are paying attention. I’m glad there is so much excitement behind her. She is an excellent public servant, but her candidacy for President is not what our country needs. As a Presidential candidate, she would become a caricature of the figure that has won the hearts of many.
If grassroots support, instead of money and coalition building, dictated a candidate’s political prowess, I would absolutely advocate for Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy. But that is not the political reality of America in 2014. Until then, we need representatives like her at the helm of our legislative branch, crafting laws that can set us back on track.
20, NYC born, Oberlin student, Musician & Politics Major