The Primary Numbers: The Nominee Must Do the Job Well, It Ought to Be Warren…
We are living in a time of rot—in our society, in our law and in our nation’s soul. The alleged hum from the economy masks the growing deterioration under the hood menacing millions of workers. Fairness and equality in our society grow more elusive as power and wealth concentrates in fewer and fewer. These trends predate the arrival of the current occupant of the White House, though he personifies the growing decadence and depravity amongst us.
Obviously this cannot stand, but how will we implement that change? This is something about which we have thought long and hard. Any of the remaining Democratic contenders would make fine presidents, certainly exceptionally better ones than the petty, self-obsessed, touchy incumbent. We argue, however, that this will not be enough. We need the candidate that has both the far-reaching vision the wherewithal to realize as much of it as possible. The person who can do that is Elizabeth Warren.
Our support for Warren was not a given. This blog had demurred at her presidential run because we felt she was needed in the Senate more. Four years ago, we backed Hillary Clinton, and while this blog would be hypocritical to recant that nod, we see that our nation needs more than Clinton offered. However, we have to trust such a candidate can deliver.
As the field has winnowed this year, nobody else has the ideas, the passion and the grit to plant the changes we need in this political environment. Warren has defined herself by her plans and her vision. However, she can not only lay out the schematics. Warren is the mechanic we need to repair our sputtering society.
It is important to acknowledge the other candidates for the nomination. On balance, aside from some veins we attribute to sexism, we do not read the data as hugely favoring one candidate over another against Donald Trump. Electability is a fungible characteristic and Trump was unelectable until he he wasn’t.
No, our concern is with what comes after. Former Vice-President Joe Biden has not come to grips with the GOP’s rot. He acknowledges the wrongful abuse former President Barack Obama endured from them, but Biden does not seem to grasp that the fever has not broken, as Obama himself once hoped.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is a little bit more clear-eyed about Republicans. However, she does not appear to see how badly we need some changes beyond the brooming of Trump. Andrew Yang’s humor and attention to certain issues is appreciated, but many solutions impractical or insufficient. The billionaires running, well…moving on…
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who made an impressive showing in Iowa intrigues. Not only would he be the nation’s first LGBTQ president, but he would represent the generational shift Democrats need. However, as his moderation over the course of 2019 goes, we are not confident he would barrel forward against impossible opposition, as Obama did when health care reform seemed dead.
Which brings us to Senator Bernie Sanders. He certainly shares the vision that Warren does, but upon closer inspection, his promise seems like a chimera. We have no problem with high expectations, but with Sanders they are everything—and a recipe for disenchantment not unlike what we saw with Obama.
In fact, Sanders has already admitted defeat on much of his agenda. He does not support ending the Senate filibuster which kills much of his most ambitious proposals. Instead, Sanders has proposed a convoluted process that a Democratic Senate majority would not abide.
In reviewing his plans, we do not see the same comprehensiveness that comes with Warren’s. For example, Warren has a litany of proposals to better the lives of LGBTQ people. Sanders has a relatively spare statement on equality. We do not question his beliefs about LGBTQ equality. However, the problems groups like sexual minorities face are too systemic to be solved simply by deconcentrating power from the top.
We fear backlash from overreach, too. The concern is not that he’ll move too far left. Sanders’s ideology, as practiced, is well within the historical American mainstream. The concern is he cannot use bureaucracy as ably. He recently proposed legalizing marijuana on day one in all 50 states. He can’t do that. Alternatively, this is merely a sleight of hand. Rogue US attorneys could still prosecute if struck with reefer madness and he cannot void state prohibitions. Only Congress can fix these issues.
We fear that once there, Sanders will fall short and leave us at risk for another violent pendulum swing back.
We know Warren can do better. Warren established a whole agency out of whole cloth. We can see not only that she is skeptical when presented with facts, but that she knows the right questions to ask to elicit better advice—or, from a hostile witness, the truth.
Warren has put corruption at the center of her campaign. For her corruption is not just about a bag of unmarked bills to crooked officials. She has identified the essence of what festers in our system. It pervades our government, our discourse, our media and our private sector.
No candidate, not even Sanders, appears prepared to tackle this as directly as Warren is. If it is not done, we may no sooner find an authoritarian back in control, claiming to serve the people but really serving the oligarchs.
Warren puts forward plans about how to clean up our political system and democratize as much of it as is possible. She has bold and significant plans to remake the regulatory state to pursue justice. However, some things are not a question of justice, but, in fact efficiency and effectiveness.
The mantra that consolidation in our economy breeds efficiency has reigned for too long. In fact, it has only consolidated wealth and economic power in a few.
We believe Warren will restore vigilance to the anti-trust division of the Justice Department, which can, in turn, stiffen the spines of the independent Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general. The benefits of breaking up banks and conglomerates goes well beyond consumers. It is good for workers; there is competition for their talent. It is good for innovation; incumbent businesses have less incentive to rest on their laurels. It is good for our communities; there is pressure to keep more businesses local or at least there is the space for them to survive.
This spreads into tech, namely the social media behemoths, who now require either tighter regulation or divestment. Warren has made a confrontations with these monoliths a priority.
Warren’s committed to battling climate changed, but she has adopted Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s urgency on the issue. That is the right course and some of the biggest blows for climate change may even be possible through reconciliation
Just as critically, Warren can execute. First, she has called for the filibuster to end. This blog worries about that long-term, but we credit her realpolitik about legislative constipation.
But more than that, we have confidence in Warren’s leadership of the bureaucracy. We trust her appointments will be sharp enough and canny enough to not only write good rules, but give them the strength to endure our garishly conservative federal judiciary. Notably, the Trump administration incompetence has sent many of its darkest proposals to death before the courts.
If progressives, the left, Democrats, whoever, want to transform America, they must get this right once power is wrested from Trump and his party. It is insufficient to be the godfather of this policy or another or to have been hollering into the abyss about this wrong or that.
Some may say that Warren does more poorly than others in the general election. We again note that Trump was dead in the water in 2016 for months. Second, at least part of this polling disparity is sexist. We cannot tolerate such an excuse to not the nominate the best person for the job. If we are right about her quality, she will overcome this.
Plus, we believe Warren can unite the disparate factions of the Democratic coalition. She has drawn her campaign from across the party and the fields of activism. She has the ties to the Sanders wing and the credibility of party stalwarts.
Finally, we have seen Elizabeth Warren in action. Though we kept our distance to wait for this campaign to play out, this blog supported her heartily in 2012 and your editor-in-chief volunteered for her that year. She can win people over. It was not a given she would beat Scott Brown. It took introducing her as the person Massachusetts needed to assure that.
Elizabeth Warren can do that again and win the nation. The United States will be a better place for it.