Elizabeth Warren has ended her presidential bid. She’s not going anywhere, to be sure, and it is somewhat mollifying that she is in Congress. Maybe she’ll get a cabinet post.
Pretty much leaving the race between Biden and Sanders.
So what is this? How do we put this into some kind of sensible perspective? Warren was a solid candidate and had the added attraction of knowing how to build plans and coalitions and who clearly understands how both the economy and the culture works. Was this not enough?
Here’s my quick and dirty analysis.
1: The DNC feared going into the summer campaign season with too crowded a field. Pare it down, pare it down. Leaving a row of wannabes on the stage for people to be perpetually uncertain about works against potential unity.
2: Mainline Democrats are afraid of anyone who might actually revise the system to address the underlying problems that have brought us here. They do not know what that would mean For Them. Personal ass-covering time. There are a lot of center-leftish folks who don’t like the inequities but would rather not see them redressed at their expense. Upper middle class and wealthy Democrats are just as committed to keeping “their share” as Republicans and Right-wingers. Warren could potentially undo the pipelines that feed into shareholder coffers and that might mean comfortable people could get less. Or, worse, be on the hook to pay for the ride they’ve had on the backs of those who just work for a living without the benefits of pension-benefits.
3: Of course, the same problem is there with Sanders, but somehow he doesn’t seem as dangerous. I don’t know quite why. Age? Demeanor? He doesn’t inundate people with theory and he seems to tap into the emotional end of this whole thing. It may just be that Sanders seems better equipped to get into a brawl with Trump.
4: Which brings it to Biden. This is a nostalgia candidate. Obama, sure, but even older, “back in the day,” traditional Democratic esthetics. Uncle Joe. He’s comfortable, seems safe. The kind of president you vote for because it feels good and safe and then you hope he appoints smart people.
5: My mantra for some time now has been that our politics are driven by the desire among too many people to “Fix It But Don’t Change Anything.” Biden has some of that about him. He represents a chance to put it all back together the way it was before the wrecking ball was elected. It’s perhaps understandable but short-sighted and more fear-driven than perhaps we can afford.
6: Warren, in my opinion, would have been a fine president, but, finally, I think she’s burdened by two deficits for too many people: (a) She’s an intellectual and not afraid to let you know it and (b) she comes across somehow less tough than the others, probably because of her more academic approach. America has had a horrible track record with smart people running for office. Misogyny plays a part as well, but I think less now than before. We can’t discount it, certainly, but I don’t think it’s a simple aversion to having a woman for president. It’s now arrived at the “What kind of woman” question. This is where that messy problem of public perception and group dynamics comes into play. She did well, but I think a lot of that was people delighted she was running, but not expecting her to win. Perhaps they thought she couldn’t win a debate with Trump. Well, Hillary “won” all the debates, but they were speaking different languages, and the people who largely went with Trump couldn’t hear what she was saying. It is not unlikely some of the same fear is at play here.
Biden, I think, doesn’t have to win any debates with Trump. Supporters will do that work for him. It’s about image now. If people want a “safe” candidate, he’ll keep winning primaries and then the nomination. If people want a brawler, then Sanders will ultimately win.
I will repeat here, once more, the important thing: THIS ELECTION IS LESS ABOUT THE PRESIDENT THAN IT IS ABOUT CONGRESS. Anyone opting to stay home because they don’t like the presidential nominee does all the rest of us a disservice by not being there to vote for a new Congress. Plus all the state and local down-ticket seats. Whoever gets the nomination, it doesn’t matter if we don’t overturn Congress. Show up. Vote.
Thank you for your attention.