Elizabeth Warren is No Fool. She’s Not Going to Run for President.Posted: February 11, 2015
A lot of progressives are urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to run for the Democratic nomination for president. Every day I get email from one or more progressive organizations asking me to support Sen. Warren’s possible candidacy. Progressive talk show hosts and bloggers express that hope (wish?) that Warren will take up the liberal/progressive cause against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Some of these voices also encourage the possible candidacies of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), or California Governor Jerry Brown. But Elizabeth Warren, the fire-breathing nemesis of the Wall Street plutocrats and holder of corporate-friendly Democrats’ feet to the fire, is the clear choice of vocal progressives.
Notwithstanding the entreaties of her supporters, Sen. Warren is on the record as not seeking the nomination. She has said this more than once. Her supporters, however, seem to believe that she can be persuaded to change her mind. I’ve read their arguments and requests for financial support and I remain unconvinced. I don’t believe that Elizabeth Warren wants to run for President and I believe that she is right not to. Sen. Warren’s strengths lie precisely in her role as a political force in the Congress and a Democrat who can offer positive criticism of a Democratic administration without fear. She is in the perfect position to lead a true “Loyal Opposition.”
Warren’s supporters argue that while she is almost certain to lose the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton, her energetic candidacy would force Ms. Clinton to the “left” on economic and social issues. This argument, in essence, urges Sen. Warren to squander her “political capital” in pursuit of a dubious result. The “Run Warren Run” advocates argue that Ms Clinton is clearly not a progressive. That she is a “corporate Democrat,” representing the Republican branch of the Democratic Party. A second Clinton administration, they insist, like the current administration, would likely allow the Wall Street corporate criminals to operate with impunity. It would probably continue the push for disastrous trade policies like President Obama’s request for fast-track approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We could also expect a continuation of the intrusive practices of the NSA and the aggressive prosecution of “whistle-blowers” while the wrong-doers on whom the whistles were blown go unpunished.
But a Democrat in the White House is important. The administration of justice at the Federal level is at stake. The defense of human rights is more secure under a Democratic administration. The military policy of the US is less likely to go take a disastrous turn if we can escape another Republican administration. And the next president will almost certainly have the responsibility of appointing a Supreme Court Justice, a decision that will affect the future of our country for a generation.
Sen. Warren’s strength is in the field of economics. She has no credentials in the areas of foreign policy and defense. She has not stated any opinions about issues like voting rights, drug policy, gun regulation, reproductive rights, prison reform, government surveillance of private citizens, and other domestic issues of concern to progressives. But she can shape US economic policy for the next generation and form a national coalition of progressive citizens and elected officials. Her growing influence is best used in providing congressional leadership and shaping political policies.
Like many congressional leaders before her, Elizabeth Warren can positively affect US policy without seeking the presidency. Indeed, notwithstanding the demands of campaign fund-raising, Sen. Warren has more freedom of action than any president or cabinet member. I hope that she will take this opportunity to provide real leadership and skip the primary election circus.