It’s way too early in the game to get into endorsing candidates in this space. What are we, years before the first primary? Ok, maybe not years—but you get the idea. Now we’re up to 22 candidates, with Governor Steve Bullock of Montana ready to throw his hat in the ring. I think we’re approaching the saturation point, are we not?
But, the debates begin next month, and perhaps we can start to see a thinning of candidates in the not too distant future. Nevertheless, when there’s a candidate out there who impresses me with an idea, policy proposal, or statement, I’m going to weigh in. A few days ago, it was Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, with her bold plan to increase voter participation with an election voucher system.
As I mentioned in the piece, it may never see the light of day as far as becoming law. But in my mind, at least she’s advancing the twin narratives that not enough people participate in the election process, and that corporations and the wealthy have pretty much taken over our democracy. It’s a good proposal, if not a practical one as far as our political discourse is concerned.
But today, my focus is on Senator Warren. It’s not any particular proposal. It’s not a specific idea, or statement either. Actually, it’s all three. Frankly, I’m blown away with how she seems to be separating herself from the rest of the pack. Truthfully though, I’m not surprised. She’s impressed me since the first time she came on to the scene.
It was in 2009 when we were in the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. She had been selected to serve on a Congressional Oversight Committee that was formed to make sure that TARP(Troubled Asset Relief Program), the $700 billion bailouts of the financial banking system, was being implemented correctly, as well as reviewing the state of markets and regulatory programs. She was named chairperson of the panel.
What I remembered most, was her intellect. That, and her dogged questioning of then Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geitner. I remembered Geitner squirming on more than a few occasions, and Warren indeed showed her mistrust of Wall Street and the ‘fat cats.’ And of course, it was Warren who was the brainchild behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created to provide consumers protection in the financial sector … an agency currently under a full and complete assault from the Trump Administration, by the way.
Warren is setting the tone thus far. She’s putting out proposals, seemingly daily. She’s active on Twitter, always weighing in on relevant topics of the day. She calls out Trump and the Republican Party for their daily allegiances to the corporations and other special interest groups. And, she’s showing an uncanny ability to connect with regular folks.
But wait, how can this be? I’ve been told she’s not likable enough. I’ve also been told she doesn’t have the ‘it’ factor one needs to become the nominee. But there she was the other day, standing in front of a town hall crowd of Trump voters in West Virginia, speaking compassionately about the opioid addiction problem there, and offering solutions. I saw many a voter there shaking and nodding there head in approval, as she went about explaining things, like the professor she used to be. She seemed plenty likable to me.
Look, I get it. We all want to find the best candidate who will defeat Donald Trump. But, I also want to find the best candidate who will be a great president—not just someone we all think will beat Trump.
It would be nice if that candidate is one and the same. And I realize here is where it gets a bit tricky.
Conventional Wisdom has it that former Vice-President Joe Biden is the one guy who can beat Trump. I understand why that is. He’s got stature, name recognition, and an ability to connect to those working-class voters who supported Trump in 2016. But folks, he’s 76 years old. I know he’s still sharp as a tack, and I’m not trying to be an age discriminator here. But I’m just not so sure that the train hasn’t already left the station for Biden. This isn’t his first try at the big prize, and for sure, this will be his last … regardless of the outcome.
My point here is that excitement among Democrats is a must. Mobilizing the base cannot be underestimated. Will men and women of color turn out in droves for Biden, as they did for his former boss President Obama? How about millennials and white women? We need overwhelming turn out from the electorate in general, and I’m a little wary of entrusting that to a guy who has been around as long as Joe Biden. We have to get this right.
Can Elizabeth Warren garner the excitement we’re going to need in 2020? Again, I’m not sure at this point. And, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t mention the fact that Warren isn’t exactly a spring chicken. If she were to win the presidency in 2020, she would be 71 years old on inauguration day. In other words, she has a lot of work to do. I think the debates will tell us more. Right now, the polling shows Biden in a strong position. But, it’s still early.
I hope that Democrats, in general, will have an open mind towards all of the candidates. Many have already discounted Warren as having any chance of being the nominee. And, we can’t ignore the cult-like following that Senator Bernie Sanders enjoys either. If the last election is any indication, if Bernie isn’t the nominee, many of his supporters would rather sit out the election than have to vote for anyone else. If that happens? I don’t even want to go there.
Be that as it may, Elizabeth Warren is presenting herself as a viable and intriguing candidate. She’s got the intellect. She certainly has an abundance of ideas and policy proposals. And, in my view, her central campaign theme—that our democracy is rigged for those at the top—resonates on many levels. We must also give her props for visiting not only predominantly African-American communities but also her forays into the belly of the beast—Trump country.
Frankly, I do not ascribe to the idea that America may not want to vote for a woman president at this time. Whether Warren will be that woman is anyone’s best guess at this point. But, I can certainly see a President Warren. I can imagine it because when she burst on to the scene in 2009, amid the worst financial crisis in generations, I remember saying to myself how impressed I was with her performance. I saw the potential back then, and I see it now playing out in front of us.
Can you see Senator Warren debating Donald Trump in the fall of 2020? I certainly can. I’m not quite ready to coronate Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee. The media certainly seems to be telling us that it’s a foregone conclusion. To my fellow Democrats I say … not so fast. Let’s take a deep breath and let the chips fall where they may. If Joe Biden happens to win the nomination, I will support him with every fiber of my being. Because no matter who wins it, they will be a million times better than what we have now. To that, there is no debate.