There is a strong movement among the liberal base of the Democratic party encouraging Senator Elizabeth Warren (D – MA) to run for President. With social media pages like Run, Warren, Run popping up, and local gatherings organized by Democratic fund-raising powerhouse MoveOn.org, it seems that, in spite of the Senator’s own vehement denial of Presidential ambitions at this time, popular pressure might have built momentum too strong to abate.
I, for one, do not want Senator Warren to run for President.
I am a Senator Warren devotee, bordering on being zealot. I organized field for her in 2012 as a canvass-team leader in Fall River, Massachusetts, in a joint effort of SEIU and the Coalition for Social Justice. I had the honor of meeting her twice. Once as a candidate and then as Senator. I have followed her from the Obama apointee to head the Consumer Protection Bureau, blocked by Republicans, to her vindication as the now senior Senator from Massachusetts, to her current role as the polestar of the liberal (or progressive … whatever) wing of the Democratic party.
I have cheered as she has publicly shamed usurious banking cartels and corporate plutocrats for the economic imbalance that they caused with their collective greed. I have watched her verbally eviscerate the entire fallacy of supply-side economics in just over a minute, while speaking before leaders of AFL-CIO, championing the resurrection of the middle class and the empowerment of working families.
Why then, one may ask, do I not want her to run for the highest executive office in the nation?
From her legislative office as a high-profile Senator with a mobilized following, she is able to maintain her liberal ideology and focus on very specific issues without having to compromise the very values and agendas that make her so laudable. To run for president, I fear she would have to water-down her principles and move to the center. No longer would she need only to appeal to her constituents in the very blue and historically liberal state of Massachusetts when seeking re-election as an incumbent. Rather, she would have to cater to a much broader audience on a carefully coordinated national path, including key battleground states where Democrat is often defined quite differently.
From a Democratic primary perspective alone, pitting Warren against the far more centrist Hillary Clinton, would not only showcase Warren’s relative inexperience in foreign affairs as compared to the former Secretary of State, but would factionalize a party that needs to rally behind a unified message that spotlights sanity and pragmatism as a stark contrast to the Republican theatre of the absurd that is currently staging its primary play with a cast of thousands.
Well then, one may say, can she do both? After all, since her six year term as Senator in Massachusetts is not up until 2018, she would not be appearing twice on the ballot. Therefore, she can run for President without sacrificing her seat if she loses.
Running for President is an exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive undertaking that would expose her to a level of public scrutiny against which she has not yet had to defend, forcing her to take positions on issues that may not be within her realm of expertise. It is one thing to cast a vote as one one-hundredth of a chamber in a bi-cameral legislature. It is quite another to have to explain a position on which you may be expected to speak on behalf of your entire party and, potentially, lobby support of the nation and even multiple nations. Additionally, the level of fund-raising needed to run for President in the era of Citizens United may very well force Senator Warren to accept contributions from groups that would compromise her integrity and contradict the very values that she wields as her populist arms.
Clinton, on the other hand, (and I use her only as an example because it is a certainty that she will run and she has a prior presidential campaign history with which one can compare) is far more economically conservative and seasoned at fund raising. She is a far more corporate-friendly political pragmatist and, therefore, more likely to attract the kind of money necessary to compete against the nearly $900 million the Koch brothers alone have pledged to a Republican Presidential victory. Clinton also has the advantage of her skeletons being publicly aired ad nauseum, and a husband who spent eight years as Commander in Chief and still boasts a higher approval rating higher than our current president even after a decade and a half out of office.
Does the idea of a centrist Democrat in the White House make me squeamish? Somewhat, yes. But not as much as the idea of Bush 3, Mitt 2.0, Ted Cruz, or any of the radical right wing Republicans vying to be tied to the marionette strings of Corporate America. And, to those who find little difference between a centrist Democrat and a right-wing Republican overseeing social security, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the most frightening military the world has ever seen, you and I will have to agree to disagree.
Then there are those who think that Senator Warren, herself, is hypocritical in her economic progressive rhetoric. Unfortunately for you, Alexander Supertramp has no plans of running for elected office.. But, I digress.
I do not believe Senator Warren would win a presidential election. That does not make me respect her or support her any less. But, from a political strategy perspective, it is a distraction from her current job at which she is excellent and, in which has a responsibility to her constituents and supporters to continue performing to the best of her abilities. Running for president would not make her a better senator for the next two years. One does not run for president to make a point. One runs for President to be President.
I do not know if I am “Ready for Hillary.” None of us know, for certain, who all will be running for the 2016 vacancy. In that time, my mind may change … multiple times. For now, I do know that I hope Senator Elizabeth Warren decides to continue devoting 100 percent of her efforts to her role as senior senator of Massachusetts, fighting for a level playing field, speaking as the voice of the working families, promoting policies that restore economic equity, and doing what she does best: legislating for a better future.
Stay, Warren, stay.