Elizabeth Warren for President

Elizabeth Warren, photo by Marc Nozell

I don’t normally take partisan positions. And this space will continue to analyze — and criticize — political speakers of all types. But much as newspaper editorial pages endorse candidates, I will do so now, on the eve of the New Hampshire Primary. I am endorsing Elizabeth Warren.

I want our next president to be someone who (1) can be trusted with the power of the office, (2) can inspire the nation, (3) can restore the functioning of the government to a more balanced state, and (4) tells the truth whenever possible.

These are all character issues. They say nothing about the candidate’s positions on issues. There is a reason for this. I know I am not voting for Trump, having experienced what three years of his leadership was like: divisive, evasive, nasty, and autocratic. And it is my belief that no matter what democrat is elected, we’re will likely end up in the same place: with a center-left policy that depends on rebalancing taxation to focus on the wealthiest individuals and corporations, re-establishing foreign policy relationships with traditional allies, and addressing the nation’s biggest problems, which include income inequality and climate change. No matter where the candidates start, that is where they are going to end up, because that is as far as Congress, even a Democratic majority Congress, will follow them.

In my opinion, “electability” and leadership are the same. An electable candidate for the Democrats is one who can inspire the electorate around a vision for the country. That is also the definition of leadership. There are positions that are too extreme to inspire the electorate — people who hold those positions are not going to be good leaders.

In other words, I think the primaries will actually surface the most inspiring candidate, and the toughness of the primary season will generate a candidate who can stand up to the filthy politics that will prevail in the general election. So I feel free to choose the best candidate, not just the one I imagine that others are willing to elect.

Why Warren?

I feel no compunction about criticizing the candidates. They’ll get plenty of criticism in the next nine months; this is no time to be gentle.

Warren has proven herself to be intelligent and thoughtful, with actual plans to accomplish her goals. This planful problem-solving attitude is what we need to make progress on solving the major challenges that will face the nation in 2021 and beyond. But she is not just a technocrat. In the debates, she has proven herself to be an adept counterpuncher who can think on her feet. She has boundless energy. She inspires people.

She has also proven to be an inspiring Senator for my state of Massachusetts, starting with her defeat of an incumbent Republican Senator and continuing throughout her tenure. She’s a winner.

She generally comes off as honest. Of 31 checks on her statements that Politifact did, 12% were rated as mostly false, which is pretty low for a politician. Of course, she is saddled with the reputation of lying about her Native American heritage on job applications. There’s no evidence that it actually helped her and plenty of evidence that she believed it was true, based on stories told in her family. All candidates have such challenges in their pasts. What matters more to me is that her current statements are consistently true and based on evidence; she doesn’t must make stuff up like Trump. Put simply, if we returned American politics to the level of honesty of Elizabeth Warren, I’d feel like we’d returned to a level of normality that the republic needs.

Based on posts on social media and personal conversations, the majority of the people I like and respect area also Warren backers. My social circle is intelligent and liberal, and backs Warren more than the other candidates. This is not a coincidence. Her thoughtful approach attracts them as it attracts me.

Why not the others?

Trump lies constantly and reminds everyone daily how he is willing to undermine anyone he disagrees with. He will never inspire most of America, only the portion of it that he sees as his base. We know who he is; his behavior over the last four years disqualifies him. I don’t want to consider what the government or the nation will look like after another five years of Trump.

Bernie Sanders has not shown the ability to lead, instead taking extreme positions and demonstrating no willingness to compromise. He wants to remake America, rather than restore it. If he were President, it’s likely very little would get done, as I cannot imagine Republicans or even centrist Democrats going along with his inflexible policies.

Pete Buttigieg has proven himself to be an able politician and intelligent leader. My problem with him is his lack of experience at the national or international level. I’m convinced he will be a strong contender at some point in the future, but I don’t think he would be the most effective choice right now.

Amy Klobuchar seems capable, but was unable to gain a following even in the midwestern state of Iowa. A President needs to make an impression. She hasn’t, for the most part.

Joe Biden has wrapped himself in the mantle of Obama. But his plans to actually solve problems — and his ability to inspire — are weak. He’s a nice guy. We need more than that. His disappointing performance on the ground in Iowa was a harbinger — if the same happens in New Hampshire, it will be clear that the country isn’t ready to follow him.

Andrew Yang is full of ideas, but can’t seem to break out of a narrow set of followers. He’s also too inexperienced to be leading something as vast as the US government.

Michael Bloomberg has many of the qualities I’ve described as valuable. His positions, as reflected in speeches and advertisements, are tough and effective as a challenge to Trump. I could see following him. I’d rank him second to Warren on the qualities that matter. We won’t really know what he’s made of until he appears in a debate, and until the race gets to the states where he has qualified to be on the ballot.

I like William Weld, too, but he’s unlikely to even come close to defeating Trump on the Republican side, so I’ve eliminated him from consideration.

What about the candidates’ identities?

There are still people who vote based on a candidate’s race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

I’m not willing to compromise my own politics by pandering to the prejudices of such people. If I did, the field would be limited to straight, white, Christian men, and I will not endorse people based on that narrow view.

There are people who will not vote for Bernie Sanders because he is Jewish. But I think the bigger problem for Sanders is the people who will not vote for him because of what he says, not where he prays.

There are people who will not vote for Pete Buttigieg because he is gay. I think his bigger problem is his ability to lead. His strong showing in Iowa reflects that America is willing to consider a gay president.

There are people who will not vote for Klobuchar or Warren or Gabbard because they are women. Such people are idiots. In think the people who count are going to vote for a candidate based on what she stands for. Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate facing an unprecedented type of opponent — I think her loss in the electoral college would have happened regardless of her gender.

Barack Obama was able to inspire America and get beyond many people’s prejudices over his race. The Democratic candidate in 2020 has an opportunity to do the same. If they fail, it will not be because they are Jewish or a woman — they’ll fail because they are not better at inspiring America than Donald Trump. (Barring dirty tricks and hacking, of course, which scare the crap out of me, but a white male democrat is just as likely to suffer the effects of those as any other candidate.)

The true legacy of Barack Obama was his ability to lead, to accomplish things despite a hostile Congress, to make bold decisions in times of stress, and to do all of that in a way that reflected character and honesty. As much as Joe Biden wants to come off as the sequel to Obama, I think Elizabeth Warren is the candidate most like to continue his legacy of inspiring, honest leadership.

If you’re voting in New Hampshire or any of the primaries beyond, consider Elizabeth Warren. She won’t bankrupt the country; she’s more likely to save it. Give her a chance. If my opinion holds any weight with you, please vote for Elizabeth Warren.

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  1. I agree with your comments about Warren. I have followed her career since before she got into politics. We’d all be better off today if the Trump administration hadn’t gutted the Consumer Protection Bureau.

    Some have mentioned that turnout in Iowa was not as strong as anticipated. Beyond the fact that there were issues in Iowa, I tend to think that here are a lot of people out here like myself: I’m waiting for the Dems to pick a nominee and then I will throw my money and my time into getting her (or him) elected. I, too, am concerned about what will happen to the country if there is a second Trump term.

    I’m hoping the nominee is Warren. If not, I’ll be behind whoever it is 100%.

  2. You put in to words what I was thinking. That being said, just once I’d like the person who is to become our president to be a woman who has done her homework.

  3. I live in Canada, so I don’t have a vote in this race. However, since we’re neighbours…

    I agree with your choice of Warren for all the reasons you state.

    Unfortunately for your country, you currently have a division of the Russian mob as your president. For the sake of his life and his freedom, he simply cannot afford to lose the election. If he does, he will end up dead or in prison (only being POTUS has kept him out of jail). So, the dirty tricks and the cheating will be at unprecedented levels. Hacked voting machines, missing ballots, Facebook in full libertarian greed mode…

    Although I have wavered on this, I don’t think the Dems stand a chance. They still believe in democracy, rules and fairness. All of that is out the window… you only have to look at the Senate “trial”.

  4. Great piece, only one exception. You dismiss Mayor Pete for lack of experience and yet who is in office now, someone with no political experience whatsoever. I don’t think Pete should be dismissed for this reason. My main concern is that whoever is nominated, that every democrat in the country comes out to support them. No holds barred on removing Trump. Almost anyone would be better.

    1. I will support Pete Buttigieg if he is the nominee.

      “Look at Trump, he had no experience” is not really much of an endorsement for Buttigieg. If electing people who have no experience in government gives us Trump, let’s not do it any more.

      That said, I think Buttigieg is a thoughtful and intelligent candidate. But given the choice, I’ll pick someone who has more experience if I admire their leadership. For me, that’s Warren.

  5. Remember that our current jerk in charge had no political experience, either. Obama also had little experience on the national stage. That didn’t disqualify either of them. Buttigieg isn’t down and out on that score, at least as far as the majority of Iowa democrats seems to be concerned.

    Like you, I’m concerned that Amy Klobuchar – who is, in my opinion, the most center-left of all the democrat candidates – hasn’t seemed to inspire. In all fairness, she’s also my Senator, but I think she has done an amazing job in the role of Senator from Minnesota. Given that I didn’t think such would be the case when she was elected, and I tend to lean conservative as an independent voter, that might say something to some folk, at least.

    The rest of what you said, I agree with for certain. I’m going with Klobuchar unless she gets driven out of the pack. Then I’ll be for either Warren or Bloomberg. I can’t get behind Bernie – we don’t need more inflexibility, just from the left. We need a centrist who can lead and inspire both sides of the aisle.

    God help us, but I think we’re going to find out what a wreck our country will be after more years of Trump, however. And I strongly believe that he won’t simply leave after 4 more years. I think he will break tradition (and the law…but we clearly have seen that a whole lot of the country is fine having a dictator) and we will no longer have peaceful transition of power after an election following a two-term President. In fact, I think we may be witnessing the last real national election in 2020.

  6. Full disclosure, I’m a fiscal conservative appalled by both parties inattention to our children’s future economic and environmental welfare. We deserve better and seasoned, electable leadership matters.

    You are critical of Sanders’ policies but little separates him from Warren – a DoA healthcare plan, a wealth-tax that even liberal, western European states have declared a failure and attacking even moral capitalists responsible for America’s vibrant economy. This is leadership? Democrats serious about picking up moderate Republican votes have only two choices – Klobuchar and Bloomberg. I favor the former but would be thrilled with either.

    The NYT’s endorsed both Klobuchar and Warren. The editorial board seems to have wanted it both ways – the reality and the fantasy. I’d prefer to deal with reality. Go Amy Go!

  7. Hillary Clinton as a weak candidate is a disinformation canard. Hillary Clinton Not only won the popular vote but also won the second highest popular vote in history, and the highest of any white person. The exit polls gave her the electoral votes as well. The one weakness of her campaign was that it expected a level of Karl Rove-style hacking that was seen in the previous four elections and it was unprepared for the increased sophistication of the Russians and the Mercers. We must acknowledge this and also the probably that the hackers have increased their sophistication.

    1. My information about Hilary Clinton comes from an analysis of exit polls. Given all the hanky-panky I’d be pleased with a candidate that excited people more than she did.

  8. I listened to audiobooks by: Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, Harris. Pete seemed reasoned and smart — he’d actually attracted my attention through social media. Don’t know if he’s a match for Trump. Warren has always been a real fighter for the public, and a great communicator. (I really like her, but I worry about the corporations she wants to bust up — will they block her?) Sanders certainly stays on message. Harris is better where she is. I think late entry Bloomberg has an interesting strategy — he recently differentiated himself from Trump regarding being a businessman. He said Trump was really more of a realtor and thus can be aggressively transactional, whereas Bloomberg is a successful businessman (and will prove it publicly) who can develop lasting relationships — could be a match if the goal is getting Trump out of office (I also like his stance on issues, but worry a little about the gun folks who will go crazy). One big question is who will have the African American vote? I am also concerned that Dems are bringing knives to a very dirty gun fight. My dream is to have them team up (decide on their VPs) to make a strong ticket. But even though my chance at voting in the primaries is coming up, I still haven’t decided. At least there are several worthy candidates to choose from. I’m glad I’m not choosing “lesser of two evils.”

  9. Kudos for Tulsi and Bernie for addressing the Military-Industrial Complex. I will campaign for the Democratic nominee. Trump must go. Climate change is real (duh).

  10. Of Warren, you say: ‘She won’t bankrupt the country’. I call Bullshit on that one. 😉 On what do you base that thesis? I don’t see any politician willing to face up to the mounting debt issue, and Warren’s plans would certainly be expensive. The current economy is booming – but the deficit is growing. What’s a voter to do? In the primaries and in the general election we are faced with a limited choice. In 2016 we got to choose from a despicable liar from each party. I chose Trump, though, not a fan of his personal character. One dilemma is that I do not see anyone with real character rising to the top on the Dem side. In November, there will likely be just two choices again. From what I have seen, I will be forced to vote for Trump again.