The Rise and Fall of Elizabeth Warren

Now that Elizabeth Warren has decided to drop out of the race, a lot of liberals have blamed her demise on sexism. America, it seems, just isn’t ready for a female president. To which I say poppycock.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that sexism, not to mention racism, nativism and homophobia are not still alive and well in the good old U.S. of A. I’d be a fool to even suggest otherwise. But here’s the thing. America already elected its first female president in 2016. Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Cadet Bone Spurs; and the only reason she’s not currently residing in the White House is because of an antiquated system called the Electoral College.

During the 2018 midterms, Democrats had an unprecedented number of women elected to the House of Representatives. These women have served with distinction and virtually all of them will be reelected this November. So please spare me with the old “there are two standards” diatribe. Warren had many obstacles to overcome, it’s true, but none of them had anything to do with her gender.

So what brought her down? Well, before I answer that, it’s important I get a few things off my chest regarding the way in which the DNC handled the entire primary process. In a word, it was a clusterfuck. The debates were a joke. Seriously, one minute to answer a question and 30 seconds for a follow up or reply? Someone actually thought that was a good formula? And then there were the number of candidates who “qualified” for the debates. Twenty-four, divided up into two groups. Some of these people had no business being anywhere near a mic, much less a debate stage.

Put succinctly, the voters never had a chance to evaluate the candidates because most of the time all they heard were people shouting over one another. Instead of thoughtful responses, what you got was an endless assortment of one liners. Bumper stickers are for cars, not for debates.

But even with all of that going against her, Warren still managed to surge to the top of the polls, if only for a short while. On October 8, she pulled slightly ahead of Joe Biden. And then came that infamous debate later on in the month in which Warren, under pressure to explain how she would pay for her Medicare for All proposal, admitted that the price tag would likely exceed $20 trillion. You coulda heard a pin drop. Whatever chance Warren had of consolidating the center left and left lanes of the party went up in smoke.

But Warren wasn’t done shooting herself in the foot. The following month in another debate she backtracked from her all or nothing approach on healthcare by suggesting that she’d be open to a public option as a bridge to Medicare for All. It was the first hint that the progressive lion was taking a reluctant turn towards the pragmatic center. For any other candidate, the move would’ve been heralded as a triumph. For progressives, however, it was a betrayal. The woman who in an earlier debate said to John Delaney that she didn’t know why anyone “would go to all the trouble of running for President of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for,” was now admitting that maybe Delaney had a point.

It was no coincidence that Bernie Sanders’s rapid rise in the polls began right about the same time as Warren’s collapse. Indeed, the two could’ve waved at each other as they passed. Warren never recovered. Despite a couple of spirited debate performances in which she savaged Michael Bloomberg; she remained mired near the bottom of the pack. The final indignity came when she finished in third place in her home state of Massachusetts on Super Tuesday.

So now we’re left with two white men in their late ’70s bidding for the nomination, and that has caused a great deal of consternation among some Democrats. How is it that a party as diverse as this, with such a deep bench, can settle on two potential nominees that more closely resemble the party as it was in 1948?

Turns out there’s a very good reason; they were the best. Think about it for a moment. Bernie never shut down his campaign after he lost to Hillary Clinton in 2016. The infrastructure he set up was still in place. It was just a matter of starting up the engine again. As for Biden, lets’ face it: how many people do you know who can boast they were second in command to the most popular Democratic president since FDR? Talk about having a built-in advantage. How else can you explain how a candidate with almost no organization to speak of – the man literally had one office on the entire east coast of the country – and even less money to work with, is now the presumptive front runner for the nomination?

And let’s be honest here. This bench wasn’t nearly as deep as it was originally touted. The fact is that of the two dozen initial candidates, there were maybe six who were qualified to be on those debate stages. Had the DNC set higher standards from the beginning, we might’ve been spared the ensuing food fights. In the end, the voters decided who the two best candidates were. If you have a beef, it’s with them, not the “rigged” system.

Look, Elizabeth Warren is an outstanding senator, as is Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar. One day, one of them, or perhaps another woman, will be president. How do I know that? Because once upon a time, the idea of a black president seemed unthinkable. Then Barack Obama won the White House in 2008 and changed history.

Funny thing about history: it never ceases to amaze.

Author: Peter Fegan

Progressive but pragmatic. Lover of music, die-hard Giants' fan and reluctant Mets' fan. My favorite motto? I'd rather be ruled by a smart Turk than a dumb Christian.

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