Senator Elizabeth Warren announced she was suspending her campaign for president on Thursday, which is now relatively old news. I wasn’t at all surprised, she didn’t get the delegates and the path to the nomination wasn’t feasible. It is still incredibly disappointing, though, to see the most intelligent, well prepared and undoubtedly pragmatic candidate have to leave so early.
I love Elizabeth Warren. I love her progressive policies. I appreciate that she has a plan for said policies that are based on her intimate knowledge of the way the structural, financial and bureaucratic institutions of America function. Since I sure as hell don’t claim to know everything, her unflinching ability to explain these inner workings to the average layperson is impressive and demonstrates her natural inclination to lead. The trivial traits, her energy, wit and charisma contribute to why I think she would have made the best leader by a long shot. But she’s out, so it doesn’t matter now.
Or maybe it does matter.
Hey, I’m a Canadian with no skin in the game. I strongly believe that if you aren’t well versed in a topic of debate, maybe sit that one out. But this issue of a woman president — women leaders, women with the ability to lead and make a difference — feels different and very important.
Others don’t seem to think so, though.
I saw a tweet by user @vivafalastin that said “call me sexist but i just literally do not care if a woman is president. at all. like not even a little. it does not affect me. you know what does? the policies the president enacts.” Okay, good point.
Then she continued: “losing the second-best candidate when the best candidate is still in the race is not a cause for hysteria.”
Gosh, the internalized misogyny is so obvious. I wasn’t aware that people, (women, I presume) disappointed in their preferred candidate dropping out led to hysteria. I can only imagine the reaction of the Bernie camp if the situation were reversed. I truly think disappointment is warranted as voters began with a pool of the most diverse candidates in history and are left to choose between, — wait for it — two old white men.
There’s this thing called nuance, which I think many analyses during this primary season have been lacking. Folks, two or more different or opposing things can be true at the same time, I promise you not everything is black and white. I can, (and do!) like many of Bernie’s policies, but simultaneously be upset that he is so old and so white.
His Judaism is important, I appreciate, recognize and value that as a Jew myself. But please, I don’t think anyone from the Bernie camp actively is yearning for a Jewish president. They love his policies, he just happens to be Jewish. This doesn’t have to do with his one diversity point of religion, it has to do with her gender.
New York Times editor Michelle Cottle wrote that “Ms. Warren is thought to have struggled in part because she was too professorial — too schoolmarmish, if you will — to connect with anyone beyond white college-educated women like herself.”
That’s a very reasonable point. I am a white woman enrolled in a university journalism program which I think is fair to call more than a little elitist. I connected deeply with the prospect of Warren’s leadership because of her pervasive intellect, her compassion and her persistent drive. I also do want a woman to be president.
But, is that not also turning the virtue of her off-the-chart’s intelligence into a sort of nagging vice? Moira Donegan of the Guardian seems to think so, and so do I:
“Her impressive credentials and superlative intellect became out-of-touch elitism. Her joyousness and enthusiasm were cast as somehow both insincerely pandering and cringingly over-earnest. This kind of transformation of neutral or positive character traits into negative ones is not something that happens to men in similar positions.”
I strongly identified with writer Wendy Molyneaux’s take: “I’m not going to go on a long tangent about it. I’m not a political writer. In brief: she’s a progressive, she’ll get shit done, and yes, I *am* voting for her because she’s a woman and I don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks of that.”
That doesn’t make me dense or singularly faceted. It is bizarre to not care if a woman is the commander-in-chief and naïve to think her gender wouldn’t make a difference in the way one leads as a progressive. There is an overwhelming sense of toxicity, (aka misogyny, both external and internalized) “even just supporting Warren,” writes feminist Jessica Valenti. It “has come with an unbearable amount of misogynist condescension…I’m over being made to feel as if representation for half the population isn’t a necessary and radical political position.”
I don’t like that Warren was a Republican until 1996. I do look with a critical eye and see that as an indicator that she has the ability to understand both sides of a deeply fractured political society. Some may not agree with that analysis, that’s okay, you just prove my point.
Additionally, “Warren’s conservatism centered not on social issues like abortion or gay rights, friends say, but on economic policy, the dominant focus of her academic work and now her presidential candidacy,” wrote Alex Thompson of Politico in April 2019. This would become the evolved economic policy that called the 2008 recession four years prior and was instrumental in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at Obama’s request.
The issue of her Native American status is upsetting; it’s not my place nor do I have the desire to pardon her. That one’s on her.
I would draw attention for those who remain troubled by her past to her ability to listen and learn, especially to people of colour. Not an excuse, but it demonstrates humility and an ability to grow.
In an excerpt from Jamil Smith’s “The Elizabeth Warren Example,” he writes:
“If Biden and Sanders need to know where to begin, they should start by listening to women when you get something wrong. Warren did that herself when she said that life sentences in prison were an acceptable substitute for the death penalty. But Black Womxn For organizer Charlene Carruthers, having endorsed Warren, felt most comfortable approaching her and asking her to reconsider, as the statement didn’t take into account the disproportionate effect sentencing has on black and brown people as well as the inhumanity one suffers during a life sentence. And Warren did, quickly changing her entire policy to reflect her mistake. She revised her stance to create a clemency board to prioritize cases of older Americans who have been incarcerated.”
I really, truly believe Elizabeth Warren would have made the best president. Voters are now forced to choose between a stark, unnecessary binary of unrealistic ‘my way or the highway’ Bernie and shoulder-rubbing, don’t-ask-don’t-tell-voting, fake-democrat Joe.
I glean that the United States is not ready for a political revolution, despite what the few hundred people you follow on Twitter say. America is founded and entrenched so deeply on racism, capitalism and patriarchy; it thrives when the three intersect. That doesn’t mean that voters should have to revert back to an uncomfortable and non-progressive middle ground while the middle class disappears and people spend a lifetime paying off a broken leg.
Senator Warren could have effectively enacted pragmatic progressive policies without any alienating aggression. She would have eviscerated Trump on a debate stage. She should have gone farther than she did.
Shoulda, coulda, woulda. Thanks, to the incredible Senator Warren for an inspiring run.