Amy has her Klobucharmy; Bernie has his Bros; Mayor Pete is… well, he’s Mayor Pete. But Elizabeth Warren doesn’t have a nickname. Not one that she’d want, anyway; Trump’s invented one or two, and so have some other of her detractors (and I’ll thank you to not use them in the comments). But not her. She’s Elizabeth. She’s not warm and cuddly; she works for a living, and does a damn good job at it. And sure, she loves dogs and likes a beer now and then, but she’s not Liz or Lizzie; she’s Elizabeth. Her team? Team Warren.
Which is fine; playing the No-Nonsense Card can even have its plus sides. Trump’s main appeal seems to be the overwhelming force of his personality; like him or loathe him, everyone feels strongly one way or another, and it’s an error to try to match him on his preferred ground — and she doesn’t. Besides, since when is the Presidency something that should be won by a popularity contest? Why should we waste effort pandering to the lowest common denominator of voters, when it’s ability and policy and issues that really matter?
Well. I guess we’ll find out, one way or the other.
In the Not Fake News 2020 Scorecard, I explain why Warren is my favorite candidate. She’s brilliant, arguably the smartest person in the race. She’s quite literally written the book about the individual’s relationship with the national economy, and she knows better than anyone what should be done with our laws to level the playing field. Sanders is an idealist who preaches this message; Warren is a pragmatist who knows the nuts and bolts.
She’s got a highly detailed policy section on her website, and most of her positions are pretty extreme. She’s in favor of Medicare For All, common-sense gun control, de-criminalizing marijuana, providing student loan relief, and a $15 minimum wage. This will frighten a lot of conservatives, costing her some cross-party appeal. However, she’s also an avowed incrementalist; she believes very strongly in taking the small victories to advance her cause and then getting up the next morning to fight for more. For those who want gradual social change, her position is ideal.
The single biggest campaign issue she champions is against corruption; her campaign and that of Bernie Sanders are the only two major ones that refuse large corporate donors. She argues that if we can get big money out of politics, everything else will get sorted out in time — and if we can’t, the other battles will be that much harder. I can’t say I disagree with her on that even a little. Her brainchild was the CFPB; when Republicans opposed her directorship on political grounds, they created a monster they richly deserved.
The one negative that has dogged her since early times is the allegation that she’s abused her minimal Native American heritage for political and professional purposes. The facts are simple: She does have Native ancestry; she originally believed it was more than it is. Any serious analysis shows that it’s ludicrous to consider she ever gained any real advantage from her error. And, frankly, if any other candidate were accused of only one single mistake it would be extraordinary (imagine, Trump telling only one lie!) — but somehow, she finds it difficult to shed this one.
The bottom line is, Elizabeth Warren is brilliant, extremely competent, and eminently sensible. Her principles are solid and her character is exceptional. What she lacks is that one personality facet we say we all hate: She’s not a natural politician. Gaffes and errors don’t slide off her because, unlike virtually every other candidate, she’s not slimy. Unfortunately, she hasn’t managed to cast this in a positive light yet, and it’s fairly likely that she never will — because much though they deny it, the voters like their politicians to be slick and oily. It sells today and always has.
As I write this, the big news about Warren is that she’s slipping in the polls. It’s not due to her enforced absence from the campaign; Sanders and Klobuchar face the same obstacle but are surging. If you’re reading this now, remember: We should be so lucky.