Elizabeth Warren for President: A 10 Point (non) Endorsement

1) Elizabeth Warren is familiar and attractive to people like you and me. I’ve never met her, but I like her in roughly the same way that many voters “liked” George W. Bush: I would enjoy “having a beer with her”. Most of those of my acquaintances feel the same way.

2) 1) is not a recommendation. Quite the opposite in fact and that’s because a likely majority of the population distrusts and dislikes people like you and me. It has good reason to do so, as I discussed here.

3) 2) in part explains why Warren routinely polls substantially worse than other Democrats in head to head match ups with Trump. It also explains her dismal campaign rollout, achieving only $299,000 in donations from a trickle of supporters, in comparison to the $6 million and 600,000 strong army of volunteers raised by Bernie Sanders.

4) 3) tends to be dismissed by Warren supporters as insignificant but it is nothing of the kind given the apocalyptic consequences of Republicans maintaining power in 2020. The eventual Democratic nominee will need to be perceived as likable-or at least not excessively unlikable-in order to be electable. That Warren does not meet this condition is not superficial but deeply consequential..

5) Warren was a registered Republican until 1996- which is to say through all of the Reagan years when the New Deal programs she now defends were being obliterated. There is no record of her having opposed, for example, the 1986 tax cuts (which she now wants to reverse), the Niguarguan contra war, the huge military buildup, the appointment of James Watt as interior secretary, the undermining of labor unions, or any of the numerous atrocities of the Reagan administration.

6) While many of her policies are progressive, these are often couched in rhetoric which is designed to appeal to bicoastal meritocratic elites while alienating the voting block which Democrats will need to reclaim in 2020. Most notably, Warren’s memoir is entitled “a fighting chance” which makes explicit her commitment to creating a “level playing field” where all can compete. Warren fails to register that the problem with market competitions is that “losers” suffer enormously. Anyone aware of the ravaged post-industrial midwest recognizes this. Warren evidently does not.

7) Warren, unsurprisingly, jumped up and applauded when Trump attacked socialism at the SOTU. (Bernie Sanders conspicuously remained seated.)

8) Warren has maintained a consistently hawkish posture towards the military, routinely authorizing increases in defense spending including that requested by President Trump. Nor has she mentioned, as have Sanders and AOC, the necessity to reorient investments away from the military economy towards confronting the real, as opposed to fantasy, existential threat of climate change.

9) Warren’s foreign policy has been similarly hawkish, most notably with respect to the State of Israel whose grotesque human rights violations she has conspicuously failed to criticize.

10) All that said, if it turns out that Sanders is not a viable candidate when the New York primary comes, I will support Warren on lesser evil grounds to block the more aggressively neoliberal constituencies represented by the candidacies of Harris, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, Booker, or Biden from prevailing. I very much hope that I will not be faced with this choice.

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