NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Elizabeth Warren ends her White House bid

Eliz­a­beth War­ren, the senior Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor from Mass­a­chu­setts, has end­ed her pres­i­den­tial cam­paign after the results of Super Tues­day made it all too appar­ent that she has no chance of win­ning the 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion.

Elizabeth Warren waves

Eliz­a­beth War­ren waves to ral­ly­go­ers as she con­cludes the speak­ing pro­gram at her sec­ond major Seat­tle appear­ance (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The for­mer Har­vard law pro­fes­sor and con­sumer rights cam­paign­er is a liv­ing leg­end in pro­gres­sive pol­i­tics and a reg­u­lar speak­er at Net­roots Nation.

She first entered the nation­al spot­light in the 1990s as an expert on bank­rupt­cy law, and then rock­et­ed to celebri­ty dur­ing the 2008 finan­cial crash, dur­ing which she fero­cious­ly inter­ro­gat­ed the inept archi­tects of the dis­as­ter. She fought a long and at times vicious bat­tle with­in the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion to estab­lish the Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau, which was even­tu­al­ly formed in 2010.

War­ren entered the U.S. Sen­ate in 2012 and was such an effec­tive pro­gres­sive leader that by 2015 a move­ment had formed to encour­age her to run as a pro­gres­sive chal­lenger to Hillary Clin­ton in the fol­low­ing year’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry. War­ren declined, which ulti­mate­ly allowed Bernie Sanders to step into the pro­gres­sive lane and ascend to nation­al fame.

Many progressives wanted Warren to run for president in 2016

Many pro­gres­sives want­ed War­ren to run for pres­i­dent in 2016 (Pho­to: MoveOn, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

War­ren was the first major 2020 Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date to declare her run (which she did on the last day of 2018). She imme­di­ate­ly encoun­tered furi­ous crit­i­cism from Don­ald Trump, who derid­ed her as “Poc­a­hon­tas”.

War­ren man­aged to weath­er the storm of racist and sex­ist hatred being spewed by the Repub­li­cans, and by the autumn she had arguably become the Demo­c­ra­t­ic frontrun­ner, as both the Biden and Sanders strug­gled to find their foot­ing.

Warren’s suc­cess came from a slow-and-steady approach to cam­paign­ing that built up a sol­id ground game in cru­cial ear­ly states, and her abil­i­ty to remain unruf­fled by the ups and downs of the pri­ma­ry process.

Pro­gres­sives cheered her on in the tele­vised debates, where she demol­ished neolib­er­al can­di­dates who belit­tled pro­gres­sive ideals, while skill­ful­ly avoid­ing the ire of the party’s pow­er­ful estab­lish­ment. She also impressed many col­lege edu­cat­ed vot­ers by pump­ing out com­pre­hen­sive pol­i­cy pack­ages, to the extent that her cam­paign slo­gan became “I have a plan for that!”

How­ev­er, in the months run­ning up to the start of vot­ing, Warren’s key areas of sup­port were grad­u­al­ly pulled from under her in mul­ti­ple direc­tions.

Bernie Sanders’ cam­paign picked up enor­mous steam in the ear­ly days of this year (bizarrely, Sanders’ surge came in the wake of a heart attack, the kind of event that usu­al­ly ends a pres­i­den­tial run), sap­ping away Warren’s most pro­gres­sive sup­port­ers. Mean­while, for­mer May­or Pete Buttigieg played on his youth and intel­lec­tu­al chops to chip away at her base of edu­cat­ed white sub­ur­ban vot­ers.

Warren’s response was to piv­ot away from her staunch defense of pro­gres­sive poli­cies and try to play the role of a uni­fi­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this tack did not work, and she con­tin­ued to slide in pub­lic opin­ion research sur­veys.

Despite her campaign’s strong pres­ence in ear­­ly-vot­ing states, War­ren did not secure the fin­ish she had worked so hard for. A par­tic­u­lar­ly galling result came in New Hamp­shire, where War­ren came a dis­tant fourth despite her advan­tage of being from a neigh­bor­ing state. Super Tues­day sealed her fate; vot­ers gave her less than thir­ty of the more than 1,300 del­e­gates up for grabs.

Warren’s exit from the race comes dur­ing a mas­sive nar­row­ing of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic field. In the past few days May­or Pete Buttigieg, Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar and May­or Michael Bloomberg all dropped out of the race to endorse for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden in what has been wide­ly seen as a par­ty estab­lish­ment effort to deny the nom­i­na­tion to Bernie Sanders – a self-declared demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ist who says a polit­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion is need­ed to restore the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca.

Both Sen­a­tors War­ren and Sanders have been encour­aged by pro­gres­sive groups for months to unite as one tick­et to uni­fy the the par­ty’s pro­gres­sive wing, but this pres­sure ramped up to extreme lev­els in recent months as it became increas­ing­ly clear that Sanders’ cam­paign had the best chance of win­ning.

After neolib­er­als unit­ed behind Biden in the days imme­di­ate­ly pre­ced­ing and suc­ceed­ing Super Tues­day, the pres­sure on Warren’s cam­paign increased.

War­ren has now pulled the plug after con­clud­ing there was no path to the nom­i­na­tion. What comes next for War­ren is unclear, but she still wields great influ­ence in the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty. Her endorse­ment, whether it goes to Biden or Sanders, will be a key moment in the race, if and when she choos­es to give it.

Beyond endors­ing one of the remain­ing can­di­dates, War­ren has a promis­ing future to look for­ward to, even if she won’t become the par­ty’s nom­i­nee.

Both the fron­trun­ners are painful­ly aware that as elder­ly white men, they are not very rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the coun­try, or the Demo­c­ra­t­ic base.

Both cam­paigns have con­tem­plat­ed bal­anc­ing the tick­et with a female vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. The Biden cam­paign has already clum­si­ly approached sev­er­al suc­cess­ful female lead­ers with tri­al bal­loons, while the Sanders cam­paign was report­ed­ly research­ing whether War­ren could serve as Vice Pres­i­dent and Trea­sury Sec­re­tary simul­ta­ne­ous­ly as far back as mid-Jan­u­ary.

Whichev­er can­di­date War­ren sup­ports, she will no doubt be an invalu­able asset to them – both in the pri­ma­ry and (more impor­tant­ly) as a fear­less pro­gres­sive war­rior in the bat­tle to throw Don­ald Trump out of the White House.

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