What’s eating Elizabeth Warren? It’s been a week since Super Tuesday, when the former presidential frontrunner’s campaign finally imploded after failing to finish first in any primary contest, including a devastating third place finish in her home state of Massachussettes, behind both Biden and Sanders. After a little more than a day weighing her options she finally settled on suspending her campaign the following Thursday. In the time since, she’s kept her cards close to her chest, resisting the prodding from the Sanders and Biden coalitions vying for her endorsement. Now, as Democrats across Missouri, Michigan, Washington, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Idaho cast their votes, it is likely that the fate of the race will be sealed. Why is it that Warren didn’t pick a side?
Largely it depends on who you ask: perhaps it was that Bernie’s Twitter brigade slandered her to death and that’s why she’s stayed silent. Others will point to 2016 and argue that she always lacked the conviction needed to truly stand against the establishment.Both explanations miss the mark.
Earlier in the race, her hesitance to get behind Senator Sanders would’ve seemed unfathomable to much of her coalition at the time, which still touted a fair amount of progressive support. But as the race continued, and the progressive wing of the party coalesced around Sanders, Warren grew colder towards the progressive movement she felt rejected by. This, coupled with the release of her Medicare for All plan that raised skepticism from much of the left flank of her new coalition, caused her to lose favor among the individuals who once believed her to be a true champion of the progressive movement.
But to look at Elizabeth Warren and see a progressive is to be fundamentally misled about her record and her beliefs. She does not carry the banner of an outsider with pride, in fact, she is much more comfortable on the inside, as her endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election originally indicated. Elizabeth Warren is as much a Democratic Socialist as she is a Native American, her often repeated line about being a “capitalist to her bones” was as forward as she can be. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out there is a “Republican case” to be made for Elzabeth Warren.
But with her deference towards capitalism also comes a moral compass that compelled her to split with the Republican party in 1996. Elizabeth Warren believes in a fair and just society that is built around capitalism, a perspective many in the left flank of the Democratic Party find objectionable. The demands from progressives to get behind their revolution were destined to fall on deaf ears because Elizabeth Warren is an institutional capitalist who favors a social safety net; she is not a revolutionary socialist prepared to reconstruct the American economy.
Because her ascent in national politics derived from her left wing attacks on the Obama/Biden administration’s fiscal policy, many suspected that after dropping out of the race she would quickly coalesce around the Sander’s movement, in a similar fashion to how the centrist candidates Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg corralled around Biden mere hours after suspending their campaigns. It has always been clear that Warren’s policy proposals have far more in common with Sander’s than Biden’s, but her political instincts and ideology lead her towards means-tested solutions, as opposed to his universal ones. Had Elizabeth Warren agreed with Sander’s policy proposals and thought he was capable of bringing them to law, she would’ve taken a job on his campaign — instead she ran for president.
Just as it cannot be demanded that Sanders’ supporters rally behind a candidate they do not believe in this November if Joe Biden is the nominee, it cannot be demanded of Elizabeth Warren to rally behind Sanders using the same tired, lesser of two evil arguments. To make the case one is ethical and the other is not is to act in hypocrisy, time will tell if Warren and her supporters feel the same way come November.