Five reasons Elizabeth Warren might run in 2016

I recently wrote about Hillary Clinton’s vulnerabilities as a 2016 White House candidate, referencing this piece by Guy Saperstein at Alternet. I also added some thoughts that Guy didn’t bring up.

You can read my piece here, or read Guy’s at the link.

I now want to write briefly about Elizabeth Warren and the possibility of her candidacy. Saperstein considers what might cause Warren to enter the 2016 race and says the following.

What would induce Elizabeth Warren to enter the 2016 race?

Warren has said she’s not a candidate, yet has not backed down on her issues, which has created tremendous interest among progressives for her candidacy. Here’s Saperstein on that possibility:

The name on people’s lips is Elizabeth Warren, who is the harshest critic of Wall Street excesses and who speaks to the populist zeitgeist. Would she run, despite having said she is not interested?

I think we should take her protestations of disinterest seriously. Running for President is a brutal task: Two years of living in motels; two years of banquets and bad food; two years of glad-handing people; two years of dialing for donor dollars; two years of facing attacks from Republicans. No rational person would do it. Unless they wanted to change the world.

Having said that, he then lists five scenarios under which he thinks Warren might consider a White House run, Hillary or no (my emphasis and paragraphing):

1. Elizabeth Warren ran for the U.S. Senate because she wanted to change the world, most immediately to break the stranglehold on American politics and the economy that Wall Street currently holds. If she sees Hillary Clinton continuing to suck up to the financial industry and offering the failed economics and deregulation beliefs of Bob Rubin, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner, Warren might rethink what she can accomplish in the U.S. Senate.

elizabeth-warrenShe is a person of great principle; she has fought for her principles, often against brutal odds. In the end, principles could prove more compelling than the easier and more comfortable path of stepping back.

2. I have been told by friends of hers that Warren likes her job as senator and thinks she can make important contributions in that role. But if the Democrats lose the Senate in November 2014, she might need to rethink that, because as a member of the minority in a rigidly controlled Republican Senate, it is unlikely she could accomplish anything.

3. Warren might rethink the clock. She is 64 now and would be 67 on Election Day 2016. 2016 could be the only chance she has to run for President.

4. Clinton could choose not to run. In December 2012, she suffered dehydration and fatigue, fainted, fell and hit her head, suffering a concussion. She was rehospitalized two weeks later and her condition was described as a clot between her brain and skull. She previously had suffered a large blood clot in her leg. These medical issues could cause her to rethink undertaking the rigors of a presidential campaign, which are brutal.

5. Warren raised a record $42.5 million to run for the Senate and Democratic donors would come out in droves to fund her presidential campaign. A challenge to Clinton and Democratic Party orthodoxy by Warren would be like catnip to the media. So the minute Warren declared to run for President, she would have $100 million worth of free advertising from the media telling her story and playing up the differences between her and Clinton. …

As I said earlier, much to think about. Maybe someone will succeed in putting Clinton on the record, so the Democratic base can decide if they’re buying what she’s selling. As of this moment, she’s only selling carbon — and that in a low-key way.

Of course, we have much to learn about Elizabeth Warren on other issues, especially in the international arena. Still, what I do know about Ms. Clinton trumps (in a bad way) what I don’t know about Ms. Warren. So far. As I see it anyway.

And now for some context on the last few posts.

Who is Guy Saperstein?

I’ve been quoting Guy Saperstein liberally lately, and there’s a reason for that. As an observer of the Democratic scene, he’s unusually well placed. From his bio at Huffington Post (again, my emphasis):

Guy T. Saperstein graduated law school (UC Berkeley) in 1969, received a poverty law fellowship and represented migrant farmworkers in Colorado; in 1972, he founded a law firm in Oakland which became the largest plaintiffs civil rights law firm in America, in the process successfully prosecuting the largest race, sex and age discrimination class actions in American history. … From 1994-2000, Guy was included in the National Law Journal’s list of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.”

Guy was President of The Sierra Club Foundation 2004-6 and currently sits on the board of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. …

In 2006, Guy helped write the “Real Security” plank of the Democratic Party’s New Directions for America, and in 2007, helped found the National Security/Foreign Policy New Ideas Fund, with funding from the Democracy Alliance. He also has been Co-Chair of the Democracy Alliance’s Strategy Group and was active in its National Security/Foreign Policy Group.

Not someone speculating in an armchair on another continent. But there’s more; the following story may amuse you. It involves a public “encounter” between Saperstein and Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton, progressive Democrats and party loyalty

Saperstein is member of the Democratic Alliance (DA), a group of major funders and fund-raisers for Democratic candidates. At the time of this story, DA “partners” were generally to the left of most party leaders, and wanted to move the party to the left, partly through investing in progressive infrastructure.

That in itself is impressive, and Guy is apparently to the left of most other DA partners.

elizabeth-warrenTo the end of discussing and creating the progressive infrastructure mentioned above, the DA met in Austin in 2006, and near the end of those meetings, Bill Clinton made a surprise (quickly scheduled) on-stage appearance before a roomful of DA members. After some remarks, Clinton took questions and Saperstein took the opportunity to ask him about his wife’s support for the war in Iraq.

To everyone’s surprise, Clinton exploded. This retelling comes from a 2007 interview with Matt Bai, who wrote up the event at the time. The interviewer is Tom Ashbrook. Later in the interview, Saperstein adds his own comments (my emphasis and paragraphing):

[Matt Bai]:  Liberals donors who were not necessarily involved in the Clinton years, who rejected the centrist ethos of Clinton, started to band together soon after Howard Dean’s campaign and around the 2004 election. [...]

And they formed something that ultimately came to be known as the Democracy Alliance … which includes about 100 very wealthy donors.  They’ve pulled collectively close to $100 million at this point and will soon exceed that. They are very secretive.  They’ve not identified their membership list publicly. They do not allow people into their meetings. …

[Interviewer Tom Ashbrook]:  But not every meeting has been closed.  I believe you were there in Austin in the spring of last year [2006] when this crowd took on Bill Clinton himself.

MB:  I got to some of that meeting.  I actually reconstructed the piece pertaining to President Clinton from probably a dozen interviews with people in the room.  But I did attend part of that conference before I was summarily ejected!

TA:  Really an extraordinary interaction where Bill Clinton, after some sort of canned remarks, came under very tough questioning from one of those in attendance in particular – Guy Saperstein out of California, very high-profile civil rights lawyer who’s become one of these big donors – with a scathing critique of the Clinton years and where things were going.

Bill Clinton turned to him, as you report, and said, “You’re just wrong.  Everything you just said is totally wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!  Wrong!  Let’s get real here.” Right on down in a silent ballroom.

Again, the issue was Hillary’s stand on Iraq, which she continued to stand behind. Saperstein noted to Clinton that other Democrats had apologized for enabling or supporting the war. Bill Clinton wanted a “we don’t look back” policy among Dems. (Sound familiar?)

Saperstein joined Ashbrook later in the same interview and responded to questions about the event:

TA:  …Clinton turned on you, Guy Saperstein, as quoted by Matt Bai, and said, “This isn’t productive. You’re asking people to flagellate themselves. Only in this party do we eat our own! Is that [what the proposed DA-created] infrastructure is up to?  Is it going to be self-destructive? [...]

[Guy Saperstein]:  The [proposed] infrastructure is not necessarily “up to” that, but the infrastructure and people with brains are going to be willing to challenge anyone like [Hillary] Clinton who wants to defend a disastrous war.  

In his case he [Bill Clinton] was defending his wife and suggesting that it was just not possible to foresee the problems of invading Iraq.  And I tried to make the point that it [the Iraq War disaster] was quite foreseeable. This was actually one of the most predictable fiascos in American history. [...]  

So for Bill Clinton to come along and say that this was not foreseeable and we’ve just got to give Hillary a pass on it and not test her leadership by the fact that she got this one wrong is simply not credible. 

There are two takeaways here. The first is about the Clintons and the “don’t look back” stand being taken even then (2006) by their part of the party. I’ll have more on that in a bit. The second is this — these are not meetings just anyone can get into. Saperstein’s view of the political arena isn’t from the Peanut Gallery alone. His peanuts have pretty good seats.

We don’t need another Carbon Candidate

Warren’s bottom line seems to be addressing wealth inequality. Great news, since that touches directly and centrally on the carbon and climate issue. As Naomi Klein points out, Big Money and the greedy rich are the perps killing carbon solutions. Addressing the power of the rich opens the door for climate solutions as well.

My bottom line is this — the next Big Carbon candidate will kill us, and Clinton is apparently carbon to the core:

Late into the lecture portion of [Hillary] Clinton’s [2013] Oneida County appearance, she referenced a report that the U.S. in on track to surpass Russia in domestic oil-and-gas production.

That’s good news, Clinton said.

Is Joe Biden another? This might indicate yes, though sins of the son may not be the father’s.

Oil is carbon, and “natural gas” is methane and fracking. Any more is already too much, so no more, please; we’ve had quite enough already. By which I mean — maybe let David Koch carry his own water, and let the next presidential candidate, whoever she is, carry ours.

GP

Twitter: @Gaius_Publius
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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • David Mowers

    Demand the I.R.S. go after all offshore accounts held by multinationals and force them to pay their fair share. Then, they will not be so quick to unload massive campaign contributions through bogus front companies and PAC’s.

    It’s two-fold, you take their money (which they owe taxpayers) and you counterman their interests (profits) so they do not want to contribute.

  • David Mowers

    They are already pushing Rick “I can’t think straight pills and alcohol” Perry for a second coming and it will . . . fail.

  • David Mowers

    It is a tacit admission that you believe the rich corrupting powers in this nation should always be included or a candidate or ticket has no chance of succeeding.

    We need the wealthy out of our government and a return to morality; doing things FOR the people not against their interests for private gain.

  • ShelbySkinnerura321

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  • NancyKMiller

    No, I bet Elizabeth Warren will not run for President of the USA. She said she would not, and she is very honest about what she believes she can and cannot do in her description of herself in her memoir. She loves to fight, but she doesn’t appreciate political dirt, and she has no foreign policy experience. My guess is she would want nothing to do with that. I wish she could be a Supreme Court Justice.

  • Sophia Bennit

    Remember to record the actual distinctions upon wars involving violence, gutting contentment, creating a a law enforcement officials point out in addition to unification eliminating in between Gore in addition to Bush…..http://bit.ly/1oP24ZH

  • Butch1

    Exactly. I have always considered myself a real liberal in the true sense of the definition of the word. The republicans ruined it by making up their own definition and usurping us of it. Now the democrats that are in the Congress are called “liberals” and I consider them anything but. They are conservative democrats that have moved to the right of this party chasing the republicans to the right. They are what used to be called: moderate republicans. We had to take on a new persona of progressive to label ourselves as a result of this.

    I left this traitorous party after voting for Obama once and watching my dreams of “hope and change” disintegrate as his lies continued to unfold along with Pelosi and Reid’s. I have been supporting Independent candidates ever since. I can only hope others would awake to these charlatans who continue to rob them of what was once ours.

    Yes, we will be blamed for their losses as they always need a scapegoat for their own shortcomings.

  • 2karmanot

    Nader would have been a brilliant President—-no lesser evil there.

  • 2karmanot

    In the best of all worlds Warren would blast the Hills out of the water. I would vote for her.

  • Ford Prefect

    Emjayay isn’t interested in that. Emjayay simply needs, like most liberals, to scapegoat progressives whenever they are faced with having to take any responsibility for where we are now. So Nader is still the bad guy, even though that meme was debunked 14 years ago. In 2010, it was also progressives fault for the Dems losing the House. In 2016, it will be progressives’ fault for losing the White House.

  • Butch1

    Using Nader as a scapegoat for Gore’s loss will not work since the data shows otherwise. Gore actually won; it was the Supreme Court who decided Gore’s fate, not Nader.

    If more people had the cojones to break lose of these two parties and actually vote for people who would do them some good, you would see a real difference in this country. Continuing to vote for people who lie to you and stab you in the back and vote against your interests in NOT the answer in my opinion. The sooner we stop this the faster we will break the grip of a fascist government and Wall Street’s hold on it.

  • chatpaltam o

    how about elizabeth and hillary run together?? THAT MIGHT WORK!

  • Bill_Perdue

    The problem with Obama is not his lack of experience. It’s his right wing politics and those are a reflection of the Democrat party as a whole.

  • Bill_Perdue

    During the campaign Gore didn’t announce or even hint at any change regarding the warmongering, union busting and bigotry of the Clintons.

    What he said after he was defeated doesn’t count for much.

    Pretending that a call for a wider imperialist coalition was a real difference just confirms the fact that Gore was a warmonger like the Clintons and Bushes. The invasion of Iraq, coalition or not, was a monstrous crime supported by lots of Democrats and Republicans. If Gores only objection was the lack of a big coalition he joins the ranks of those who committed or approved of war crimes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkS9y5t0tR0

  • taikan

    Even if Warren were to change her mind and run in 2016, it is highly unlikely that she would be able to win. The Independents who ultimately decide most Presidential elections are going to remember what happened when they voted in 2008 for a politician who gave great speeches but lacked any executive branch experience and had extremely limited legislative branch experience on a national level, having served in the Senate for less than a full term.

    Of course, if the Republicans were to nominate someone with as little executive branch and legislative branch experience as Warren, such as Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, that would present a different situation. However, the Republican establishment recognizes that, so it is highly likely that the Republicans will nominate someone who has served as a Governor.

  • taikan

    While he was Vice President, Gore essentially had no choice other than to support Clinton in public. Whether he opposed Clinton in private on any of the issues you mention I do not profess to know.

    Gore v Bush on wars of aggression: In a speech he gave to the Commonwealth Club on September 23, 2002 Gore made it clear that he was opposed to invading Iraq in the absence of a broad coalition similar to the one put together by GHW Bush before the 1991 invasion.

    Gore v Bush building of a police state: In November 2003, Gore publicly called for the repeal of the PATRIOT Act.

    In other words, the answer is YES, the election of Bush instead of Gore in 2000 made one hell of a big difference.

  • pvequalkt

    First, everything wrt Hillary is true. She’s perfect to administer Reagan’s 10th admin; perfect to serve as the AIPAC unitary; perfect to conduct all the cheney/Obama wars in Irafpakenalia, start new ones in Iran and Syria and increase the defense budget to over the magic trillion per. She’ll keep the rubinites running the economy (into the ground) and keep the fed backstopping wall street criminals. DUH!!
    But if you wan to know why Warren won’t run, under ANY circumstances, you must first admit that she is nobody’s fool. And then consider what the D and its money did in Arkansas in 2010.
    Lemme ‘splain:
    Labor thought it might be nice to defeat the wal*mart senator, blanche Lincoln. So they came up with a guy named Bill Halter… not perfect by any means, but better than the corporate whore and labor hater Lincoln. Labor et al managed to raise several million and made a good race of it (in freaking ARKANSAS!!)… until the corporate D establishment, the erstwhile DLC, flushed $10M or more in support of their whore… and she eventually won out.
    The irony is that, because the Ds beat each other up so badly in the primary (and it was freaking ARKANSAS!!), they lost that seat… not that Lincoln was doing anyone any good… well, except for wal*mart and other corporate interests.
    Warren knows that if she decides to run, she’ll be outspent in D primaries everywhere by 10 to 1 and will lose. Voters in 45 states are, in general, fucking morons. They don’t pay attention, don’t care and vote robotically for whoever has a name that sounds like someone they’ve heard of. And so they’ll vote for whomever buys the most teevee ads on mindless pap shows they all watch (you know, reality shows and soaps…).
    She knows she won’t be able to raise $4B unless she sells out to wall/war street, aipac, etc.
    She knows that if she DID so to raise the $4B, she’d lose more of the waning D base because they have already seen Obama, Pelosi, reid and hundreds of others sell out and betray their (the voters’) principles.
    She also knows that, by running, she’d absolutely expose the corporate whoring of all the rest who will run and, as a result (because she couldn’t win the primary cycle), the D nominee would lose every single progressive voter (the 40% who never vote plus maybe a third of the 55M who usually vote D), which will lose the white house and the senate (non-coat tails).
    She also has already endorsed Hillary (apparently just ANY female will do?), which brings her own “reputation” into question. I mean can you imagine FDR ever endorsing bill Clinton? Obama?
    She won’t run because she cannot be competitive either in the party or in the general (money, stupid voters). She knows this. She’s smart. Smart people don’t put themselves through that sort of 2-year abuse for a certainty of nothing. Simple as that.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Please list the differences on wars of aggression, gutting welfare, building o a police state and union busting between Gore and Bush2.

    Keep in mind he never uttered a word when Bill Clinton championed and signed DOMA, ordered the murder of half a million Iraqi children, ended welfare, championed and signed NAFTA and hired a couple of hundred thousand more cops.

  • emjayay

    Worked great when progressives voted for Nader instead of Gore.

  • Swami_Binkinanda

    “At least it’s an ethos.”

  • Bill_Perdue

    My solution is to never even consider voting for a racist like Obama or a mad dog warmonger like McCain or austerity mongers like Pelosi and Romney or rebranded bigots who once supported DOMA like Biden and Huntsman.

    Your solution appears to be that it’s OK to vote for wars of aggression, police state measures like NDAA and the murder of American citizens by Obama , the racist treatment of immigrant and imported workers and the refusal to pass ENDA or a CRA – but only if Democrats are doing it.

    Please tell me I’m wrong.

  • Ford Prefect

    Biden not a carbon candidate? Preposterous. He’ll go where ever the money is–he stands for nothing and it shows. Ditto for anyone else who seriously wants to be preznit. HRC can raise $2 Billion easy. Biden? Maybe. Warren? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. She may run, if HRC et al give her permission to run a vanity campaign and promise not to destroy Warren in the process. But her candidacy will only be a head fake to keep anyone to the left of Augusto Pinochet in the Democratic camp. When she concedes, her supporters will then sell out to Clinton or who ever is left standing at the podium.

    All this speculation about 2016 basically ignores what the Party is doing right now and the terrible results it will garner for the nation in the mean time. The Dems aren’t going to get the House back this year–they’ve already thrown in the towel. They may or may not lose the Senate… but what difference does it make when they’ve already given the GOP what amounts to Majority status on anything important anyway? The only direction for the Democratic Party is to march ever rightward. See Becca’s post on Michael Boggs, in case anyone has doubts about how far down the rabbit hole the Party has gone.

    If Democratic leadership isn’t willing to do anything to help their public image NOW, then why would anyone believe they care about 2016? Why does anyone suppose their messaging is all about 2016 when we’re approaching summer in the current election cycle? Personally, I think they want to lose this year, so they can build oppositional momentum against the GOP in 2016. It helped them win the House in 2006, Senate and White House in 2008. Evil lesserism is all they have at this point and losing now helps with that. Make people even more desperate, so a phony “hero” like Hillary can ride in on horseback to steal the show in 2016.

  • FLL

    If someone claims that elections don’t matter, then why would they be upset about people (specifically progressive and liberal voters) participating in them? Why the emotional invective? I mean, I understand why Ann Coulter might be upset when progressives and liberals vote, but then Ann Coulter is representing herself very honestly.

  • Butch1

    Eliminate both parties and let them die on the vine by voting from now on third party candidates into office. It’s the only real answer, yet everyone fails to acknowledge it and says it will never work. It won’t if no one is not willing to even try.

  • noGOP

    boy! you guys are having a real circle jerk here. what is your solution?

  • Bill_Perdue

    Or between pancreatic cancer and Ebola if you look at their combined policies of union busting, wars of aggression and austerity. Time for a labor party and for leftist workers parties.

  • QAdams

    Agreed. Choosing between a Republican or a Democratic candidate for President — and I mean any Democrat, including Elizabeth Warren — is like choosing between the brown fox or the gray fox to guard the henhouse.

  • Bill_Perdue

    You can fool some of the people some of the time and all of the Republicans and Democrats all of the time.

    “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.” Eugene V. Debs

  • Bill_Perdue

    Democrats have no one to nominate who doesn’t have a long history of being right wing, or a player in the power politics of the rich and of being a bigot. Many, like Warren, Clinton and Biden are promoters of racsim and many more, like Clinton and Biden have a tawdry history of homohating. Most support Obama’s health care scam and his rabid immigrant bashing. Few support the unlimited right of women of any age to free abortions on demand.

    The same is true of the Republicans.

    They’re both going the way of the Whig party and it can’t be too soon.

  • QAdams

    I actually am a progressive myself — or should I say a radical democratic socialist — far to the left of Warren, whom I fear also may turn out to be “just another corporatist.”

  • cole3244

    warren is the only pol i donated to in 2012 and will support financially now, i think the timing is not right for her in 2016 but she will build her resume and be ready in 20 or 24 to run and win.

    i believe she is too smart to attempt to run with so little political experience and she wants to be able to have wind at her back to implement the agenda needed to put america on the right path to recovery.

    whenever and if she runs will be the last chance imo for a real progressive (liberal) to hold power in my lifetime, i have waited a long time a little more won’t hurt me or america.

  • noGOP

    If it were warren and sanders, I’d work 12 hours a day for their campaign.

  • Anthony

    I agree. Warren could absolutely win against the current GOP, which is either too extreme (Paul, Cruz, etc.) too corrupt (Christie) or is a Bush (Jeb). If the Republican tries to paint Warren as too extreme, she can easily respond with everything that’s wrong with the current GOP, while also doing something Obama has failed to do: deliver an effective and unapologetic defense for progressive ideas.

  • Anthony

    I agree with this article, except I don’t think 2016 is her only chance. Barring an unexpected health issue that comes up, I think 2020 would be a good time too. By then, there might be an unpopular GOP incumbent running for re-election during yet another GOP recession, and by then, an even bigger majority of Americans could very well be ready for a real progressive like Warren to be in the White House. She’s already proven to be both an effective fundraiser and public speaker as well, and I think conservatives would be foolish to underestimate her.

  • Anthony

    Warren is a real progressive. Obama is just another corporatist. You conservatives better learn the difference quickly, because you might actually have a progressive president some day soon…

  • QAdams

    Sorry to throw cold water, but all this excitement among progressives about Warren just reminds me too much of all the excitement about Mr. Hope and Change a few years ago. Won’t get fooled again??

  • Buford2k11

    Good call there, GP…It seems there needs to be more “Warrens” and “Sanders”…Gotta tack to port, hard and with a gale wind…

  • HereinDC

    You just said “Crazy Ass Republican” That’s alone enough that she would win.

  • Elijah Shalis

    I have donated $39 to Ready for Hillary which is a lot for me. If Warren were to enter the race, I would back her over Hillary. I just don’t see Warren entering the race except maybe as a VP candidate.

  • WarrenHart

    Elizabeth Warren couldn’t win and we’d be stuck with whichever crazy ass Republican picking Federal judges for the next 4 years.

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