The generational President we’ve waited for. A true progressive, a visionary who could see problems before they arose and provide solutions before the problems. We could have a government that was proactive, rather than always trying to clean up the mess. We could build a system that identified trouble down the road and warned us how to prevent it ourselves, rather than swinging from crisis to Presidency-defining crisis, living in crippling panic over what could be coming next. We could have a President who is open with the public about what the plan is, a President who is an expert in the causes and effect of consumer financing and predatory banks. We could have a President who knows the history of this country and soaks up new information like a sponge, trying to find the injustices that need to be corrected and coming up with plans to correct them. We could have a President who not only backs reparations, but will listen when presented with evidence of other programs that would benefit the American public in ways that aren’t always soporific or race-neutral. We could have a President who is a policy surgeon, who lifts up people around their power and puts other before themselves, and who has been consistent in that for their entire life.
Apparently the problem is that if you don’t speak in a baritone voice, or wear a shirt and tie, you’re not good enough for the White House. One has to settle for the Vice Presidency, the toothless prisoner of the American government who spends their days over four years on the bench waiting for the person above them to die. Find me a Vice President who actually did something in their four years in office. They’re campaigners, the cheerleader-in-chief, which makes it all the worse that Elizabeth Warren would be suggested for the job. Her place is in Washington, in the room where it happens, crafting policy and messaging for the American public to learn more about the problems. Still, she’s a woman and in America a woman must only hope for the vague consolation of being considered worthy of the job but unelectable. It’s a victory to be Vice President, they’ll say, as we sit in hopes that the President can hold off his heart or his brain from deteriorating to the point where we’re having a state funeral and may actually get to witness the history that we wanted to witness but were too cowardly to vote for.
“Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.” — Shirley Chisholm
Think about the choices left outside of Warren.
We have Bernie Sanders, the detail-less curmudgeon who has no friends inside or outside Washington with any real pull to get anything done. He’ll get elected, maybe, and yell for four years about Medicare-for-all and the climate crisis while a Republican legislature overrides his ineffectual vetoes and he continues on his track record of never getting to pass the things he wants done, and never stopping the things he needs to stop. His Judicial nominees will fail spectacularly as the Senate stays red, and the filibuster will continue to stifle real progress in this country. He’ll get primaried and defeated in 2024, either in that primary or the general election, and ride off into the sunset to be remembered as the failure we should have recognized long before we put him in the chair.
We have Joe Biden, who is a good man, but is well past his time. He is visibly deteriorating before our eyes, a comfortable option that will only serve to bring an end to Donald Trump, but will do nothing to prevent another Trump. He’s the short-sighted option for those who are afraid. He has no policy plan to back himself up, no philosophy to ride on. He’s simply the nostalgia candidate from the Obama administration with a brilliant smile and a good story about his son, which is admittedly compelling. He’s got no idea how to handle the climate crisis, no idea how to handle the income inequality in this country, no plan to close the racial wealth gap, no support for Medicare-for-all, no idea what to do to clean up minority communities polluted by the government and corporations like Flint, Michigan or Sierra Blanca, Texas. He’s just good old Uncle Joe. For some, that may be enough, but we’re going to come to the realization before November that he’s only got one term in him and we’ve just picked him to beat Trump without a plan to prevent it from happening again.
Then we have Donald Trump, the incumbent and the likeliest victor in a contest with either of the other two. Sure, he may lose re-election to Joe Biden and he may even lose to Bernie Sanders, but he’ll never go away. His lackeys will line up to continue the fight behind him. More effective radical nationalists and racists, anti-immigrant and anti-woman candidates like Josh Hawley and Doug Collins. More vitriolic morons who can fire up their base like Matt Gaetz and Louie Gohmert. The line of Trumps will never end, it’ll be like Goldwater Republicans without the ability to read or write outside of the caves in which they dwell, and they’ll be propped up by the biggest billionaires and corporations who stand to gain the most from their ineptitude. We will have President after President that are just like our current President because we decided to go with the safe options in 2020.
Imagine the debate between Biden, the likely winner, and Trump. Two men who can barely speak, with no plans for America moving forward, and whose best days were before 2012. Imagine the macho-political bravado from each of these men concentrated on one stage. Think about having to choose between the two. Joe Biden, who can barely string two sentences together and is already four years older than Trump, and Donald Trump himself, who has been arguably the least intelligent President in the history of the United States and may only be on intellectual par with the inbred kings of Europe in the middle of the 16th Century.
As a Minnesotan, one of the quotes I love comes from beloved hockey coach Herb Brooks, given before the game against the Russians at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid and immortalized in the movie Miracle.
“Great moments are born from great opportunity.” — Herb Brooks
That’s what we have here. A great opportunity, slipping away every hour that we don’t take advantage of it. Not just to beat Donald Trump and elect a woman and prevent Trump from happening again in the near future. We can slam the door in the faces of corrupt politicians like the Republicans closest to Trump. We can prevent the Lindsey Grahams, the Mitch McConnells, the Josh Hawleys from taking power and doing with it what Trump did ever again by electing someone with a plan to put back into place the roadblocks and checks and balances imagined by our Founders. We can elect someone who sees problems before they arise, and has a solution to each one
She’s not proposing radical changes, cultural changes, the way that Bernie is. She’s not offering the status quo, the way that Joe is. She’s offering a return to normal politics with the purpose of evolving them. She’s offering a plan to reinvigorate politics, to fix the system and not break it. To continue to work, to continue to set new goals and find new fights, and to find new fighters. Elizabeth Warren helped put Ayanna Pressley on the national stage, something that would have happened anyway but it happened faster because Warren used her influence to lift up someone else. Katie Porter, the California firebrand, was Warren’s student. She pinky-promised thousands of little girls and told them that it was their job to run for office, it was up to them to be leaders. She doesn’t misspeak, she doesn’t yell about fairness, she doesn’t cast blame, she simply keeps doing the work.
Despite this, we’re forced to choose between three geriatric death risks in obviously poor health, all of whom have problems and histories of corruption and terrible political decisions. While they shuffle to the finish line, carried by a media who apparently loves watching old men yell about how many pushups they can still do, Warren is forced back to the sideline to sit with Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, who would all have been options that are just as good as Warren, but she was the last one standing. How many more brilliant women need to be sidelined? Shirley Chisholm and Margaret Chase Smith were in the wrong time, brilliant and qualified public servants running in eras that held no reasonable expectation for a woman, particularly a black woman in the case of Chisholm, to be elected because of a combination of ingrained racism and holdover from Jim Crow and segregation. An era in which women were still expected to be in the home, not in the House, let alone the White House. Hillary Clinton was supposed to be the one, but Russian interference combined with a general dislike of her as a lifelong public figure and a general sexism in the media of holding her to a different, higher, standard than Donald Trump lost her the election in 2016. Every year a woman runs, it’s the same song and dance.
“I want to vote for a woman, but not that woman.” — Democrats, apparently.
2020 was supposed to be the year we showed that we had learned our lesson. It was supposed to be Kamala Harris, the fiery former California Attorney General-turned-Senator, who committed the unforgivable crime of calling Joe Biden out on his record of supporting racist policies, resulting in lies and smears of her record driving her out of the race. Then it was supposed to be Elizabeth Warren, who committed the crime of doing the work Bernie Sanders was too lazy to do himself. Then it was Amy Klobuchar, who the media liked because she wasn’t Elizabeth Warren. Then it was back to Warren, who was subsequently ignored by the media and attacked by the supporters of other candidates with lies and smears, and is currently being driven out of the race and pushed to support a less effective man who shares her ideas, or a man with the backing of the Party infrastructure.
We didn’t learn our lesson. Not in the slightest.
In the coming days and weeks, if Warren drops out, we’re bound to see stories asking why she didn’t do better. They’ll reflect on the issues and they’ll perpetuate the Bernie Sanders lie that she backed off on Medicare-for-all, which she didn’t. They’ll continue the idea that she was shrill, unlistenable, or unprofessional. They’ll laud her for ending the campaign of Mike Bloomberg in thirty seconds on a debate stage in Nevada, but they’ll tie it to an ineffective message.
The problem is that she’s not shrill, she’s not ineffective, and she doesn’t back down. The reason she’s being forced out of this race is because she’s a woman, and the Democratic electorate is sexist.
How much longer do we really expect women to stick around in a Party that continually tells them that they’re good, but you must be great, and if you’re great you must be perfect? How many more cracks at the Presidency are we going to give women before demeaning them by patting them on the head and saying “good try, you’ll get it next time?”
I worry that the time grows shorter before we see a mass exodus of women from the Democratic Party, because the Party continues to refuse to put their faith in a woman who can do the job better than the men. Whether it’s Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders who gets the nomination, buyers’ remorse is coming, and we’re going to wish that we hadn’t been so damn stupid.