Last week John Dickerson at Slate said what I have been thinking (hoping) for some time. His said that even though Elizabeth Warren would (likely) not beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, she would, if she got in, change the debate.
If Warren joined the race, she would not win, but she would till the ground, putting grit and the smell of earth in the contest. She would energize the Democratic Party’s liberal base, which would then stir up other Democrats who seek to moderate or contain that group. Warren would challenge the Democratic Party on issues like corporate power, income inequality, and entitlements. She would be a long shot and she would have nothing to lose—which means she could keep talking about those ideas out loud. Because Clinton is close to Wall Street and finance executives and Warren is gunning for them, she has the potential to put campaign pressure on Clinton that other candidates can’t. Clinton and other candidates would be forced to explain where they stood more than if Warren weren’t in the race.
Everyone knows, and serious people will confirm, that one cannot credibly run for president while speaking too energetically about corporate power and income inequality. Serious people will tell you that this is proof positive a candidate is not, in fact, serious.
Hillary Clinton won’t go there unless she has no choice, and Elizabeth Warren is the only one who can force the issue.
Because Clinton is close to Wall Street and finance executives and Warren is gunning for them, she has the potential to put campaign pressure on Clinton that other candidates can’t.
What does it say about the Democratic Party that our highest aspiration is that someone might run for the presidency who is capable of articulating a truly progressive vision, but who cannot win the nomination?