If Warren joins Clinton, I’m Done Supporting Her.
This election has proven to be a crucible that has revealed to progressives whom they can truly trust in Washington DC. Disappointingly, among the Democrats, it turns out there weren’t many. Once beloved figures like Howard Dean and Barney Frank have been revealed to be little more than operatives of a Democratic establishment that has been at best ineffectually moderate, and at worst an active participant in the middle class’s decline.
One of the most important questions in this process has been Elizabeth Warren’s true loyalty. This has become particularly critical in recent weeks because her name is now being floated as a potential vice-presidential running mate to help Hillary Clinton buoy her support among progressive Democrats. Unfortunately, the signs have not been positive for progressives. As the great Desmond Tutu once said, “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” By remaining silent while the first strong progressive opposition candidate in a generation attempts to take on an entrenched political establishment that harms the American people, Warren is, in effect, supporting the efforts of the establishment over the interests of the American people.
I do believe that Warren cares more than most in Washington DC about the middle class, admittedly a low bar, and I still appreciate that she is great at publicly chastising Republicans. Her heart is in the right place and she is by no means required to endorse Bernie to prove herself a “real progressive.” That said, we can question her priorities as a progressive. This year the difference between Bernie and Hillary is far too substantive to reasonably straddle the two camps. Warren had her chance to step up for progressivism. She really didn’t. What exactly is she waiting for? If not now, when? The perfect moment just passed. What kind of incremental legislation that a Clinton administration would grudgingly dole out was worth her integrity when the moment to stand up for fundamental systemic change finally came?
Warren has an outspoken style that is good for railing against conservatives’ worst abuses, that’s how she made her name. She has given downright inspirational speeches berating conservatives for their participation in the decline of the middle class. Because of those, she was seen as the middle class’s champion. Where is that integrity when Democrats participate in the exact same corrupt activities?
She is demonstrating that she comes from the school of thought that believes incrementalism is effective and pretends that the Democrat/Republican divide is significant on economic issues. This is particularly disappointing because calling out Democrats is more important than railing against Republicans. Republicans are open and unapologetic in their role as pro-business shills. Democrats still claim to work for the middle class, which makes their shift to he right and decades of deception a form of betrayal unequaled by anything Republicans have done. I still don’t count Warren among those Democrats, which is why I have been particularly disappointed by her deference towards them.
Speaking out against Democrats would also most likely be more productive. Unlike Republicans, there is actual hope that many members of the Democratic Party can still be reached by progressive ideas, or replaced by those who support them, and that progressive leadership can once again guide that party. Congressional Democrats need to be brought back to the left. Attempting to motivate that shift is a much more functional goal than mere grandstanding against Republicans, who are unlikely to ever change. Elizabeth Warren has been absent on that goal. When it comes to Democrats, her silence is deafening.
One of the reasons she doesn’t seem quite as comfortable with a “political revolution” as Bernie Sanders is likely personal interest. Her actions are more in line with those of a calculating member of the ruling class than a dedicated progressive. In light of her behavior, it is worth pointing out that Elizabeth Warren is part of the 1%. Her net worth is estimated to be between $3.7 million and $10 million. That doesn’t include her three-story Victorian-style home in Cambridge, conservatively worth about $2 million. Guess that wealthy Harvard professor was more a part of the establishment than we thought.
Warren could still do the right thing, but the hour is growing late indeed. The cynic in me even thinks Warren might have an agreement with Clinton and the DNC. The DNC knows how valuable she is as a “credible progressive.” It would not jeopardize that by asking her to outright endorse Hillary in the primary, but it likely promised her something to convince her to not endorse any candidate. In short, she may have been bought-off. Of course, I can’t prove this; and more importantly, I would rather not “go there” with such an accusation.
Unfortunately, if Warren does side with the Democratic establishment, she immediately becomes the worst part of the establishment: the convincing faux progressive. She would be the type of Democrat that allows the Democratic Party to look like it’s on the side of the working class, while doing nothing about that class’s problems. Her type of “fair weather support” of progressivism would be worse than outright abandonment, because it would breed complacency among people who might otherwise challenge the system and voice their concerns. She would become a progressive pacifier, not a progressive leader, an insidious form of oppression.
All Warren has really done so far is advance herself within Washington DC using her progressive brand, with minimal substantive achievements (sound familiar?). That is exactly the type of shallow self service that has turned the Democrats against progressivism for three decades. For Warren, riding out this whole primary just to side with Clinton would be the ultimate display of progressive betrayal. If Warren joins Clinton’s ticket, it won’t convince me to vote for Clinton, it will convince me that Warren never could be trusted in the first place (which even hurts to just say).
Either way, the choice is her’s. However, every day she remains on the fence moves her one step closer to a de-facto alignment with the establishment. Neutrality favors the oppressor.