The selling of Elizabeth Warren: What’s behind progressives’ debilitating fantasy

From Salon:

As my inbox fills with emails from groups “drafting” Warren, I find myself wondering who’s helping whom here

Monday, Feb 9, 2015

I’m a huge admirer of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. She’s the best new leader to emerge in the Democratic Party in decades. If she wants to run for president, I hope she does so.

 But I don’t think she wants to run for president. She’s told us that in many different ways and places. I was particularly struck by her no-nonsense answer when asked by colleague Sheila Bair, but she’s basically given no-nonsense negative answers since the effort to “draft” her began.

So I’m coming to find the “draft Warren” juggernaut a little bit perplexing. I know the participants have wonderful motives and genuinely would welcome a Warren candidacy. But with every email I receive, I get a tiny bit more cynical. It doesn’t feel so much like groups are using their organizational strength to help Warren, but enlisting Warren to help build their organizational strength.

Don’t get me wrong, I think MoveOn and Democracy for America have done important infrastructure and leadership building on the left of the Democratic Party. But I’m not really sure that the “Draft Warren “effort does much more for progressives than encourage a cult of personality – and risk member disillusionment when Warren all but certainly declines to make the race.

I confess my misgivings about all this crystallized Sunday night, when I heard the news that the Working Families Party had joined the “Draft Warren” movement. I admire WFP; I think they’re doing exactly what progressives should be doing: Working within the Democratic Party and pulling it to the left, not standing outside the party and declaring it no better than the GOP.

But it was hard not to contrast their “Draft Warren” move, which looks symbolic at best, and contains an implicit challenge to Hillary Clinton, with their cave-in to Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year — which was not merely symbolic but had real ramifications. At that time, they had a terrific progressive female candidate, Zephyr Teachout, ready to challenge Cuomo – and they backed Cuomo. So to recap: With a willing progressive woman challenging a politically centrist Democratic man – the progressive didn’t get the WFP endorsement. But now, with a centrist but more liberal (than Cuomo) Democratic woman, Hillary Clinton, (probably) running for president, WFP is courting a challenger — who (probably) isn’t running anyway.

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