Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Aren't We Entitled To A Really Extraordinary President?


Last year, to encourage the best American political leaders to consider running for president, Blue America set up an ActBlue page called Why Settle? Our pitch on the page was simple:
There are all sorts of characters gearing up to run for president in 2016. Conventional wisdom says that if Hillary Clinton runs, it's game-over for the Democrats and she walks away with it while everyone else cheers. That's a shame because… well, if you want to judge how she's likely to rule based on who she's surrounded herself with, we're looking at another corporate-oriented presidency akin the her husband's and the Bush père et fils, probably worse than Obama's. If she doesn't run, the gates open on a careerist cavalcade of mediocrity, from Biden, Cuomo, and O'Malley to Mark Warner and, believe it or not, Claire McCaskill! Of course, in Republicanville, it's an even sadder-- and more ominous-- sight, ranging from proto fascists like Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rick Santorum to garden variety conservative careerists like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and Rick Perry.

But why settle for another lesser-of-two evils contest? Aren't we entitled to a really extraordinary president, literally the best among us? Why not a brilliant and dedicated civil servant instead of a power-hungry sociopath for a change? Here are three we have in mind. Let us know if you have any suggestions.
So, basically, if you want to encourage Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders or Alan Grayson to run for president, you can do that right here. And, I admit, that'd pretty much been the extent of Blue America's involvement with the Draft Elizabeth Warren movement-- other than the constant stream of support we give her activities as a senator. But we haven't sent out any letters soliciting money for her "campaign," a campaign we doubt will ever exist. We doubt it will ever exist because Warren says-- even in just the present tense-- that she isn't running and that she's supporting Hillary Clinton. And, although we'd absolutely like to see her continue building clout and power, we take her at her word. That's made us put our efforts behind a candidate who's been laboring in the same fields for a lot loner, Bernie Sanders. The Blue America page for Bernie 2016 has been promoted more vigorously.

Over the weekend, Jill Lawrence explained to Politico readers why Warren won't run. In fact, she contends that "Warren would be miscast in the roles of presidential contender and president" despite being "[a]ggressive, intense, single-minded-- she is all of these, and that’s why she’s considered such a formidable advocate for families trying to survive on what she calls 'the ragged edge.'" Lawrence's case isn't compelling: "Warren’s attention would be diverted in a thousand different directions by a campaign. If she somehow managed to dethrone Hillary Clinton and win the White House, say good-bye to public dressings-down of Wall Street executives at Senate hearings and-- most likely-- to no-holds-barred attacks on 'sleazy lobbyists,' 'cowardly politicians' and banks that cheat families." But that doesn't mean Warren is going to run.
Being president, or even just running for president, would dilute what the left loves best about Warren and also, perhaps, what the nation needs most from her. Being speculated about as a candidate for president, on the other hand, sometimes can be useful. Back in 1991, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia told me he did not discourage speculation about a run for president because he was thrilled by the attention it generated for his ideas on health policy. So it is with Warren. She remains vastly influential as long as she retains her unique role in the national conversation. But if she actually were to run, all that would change. And her record so far suggests she knows it.

Warren often seems exasperated by all the presidential talk-- and at the end of 2013, she pledged to serve out her Senate term-- but more recently she has been playing a minimalist version of the speculation game. She is sounding less certain about what’s ahead, and she consistently uses the present tense in her repeated denials of interest, conspicuously avoiding a Shermanesque vow never, ever to run or serve.

Even these slight openings have been succor for the draft-Warren movement launched last month by MoveOn.org and Democracy for America. Giving the keynote this week at the AFL-CIO’s first National Summit on Wages, Warren also sounded like she was consciously leading a national movement, repeatedly declaring “what we believe” is needed to take back the economy from politicians who “made deliberate choices that favored those with money and power.”

Yet if one looks more closely at what Warren is doing than what she is saying, very little of it suggests that she is thinking about the presidency at all. She has doubled down on her longtime causes instead of broadening her portfolio in ways that are typical preparation for a presidential run. Her rhetoric, meanwhile, is as sharp and confrontational as ever. Congress should have “broken you into pieces,” Warren said of Citigroup recently on the Senate floor. In one of her final fundraising emails of 2014, she vowed to continue her fight for “accountability and a level playing field so nobody steals your purse on Main Street, or your pension on Wall Street.”

She is also 65 years old, and if it’s not going to happen now, it may be never.
Our loss. Bernie Sanders would, no doubt, be the best American president at least since FDR.

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At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bernie Sanders and Alan Grayson would be an incredible duo for President and Vice President, either one for either position. They both speak loudly and unashamedly for what they believe in.
I am a fan of Elizabeth Warren, but her effectiveness as a Senator is greater than our need to have her for a President. I believe she could be a great President, but we need her where she is today. She gets lots of attention from the media, good or bad from their perspective. I would like to see her campaigning for any progressives you can find to put on the ballots across the U.S. She is good at that and listened to.


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