If you want someone to push the party to the mainstream left, then Elizabeth Warren is exactly where she needs to be.
It's kind of comical. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has repeatedly said, over and over again, that she's not running for president. She's said so emphatically
I am not running for president. Do you want to put an exclamation point at the end of that?
Yet people continue to cling to the hope that she is playing coy
. "She spoke in the present tense, which means she's open to changing her mind in the future!" Um, no. She's not. And I'll tell you why, below the fold.
And I'll also tell you why it's a GOOD thing that she's not running.
1. She's not narcissistic enough to run
Do you realize what kind of ego you need to think that you're the best person to run the free world? I know Warren well. In fact, she's one of only a handful of politicians I actually consider a genuine friend. And no, she doesn't have that kind of ego. The most we had was her desire to create and run the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau.
2. We had to drag her kicking and screaming into the Senate race
Running for president isn't easy. It's a massive undertaking, with a massive emotional and physical toll. She ran for Senate in a small state ("Not small, compact and efficient!" she once told me), where she could sleep in her bed every night. Some people are cut out for campaign life on the road. Warren isn't.
3. She would get crushed
ABC News recently had a potential primary matchup at 69-7, with Hillary Clinton crushing Warren. Fox News had it at 69-6. Quinnipiac has had the most pessimistic numbers for Hillary, at 58-11.
Clinton will be our nominee. She is genuinely liked and popular with Democratic Party primary voters. So if you're going to run against her, you're not running to win, you're running either to a) make a statement, or b) angle for the VP slot.
And with either of those options, double back to #2 above.
4. She won't push Hillary to the left or anywhere else
The safest bet and approach for any candidate sporting 40-50-point leads isn't to engage with minor opposition, it's to ignore them. So what would happen if Warren ran and, say, optimistically managed to pick up 15-20 percent of the vote?
5. She would be marginalized as a fringe figure
Warren is building a strong base of support, using her perch in the Senate to help move the entire Democratic Party to the left. If she runs and sports anemic numbers, her critics will use that to paint her as a fringe figure, and god knows there are many people desperate to do that.
6. She would lose all effectiveness in the Senate
No one is pretending that the Senate is a bastion of cooperation and collegiality. However, Warren has scored some gains on that front. While her student loan bill was filibustered by the GOP, she did get Sens. Susan Collins, Bob Corker, and Lisa Murkowski to join her efforts. She only needs two more. The second Republicans think she is actually going to run, her legislative efforts would grind to a halt since no Republican will vote to give her a victory.
But be glad! We need her in the Senate because ...
1. She is part of a new progressive Senate corps moving the party to the Left
Sen. Elizabeth Warren bolsters a Senate caucus liberal wing that is growing each election, with senators like Tammy Baldwin, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley, Barbara Mikulski and a handful of others.
An anemic electoral performance moves nothing. A strong liberal corps in the Senate does.
2. The Senate is all the perch she needs
Warren is already a national figure with a national following. She is so popular, in fact, that she is campaigning in Red states, firing up the base in places like Kentucky and West Virginia. If she talks, people already listen.
So why give up a good thing? Secret social media tip: One of the best ways to make something go viral is to write about Elizabeth Warren.
3. She's a great legislator
See #6 above. And again, I don't want to overstate the functionality of the Senate, where there is none, but the fact that she has brought over Republican votes for the student loan and other legislative initiatives means that she is actually quite skilled at legislating.
4. She can still move Hillary to the left, from the Senate
This is related to #2. What do you think will scare Hillary Clinton more? An opponent lagging far behind in the polls, or a liberal icon calling her out on the sidelines, potentially impacting base intensity?
Does Rush Limbaugh need to run for president to have an impact on GOP presidential candidates? This notion that you have to be in the presidential race to impact it isn't borne out by reality. When Warren speaks, people listen. And if we have her back, sign her petitions, and make it known that she speaks for us on many issues, then Hillary will have no choice but to adapt.
If you really pin your 2016 presidential hopes on Elizabeth Warren, you will be disappointed. And there's no reason to be! We have an incredible champion, already working to shape the debate from her Senate perch. Be happy we've had that opportunity, because it almost didn't happen.
Elizabeth Warren will not run. And that makes her more powerful and influential than she ever would as an electoral also-ran.