I’m Voting for Warren

Super Tuesday is tomorrow, and I’m voting in the Massachusetts primary. I’m going to vote for Elizabeth Warren.

Any who-I’m-voting-for article eventually turns into a here’s-who-you-should-vote-for article, so I might as well be up-front about that from the beginning. Here’s how I think you should go about deciding who to vote for.

In any primary, there are really just four votes that make sense:

  • Vote your heart. This is the most direct and simple vote: Who do you want to see become president? It doesn’t require any complicated analysis of polls or theories about how your party wins. Just listen to the candidates, research their positions on the issues you care about, and picture them as president.
  • Vote for the candidate most likely to lead your party to victory. This vote requires that you identify who the most electable candidate is, which is not as easy as a lot of people make it sound.
  • Unite around the front-runner. Long, drawn-out battles for the nomination risk dividing the party and raising negativity about the ultimate nominee. So if the leading candidate is someone you’re happy with (or happy enough), you can help end the nomination process quickly by voting for him or her.
  • Unite against the front-runner. If you look at the leading candidate and have a strong “Not that one!” reaction, either because the front-runner offends your heart or seems likely to lead to defeat in the fall, you can vote to block his or her path to the nomination. The most effective way to do that is to look at the polls and vote for the alternative candidate most likely to win in your state.

To make a long story short, my heart is with Warren, I’m not sure who the most electable candidate is, I’m not ready to unite behind current front-runner Bernie Sanders, and the candidate with the best chance to beat Bernie in Massachusetts is also Warren. So two factors unite around Warren in my case, which might make my decision easier than yours.

Why my heart is with Warren. I first noticed Elizabeth Warren during the financial crisis of 2008, when she was chairing a five-person commission to oversee the TARP bank bailout. Rachel Maddow interviewed her several times about how that was going, and in particular about Warren’s belief that the government shouldn’t just put the same people back in charge of the banking system so they could make the same mistakes. She struck me as someone smart and public-spirited who did her homework before making a decision. In these and many other ways, she’s the exact opposite of the president we have now.

After Obama was elected, she helped him create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. When Republican senators torpedoed the idea that she be the first head of the CFPB, she decided to run for the Senate instead. She was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2018. When I lived in New Hampshire, I heard her several times when she came up to campaign for our senators and representatives. Now that I live in Massachusetts, she’s my senator.

I like Warren because she combines idealism with a wonkish streak. She knows exactly how the government works and where injustice gets baked into policies before they’re implemented. She has a good lawyer’s knack for seeing through another advocate’s spin. (You saw that on the debate stage in Las Vegas, when she listened to Mike Bloomberg justify his company’s treatment of women, and immediately responded with “I hope you heard what his defense was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women.’ That just doesn’t cut it.”)

Her campaign’s I-have-a-plan-for-that theme points to one of her key virtues: She has thought this stuff through and is ready to govern. When I look at the public health challenge the coronavirus is posing, and I ask myself “Who would I trust the most to follow the science and do the right thing?” my answer is Warren.

I agree with her general philosophy, which is that government needs to be creating opportunities for ordinary people to succeed, and not supporting systems designed to concentrate wealth. She springs from working-class roots in Oklahoma, taught kids with learning disabilities for a while, and then climbed her way through the legal profession until she became a Harvard professor. But she doesn’t cop an I-did-it-all-myself attitude. She never loses sight of all the ways that opportunities were made available to her — and how many of those avenues have since closed down. That’s why college-affordability and student-loan-forgiveness are so important to her.

She also sees the structural problems in the economy, which is what raised her original interest in the banking system and the ways it is abused to centralize wealth.

In short, I think her heart is in the right place. Her policies resonate with the life she’s lived, and so feel very authentic to me. She has a nuts-and-bolts view of how systems work that makes her likely to get things done. She lives by facts rather than by ideology, so if things don’t turn out the way she expected, she’ll come up with something new.

Who can win? I wish I knew. It’s not that there’s nothing worth saying on the topic, but it’s not as simple as a lot of pundits make it sound. I have expressed my ideas on the topic in another post.

I’m not ready to unite around Bernie Sanders. Like all the major Democratic candidates, Bernie is miles better than Donald Trump. If he’s the nominee, I will vote for him, and not in a hold-my-nose way. We could do a lot worse.

I’m not that far from Bernie on a number of issues (neither is Warren), but I wouldn’t have the same confidence in him as president. Bernie is an ideologue. If he found himself in a situation where his ideology was not working, I can’t picture him rethinking. I believe Warren would.

And getting back to who can win, I’m not impressed with the theory that says Bernie is our strongest candidate. I think there are Romney-Republicans and Bush-Republicans who would be happy to vote against Trump, but Sanders is too much to ask. Warren may be too much to ask too, but I’m not as sure of that.

Who can beat Bernie in Massachusetts? The best bet is Warren, who is the favorite-daughter candidate here. This is where your mileage may vary. In Texas, for example, polls show Biden with a better chance. In North Carolina, at least one poll says Bloomberg. I’m not telling you what you should do in those states.

So anyway, I’m in a situation where the candidate I want to vote for is also best positioned to block a front-runner I’m not wild about. That means I don’t have to make a more difficult decision where I weigh my favorite against more practical considerations.

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  • Roger  On March 2, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    She’d be my pick, but I don’t vote until April 28.

  • Kat  On March 2, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    I voted for her on Saturday (SC). That was a ‘heart’ vote. Like you, I noticed her in 2008 and the aftermath. I feel like she is the most prepared to govern and especially the best option for repairing the damage done by Trump & his cronies. I was a Bernie voter in 2016, but have since been disappointed in some of his responses – including (purely at the gut level) his lack of rebuke to the contingent of his followers who behave like rabid attack dogs.

  • Leila Javitch  On March 2, 2020 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with you! But vote in CT. Leila


  • Guest  On March 2, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Congrats on your pick, Doug. I had figured you’d go with Warren for the same reason you voted Sanders in 2016, ie as a protest vote of sorts against the front-runner. Warren is my number 2 choice here, so it’s been disappointing watching her back away from M4A (a move you noted had even James Carville scratching his head) and her subsequent fall in the polls. Nice to see you make her case anew.

    It’s clear that you’re discounting the elect-ability factor, but that means papering over some important vulnerabilities Warren has. She doesn’t perform as well as Sanders in the Trump head-to-head data, and that passes the sniff test. Yes she can win the big cities in MA, but she’s truly struggled with the more rural Obama-Trump counties in her most recent senate race, her state favorability rating ranked among senators is not inspiring, and it looks like there’s an outside chance she could even lose her own state in the primary tomorrow. The fact that it’s even competitive is a huge red flag. We’ve seen her fumble head-to-head spats with Trump already, and also fail to translate big debate blows like those delivered in Las Vegas into meaningful bumps (so far, at least).

    Your assessment of Sanders unfortunately doesn’t seem to have much substance beyond your anti-Bernie bias. He’s not some dummy who can’t find his way out of a paper bag once his ideology is “not working”, quite the opposite, he’s the “amendment king” for good reason.

  • Eric  On March 2, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    My biggest issue with Senator Elizabeth Warren is that like most liberal Democrats, she is against school choice and more specifically charter schools; yet sent her children to Private schools. Choice is ok for her, but not for me. This makes her a hypocrite. Typical lib.

    Meanwhile, my children languish in sub par government controlled schools.

    Obama, Clinton, Gore and most congressional Democrats all sent their children to private schools. Then they speak to public educational policy, when they themselves have never really had to deal with a public school. Now that takes brass!

  • fly2soar  On March 2, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    You’ve given a poignant defense of your decision about who you’ll be voting for. Along the way you provided informative facts that should be beneficial to others doing the same.

    While my candidate of choice remains to be Joe Biden, you did contribute positively to my arsenal of knowledge about other favorable facts regarding Elizabeth Warren’s background. Thank you for being illustrative.

  • Bill  On March 2, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    While Liz is the most articulate and wonkish of those left on the Dem. field, I don’t think those are the primary crucial requirements for the job she’s applying for. To the extent that she siphons delegates away from Bernie before Tuesday, I think that’s fine for the time being. Liz continually portrays herself as a “fighter” and “will fight hard”.
    But as most employers, teachers and parents know, they will always prefer someone who “works hard” vs someone who “fights hard”. Words and image matter and working hard is more constructive and productive than fighting hard.
    …and Liz should understand they’re not the same thing.

  • Bruce Agte  On March 2, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    I like your primary explanation for your choice of Warren: that it’s from your heart. That also helps to explain, however, why you don’t mention–and may even be blind to–some of the serious problems with her:

    a) we need to be honest about the deeply offensive insult she levied upon the Cherokee Nation, her awfully inadequate apology, and what the whole sordid affair shows about her character

    b) a year ago and in the months since she strongly stated she would never accept pac money and challenged her opponents to make the same vow. But recently she signed on to a super pac that has raised some $14 million for her; nobody knows who is behind this dark money. You might counter with her “ideology was not working” so she changed it, but coming from someone who has railed so fervently against money in politics and corruption, the episode is deeply troubling.

    c) her Reaganite past and her consistent love of the military point to a problematic foreign policy stance, to say the least.

    d) her diminishing prospects since her high point last November illuminate a vanishing path between her and Milwaukee. I don’t buy your hope that she might end up with the nomination at a contested convention. Yet her increasingly focused attacks on her neighboring Senator show that she is as opposed to a Sanders nomination as the rest of the Democratic establishment obviously is. Because you are as well, you’re fine with her stance. But to me she has shown herself as a false progressive. That will appeal to a few. Not me.

    • Guest  On March 3, 2020 at 9:51 am

      Well said, Bruce, I agree 100%. I think these points reveal a weakness of Bernie’s, and we saw it in 2016 too. He’s just too darn nice to his Democratic colleagues in primaries. He was the first and loudest voice to say “Enough about her damn emails!” when, in hindsight, this blinded Dem voters from how big a deal it would turn out to be in the general, fair or not. Same goes for the sordid genealogy affair you mention with Warren, but also the Burisma mess with Biden. These are points of real weakness, again fair or not, that don’t seem like they’re getting enough attention from the status-quo/centrist set. Will we fall for the same trap again? I have to be hopeful…

    • Dani  On March 3, 2020 at 5:24 pm

      a) Warren did not insult the Cherokee Nation. She acted based upon a trust that what her family told her about her genealogy was accurate, and she gamed the United States’ system to her advantage. It was an honest mistake — one hardly limited to her.

      b) There is a point here, but it’s also limited by practicality. If you want to change the rules to take away a feature which when used can give a tremendous advantage, you might end up having to use that feature to get rid of it. Hate the game, not the player.

      c) The only person who is better than her in this regard is Sanders. But Sanders’ foreign policy (which is, I believe, isolationist in its intent) is problematic as well. Both are reasonable about the reduction and slowing of nuclear proliferation.

      d) It is apparent that if Sanders is to get any other candidate’s endorsement, it would be Warren. It is clear that her lack of exploitation of the plethora of Sanders’ weaknesses shows her tacit support of him. This is a primary process. Attacks come with the territory, and retaliation against truths brought up in a debate are petty.

  • The Serapion Brotherhood  On March 2, 2020 at 10:00 pm

    How can you consider voting for Warren?

    What about her abandonment of Medicare for all (In the second term–really?)?

    What about her announcement that if she is nominated she will sell out to pac money?

    What about all the egregious lies she has told about Sanders? (as well as an established history of lying? about her race, about discrimination against her when she was a teacher, etc.)

  • dianejyoung  On March 2, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    Thank you for teasing apart the reasons we might vote for a candidate. I too come up with 2 out of 4. That’s some comfort when so many fellow Dems are in a “How could you ever vote for…??” mode.


  • By Best Courses | The Weekly Sift on March 2, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    […] This week’s featured posts are “The Coronavirus Genie Escapes Its Bottle“, “Does Anybody Know Who’s Electable?“, and “I’m Voting for Warren“. […]

  • By I’m Voting for Warren | fly2soar on March 2, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    […] I’m Voting for WarrenThe author gives a poignant defense of his decision about who he’ll be voting for. Along the way he provides informative facts that should be beneficial to others doing the same.While my candidate of choice remains to be Joe Biden, he did contribute positively to my existing arsenal of knowledge about other favorable facts regarding Elizabeth Warren’s background.#Illustrative #IGoForJoeThough #JoeBiden #BidenTheTitan […]

  • By Dismal Calamities | The Weekly Sift on March 9, 2020 at 12:03 pm

    […] leader. That caused Mike Bloomberg to withdraw and endorse Biden. Then Elizabeth Warren (who I voted for) also dropped out. (More about her […]

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