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Elizabeth Warren has Betrayed the Cause

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren just had a chance to turn the tide in this rigged Democratic primary season last Tuesday, and she ran away from it.

As most people know, the Democratic Party leadership, decades ago following the primary victory of Sen. George McGovern that gave him the party’s 1972 nomination for president despite the opposition of the whole ruling party elite, tried to make such an upstart left candidate impossible in the future by front-running primaries and caucuses in a bunch of deeply conservative Southern states. The idea was to crush any liberal candidate in those states (where no Democrat would stand a chance in the general election), so their funding would dry up and their campaigns would die early in the primary season.

This ugly strategy worked like a charm for decades and it even worked this year to the extent that the Establishment’s candidate, Hillary Clinton, was able to win big in those Southern states. But her upstart opponent Bernie Sanders to some extent blunted the effort this year by winning handily in Colorado, Oklahoma, Minnesota and in his home state of Vermont — four of the five non-Southern states also holding primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday. Sanders really would have actually defeated the DNC’s sabotage efforts though, had he won Massachusetts, a significantly larger state in terms of delegates, instead of just managing to come within 1.5% of doing so — and without any major endorsers backing him.

Imagine if Warren, the wildly popular senior senator from Massachusetts, in the days or weeks ahead of the primary, had endorsed Sanders, who after all is attacking the same corrupt big banks that Warren built her whole political career by denouncing. There’s no way having a popular anti-bankster, feminist senator endorsing Sanders wouldn’t have won him at least another 10% of the primary vote in Massachusetts — enough to have really damaged Clinton. Instead, Clinton was allowed to eke out a narrow victory there by picking up the support of identity-voting women who didn’t bother to examine her bogus feminism.

The Sanders campaign can still push forward in future primaries, because unlike prior liberal insurgents who were relying on big donors, his campaign is funded entirely by small donors, and those doners are proving to be resilient and energized, not easily demoralized, by evidence that the game is rigged (in February, the Sanders campaign took in a record $42 million in new small donations, and continues to build its campaign war-chest despite Clinton’s wins in the South on Tuesday). But how much better it would have been had he won Massachusetts.

A Warren endorsement would have made all the difference.

Now she stands exposed as a fraud posing as a radical reformer.

No doubt Warren will end up being rewarded with some appointment in a Clinton administration should Clinton manage to steal the Democratic Party’s nomination and go on to win the election despite the reality that she is widely loathed, and despite a majority even of Democrats saying they don’t trust her. Though of course an appointment in an administration where the president is in the pocket of the big Wall Street banks would severely constrain Warren’s ability to do anything of substance in the way of weakening the power of Wall Street. She would just be window-dressing, forced to do the bidding of the president — a woman who is already wallowing in tens of millions of dollars of legal bribes (not even campaign contributions, but speaking fees, ie personal income!) from the banking industry.

Put another way, Sen. Warren, a progressive Democrats’ darling who has made it clear that she agrees with Sanders’ positions on the banks and on issues like single-payer health care and debt-free college education and other progressive stands. has done what calculating, self=aggrandizing politicians always do: look at the odds and go with a winner. That is to say, if Warren had thought Sanders had a reasonably good chance of winning the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, she’d have surely been out there in Massachusetts and other states a week ago campaigning for and with him. Instead, because she probably believes his campaign will ultimately fall short given all the forces arrayed against him in the Democratic Party establishment and the media, she’s hedging her bets and not making any endorsement until the primaries are over.

That way, she probably figures she can negotiate a good deal for herself with Clinton in return for an endorsement should Clinton manage to gain a lock on the nomination.

That might be good politics if you’re Elizabeth Warren and you’re just thinking of what kind of power and influence you might have in the next presidential term either as the senior senator from Massachusetts, or perhaps as a cabinet officer in a Clinton administration, but it’s pathetic, smarmy, unprincipled politics in terms of trying to tackle the corrupt oligarchy that Warren knows is running the country.

Basically, for the calculating Warren it’s a no-lose situation. If Clinton wins the delegates she needs to be nominated, she’ll need Warren to endorse her to help her win over disgruntled and angry Democratic and independent progressives. If Sanders manages to beat Clinton and win the needed delegates over the next few months, he’s not going to hold her self-serving failure to endorse him earlier against her. He will want her on his side going into the general election.

A no-lose stance to be sure, but not what a real progressive would do. Battling for radical change is not for sissies or self-aggrandizing calculators. It calls for principled behavior and for demonstrating the courage of one’s convictions.

Warren has failed abysmally on both of those counts.

Had she endorsed Sanders before the Massachusetts primary, the state’s senior senator would have assured his victory over Hillary Clinton and probably helped him win big. By not endorsing him, she proved that she’s no radical progressive, but just another calculating self-interested political hack.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

February 19, 2019
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