Choosing a Candidate: Elizabeth Warren for President!

14 Jun

 

[Prefatory Note: I have had several second thoughts since posting ‘Are the Democrats in a Race to the Bottom’? I continue to worry about the disunity of anti-Trump America, and its danger of giving Americans, and indeed the world, four more years of cruel and dangerous governance almost certain to erode the quality of democracy for decades, but there are several major caveats that qualify this anti-Trump priority.

 

Above all, the realization that both parties have affirmed an unhealthy war-mongering approach to Middle East politics, including unconditional support for special relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia that overlook, if not being complicit with the criminal wrongdoing of both governments. As well, the Democratic Party establishment still obsessively seeks to push the anti-Russian line in extremist directions that risk a second more volatile Cold War. Those who speak on behalf of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) also are clearly unready to repudiate the predatory capitalism of neoliberal globalization that flourished since the collapse of the Soviet Union. This predatory behavior since the end of the Cold War underscores the practical insight that capitalism grows extremely abusive and detached from human wellbeing when not challenged by a socialist alternative as endorsed by a sizable proportion of working people. Long before the political tragedy of Trumpism, the overwhelming majority of the American people were being exploited and politically pacified by the bipartisan embrace of Wall Street Economics, which is humanly as detrimental to the society as is the persisting bipartisan embrace of militarism. Unfortunately, the eight years of the Obama presidency, admirable in some ways, did little to challenge these two deadly pillars of the bipartisan consensus that emerged after 1945.

 

I seize the moment to praise Bernie Sanders’ speech at George Washington University calling for the establishment of a new Economic Bill of Rights with six levels of promised specific action under his chosen rubric of ‘democratic socialism.’ As Sanders rightly shows, there is a practice that goes back a century demonizing all steps forward on behalf of the American people as ‘socialism,’ which was used to block FDR’s New Deal reforms during the Great Depression. Sanders invokes the New Deal and the legacy of FDR to insist that this is the most authentic and progressive form of American political leadership, and its absence from recent governance trends is what has alienated, enraged, confused, and disempowered many American citizens contributing to the. vulnerability that brought us Trump and Trumpism in the United States, and even elsewhere.

 

Nevertheless, on reflection, despite my liking and endorsement of Sanders’ central message, I am changing my rank ordering of preferential candidates. mainly by now singling out Elizabeth Warren as my first choice, at least for now. She is showing herself to be an improved campaigner, consistent in values and outlook, setting forth a rich offering of progressive programs in key areas of voter concerns. She also is someone that has demonstrated the ability to get things done while serving in the Senate. Warren comes across as a voice of intelligent, trustworthy, and compassionate concern that avoids any superfluous ideologizing of her political agenda.

 

In light of this hard choice, I relegate Sanders to my second tier of preferred candidates, and add to that group Pete Buttigeig, an oversight on my part in the earlier post. He deserves to be there, more or less for the same reasons as Obama deserved to become president in 2008. He is intelligent, informed, fluent, youthfully sympathetic, and has already taken brave steps toward the kind of leadership America needs by presenting himself as a gay man happily married to another gay man. My revised second tier list now is Sanders, Buttigeig, O’Rourke, Harris, Gabbard, Bennet, and Inslee, with still a few days left for Sherrod Brown to enter the fray. This strikes me as a good list of viable candidates, although I expect the further stages of the campaign to select a nominee will highlight individual strengths and weaknesses not presently apparent. This will undoubtedly alter these rankings in both directions.

 

My other change of heart since the earlier post, is to worry less that Biden will somehow maintain his frontrunner status. Having observed Bidenin action, I have become more confident that he will self-destruct, or at least remove himself from the running. I share the view that the Biden of today, having suffered personal losses that enlarge moral sensibilities and having been pushed to reconsider some of his past policies, and even behavior, is a wiser, more humane person than the opportunistic politico of past years, and yet that does not make him qualified to be president of this complex country at its most perilous time since the American Civil War, maybe even more perilous because of the global setting.

 

In light of these considerations, I am reposting my earlier blog with a new title more responsive to the central issue. I have not done this before, but I think the issues are of sufficient importance to make an exception. I also underscore my rejection of the view that because there are serious concerns about the underpinnings of the Democratic Party, the outcome of the 2020 election is inconsequential, making it a waste of time even to vote. I believe electing a Democrat, anyone on the list, including unlisted third tier candidates would be a dramatic step in the right direction—on economic and social policy, climate change, appointment of Federal judges, women’s rights, public debate and relations with foreign governments.

 

 

We should not at this critical juncture give up on democracy even in the face of its seriously deficient functioning. As Europeans found out in the 1930s, fascism is far worse! Such a view does not invalidate the imperative need for radical restorative reforms if we want to make democracy a progressive reality with respect to the 21stCentury array of challenges, especially the blending of the economic and ecological spheres in sustainable and equitable local, national, regional, and global linkages. Let’s become aware that sustainability with justice is unsustainable.In my view the best way to move down this benevolent path at the moment is to nominate, and then elect, Elizabeth Warren as the next American president.]

 

 

Choosing a  Presidential Candidate: Elizabeth Warren for President!

 

I have had several recent conversations with friends about the 2020 election who preface their assessment with this liberal sentiment—‘I am in favor of whoever has the best chance of beating Trump.’ I respond meekly with a question, guessing in advance their likely response. My words: ‘Where does that lead you?’ and my guess is depressingly accurate. His or her words: ‘I think that Joe Biden is the only one who can beat Trump.’  Or in more pessimistic responses: ‘Biden has the best chance of winning.’

 

I feel depressed with this assessment, or at odds with it, for two reasons: first, I doubt that Biden is a stronger candidate than was Hillary Clinton in 2016, although he might do a bit better with disaffected Midwestern workers and older voters, but likely worse with others. My other reason for being a Biden doubter is more substantive. How can I in good faith and with any enthusiasm support a candidate with such an awful record when it comes to women’s rights, racism, Wall Street, and American militarism (including even support for the Iraq War in 2003). Although Biden has been tacking left and apologizing for some of this past in the last few weeks, one has to wonder what sort of national leader he would be other than not-Trump, to which I would ask, ‘have our expectations fallen this low?’

 

Already, happily, Biden’s frontrunner status is beginning to erode rapid. Name recognition is good to get a veteran politician out of the gate, but as the race itself commences, substance and political magnetism matter more and more. The Trump taunt ‘Sleepy Joe’ may be unkind or even unfair, but it catches something unnerving about the persona Biden projects. I do not envy Biden the challenge of debating Trump should he gain the nomination, and I would be surprised if he were successful. Trump has greater clarity in his delivery, and more punch and style in his swing. If I were a cagey Republican strategist I would do all in my power to exhibit fear of a Biden candidacy precisely because he would likely be a pushover.

 

There is something else about a Biden candidacy that will surely alienate the folks backing Sanders, and likely some of the others among the more progressive candidates. Selecting Biden would represent the DNC and the Democratic Party Establishment as again lining up behind a candidate that is an organization man rather than a political leader with progressive passions and consistent views. Biden, whether reasonably or not, will be perceived by the body politic as Clinton redux. Isn’t it time to let the American people decide, and not the donors with the deepest pockets or the bipartisan congeries of special interests? A Biden presidency would waste no time restoring the Cold War bipartisan consensus, which will probably mean confrontational geopolitics with Russia and China, as well as threatened and actual interventions in the Middle East.

 

In this sense, should we not be patient, allowing the candidates to achieve a rank ordering on the basis of their performance on the hustings? It is difficult to get a sufficient read on the whole field, but a few stand out in my mind, sufficiently for me to believe they could deal effectively with Trump and yet not be disillusioning to people like myself. I think mostly favorably of Sanders, Warren, O’Rourke, Bennet, Inslee, Gabbard, and maybe even Harris.

 

I do not dissent from the view that Democrats are much more likely to prevail in the elections If they find a unifying candidate. At present, despite the large field none of those seeking the nomination, including Biden, or Sanders or Warren for that matter, seems a credible unifier. For this reason, it may still yet be beneficial for Sherrod Brown to come in from the cold, reconsidering his decision not to run. I feel that Brown by his record and his outlook to have the potential to be that much needed unifier with the added bonus of coming from Ohio, a state that could quite possibly decide who will be the next president of this now troubled country.

 

I personally prefer Warren or Sanders because of their integrity and programs, but I recognize for a variety of reasons neither will be an anti-Trump unifier due to ideological reasons. Many rich and elite Democrats reject candidates who are strident in their attacks on Wall Street, inequality, free trade, and militarism, and seek the bromide of a Biden type candidate. Just because such an approach failed in 2016 is no reason for such folks, so it seems, not to try again. I felt this sentiment as informing the pro-Biden advocacy of some of my friends that I mentioned above, feelings disguised a bit by claiming that Biden had the best chance of dislodging Trump.

 

For now, I support Sanders and Warren, not as a joint ticket, but as alternatives for the top spot. Despite my deep disillusionment with the behavior of American democracy in this period, as evidenced by the

inexplicable loyalty of the Trump base or the implacable failure to protect our citizenry by the kind of gun control that exists in other comparable societies or the refusal of the Democratic leadership in Congress to begin impeachment proceedings or a hundred other causes of my discontent, I still feel that such principled candidates not only offer a brighter future for the society but that they would be probable winners. This forthcoming electoral struggle is almost certain to dominate the American political imagination in the year ahead, and determine whether as a nation we recover hope or flounder in despair.

 

And should these preferred candidates fall by the wayside, then I would place a long odds desperate bet on a resurrected Sherrod Brown, but this will not even be an option if the man offstage waits much longer before stepping forth.

 

If we do end up with Biden as Trump’s opponent, what then? I think we

should defer such an unpleasant conversation until the reality is upon us, which I am optimistic enough to believe will be never.  

 

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12 Responses to “Choosing a Candidate: Elizabeth Warren for President!”

  1. Artie Alfreds June 14, 2019 at 8:18 am #

    Warren is a hawk who supported Hillary the Hawk

  2. jamesbradfordpate June 14, 2019 at 8:25 am #

    Reblogged this on James' Ramblings and commented:
    Richard Falk’s perspective:

  3. Paul Wapner June 14, 2019 at 12:17 pm #

    I’m in the same place. I think Warren has the backbone, vision, and political skills to excel as a candidate and president. A month or so ago, the NYT published a critical piece suggesting that Warren’ scholarship was shoddy. By the end of the article, it was clear this wasn’t the case. She is bright, has a deep sensitivity to injustice and poverty, and an impressive track record of scholarship and public engagement. People are scared of Warren’s progressive orientation (and, I’m sure, many are sufficiently sexist to doubt her capabilities). That’s the rub. But, if she receives the nomination, she would be as competitive as anyone in taking on Trump. I would love to see her debate Trump.

    Can we push the DNC to stop picking its ‘likely’ candidate and creating the conditions for that person’s nomination? I don’t understand the DNC but what happened to Bernie in the last election was shameful, bordering on criminal. Widespread, early, public support for Warren may be the only way to push the DNC and the Democratic establishment.

    If I have one worry about Warren it is that she is TOO good. She has so many (strong) policy plans that I fear her candidacy might be seen as a smorgasbord of progressive issues. Having a plan for everything is, ironically (in my view), not what wins support. Rather, I wish she would focus a few key issues and make them her flagship efforts.

    Appreciate your ability to remain open and call things as you see them at the moment. The pencil (with an erasure) is more powerful than the pen. (And the pen is more powerful than the sword.)

    • Richard Falk June 15, 2019 at 6:07 am #

      We are in total agreement, which should signify that the path to unity
      for the Democratic Party is not as full of potholes as it seemed to be
      a few weeks earlier. And may again become unless Biden fulfills my prediction
      of self-destruction. If I were Trump, something of a stretch (I hope), I would
      relish the prospect of Biden as the 2020 opponent.

      I liked your Enlightenment flourish at the end. You must be forgetting that pens are
      almost obsolete in the age where we find ourselves via Instagram and find others via
      Tinder.

      Warm greetings from both of us on train en route to London from Bristol,

      Richard

  4. Don E. Scheid June 14, 2019 at 2:55 pm #

    June 14, 2019
    Hi Richard,
    Sorry, but I’m for Amy Klobuchar who is from Minnesota, where I live. She is more centrist, grounded and practical than O’Rouke, Gabbard, and some the others.
    Sanders is correct in his diagnosis about the inequities and political distortions in this country; but I fear that “Sanders the socialist” may not be able to win against Trump with his backing from the robber barons.
    Buttigeig is a bright young guy who should definitely stay in political life; he will be able to make significant contributions in the future, I believe. But he has never been a governor nor even a member of Congress; he needs to get more experience under his belt first.
    If Klobuchar is not the presidential nominee, then she should be on the ticket as Vice President.
    Cheers,
    Don E. Scheid

    • Richard Falk June 14, 2019 at 11:21 pm #

      Hi Don:

      It is a good sign to support this closest at hand..and it leads
      me to look again at Amy Klobuchar with fresh eyes.

      With greetings,

      Richard

  5. Beau Oolayforos June 14, 2019 at 3:51 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    In the italicized passage, I’m pretty sure you mean ‘without’. The debates will be interesting. The opportunity is there to show the American people an open workshop in democracy, when various points of view are presented and explored. This will be in addition to the civics lesson we get from the ongoing impeachment process. As Shakespeare says, let us “…speak the truth, and shame the devil”(s)

  6. Beau Oolayforos June 17, 2019 at 9:09 am #

    You have some good things to say about Mayor Pete, and the internet’s full of rumors, but…I wish I hadn’t read him saying he would keep the US embassy in Jerusalem, because…”What’s done is done..”, says Mayor Pete, supposedly. And if this means that similar wrongs would go unredressed because What The Donald Has Established, Let No Person Put Asunder, well, that’s a disqualifier.

    • Richard Falk June 18, 2019 at 1:13 am #

      Of course, I agree, and lament the readiness of ambitious American political figures, otherwise with promising progressive credentials, to kneel submissively while blinding themselves to Israeli criminality and unendurably prolonged Palestinian suffering.

      • Beau Oolayforos June 18, 2019 at 11:45 am #

        Hate to say it, but follow the money.

    • Mike 71 June 25, 2019 at 1:32 am #

      Before approving the U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, legislation enacted 25 years prior was waived by U.S. Presidents every six months, to allow the parties to negotiate a shared capital in the city. In yet another “missed opportunity,” Palestinians never engaged in those negotiations. Mayor Pete is right, “Whats done is done.” If you had done your research, you would know that Senator Elizabeth Warren also shares that position. To quote actor/comedian Jim Carrey, “He who hesitates, masturbates.” Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state, including the yet to be created Palestinian state, and will never be.

  7. Kata Fisher June 18, 2019 at 10:17 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    I recently came back from Europe, refreshed by folks in human conscience. Here – It is like among bewitched Galatians. Here, in the US – It is like among bewitched Galatians. Azusa street disorders are still going on, and its like a cage of the Babylonia. The air is thick, as thick as the skin of the crocodile.

    Also, Fr. Carlo Maria Vigano has been out of hiding – gave some interviews. These come good now, and almost in perfect timing for Americans – or American Church who can come to the clear conscience. I do not recognize his removal as Noncio to US actually valid.

    I do see why Pope did feel compelled to pull one of the legit nuncio out of Babylonia. its tough to shut someone up, or make them ineffective – if they cant be kept close by and out of their purpose. Pope has taken joke upon himself for all that he has done against Fr. Vigano.

    its kind of like Israel-America relationship in Palestine – while they are overlooking human condition under Nazism and Swastika. They will wish that their Grand, Grand Grannies where on Antipsychotics because contemporarily future is just wicked woes, and just bad. Who so ever has created it. Its worse to them then the “Trinity test”- the wicked woes that are contemporarily.

    Everything is just accursed and it is withering like that accursed fig tree that is written about – and by the nature of curse (which is miracle to humanity) can not be restored – that fig-tree was demand (and not just for a season).

    With that, God with us gives us miracles – while the wicked (by their nature) only create the woes for themselves and attempt to give their curse to another – so they gravely end up in their pits.

    Folks that they cant strait out themselves individually and nationally – in madness of their conscience,

    confuse the curse and the miracles. So, what is wicked woes? I do not think, I should say anything about that.

    K.F.

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