, , ,

Progressive Heartbreak: Where is Warren?

When I was a child there was a particular athlete whom I looked up to, a ‘hero’ I suppose in my childish mind. One day it was announced that this athlete would be appearing in my town. My father and I traveled to the venue early and stood outside in the cold hoping that we might see my man. Sure enough, about an hour before the event, a limo pulled up and out he stepped. I approached him nervously, a pen and paper in my shaking hands, and asked for his autograph. He stared down at me as he strode past from what seemed like 100 feet above and replied, “I’ll get you next time kid”.


Yesterday, I watched with disgust while Bill Clinton stood at a Massachusetts campaign rally and thundered his support for his wife through a bullhorn. Of course, the problem was that he was not at a campaign rally at all, but rather a Super Tuesday polling station. As this self-styled monarch preached, the crowd, or perhaps peasants is a more appropriate word in Bill Clinton’s world, stood wedged behind barricades and beefy looking security waiting to exercise their democratic rights for upwards of three hours. To watch a man break the law (campaigning within 150 feet of a polling station is illegal in Massachusetts) in the light of day and on camera and understand that he knows he is going to get away with it is relatively grotesque. I admit that watching caused anger and disappointment to percolate inside of me. What was strange however is that much of this internal strife did not revolve around Bill Clinton at all. By this point in the campaign, another establishment ‘kitchen sink’ bombardment was neither intimidating nor unexpected. Rather as I watched one thought continued to replay over and over in my mind – Where the #%@$ is Elizabeth Warren?

When I was a young man there were few modern figures who had a greater influence on the development of my political identification as a progressive than Elizabeth Warren. From the moment in 2004 when I saw her verbally rip Hillary Clinton to shreds for being influenced by campaign donors, something even my youthful brain perceived as an overarching problem in a professed ‘democracy’, I was hooked. Her 2009 appearance in Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story was for me more like ‘Elizabeth Warren: A Love Story’.

(On the 2008 financial crash) “You lost how much money? You lost how many pensions? You wiped out how many jobs? I want to know who did what! I want to hold somebody responsible!”

 “I grew up poor in Oklahoma and I’ve got a family who really worked hard, they played by the rules, they did their best. The only reason I’m here in Washington is to try to let these people have a seat at the table. My job is to be here for the people who just don’t get a voice in this game. The rules have not been written for families. We have to rewrite the rules.”

This is how I imagine those who have been chosen to lead us speaking. Secretly I dreamed of the day when somebody like this would run seriously for President.

And then it happened.

When those who know me came to me and said ‘you have to hear this guy Bernie Sanders, you would LOVE him’ I treated it much in the same way as when they say ‘you have to meet this woman, you would LOVE her’ — cautious pessimism with an expectation for near immediate disappointment. But when the first line of the first clip of Bernie Sanders I watched was “the system is rigged” my jaw dropped so forcefully that I still have trouble chewing food. As I heard more and more of his message I realized that not only did Bernie personify my progressive value system almost comprehensively, but he was saying things which had been essentially non-existent at that level of politics. I am only slightly ashamed to admit that I quite literally started having dreams at night of a Sanders/Warren ticket. Every day I woke up and excitedly turned on my computer expecting to see shots of Bernie and Elizabeth standing side by side, fighting the oligarchy together. But despite Warren giving speeches which seemed to be an indictment of Hillary Clinton, the much longed-for endorsement never came.

In honesty, I understand the arguments as to why she has not endorsed Bernie.  As the leader of the so-called ‘progressive wing’ of the Democratic Party, she walks a fine line. With the horror of the Trans-Pacific Partnership recently becoming known and the job of regulating Wall Street nowhere near complete, I understand that Warren will need all of her political leverage in the Senate to lead the fights over these issues. To endorse a candidate who is “swimming against the tide of the entire party establishment”, as Maurice Cunningham so eloquently put it, especially when said candidate may lose, it would greatly impact any leverage she may have. I also understand that to oppose the mighty Clinton machine can, especially for a woman, result in a ‘special place in hell’ politically. Both Nina Turner and Tulsi Gabbard have been threatened with political ostracism for their support of Bernie Sanders.  It is also possible, I suppose, that Warren believes Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination is inevitable, and that by withholding her endorsement she can use it as an eventual bargaining chip in order to push Clinton towards her own agenda, though why anyone would believe a ‘President Hillary Clinton’ would keep the word of ‘candidate Hillary Clinton’ is beyond me.

Regardless of the political gymnastics taking place, the silence of Elizabeth Warren through a one point Bernie Sanders loss in her home state of Massachusetts on Super Tuesday has, for progressives, been heartbreaking. You see, progressives have for years been sort of the black sheep of the American political family. I have gotten used to being treated as some kind of amalgamation of an eccentric, a communist, and a conspiracy theorist. It is telling that the ideas of Bernie Sanders are so far removed from the spectrum of typical political thought that they are seen as ‘revolutionary’. But that is the thing. After years of scratching and clawing through something between obscurity and antagonism, we progressives are finally gaining some traction.  As tens of thousands spontaneously march in the streets for Bernie and his ideas there is a legitimate belief that we may very well be able to fundamentally alter the structure of what America has become.  And that is what makes Elizabeth Warren’s disappearance so dispiriting. Watching Bill Clinton stomp on the ‘peasants’ and flaunt his status as above the law only reminds me of just how difficult it will be to overthrow a tyranny and the necessity of all like-minded people pulling together. Whatever her reasoning, the arc of Elizabeth Warren’s career led her to a moment in which she had the opportunity to be bold, and she chose to play it safe. And for me, a ‘hero’ said, “I’ll get you next time kid”.

Written by Nigel Clarke

Writer and notorious vagabond. From the frozen north. Follow Nigel on Twitter @Nig_Clarke.

Nigel Clarke is a Writer for Progressive Army.


Leave a Reply
    • So, I take it that you’d be fine with Bernie Sanders strolling ahead of you at your polling location to literally shake the hands of poll administrators and kiss babies while you waited to vote, so long as he didn’t hand out fliers?

    • Nick Gauthier I didn’t say it was fair, but it’s not illegal. And yes i’d be more than happy to see Senator Sanders. I like the guy. I just don’t like him for president. I’d love to see him actually out in the crowd talking to folks one on one.

    • I think you’re missing the point, it’s not about being “out in the crowd” it’s about voter coercion. How would you feel if Mr. Sanders stood looking over your shoulder as you voted? According to your definition it’s not technically illegal.

    • i think the problem is how close he was to polling station when he was speaking. I have voted since 1984. I have never seen nor heard of a former president giving speeches outside of a polling station nor have I ever seen or heard of a former president entering numerous polling stations on election day in a state that he can;t vote in. If Bernie Sanders or Jane Sanders would have pulled this crap there would have been cries of foul from the DNC on down. Bill Clinton is a walking campaign material and his prescence had a chilling effect on democracy.

    • Julia Clement Genatossio I posted a link to the actual law. It is not illegal. He was not posting fliers, handing out Pro hillary materials or soliciting petition signatures. Which according to MA law is the illegal part and even if he WERE doing those things, according to law the only thing that would happen is he would get a “fine of no greater than 20 dollars”.

    • Michelle Salvatore Lorenz you’re still missing the point. How would you feel if Mr. Sanders stood looking over your shoulder as you voted, would that be acceptable?

      You are an intelligent person, I understand that you support your candidate and your natural inclination is to defend her, but please try to think critically about issues such as this.

      Take an objective look at the situation; put the shoe on the other foot. Would you not hold it against Mr. Sanders if he did the exact same thing, would you not be here calling him out for his unjust behavior?

      Yes there is the letter of the law, and there is also the spirit of the law (because no law can comprehensively cover every possible scenario), but outside of the technicalities, why do you choose to defend such undemocratic and unjust behavior? Is your view of the world limited to win by any means necessary, the ends justify the means? Isn’t this behavior indicative of how someone would choose to govern, and if so, then do you really think the Clinton family would look out for people like you if elected to office?

    • Michelle Salvatore Lorenz Whether it’s illegal or not there is still a thing called ethics that good politicians and leaders exercise. What Bill Clinton did was very unethical to say the least. To defend such an act is to approve and encourage it.

    • Michelle Salvatore Lorenz E-T-H-I-C-S They matter. The law, it matters. What he did is illegal. Sugar coat it all you want but according to the law you do not intimidate voters and meddle at the polls. I am a former poll worker and this would NEVER have been allowed. Not in a million years. IT WAS ILLEGAL ACTIVITY. Why on earth you want anyone to get away with perverting our democratic efforts, rather than making voting an easy going, straightforward activity all you want, but sister, you have a problem if you think there is anything okay with this sort of invasive, aggresive activity at a voting place. I suggest you ask yourself how you got here.And pronto.

    • Michelle Salvatore Lorenz Voting and Counting Procedures for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts clearly states:

      Within 150 feet of a polling place as defined in 950 CMR 53.03(18)(c), no person shall solicit votes for or against, or otherwise promote or oppose, any person or political party or position on a ballot question, to be voted on at the current election.

    • Kinga Locklear THAT is unbelievable to me. The barriers and a bullhorn where you vote? Honestly I almost can’t believe they got away with that. What if the Obamas had done that in 2008-oh wait, you must have to have white priviledge because seriously, there would be handcuffs on him if he was black.

    • Michelle Salvatore Lorenz If soliciting votes with a bullhorn a few feet from the line of people at a polling station, and posing for the cliché political photos with babies inside the station is not considered soliciting votes for or against.. then I don’t know what is. I am not intending to be rude, and I understand your wish to defend your candidate. But this is so objectively against the spirit of the law, and really, really is technically against the law, this is a classic case of oligarch power abuse. This kind of undermining our demoracy is one big reason why so many people are disenchanted and don’t show up to vote. It’s also a foreshadowing of things to come if they get into office, and it’s depressing. If such an honest, caring man with such a stellar policy platform, with no corporate interests to bown down to later, was not running – I would have stopped fighting the good fight in this rigged, uncivilized system.

    • Sometimes it’s time to stop defending the undefendable. Clintons had you fooled like many of us. I supported Hillary as recently as 2008. but no more. There is no shame in changing ccandidates when you learn more. You dont owe Clinotns any kind of loyalty. It’s a politicians trick.Think about hwat is best for you and your children. Hillary is unelectable. She lost the states that are important in general election. Her favorability numbers are in the negatve, no candidate EVER won with negative numbers and hers are like 10 times worse than everyone else.

    • Michelle Salvatore Lorenz It is illegal for him to solicit which is what he was doing while he address crowds as polling places with a mega-phone while the mayor asks the crowd to say ‘This is Clinton Country”.

    • Michelle Salvatore Lorenz According to the Election Day Legal Summary on Galvin’s website, certain activities on Election Day are prohibited within polling locations and within 150 feet of polling places, including the “solicitation of votes for or against, or any other form of promotion or opposition of, any person or political party.” Not sure what law you’re talking about but you should let the state know that they are wrong about their law. Not that they are going to do anything about it anyway. You are defending a man who blatantly broke the law and closed down polling stations for hours while he did it

    • They obviously dislike Bill Clinton so how does he in anyway affect your vote…you didn’t vote for her so you all sound Luke whiney 9 yo…but that’s not fair Mom, he always gets the …vote?

  1. That article expresses my sentiment exactly. Where are/were you Sen. Warren when Slick Willie was sh*tting all over your Mass. polling places? Huh? Your silence is deafening, and whatever your reasons, they are not clear to us who have revered and adored you, and would want you to become the real first woman President. But now? Hmmm. You’ve actually given me reason to doubt your own integrity.

  2. Her silence in being the only female Senator not to endorse Hillary is deafening, but I agree. If she’s holding back as for pragmatic & strategic reasons (thinking Clinton is more electable) I think she’s dead wrong in a major way & at a very serious & critical juncture. If it’s anything other than that, then it’s just a plain old mix of outright cowardice & misdirected party loyalty.

    I’m well to the Left of Sanders myself (thinking both Nader & Kucinich were farther Left & that Warren was a better potential candidate) & see him really as no more than a New Deal Democrat or maybe Social Democrat (in European perspective he’s Center-Right), but compared to what’s going on in this one-party oligarchy of ours he does appear as a real Democratic Socialist & potentially the most major reformer since FDR, if not maybe ever…and he’s always the farthest Left self-identified Leftist/Socialist to ever make this big an impact.

    The right enough guy at the dawning of the right time. The demographics are what they are & the DNC better be thinking long & hard are reasonable terms of surrender to the coming wave of history or prepare to swept aside by it. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

  3. Why are people pouting about Warren’s decision? most people don’t endorse now nor should she. Trump and Sanders supporters seem to have something in common, stubborn arm folding, life isn’t fair, teenage energy that is quite alarming to me. Sanders isn’t actually much different from Trump in his ability to make un-achievable promises that his supporters want to hear –and believe me I would love to have implemented all he promises, but he is like Santa Clause and has forgotten that he has to be able to make the changes once in–like forgetting that the parents are the ones who actually buy the gifts. So many others have promised the world and those people tend to be the ones who get the least done. He is already so polarized the issues that he is dead in the water and he hasn’t even dived into the pool. I am frankly not surprise the Warren hasn’t endorsed, but that people act like children who didn’t get a second piece of cake for desert is ridiculous!

    • She has been the face of Progressive ideals ever since she stood up to Corporations and didn’t just roll over, like so many others would have. Therefore, if she actually believes in a Progressive agenda, she should be helping the Progressive candidate in any way she can.

    • A little less ad hominem and a little more reading would do you and the world some good. Why not listen to what he has to say for himself and his plans instead of just repeating biased fearmongering criticism? He has a costed platform, which he never claimed would happen magically overnight. They are necessary things, but will take time and effort from many people coming together, to bring to fruition over the years. All he is proposing is to advance into the modern era with the rest of the developed world. If the USA really is so great, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be capable. He has never been dishonest about it, nor pretended that all we need is for him to be POTUS and POOF, all our problems magically disappear. No, he has said repeatedly (thought he media will not repeat it, or even show it once) that we need to change Congress as well, we need to come together and really evolve the political system. So much needs to happen. We could do with respecting his wisdom instead of putting words into his mouth out of fear, pride and defeatism.

  4. Bill and Hillary Clinton have made a career of illegal activity but remain Teflon, so far. If indictments are handed down, I wonder in the Justice department will have guts enough to act on them and most of all, will Obama have enough balls to push it?

  5. where is the LAW ? Bill Clinton broke the LAW ! every clinton vote from every polling site he visited should be disallowed , and he should possibly face jail time ! fining them is no good because they have to much money ! BTW , Hillary will lose much more than she gained by this action !

  6. You people are amazingly dense and you have made fools of yourself on her Facebook Page because you cannot help yourselves. If she was ever going to endorse him, she won’t now, because she has had a first hand taste of the crazy. Good luck. He is not going to win. He has almost already irredeemably lost.

    • I doubt she is quite the snob you believe her to be. This is her circus and we are her monkeys, she is just late to the dance…but she’ll be here. And no, he has not “almost already irredeemably lost”, sister, he is just getting started.

  7. It was a mere 20,000 votes that Bernie lost by. Warren could have made the difference. Warren is too powerful to be an outcast. My concern here is her courage and lack of boldness.

  8. You are an idiot. This is why we can’t have nice things. Seriously, are you a plant from the Trump campaign? Attacking Senator Warren at this stage sounds like the tactic of a complete collaborator. Shut up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Could Bernie Sanders Be Our First Write In President?

Progressive Heartbreak: Where is Warren?