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“Fear Of A Female Administration? We’ll See”: Who Second-Guesses A Ticket With Two Men?

Is America ready for a two-woman presidential ticket?

It certainly seems the Clinton campaign is considering the question. Hillary Clinton has made a high profile public appearance recently with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They clicked so well that the Washington Post called them the “it” couple of Democratic politics.

At a rally in Ohio, Sen. Warren spoke with her customary sassy brilliance as Clinton looked on warmly. Warren for weeks has taken to Twitter to aim her quick wit and sharp invective at the presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump. She showed she can play the role of the mean girl against the bully. She goaded Trump for his “goofy” hat, his simplistic sloganeering and his elite birth. Women cheered at the display of saucy sisterhood.

The public display of friendship seems to be a trial balloon, and many wondered when it would be burst by the pinprick of reality.

Two women? Could voters possibly be progressive enough to support such an estrogen-heavy ticket?

Some turned the question around: Who second-guesses a ticket with two men? Nobody, because we’ve been doing it that way for centuries.

True. But sexism is a fact of American politics. It will be front and center with Trump in the presidential race. The man cannot shape-shift into a gentleman no matter how much the GOP establishment works to improve him.

The unsettling reality is that Donald Trump can get elected to the White House by being a jerk. Hillary Clinton cannot.

Voters need to like female candidates more than they do male candidates. They can dislike a man running for office and still regard him as qualified and electable.

Likeability is not a litmus test for men. It tends to be for women, according to research by Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster. And many people, even Democratic-leaning women, do not like Clinton all that much.

Another finding is that voters seldom think that woman candidate wins a debate with a male opponent. That might have something to do with assumptions about presentation — how a man can be viewed as tough and strong, whereas a woman with similar posturing will be viewed in a negative light. A man is still the model for what people view as a politician. Both genders tend to be more questioning of the qualifications of female candidates.

The 2016 presidential race exemplifies this. The idea that a virtual political nobody like Trump can be held on the same plane as a person like Clinton, with a long and distinguished record of public service, is offensive.

These are the unfair headwinds Hillary Clinton has to face.

Yet there are promising signs for her. Eighty percent of unmarried women support Clinton, according to polls, and she has a substantial lead among women voters generally. In fact, 2016 will be the first time that a majority of vote-eligible women are projected to be unmarried. Those numbers could easily turn the election in all states, according to Celinda Lake.

But alas, polling can only predict so much. Lake emphasizes that demography is not destiny. Voters have to turn out.

To some extent, this campaign can be about challenging sexism. But it would be foolish to underestimate the extent to which such bias persists and will motivate voters.

The same goes even if Clinton wins the White House. Women and girls will not suddenly be viewed as equals and treated with respect any more than African-Americans felt racial bias and discrimination lift from their lives with the election of Barack Obama. In fact, racism became in many ways more overt after Obama was inaugurated. One need only consider the widespread belief among white Republicans that Obama has divided the nation racially. (No, his presence in the White House just held the mirror up to America.)

Sexism will be similar for Clinton. It’s dying, slowly. Women are certainly far better off in work and home life than they were decades ago. But gender bias affects women and girls every minute of the day — in subtle digs, unrecognized effects of long-held beliefs as well as blatant verbal attacks. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it is America, 2016. And it will impact the election.

Lake has another prediction: When the big money gets out and civility returns to American politics, you’ll see more women running for office. And more women candidates may also bring out more women voters.

The problem is that we are not there yet. We live in a time when Donald Trump can be seriously considered as a candidate to lead the greatest nation on Earth. We clearly have work to do.

 

By:Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, July 2, 2016

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Women in Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I Can Feel Your Excitement Already”: Sorry, Liberals. Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Going To Be Hillary Clinton’s Running Mate

As speculation on whom the presidential nominees will select as their running mates gets louder, almost inevitably eyes are turning to Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Joe Biden apparently wanted her to be his vice presidential candidate if he ran for president this year. She’s gleefully turning herself into a thorn in Donald Trump’s side. And as Sam Stein and Ryan Grim report, people within Hillary Clinton’s campaign are pushing her to select Warren as her running mate.

My dear liberal friends, I can feel your excitement already. But while Warren will be a great anti-Trump surrogate for Clinton — maybe the best Clinton will have — she’s not going to be on the ticket. Sorry to deliver the bad news.

There are a few reasons for this. The first is that Clinton and Warren aren’t close or even particularly friendly, and personal rapport is a key part of an effective working relationship between the president and vice president, as Clinton surely understands. Warren would come to the office with her own agenda on economic affairs — an agenda more aggressively liberal than Clinton’s, particularly when it comes to how the government should deal with Wall Street. Warren would also bring her own constituency, which could make her an unwanted headache for Clinton, who like all presidents would want a vice president who has no goal other than advancing the president’s goals.

Second, picking Warren would make for a historic all-female ticket, and that could be a risk. To be clear, it’s ludicrous that there should be something troubling to anyone about having two women running together. After all, we’ve had over a hundred all-male tickets in our history, and only two with one man and one woman. But there could well be some number of voters — how many is difficult to tell — who would vote for Clinton with a male running mate, but would find Clinton with a female running mate just too much to handle. It’s sexist, but Clinton is going to need the votes of people who have some sexism somewhere in their hearts, just like Barack Obama needed the votes of people with some racism somewhere in their hearts.

And Hillary Clinton is nothing if not a risk-averse politician. She’s been blessed with Donald Trump as an opponent, and she isn’t going to take any big chances between now and November that might complicate things.

Third, and probably most important, right now the governor of Massachusetts is a Republican, Charlie Baker. That means that if Warren stepped down to become vice president, Baker would appoint a temporary successor for her Senate seat. In other years this might have been a relatively minor consideration, but in 2016 it’s absolutely central to the fate of Clinton’s presidency.

Right now Republicans have a 54-46 advantage in the Senate, but they’re defending many more seats up for reelection. Seats in Democratic-leaning states like Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire may well turn to the Democrats, but it’s likely to be very close. It’s entirely possible that we could have a Senate that’s 51-49 for the Democrats, or even 50-50. One vote could make the difference between Clinton getting her nominees confirmed and having some chance at legislation passing (depending on what happens with the filibuster and the House), or finding herself utterly paralyzed by Congress. Giving up a seat for the sake of a compelling running mate is an enormous risk, one Clinton would be foolish to take. Which, by the way, also rules out a number of other potential vice presidential candidates, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

And though Warren won’t rule out accepting a spot on the ticket if it’s offered, there are good reasons why she would view the vice presidency as a step down. It won’t be a springboard to a presidential campaign, since Warren turns 67 next month, and if Clinton were to win and then run for reelection in 2020, the next chance Warren would have would be in 2024, when she’ll be 75 and probably too old for a bid. Warren has built her career on policy entrepreneurship (the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was her idea, and she has advocated for initiatives like postal banking), but as vice president she’d have to just sell whatever President Clinton wanted to do. If she stays in the Senate, she can keep using her office as a platform to advocate on the issues that are important to her, and she can probably keep her seat for the rest of her life if she wants to.

The good news for Warren’s fans is that it looks like she’ll still have an important role to play in the general election. She has turned her Twitter feed into an unceasing string of criticisms of Donald Trump, and not too surprisingly, it has gotten under his skin (Trump obviously finds it deeply unsettling when a woman stands up to him). He has countered by dubbing her “Goofy Elizabeth Warren,” which is not exactly the most stinging moniker he has come up with.

Warren’s popularity on the left means she could play a key role in convincing Bernie Sanders’ supporters to get behind Clinton, and the plainspoken charisma that made her a star in the first place will also make her a sought-after surrogate for Clinton in the media. All of which means that once the election is over, she’ll return to the Senate in an even stronger position than she was in before. Don’t be surprised if Warren — to an even greater degree than Sanders — becomes the clear leader of the party’s liberal base as it grapples with a Democratic president with centrist impulses. That could make her even more important than if she had been vice president.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, May 13, 2016

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Election 2016, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“White Progressives’ Racial Myopia”: Why Their Colorblindness Fails Minorities — And The Left

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the lifelong crusader for economic justice now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, has serious civil rights movement cred: he attended the historic 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a quarter million people changed the country’s course when it came to race. It would be wrong and unfair to accuse him of indifference to issues of racial equality.

But in the wake of his picture-postcard campaign launch, from the shores of Vermont’s lovely Lake Champlain, Sanders has faced questions about whether his approach to race has kept up with the times. Writing in Vox, Dara Lind suggested that Sanders’ passion for economic justice issues has left him less attentive to the rising movement for racial justice, which holds that racial disadvantage won’t be eradicated only by efforts at economic equality. Covering the Sanders launch appreciatively on MSNBC, Chris Hayes likewise noted the lack of attention to issues of police violence and mass incarceration in the Vermont senator’s stirring kick-off speech.

These are the same questions I raised last month after watching Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hail the new progressive movement to combat income inequality at two Washington D.C. events. Both pointed to rising popular movements to demand economic justice, most notably the “Fight for $15” campaign. Neither mentioned the most vital and arguably most important movement of all, the “Black Lives Matter” crusade. (Which is odd, since “Fight for $15″ leaders have explicitly endorsed their sister movement.) And the agendas they endorsed that day made only minimal mention, if they mentioned it at all, of the role that mass incarceration and police abuse plays in worsening the plight of the African American poor.

Looking at the overwhelmingly white Bernie Sanders event last week, I saw it again: the rhetoric and stagecraft employed by white progressives whom I admire too often –inadvertently, I think — leaves out people who aren’t white. Of course, Sanders’ home state of Vermont is 96 percent white, so his kickoff crowd predictably reflected that. But his rhetoric could have told a more inclusive story.

So could Elizabeth Warren’s. I love her stirring stories about her upbringing: the days when her mother’s minimum wage job could support a family, when unions built the American middle class, and when Warren herself could attend a public university for almost nothing. Like a lot of white progressives, she points to the post World War II era as a kind of golden age when income inequality flattened and opportunity spread, the result of progressive action by government. I’ve written about the political lessons of that era repeatedly myself.

But the golden age wasn’t golden for people who weren’t white. Yes, African American incomes rose and unemployment declined in those years. But black people were locked out of many of the wealth-generating opportunities of the era: blocked from suburbs with restricted covenants and redlined into neighborhoods where banks wouldn’t lend; left out by the GI Bill, which didn’t prevent racial discrimination; neglected by labor unions, which discriminated against or outright blocked black members. (That’s why I gave my book, “What’s the Matter with White People?”, the subtitle “Why We Long for a Golden Age that Never Was.”)

Conservatives look back at those post-World War II years as a magical time when men were men, women raised children, LGBT folks didn’t exist or stayed closeted, and the country was white. Progressives point to the government support that created that alleged golden age, but they too often make it sound rosier than it was for people who weren’t white. In fact some of those same policies of the 1950s helped create the stunning disparities between black and white family wealth, which leaves even highly paid and highly educated African Americans more vulnerable to sliding out of the middle class.

All of this leaves white progressives vulnerable to charges that they don’t understand the political world they live in today.  “I love Elizabeth, but those stories about the ‘50s drive me crazy,” one black progressive told me after a recent Warren event.

Dara Lind points to Sanders’ socialist analysis as a reason he’s reluctant to focus on issues of race: he thinks they’re mainly issues of class. She samples colleague Andrew Prokop’s Sanders profile, which found:

Even as a student at the University of Chicago in the 1960s, influenced by the hours he spent in the library stacks reading famous philosophers, (Sanders) became frustrated with his fellow student activists, who were more interested in race or imperialism than the class struggle. They couldn’t see that everything they protested, he later said, was rooted in “an economic system in which the rich controls, to a large degree, the political and economic life of the country.”

Increasingly, though, black and other scholars are showing us that racial disadvantage won’t be undone without paying attention to, and talking about, race. The experience of black poverty is different in some ways than that of white poverty; it’s more likely to be intergenerational, for one thing, as well as being the result of discriminatory public and private policies.

Ironically, our first black president has exhausted the patience of many African Americans with promises that a rising economic justice tide will lift their boats. President Obama himself has rejected race-specific solutions to the problems of black poverty, arguing that policies like universal preschool, a higher minimum wage, stronger family supports and infrastructure investment, along with the Affordable Care Act, all disproportionately help black people, since black people are disproportionately poor.

At the Progressive Agenda event last month, I heard activists complain that they’d been told the same thing: the agenda will disproportionately benefit black people, because they’re disproportionately disadvantaged, even if it didn’t specifically address the core issue of criminal justice reform. (De Blasio later promised the agenda would include that issue.) But six years of hearing that from a black president has exhausted people’s patience, and white progressives aren’t going to be able to get away with it anymore.

Hillary Clinton could be the unlikely beneficiary of white progressives’ stumbles on race. The woman who herself stumbled facing Barack Obama in 2008 seems to have learned from her political mistakes.  She’s taken stands on mass incarceration and immigration reform that put her nominally to the left of de Blasio’s Progressive Agenda on those issues, as well as the president’s. Clinton proves that these racial blind spots can be corrected. And American politics today requires that they be corrected: no Democrat can win the presidency without consolidating the Obama coalition, particularly the African American vote.

In fact, African American women are to the Democrats what white evangelical men are to Republicans: the most devoted, reliable segment of the party base. But where all the GOP contenders pander to their base, Democrats often don’t even acknowledge theirs. Clinton seems determined to do things differently, the second time around. The hiring of senior policy advisor Maya Harris as well as former Congressional Black Caucus director LaDavia Drane signal the centrality of black female voters to the campaign. In a briefing with reporters Thursday in Brooklyn, senior Clinton campaign officials said their polling shows she’s doing very well with the Obama coalition, despite her 2008 struggles – but she’s taking nothing for granted.

Pointing to Warren and Sanders’s shortcomings when it comes to racial politics doesn’t mean they’re evil, or they can’t learn to see things with a different frame. But they’re going to have to, or they’ll find that the populist energy that’s eclipsing Democratic Party centrists will be dissipated by racial tension no one can afford.

 

By: Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, May 31, 2015

June 4, 2015 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Something Liberals Should Remember”: Obama Is Right: Elizabeth Warren Is “A Politician Like Everybody Else”

On Friday, President Barack Obama sat down with Yahoo’s Matt Bai to promote the Trans Pacific Partnership and delivered his sharpest rebuke yet to Senator Elizabeth Warren and other liberals who oppose the trade deal.

“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” he said in the interview, which was published Saturday. “And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”

Bai correctly interpreted these comments as some of the harshest words the president has used against his liberal allies. But, at the same time, they are rather innocuous: Warren is a politician and is susceptible to outside pressure like anyone else. Liberals should remember that.

When Warren speaks about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she often references a battle over a financial regulatory bill in the late 1990s and early 2000s. A law professor at the time, Warren strongly opposed the bill. But the economic team in President Bill Clinton’s White House was divided on it. Warren met with Hillary Clinton, then the first lady, and convinced her to oppose the bill as well. Hillary then convinced her husband not to sign the legislation at the end of his presidency.

Yet just a few months later, Clinton, as a senator from New York, the financial capital of the world, reversed her position. The bill passed and President George W. Bush signed it. “There were a lot of people who voted for that bill who thought that there was going to be no political price to pay,” Warren told The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza recently. Warren wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

The fact that Hillary, the first lady, and Hillary, the New York senator, had opposite opinions of the bill shouldn’t have surprised Warren that much. As first lady, Hillary had no constituents to worry about. But as a senator, Hillary suddenly had millions of constituents with jobs either directly or indirectly connected to the financial industry. It would be great if she—and all politicians for that matter—always voted on principle and were immune from lobbying pressure. But that isn’t the case.

That’s true for Warren as well. The medical device industry is one of the most important industries in Massachusetts, and Warren has gone to bat for the industry multiple times. For instance, she is one of the few Democrats that supports the repeal of the medical device tax, which is part of Obamacare. In February, she introduced a bill to require pharmaceutical companies that pay a penalty and break the law to reinvest a percentage of that penalty into the National Institute of Health. But it has a loophole: Medical device manufacturers are exempt from the requirement unless they make drugs as well.

If liberals want to see a politician who always votes with his conscience, they need to look no further than Hillary’s one current challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. When Sanders announced his presidential run, Matt Taibbi, writing at Rolling Stone, explained:

Sanders genuinely, sincerely, does not care about optics. He is the rarest of Washington animals, a completely honest person. If he’s motivated by anything other than a desire to use his influence to protect people who can’t protect themselves, I’ve never seen it. Bernie Sanders is the kind of person who goes to bed at night thinking about how to increase the heating-oil aid program for the poor.

When Sanders sat down with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, the host noted that he “can hear the Republican attack ad right now: He wants America to look more like Scandinavia.” To which Sanders responded, “That’s right. That’s right. What’s wrong with that?” That is a politician who doesn’t care about his image.

It’s just about impossible to imagine Warren answering a question that way. She and her staff closely guard her image. For instance, she is notorious for not speaking to reporters in the U.S. Capitol, unlike most of her colleagues. It’s very rare that she strays off message.

That doesn’t mean that her votes and policy positions aren’t principled most of the time. I have no reason to believe that she is opposing the trade deal for political reasons. I think she and the president simply disagree on the issue. But as liberals criticize the TPP as a sop to big business and the U.S. Trade Representative for its corporate ties—both of which may be true—it’s worth remembering that Warren herself is not immune to pressure.

 

By: Danny Vinik, Staff Writer, The New Republic, May 11, 2015

May 12, 2015 Posted by | Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton, Trans Pacific Partnership | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“A Study In Contrasts”: Take A Moment To Think About How It Is We Chose People To Be Our Political Heroes

I’m about to write something that will likely get me in hot water with a lot of my progressive friends. But in the end, if I make you pause to think, it will be worth it.

What I want to do is contrast the records of two fairly new Democratic Senators: Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. Senator Warren has 10 months of seniority on Senator Booker – but they both began their terms in 2013. Other than that, their names are rarely mentioned together.

As we’ve seen, Senator Warren has become the hero of progressives, while Senator Booker became persona non grata when he criticized Democrats and the Obama campaign for going after Romney over his connections to Bain Capital just prior to the 2012 election.

It’s interesting to note what these two have achieved in their short history in the Senate. On Warren’s web site, you can see what bills she has sponsored. There is one of note having to do with student loan refinancing. The other three appear to be symbolic in nature. Looking a bit deeper, we can see who Warren has recruited to be cosponsors on the bill related to student loans. The list is long…all Democrats. On the other issue Senator Warren is known for – going after Wall Street – she sponsored the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act of 2013,” which was never voted out of committee and has not been re-inroduced.

Booker has made criminal justice reform his signature issue. On that front, he has cosponsored legislation called the REDEEM Act and the Smarter Sentencing Act. The former takes six steps to help those coming out of the criminal justice system be more successful in their attempts to re-intigrate back into society. The latter gives judges more leeway to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences.

Other than tackling different issues (all of which are important to progressives) the other big difference is that Booker is cosponsoring the REDEEM act with Republican Senator Rand Paul. The list of cosponsors on the Smarter Sentencing Act is nothing short of mind-blowing: Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Dick Durban (D-IL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

I know that many names in that group are odious to progressives. But the question is this: Who do you think is more likely to get their sponsored legislation passed in this Congress, Senator Warren or Senator Booker?

I point all this out because I’d like progressives to take a moment to think about how it is that we chose people to be our political heroes. Are they more likely to be those who master the bully pulpit to speak out strongly against our opponents? Or are they those who do the dirty job of building coalitions with people on the other side in the hopes of making life better for Americans? Does it need to be either/or?

When it comes to the political icon whose seat Elizabeth Warren now inhabits in the Senate, I think I know what he would say.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 26, 2015

April 28, 2015 Posted by | Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Progressives | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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