Charlie Keohane, Contributing Writer
// As a wide-eyed young voter, I eagerly followed the Democratic debates. I marveled at the unprecedented array of diverse candidates with a variety of ages, experiences, and ethnicities. Now, months later, it’s essentially a two-man race, between two white men in their late 70s, for the Democratic nomination. Between Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, I can’t help but feel that America failed the most competent and vibrant candidate: Elizabeth Warren.
There’s never been a female President or even a female Vice President. But Warren, the first female Senator from Massachusetts, just as qualified (or even more so than some) than her competitors to be President.
She has humble Oklahoma roots and was a young mother who hustled through law school on the side. She was a successful professor for decades at institutions, including Harvard University, before becoming a Senator in 2012. One of her crowning achievements was the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which protects consumers in the financial sector. Fighting for the rights of everyday citizens has been an overriding theme of her career.
Warren came out with strong campaign messages- hoping to unite moderates and progressives and committing to big, structural changes that would root out corruption in Washington. In times of polarizing politics, I connected with Warren’s message as a uniter. She’s a progressive, but not a democratic socialist like Sanders, who hoped to rework capitalism to make the system fairer for everyone. I hoped that Democrats could’ve gotten behind her refreshing anti-corruption, let ‘s-make-America-work-for-the-middle-class agenda.
Watching other candidates shake and stumble through responses to debate questions, it became clear to me that Warren had unmatched sharpness. Warren’s feistiness shown brightly in debates, especially during her complete evisceration of billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s campaign. Anyone who didn’t like Bloomberg has Warren to thank.
Despite her fiery insults, she delivered substantive plans behind her progressive promises. Warren has many of the liberal ideas Sanders spews but has a successful history of pushing legislation through.
She also showed grace, like defending fellow female candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar when Mayor Pete Buttigieg called Klobuchar out for forgetting the Mexican President’s name. Warren didn’t need to jump in and stand by Klobuchar, but she did it anyway. I found that moment touching.
Unfortunately, as a woman, Warren was held to a higher standard than her male competitors. She constantly battled the elusive electability questions, which were glossy ways of hinting that America wasn’t ready for a female president. Female candidates, from Hillary Clinton to Kamala Harris to Warren, are consistently called out in the media for their supposed unlikeability.
Warren pointed out the fact that she couldn’t even acknowledge the role of sexism in the election, “If you say, yeah, there was sexism in this race, everyone says, whiner. And if you say, no, there was no sexism, about a bazillion women, think, what planet do you live on?”
Undoubtedly, her campaign wasn’t perfect. She took hits over her ancestry early in the campaign. Warren’s wishy-washy stance of Medicare alienated some voters. In the month before ending her campaign, she accepted some money from Super PACs. Maybe not picking a progressive or moderate lane was damaging as trying to be a little of both meant she wasn’t firmly getting votes from either camp. Like every candidate, she had missteps, but that doesn’t detract from her qualifications or plans.
Since dropping out of the race, Warren continues to sling plans to fight COVID-19 and work in the Senate. Her hard-working spirit continues despite uncertain, dark times, and I wish she could’ve brought that fresh perspective into the White House. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she will be the next Vice President or take a position in the Cabinet.
Even though I knew she was unlikely to win the nomination, I voted for Warren on Super Tuesday out of principle. I saw a strong, sharp woman up on stage advocating for big, structural change that our country desperately needs.
Watching the results come in on Super Tuesday, I felt a personal sense of disappointment and loss. I didn’t vote for Warren because she was a woman, but because I thought she was the most qualified candidate. It angers me that others couldn’t see that she is a smart, vibrant, electable candidate who could’ve ripped Donald Trump to shreds on national television.
Warren lit up the debate stage. She has valuable experience and thoughtful, in-depth plans, and she is still nearly a decade younger than Biden and Bernie! Yes, she’s not flawless, but no one is.
When she announced the end of her campaign, Warren remarked how she felt badly for “little girls who are going to have to wait four more years.” As one of those young women, I’m left wondering if Warren couldn’t do it, who will, and long will it take?