Before everything fell apart, there were certain qualities I looked for in a potential president: brilliance, compassion, a passion for policies that protect vulnerable people, and the know-how to make some of them happen.
This year I, like most who live outside the Trump cult, would be thrilled with somebody who is merely not deranged, cruel, or utterly corrupt.
So I will go to the mat for whoever ends up being the Democratic nominee, including the (real) billionaire currently attempting to buy his way to the nomination. If most Democratic primary voters decide that a turnip should be the party’s standard bearer, I will root my heart out for that root vegetable.
But in the primary, my standards are way higher than that. So I’ll vote for Elizabeth Warren.
The Senator often says a country that will elect someone like Trump is a country that is already in trouble. Warren understands better than anyone in this field what ails us: She is a bona fide expert on how greed, and our diseased political system, turn what should be a free market into one where a tiny circle of winners enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else. Her policies — protecting consumers, fighting corruption, providing access to child care, health care, and college via a fairer tax system — would lift all, cutting across lines of race and class.
She is unafraid to speak hard truths — about the way our education, housing, and criminal justice policies fail Black and brown people; about the nonnegotiable worth of LGBTQ Americans; about the destructive amorality of tech companies like Facebook.
She and her campaign have laid out plan after detailed plan, often with specifics that more cautious (or less honorable) politicians evade. This fearlessness about the facts has exposed her, unfairly, to more criticism than her opponents.
The next president will have to rebuild the federal government, hiring back public servants broomed by the know-nothings in the White House. Warren, who attracted stellar talent at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency she built from scratch, is the best person to do that.
She is kind, and truly listens to people. She will not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. She’s also single-minded when she believes she’s right. Anybody who believes that is an off-putting quality in a woman can take the next bus back to 1950.
Obviously, it takes enormous ego to run for president, but her entire campaign has been more about the country than herself: In polls of Democratic voters, Warren’s supporters are the most willing of all to vote for the eventual nominee, whoever it may be. That kind of big-picture thinking comes directly from the top.
Of course, Warren has faults, and has made mistakes. To name one: She eventually came to the right spot on her claims of Native American ancestry, but took too long getting there. Still, she learns from her missteps.
You’ll notice that I haven’t talked about electability yet.
That’s not because I’m some kind of idealist. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
At this point, I’m pretty sure nobody can beat Trump. Structural advantages like the Electoral College and years of voter suppression favor the GOP to begin with. And we’ve just endured a week in which it has become clear — if it wasn’t before — that no one will stop this president from cheating in the election. Also, courtesy of a terrifying article in The Atlantic, we know that Trump’s campaign is running a home-grown disinformation operation more ambitious and cynical than any Kremlin-linked troll farm.
Any Democrat who is nominated, not just the woman at whom Trump lobs a racist nickname, will likely be demolished by all of that. The GOP already has Biden on the rack. Will Buttigieg, the gay mayor of a small city, somehow escape their ugliness? Or Bernie Sanders, the 78-year-old Democratic Socialist? Or Mike Bloomberg, whose money will not protect him from his mayoral record, and distortions thereof?
Conversely, in the unlikely event that one Democrat can overcome all of that, it’s a good bet several of them can — including the best of the bunch.
That would be you know who.