The stealth 2020 Democratic presidential primary has been underway for months, but things finally kicked into high gear Monday when Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee.
Forming an exploratory committee is the legal precursor to running for president, something Warren has been widely expected to do for years now. With her video announcement declaring that “America’s middle class is under attack,” the 2020 Democratic primary now begins in full force.
Warren is one of the first candidates to formally declare her intention to run, but she certainly won’t be the last, which raises a question about how she fits into a field that may be as large as 30 candidates.
Who exactly is Warren’s base? If she runs as an anti-billionaire populist champion of the little guy, doesn’t Bernie Sanders already fill that ideological space in the Democratic Party? She could run as a moderate or pragmatic Sanders-lite, but in its extreme opposition to President Donald Trump, the far-left Democratic base is the most active and is unlikely to coalesce around a moderate candidate. The Obama-establishment Democrats will line up behind Joe Biden’s candidacy, if he runs. And Warren’s gender identity as a woman won’t rack up enough intersectionality points against Kamala Harris, the half-black, half-Indian female senator from California. The youth vote, then? Warren is 69, and Beto O’Rourke’s young star is rising on the Left.
Warren creates problems for herself when she tries to occupy any of these spaces on the Left. In a transparent attempt at pandering to minorities, Warren labeled the entire American criminal justice system racist, drawing rebuke from law enforcement. The botched release of a DNA test that purported to show Warren has Native American heritage and counter Trump’s mockery backfired spectacularly and opened her up to attacks from the Left about faking minority heritage as a white woman. On the one hand, Warren claims she’s a “capitalist to my bones,” which upsets the socialist Left, and on the other hand she co-sponsored the nationalization of America’s health insurance system with Bernie Sanders and introduced a bill in Congress to nationalize everything else, which upsets the anti-Sanders Democrats.
Warren needs a base to win the Democratic nomination, and it has to be a bigger and more energized base than her rivals to be successful. As things stand now, it’s difficult to see where a viable base for her will come from.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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