While progressives are often dissatisfied with the performance of President Joe Biden, the progressive movement is without strong leadership, and in no position to offer a viable alternative to the aging, centrist incumbent.
The progressive movement’s standard bearer, Senator Bernie Sanders, is roughly the same age as Biden, and cannot be responsibly offered as a 2024 candidate. Meanwhile, the up-and-coming progressive ‘Squad,’ seems consumed with the culture war, and with social media influencing.
The Squad’s most prominent member, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is deeply annoying, and often off-point, and should not be groomed as a prospective leader of the progressive movement. Oh, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is a mainstreamer only cloaked as a progressive.
So, who could progressives offer, right now, as an alternative to Biden? Not many progressives have the national profile or the governing credentials to be taken seriously as presidential contenders. Maybe Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts and 2020 presidential candidate could fit the bill.
Elizabeth Warren on the issues
Whereas AOC and the Squad and the like seem consumed with culture war issues, Warren’s focus is calibrated toward more substantial issues (i.e. antitrust). She seems to understand what is important and what is just noise. She seems more concerned with legislating than with tweeting.
Granted, most modern progressives find themselves compelled to pay lip service to the social stuff (a regrettable trend), Warren included, but at the heart of Warren’s service is an emphasis on improving the quality of life for the working class and protecting consumers from corporations.
Warren looks out for the worker more than most of her peers. She has supported a string of legislation (i.e., Reward Work Act of 2018, Accountable Capitalism Act) that balances corporate power away from executives, and back toward the workers.
During the Obama administration, Warren was appointed as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many consumer advocacy groups had recommended that Warren be appointed as the new bureau’s first-ever director – but Obama wasn’t confident that Warren could get through the Senate nomination process, given her record for zealous regulating.
More recently, Warren introduced a plan to compel greater regulation and competition in the tech sector. The plan was commendable – meant to reduce consolidation in the tech industry and to forbid tech companies from sharing users’ data with third parties.
I respect Warren’s background. She grew up poor in Oklahoma and attended the University of Houston for her undergraduate and Rutgers Law School for her juris doctorate. Then, Warren made a name for herself through scholarship, with research on bankruptcy and middle-class finance.
She worked her way up and was eventually offered a slot on Harvard Law School’s faculty, where she was the highest-paid professor – and the only tenured law professor who had attended law school at an American public university.
But in a hypothetical world where progressives had to roll out an alternative, Warren might be the best bet. Warren isn’t perfect, but she’s authentic, accomplished, and unlike so many modern Democrats, seems to have a sense of what is important.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.