Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren appears to be the odds on front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, if the left doesn’t sink her candidacy.
While Warren’s candidacy has been built upon sweeping progressive proposals, her more pragmatic approach compared to the idealism of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has frustrated some on the left.
The socialist magazine Jacobin has critically covered Warren’s campaign and wrote in October that Warren “falls short of calling for systemic transformation.” The article bemoans that Warren will not call for eliminating private health insurance like Sanders does, and complains that she’s too open to compromise.
“Her campaign has consciously cultivated her reputation as a more palatable liberal alternative to Bernie, one that even Brookings Institution fellows can swallow,” author Hadas Thier writes.
Perhaps it is Warren’s closeness with the liberal elites and the Democratic Party’s establishment that have drawn the ire of certain left-wing intellectuals. After all, while former President Barack Obama is very popular among Democratic primary voters, his presidency is not remembered fondly by those further left. The Obama administration is where Warren became a major player on the national stage. Warren helped brainstorm the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which was created as part of the 2010 Dodd Frank Act, which some on the left viewed as not tough enough on the banks. (RELATED: Obama Alums Attack Warren Ahead Of Democratic Debate)
Unlike Sanders, who is a registered Independent, Warren is a proud Democrat, and someone who doesn’t like to attack members of her own party. Warren typically votes in lockstep with her party, and even offered a “spirited defense” of the most moderate member of her caucus, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin during a 2017 interview with progressive firebrand Cenk Uygur. (RELATED: Democrats Are Trashing President Obama’s Legacy)
“I’ll work with anyone who will help us expand opportunity again,” Warren said at the time. “And I want to make a spirited defense that there are folks like Joe Manchin — he works hard on issues that effect working people in West Virginia.”
Then, there’s the fact that before she was a partisan Democrat, Warren was a Republican until her late 40’s, and a recent Politico article detailed Warren’s conservative past. The senator was described by friends as a “diehard conservative” with strong reservations about the welfare state she now wants to expand. Warren also gave a 1991 speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization that all five Republican appointees that currently sit on the Supreme Court have been involved with. (RELATED: Chief Justice Roberts Has Begun To Make Some Conservatives Nervous)
Warren changed her party registration and became a Democrat in 1996 at the age of 47, but still appeared to hold onto some conservative views later in life. Warren’s 2004 book titled The Two Income Trap: Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke has drawn praise from some conservatives, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson. While her book promotes some liberal economic ideas, including credit card regulation, universal pre-school, and tuition freezes, the book also offers a lot for social conservatives to like.
In her book, Warren suggested that the increasing number of women in the workforce was harmful to American families and led to the erosion of the societal safety net.
“When mothers joined the workforce, the family gave up something of considerable (although unrecognized) economic value: an extra skilled and dedicated adult, available to pitch in to help save the family during times of emergency,” Warren wrote.
The logic of Warren’s argument was that the increase in two income households would lead to rising costs, and that single motherhood would no longer be an option for American women. Warren is no social conservative, but the views that she outlined in her book stands at odds with the American left, which prioritizes social justice and individual autonomy over a traditional family structure. (RELATED: Elizabeth Warren Deletes Tweet Bragging About Native American DNA)
However, it’s not just Warren’s decades-old views that have strained her relationship with the left. Warren’s refusal to endorse Sanders 2016 presidential campaign drew the ire of many left-wing personalities, especially after Sanders lost Warren’s home state of Massachusetts by just over a percentage point to eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, who is despised in certain circles on the left. Warren endorsed and held a campaign event with Clinton in June 2016, before she was the nominee and before Sanders had officially conceded. Warren’s activities during the 2016 campaign aroused suspicions that the senator is more loyal to the Democratic establishment than she is to left-wing causes, and lingering bitterness from Sanders’ supporters could be an achilles heel for Warren’s White House ambitions.
Right now, oddsmakers still believe Warren has the best chance to emerge from a crowded field of Democrats to take on Trump next November. However, presidential campaigns are long and rigorous, and Warren still has plenty of skeptics to win over if she wants to stand on stage in Milwaukee next Summer as the Democratic Party’s standard bearer. But, contrary to conventional wisdom, Warren’s biggest skeptics may actually be on the left.