Among big name Democrats, Elizabeth Warren is probably the most notable name to have remained mum on a presidential endorsement. That’s pissed off a fair number of Bernie Sanders supporters, many of whom see her as his most powerful potential ally and felt betrayed when she sat on the sidelines and watched him lose to Hillary Clinton in Massachusetts. (For the record, we’re fine with her decision.)
Today, though, Senator Warren spoke out, very powerfully, against a candidate: Donald Trump. In what can only be described as an evisceration, she called him a “loser” and thoroughly destroyed both his business record and his claims to be a unifier. Warren posted her message on both Facebook and Twitter.
These are all things that Democrats know (or should know) about Trump, and they’re all things that establishment Republicans are saying, too. For all intents and purposes, Warren appears to be preaching to the choir. So the question is this: why did Warren post this, if not simply to feel good about herself?
One possible answer that immediately comes to mind is that she wants to keep Bernie’s supporters in the democratic fold when Hillary wins the nomination (a Bernie comeback at this point would be a bigger shock than Texas A&M erasing a 12-point deficit in 34 seconds against Northern Iowa in the NCAA Tournament). There’s been some talk among progressives, including on this website, of a coming split in the Democratic Party that would sever the establishment wing of the party from the economic outsiders represented by Bernie—to the point that many of Sanders’ supporters might actually support Donald Trump over Clinton in a general election. Warren, unlike Sanders, has been a Democrat for decades, and the last thing she probably wants to see is for disillusioned progressives to vote a Republican into office, especially when that Republican is a loose cannon like Trump.
So with the above rant against Trump, it seems likely that Senator Warren is using her influence among progressives to make a play to bring Bernie’s more radical fans back into the Democratic fold. This explanation would align nicely with her officially neutral stance in the primary, which indicates that Warren sees the establishment as a viable, even preferable, avenue through which to create progressive change. Even if she privately supports Sanders (many of the commenters on her Facebook rant read it as a de facto endorsement of Bernie—it’s not), she sees him as unlikely to win the nomination and, like Clinton, is gearing up for a fight against Donald Trump. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that her role in that fight is going to be to keep the far left and anti-establishment Democrats from voting en masse for Trump as a protest—or, almost as bad, staying at home on election day.
Some might admire Warren’s pragmatic approach to progressivism, but if you’re a staunch progressive hoping that Warren supports your desire to completely overturn establishment politics, her ethering of Donald Trump could be pretty disappointing news.