Thoughts on Warren and Sanders: How Much Change Is Needed in 2021?

Yves here. I know Warren is deemed to be progressive by American standards, but I recall clearly when I first say her speak at a Roosevelt Institute conference, Let Markets Be Markets, which was a title I found to be unhelpful, since it suggested that markets would exist in a state of nature and just needed to be left alone. In fact, markets depend on rules and enforcement mechanisms to operate regularly and well.

Warren, who was the first speaker, gave a long preamble about how she loved markets and had long taught contract in law school. I don’t recall her giving any reason as to why she loved markets, when you’d expect her to make a case, such as how they were good for people. Her speech struck me as defensive, as in she felt she had to say she was in favor of commerce so as not to be painted as a Commie if/when she called for reforms.

By contrast, Karl Polyani, in his classic book The Great Transformation, argued that the evolution of market economies undermined society because it treated land and labor as commodities. Pressured to slow the development economies were inevitable and Polyani suggested, desirable, because the impact of the development of the market society on communities and families was often so disruptive that the changes needed to be mitigated.

I didn’t get any sense that Warren had those concerns, and I found that troubling. I didn’t see how her profession of enthusiasm for markets connected with the concerns she has expressed for the welfare of American families.

By Thomas Neuburger Originally published at DownWithTryanny!

I’ve written before comparing Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as presidential candidates, but only preliminarily. (See “The Difference Between Sanders and Warren, or Can Regulated Capitalism Save the Country?“) But there’s much more to say — foreign policy, for example, is barely touched on there — and also much is evolving in their positions, especially Warren’s.

That earlier piece focused on the differences between these two candidates based on their economic ideologies. As I wrote then, “Though both would make the next administration, if either were elected, a progressive one by many definitions, the nature of the progressivism under each would be quite different.”

In particular, I asked:

Can the current capitalist system be reformed and retained, or must it be partly nationalized — taken over by government — and reduced in size and capacity, for the country to be saved from its current economic enslavement to the “billionaire class”? In addition to questions of personal preference, Democratic primary voters will be asked to decide this question as well.

And the question applies quite broadly. The billionaire class also controls our response to climate change. Is it possible for a “free” market system — a system in which billionaires and their corporations have control — to transform the energy economy enough to mitigate the coming disaster, or must government wrest control of the energy economy in order to have even a hope of reducing the certain damage?

But there are other contrasts between these two as well, other differences, as Zaid Jilani, writingin Jacobin, points out. He begins where we began, with the ideological and philosophical differences:

Why the Differences Between Sanders and Warren Matter

Both are critics of the Democratic establishment. Both are foes of Wall Street. And both are substantive, policy-focused politicians. But that doesn’t mean Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren share the same worldview.

Sanders tends to focus on “post-distribution” remedies, meaning he prefers to use the government’s power to tax and spend to directly meet Americans’ needs — or replace the market altogether. His social-democratic ideas, like free college and single-payer health care, are now policies most Democrats have to tip their hat to at least for electoral reasons. Warren wants to empower regulators and rejigger markets to shape “pre-distribution” income, before taxes. Less likely to push for big-ticket programs, she wants to re-regulate Wall Street and make life easier for consumers.

So far this is familiar ground.

Different Theories of Change

But as Jilani points out, there are differences in style and “theory of change” as well. (“Theory of change” usually encompasses how a given policy change is to be accomplished, as opposed to what that change should be.) Jilani again:

The two senators also have distinct theories of change. Sanders has long believed in bottom-up, movement-based politics. Since his daysas mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he has tried to energize citizens to take part in government. He generally distrusts elites and decision-making that does not include the public. Warren, on the other hand, generally accepts political reality and works to push elite decision-makers towards her point of view.

When I worked at PCCC [“the most influential outside PAC supporting Warren” says Jilani], I was once told that Warren decided to run for the Senate after witnessing the amount of power she had as an oversight chair for the bank bailouts. She believed that “being in the room” with decision-makers in the Obama administration was essential to creating change.

About this he concludes: “While Warren wants to be at the table with elites, arguing for progressive policies, Sanders wants to open the doors and let the public make the policy.”

“Elizabeth is all about leverage”

These are significant differences, and his observation goes a long way to explaining this item from a long piecepublished in Politico Magazinein 2016, an article otherwise about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Discussing why Warren refused to endorse Sanders, Glenn Thrush wrote:

Luckily for Clinton, Warren resisted Sanders’ entreaties, for months telling the senator and his staff she hadn’t made up her mind about which candidate she would support. For all her credibility on the left, Warren is more interested in influencing the granular Washington decisions of policymaking and presidential personnel—and in power politics. Warren’s favored modus operandi: leveraging her outsider popularity to gain influence on the issues she cares about, namely income inequality and financial services reform.

“Elizabeth is all about leverage, and she used it,” a top Warren ally told me. “The main thing, you know, is that she always thought Hillary was going to be the nominee, so that was where the leverage was.”

Warren, several people in her orbit say, never really came close to endorsing the man many progressives consider to be her ideological soulmate.

For many grassroots supporters of Sanders, who were also strong Warren supporters prior to his entry into the race, these revelations — “all about the leverage” and “never came close to endorsing” — took the bloom off the Warren rose. For whatever reason, that bloom appears not to have returned, at least not completely.

Jilani’s observation in no way diminishes Warren’s credibility or core desirability as a candidate. If you care about achieving your goals through “leverage,” joining the Sanders campaign, which may have looked to you like a kind of Children’s Crusade, would seem foreign to your way of operating.

The Bottom Line — Not Just Method, But Scope

While Jilani notes that many of Warren’s past positions, for example, on charter schoolsand Medicare for All, have grown more progressive, she still doesn’t seem to prioritize Medicare for All as strongly as Sanders does.

In 2012, Warren was explicitly opposed to Medicare for All (called “single payer” at the time). “Five years later — after decades of advocacyby Sanders had helped popularize Medicare for All — Warren [finally] decided to endorse the policy,” writes Jilani. “But unlike consumer protections or financial regulation, establishing a single-payer health care system doesn’t seem to be a top priority for Warren.” He adds, “It’s hardly a surprisethat Warren didn’t raise single-payer during her first two campaign events in Iowa and when asked about it by a Washington Postreporter, [she] suggested she didn’t bring it up because no one else at the events raised it.”

As noted above, if either were president, the odds that America will change for the better would vastly improve. But each would do that job in a different way. Each has a different philosophy of how government should work, and approach the process of change from different directions — though I have to give Warren credit for picking public fights with fellow Democratswhen others are much more timid.

But to these two differences — philosophy and approach — let me add a third, a difference in sweep. The scope of change envisioned and attempted by a Sanders presidency would likely be far greater than that attempted by Warren.

In these times, with a massive climate tsunami fast approaching and a Depression-style rebellion in full view, can America, in this Franklin Roosevelt moment, afford just a better manager of the current system, a better rearranger, and survive?

There’s not much question that Warren would better fix the status quo, and be a better choice as president, than 95% of the other candidates on offer. But would a Warren presidency be enough to bring us through this crisis as safely as Washington, Lincoln and FDR once did?

For many true progressives, I think that’s the question she’ll be asked to answer, and she has about a year, or less, to answer it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. ambrit

    Just spitballing here, but I think that Warren has more of a technocrat view of the process of governance than Sanders does. Warren seems to be an academic at heart. Sanders has experience dealing with the public in all it’s tatterdemalion glory. He was a City Mayor, about as close to the ground level in politics as one can get. Warren would make an excellent Department Head, a good member of the Cabinet. Sanders has a reputation of ‘getting things done’ in the Senate. This suggests that Sanders has the skills of persuasion and, importantly, coalition building, incorporating strategic concessions. These are a big part of the Art of Politics.
    So, Sanders has the Art of Politics in his tool kit while Warren has the bureaucratic skills to work behind the scenes. They would make a good team, if Warren is to be trusted. And there is the stumbling block.

    1. Carolinian

      Sanders has a reputation of ‘getting things done’ in the Senate.

      Really? I wonder how many voters had ever heard of Sanders before he ran for president.

      Perhaps the real question is who has the greatest chance of building a movement which is the only way we will really “get things done” in the face of stiff opposition. Unfortunately–given Sanders’ age and Warren’s political ham handedness–the answer may be neither. But at least Sanders seems more willing to upset the apple carts than the go along to get along Warren. It’s not about “persuasion” of elites, who just need to see reason. It’s about power, and TPTB are afraid of the voters which is why there’s such a tizzy over Trump.

      1. ambrit

        Yes. Trump did to the Republican Party what Sanders should have done to the Democrat Party. I get the feeling that the Democrats are now more ruthless and heartless than the Republicans.
        Also, when he was in the Senate, Sanders only had to worry about name recognition in his home state. The transition to the national stage is not instant. It takes time and Sanders seems to have learned that lesson. I’m wondering if even Sanders was blindsided by his own success in the Democrat primary process the last time around.

        1. Mattski

          I dunno. Lots of us lefties had been following him for years.

          Though I am in no way Pollyannaish about his prospects, I tend to see Sanders as our last, best hope. But I confess to being both baffled and a little bit outraged that all of those liberals who spent several years calling those of us whose policy differences–whose differences with her record–made Hillary Clinton unacceptable to us “anti-feminist” now won’t even give Warren the time of day! Honestly? A certain anti-intellectualism obviously informs this view. . . but for me it’s also a mark of just what a carefully feminine (and faux feminist) persona Ms. Clinton carved out for herself along the way, and what a dreadfully long way that women still have to go–or worse, how much ground has been lost.

          In fact, I read the other day that Nixon had sought to introduce universal Medicare, and that the AFL-CIO, with Watergate in development, convinced Teddy Kennedy to back away from his long dream of moving similar legislation through Congress, so as not to give Nixon a victory. Crass cynicism has long been in place, as the story demonstrates. But with “liberals” and the Democratic establishment now telling us that things like universal healthcare are just too ambitious, and their minions parroting such thinking, we have a stark illustration of just how far right American liberalism has now drifted, further right–in certain aspects–than centrist Republicanism of the 1970s.

          These aren’t the 70s. And there is a great deal of political ferment at present. But such analysis does suggest that there is a great deal of space waiting to be (re)occupied on the left.

          1. Lambert Strether

            > there is a great deal of space waiting to be (re)occupied on the left.

            Which liberal Democrats not only don’t want to occupy, they don’t even want to admit it exists.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      That is my take too. Warren has the technical savvy to rewire our regulatory systems, and she appreciates how they are interconnected (move one and others change). Having drafted a lot of policy myself, it is understanding and minimizing the unintended consequences of change that creates success. I do not see Bernie as a whiz at technocracy. Where Bernie shines is he nagging attention to the fact that politics is all about people and making life better for the majority – not just squillionaires – in fact, not even necessarily squillionaires. As Trump would remark; “They’ll make adjustments.”

      1. ambrit

        I’m feeling extra cynical today, if that can be believed, and am wondering if Warren is being encouraged to run, but not told that she is intended to be a spoiler to Sanders. Out of the wreckage, expect the ‘Two Mommies,’ Hillary and Michelle to arise promising to heal all wounds and unite the Party. “Onward to Victory!” (We’ll worry about the policy later, after we have slain the Dragon Trump.)

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          One hopes that Warren and Sanders both have people reading this blog regularly and reporting back with any possibly pertinent information and theory.

          Just because the Gang Of Two Mommies hope to exploit Warren as a counter-Sanders spoiler does not mean that she has to run that way or that Sanders has to take it that way. Sanders and Warren appeal to two some overlapping but still different sets of people. Their added-together voter-count could be bigger than either nominee-wannabe’s voter count total on its own.
          The two seekers and their two groups of supporters might well choose to force-multiply eachother in order to frustrate the Two Mommies Conspiracy.

          What if the two groups of delegates together added up to enough to victorialize One of the Two if all the delegates voted for One of them? Suppose they all got together and pledged (and meant it) to study very carefully which of the Two got More delegate votes on the First Ballot? Suppose the Second Votegetter agreed to add their delegates’s votes to the votes of the First votegetter, such that the First votegetter on the first ballot would get ALL the two groups of delegates’s votes on the second ballot? Either Sanders or Warren would win, and the Winner would make the Other One herm’s running mate.

  2. ambrit

    Oh bugger!
    Short form: Electability is first and foremost.
    This is a political race, not an academic debate.

    1. taunger

      We decide who is electible based on responses to debate terms. Electible is not some eternal quality a candidate is born with, it is a media trope to restrict the field to the corporate friendly candidates. Enough of that

      1. ambrit

        How many of those who actually vote in an election watch debates? Back in horse and buggy days, a debate was the premier way to reach the ‘interested’ parties in a district. Debates, and hand shaking, baby kissing and newspaper/handbill politics was the game before electronic media.
        Then there is that indefinable quality known a “charisma.” There, the ‘art’ part of [politics comes into play. To get someone who is marginally cognizant of policies to vote for one, there must be some affinity between candidate and voter. To the extent that ‘charisma’ drives the political relationship, ‘charisma’ is that “eternal quality.”
        In that regard, ‘charisma’ is not a media trope, but a personal quality. Thus, villains like Hitler can succeed. If you read contemporary accounts of Hitler’s political style, he was very popular and actually described as “charismatic.” An American villain such as Bill Clinton likewise had charismatic qualities. From further back, an anti-Establishment outsider like Huey Long was successful through building an almost visceral connection to his electorate. He was killed.
        So, don’t be in too much of a hurry to dismiss ‘alternate’ methods of carrying out politics.

        1. taunger

          Oh, I am not beholden to a techocratic, scoring policy points debate. But electability and charisma are very different. Bernie was not electable, but was charismatic for most; vice versa for Hillary ? Not sure, I think many found her charismatic, I couldn’t stand her. “Electable” is a terrible, vague concept to be manipulated – at least charismatic provides some basis for definition. Thanks for the well thought out reply.

          1. ambrit

            I’ll agree that “electable” is vague and prone to multiple definitions. However, “electable” is almost the term of art used by the campaigns themselves. The more technical thinking campaigners can cut the electorate up into an infinitude of ‘silos’ and figure how to manipulate each. This strategy naturally falls into an infinite regression state and eventually exhausts itself. The concept of a “sterile” campaign philosophy comes into it’s own in that case. People can usually recognize “inauthentic” political rhetoric, and react negatively to it. When the campaign splinters into multiple ‘silo’d’ sub-campaigns, the threat is that each mini-electorate will eventually spot the inauthenticity and bad faith argumentation of another, related strand of the campaign. They might fall for the ploy being employed against them, but notice a parallel ‘silo’ being deceived, due to a detachment inherent in not being the target audience for that other particular ploy. That way, the seeds of distrust against the entire campaign are planted. I find this to be the fatal flaw in identitarian politics.
            Sorry for the rant.

        2. cm

          Debates, and hand shaking, baby kissing and newspaper/handbill politics was the game before electronic media

          You forgot one major element, whiskey. Andrew Jackson succeeded by handing out free whiskey to voters.

          1. ambrit

            Well, he was from Tennessee.
            That whiskey was an early form of “walking around money.”
            Vote Early and Vote Often!
            Jackson was the early exemplar of a populist president.

  3. The Rev Kev

    With Warren wanting to be at the table with the elites, perhaps she took the advice of Larry Summers. In her memoir, “A Fighting Chance”, she mentions a dinner conversation where she was told by him ‘I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: They don’t criticize other insiders.’

    1. Geo

      That interview introduced me to Warren and made me a fan. And, reminds me how much I miss Bill Moyers. Glad he’s enjoying some downtime in his later years but no one could do interviews like he did and nothing compares to the depth of his show for informing viewers.

    2. Mucho

      Funny: I remember reading the same Larry Summers story/quote in Varoufakis political memoir, ‘Adults in the Room’. Larry sure seems to dine a lot.

    3. rob

      kudos to bill moyers, he did several stories that should STILL be seen by more people. Especially since they have come true.. but
      that interview was the first place I saw warren too. And she sounded good at the time Given the overreach of the credit card industry and all that.
      But now…not so much.

  4. cripes

    The elites will, and have been, doing anything to derail rebellion and block any electoral movement towards popular governance, even of the save-the-system New Deal style of politics. If co-opting fails, then media blackout, vote fraud and silencing follows.

    They took it all and plan to keep it at any cost.

    The immiseration of the American people, to paraphrase Madeleine Albright, is worth it.

    1. Adam1

      “They took it all and plan to keep it at any cost.”

      Sadly this is true and they really don’t understand what “any cost” means. Eventually the mobs always come and eventually the mobs are larger and more angry than any amount of money be spent to stave them off.

      As Mark Blyth said, the Hamptons are not a defensible position.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Below is the amount of loyalty that people in New Zealand would owe to elites fleeing from retribution in their own countries-


    2. Carey

      Agree. It’s notable that one needs oh-so-complex complex (heh!) “theories of change” when proposing anything that has a hint of benefiting the many.
      When it come to the few and already well-to-do, though, the answer is simple: keep shoveling the money this-a-way, always!

      “you many proles need to work, so we few don’t have to!”


  5. Alex V

    Yves opening comment reminded me that “because markets” has become underutilized on NC. So…..


  6. KLG

    Elizabeth Warren had no comment when asked if she voted for Ronald Reagan. She was still a registered Republican in 1996. Those are tall hurdles; maybe she can get over them. Yes, she makes some noise that is congenial to ears here, and perhaps in the country. But she is no more “electable” than Hillary Clinton, the most recent slam-dunk electable candidate for president. You can be one of the adults in the dining room so that you can be heard. Or you can be heard by figuratively, of course, burning down the decrepit house that is far beyond rehabilitation.

    And that Cherokee thing? It won’t go away, especially against the Current Occupant. I am sympathetic to why she did what she did regarding her tiny admixture of Cherokee DNA, and the subsequent hysterics from the leaders in Tahlequah were just that. But she responded to the biggest troll of all. Don’t feed the trolls! Every white person in Oklahoma seems to claim a Cherokee “ancestor.” This is true also in the broad swath of the Southern states all the way from Texas/Oklahoma to North Carolina. Funny thing, it is always a Cherokee, never a Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw, or Seminole among the “Five Civilized Tribes.” A Sequoyah thing, maybe?

    Anyway, compared to Kamala Harris or Beto, Elizabeth Warren is FDR. So she’s got that going for her. Which is nice. But it isn’t enough. Not yet in her telling. Not for the predicament we are in. The “Left Wing of the Possible” had moved so far to the right in the past 40 years that is has no distinct meaning, certainly not what the late Michael Harrington had in mind from about 1978 through the 1984 election. I’ve recently re-read his chapter “The Lesser Evil? The Left, the Democrats and 1984” in Prisoners of the American Dream by Mike Davis (highly recommended). The current revival of the same play, different cast, will end the same way if it doesn’t close. Now.

    1. a different chris

      >And that Cherokee thing? It won’t go away, especially against the Current Occupant.

      You respectfully have that exactly wrong. Not sure how it will play with the hand-wringers in the Democratic Party, but in the general against Trump?

      1) Things are decent economically, Trump is going to win, it’s just a torture skiv he can twist for fun.
      2) Things are not going well, Trump is going to be told “shut up with the 4th grade name-calling and tell us how you are going to fix the economy compared to what she is proposing”.

      Trump played his card. He can’t play it again 4 years later, again if he really needs some sort of hand to play, as it would emphasize that he’s got nothing else.

      Maybe Pence can use it, I dunno. But incumbent elections are always a referendum on the state of the economy, full stop.

  7. Judith

    From my mailbox, in case anyone is interested:

    “Since 2016, our movement has changed what’s possible in American politics. We’ve made Medicare for All a national issue, challenged conventional wisdom around combating climate change, and pressured corporations to start giving their employees the wages they deserve—but there’s more to be done and Sen. Bernie Sanders is just the person to do it.

    I am excited to announce that this Saturday, January 12, Our Revolution, Organizing for Bernie, the Bernie Delegate Network, and the Progressive Democrats of America will be hosting hundreds of house parties around the country to talk about how we lay the foundation for a Bernie 2020 presidential run.

    Will you join us at 1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET this Saturday? Sign up here to let us know you’ll be there.

    Grassroots organizing is the key to building an agenda for the working people of this country, not just the 1 percent. Thank you for joining this fight.”

    1. Arizona Slim

      I also got that Organizing for Bernie email. And I unsubscribed.

      Bernie, I haven’t forgotten about 2016. Especially the part about taking this fight all the way to the convention.

      1. beth

        My only comment is that it is better to vote for someone than not to have anyone that you are able to say is at least better than the other. Last time I didn’t have anyone to vote for on that basis.


  8. Norb

    America needs bold leadership centered on the needs and interests of the people, the citizenry as a whole, not more elitist, leveraged thinking.

    The elite have used leverage thinking to gain control over the mass of humanity and the environment, but now that they reign supreme, they have run out of ideas as to social evolution. If put to the question- To what purpose are all human labor and effort to be directed? They seem to not have a clue, other than conjuring up ways to perpetuate the status quo- which is to protect elite interests at the expense of the weak and poor.

    People are looking for bold change and action, but place their faith in the wrong people. In better times, people like Warren and Sanders would be quietly working in the background ensuring that a bold vision of equality and justice are actually carried out. However, Sanders is old and Warren is not a bold visionary- she seems a careerist just like everyone else, though less ruthless and not blatantly imperialistic to her core. However, she is not for fundamental change and I would expect, once in power, she could be persuaded to moderate any attempts to make such changes a reality- or push them off into some distant future.

    The problem lies in the relentless, narrow vision of capitalism itself. Who in public life can afford to say that openly- or believe it? Who takes the time and effort to say that life is not about having “better” things? The cynicism in American politics today makes it a meaningless process for those not making their living from it. Better to think up ways of making political statements and actions outside the official processes.

    The enlightenment seems to have brought about false hopes for humanity. Instead of walking in the sunlight of reason, humanity still seems to be stumbling along in the dark. A new vision is needed.

    A meaningful opposition must be based on a resistance to capitalism itself, a desire to restore the power of the state to act in the interests of the citizenry as a whole or majority, and to instill a sense of frugality and purpose in the citizenry- not a desire for endless consumption and distraction.

    Fundamental change will always be mocked by those in power- or labeled as treason.

    I don’t intend to be negative on Sanders and Warren, but American politics and life are so out of balance, at times it seems that being an outsider- or non-participant is the way to sanity. When politicians can blatantly lie their way into office, and the system allows them to survive and persist, the system is beyond fixing.

    Our future is of Capitalist Nations battling for market share. If the insanity of nuclear weapons does not kill us all first, meeting human needs by the capitalist system surely will- however slowly.

    Capitalists will just redefine what it means to be a human being- as they always have and carry on. This cannot be allowed to happen. Corporate power must be curtailed.

    A new vision is needed, and political leaders willing to articulate it.

    Authoritarianism is in our future. How else can radical change occur and is that a bad thing? Slow death brought about by radical capitalism, or authoritarian rule to nationalize key industries in order to bring about social stability and fairness.

    We are free to choose.

    1. Adams

      @ Norb: Re: “A new vision is needed.” Since Yves invoked Polanyi you could start there. Whatever is old is new again. And as she points out Polanyi’s analysis is also an effective method for separating the gold nuggets from the lighter materials.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Please elaborate. Your views here are very interesting but so shortly described I have too little respond to.

  9. Eureka Springs

    If and when it comes to the time for pollsters and the press to throw out the “strong leader” card, Sanders will win it hands-down over Warren. Warren will be embraced much more by the centrist rich owners of the party. The question remains will Sanders actually lead this time around. I still think he should have put those owners/thieves through a wood-chipper throughout the primary and especially for all the world to see at the convention….

    But hey I am not now nor am I ever likely to vote for that criminally anti-democratic party ever again. You don’t join a mafia in order to reform it.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      This time I think Sanders might put the owners/thieves “through a wood-chipper throughout the primary” because this is his last chance. He doesn’t have to play ‘nice’ to stay in the party for another run.

  10. rob

    Who cares what warren says,on the road to the campign. Words are cheap.
    When I first saw her on bill moyers, I liked that she sounded good as a voice of opposition to credit card company policies, albeit in a news interview, while still at harvard,i believe.
    Then I have liked that at least she comes off as a voice above the low hum of republican low lifes in congress. more of an adult in the room ,so to speak. I don’t really fault her for “not doing anything” in congress yet.. after all it is a body, and as such lone voices have little sway… so that is a net neutral.
    If she can’t get behind single payer. And in my mind, simplistic single payer that says healthcare should not be a for profit owned institution, of any ones. Everyone who works for, be they doctors,nurses,or janitors, ought to be paid.. The inventors and manufacturers, ought to be fairly compensated. The physical assets,hospitals,factories,distribution, ought to be more a federal “in-house” operation like the post office.. to keep it honest, and less expensive. For all the money they can save, they can afford to keep everything in top notch, clean and current condition… better than some places today.
    Her stance on single payer is a non starter to me.
    If her views on the approach to gov’t as being “for the people” is the same as her view of healthcare,meaning for the corporation… than forget it.
    After all, When obama wrote his article in foreign affairs in 2006 or 2007, when he was putting his hat in the ring, that is exactly who he said he was, and it was exactly what he did… he said he was for the system as it was, and he was. He never claimed he was a “radical” and he didn’t stand for “change”. He was looking for a job. And if warren is the same. Looking for a job, and a believer in the way things are…. then nevermind.
    I say she needs to show some real progressive inclination…not just campaign rhetoric.

    1. nycTerrierist

      “I say she needs to show some real progressive inclination…not just campaign rhetoric.”

      She’s already shown us who she is.
      See above re: Larry Summers’ insiders’ rules.

      1. rob

        I do agree.
        Warren at this point for me is a non-starter. If she was the democratic party “choice”, I would feel very comfortable voting for the green party again.
        A vote for the green party may mean there is no chance your candidate is going to win, but my soul is satisfied I made a choice I actually like. Good enough for me.
        If bernie gets the nomination, that is the only one talked about who might sway me as a candidate to the left wing of the bird I so despise.
        Now If they put someone like ocasio cortez on the ticket…. then wowie! I can’t imagine anyone doing a worse job , professionally speaking than trump, so considering her obvious authenticity, I would vote for her in a heartbeat. I would take my chances with youthful over exuberance,and in-experience.. and go for someone who has the INCLINATION to do the right thing. In fact I would rather vote for ocasio cortez then bernie. Berni should be her VP, to add the wisdom of age and to keep her on the tracks. and advise her of the duplicity and treachery she would face.
        Bernie’s weakness after all is that he is from vermont. A politician from vermont CAN be on the progressive side, in rhetoric, and know nothing will come of it, and be re-elected…. but before now, he hasn’t really had to DO anything. And his stance on isreal, is a bit too chummy IMO. I would be curious how he voted on the senates first bill of the year, in that no one is allowed to criticize the isreali gov’t and boycott a product . What a perfect way for a despicable body to start off a new year. Someone ought to tell them what country they are supposed to be representing. We have a whitehouse lobbying for russia, and a senate lobbying for isreal…. WTF! And americans are supposed to be okay with a gov’t shut down, and if americans aren’t getting paid… so what.

          1. The Rev Kev

            You’re right. She’s only 29 years old and I read that the US Constitution states that you have to be a minimum of 35 years of age to be President. So 2024 at a minimum. This talk is kinda like when years ago that some people said that Arnold Schwarzenegger should run for President, forgetting that to be President that you have to be actually born in the US.

    2. Jeff W

      I liked that she sounded good as a voice of opposition to credit card company policies

      Perhaps unfairly, the first thing I think of when I think of Elizabeth Warren is her appearance on PBS FRONTLINE’s 2004 “Secret History of the Credit Card” where she says:

      What I’d ask [the credit card companies] to do is just reprogram their computers to put two little lines on every credit card statement, one that says if you make the minimum monthly payment, this is how long it will take you to pay off, and if you make the minimum monthly payment, this is how much interest you’ll pay over time. They could go a long way towards educating a lot of consumers that way…

      Of course, there’s nothing wrong with and everything laudable about that type of fix—in any sort of political system not bought and sold by the financial industry, that sort of thing would be obvious. But, it seems like, in Warren’s world, if we just make the system a bit fairer, if the parties contracting—and all we have are “transactional actors,” people contracting or being consumers—if they just have clearer, more readily-understood terms—she taught contract law at Harvard, after all—well, that’s sufficient and maybe the best we can do or all we should do.

      I think it’s perfectly valid to view Warren as a defender of the status quo, lover of markets, and all that, as this post says, but I feel like, ultimately, something else is going on here. Her response regarding her claimed Cherokee heritage—a DNA test—in the interests of “transparency” and “put[ting] it out there” typifies the problem. In Elizabeth Warren’s wonkish, Lisa Simpson world, the problem isn’t that Trump and the right-wing wing are bullying her into responding, the problem is that the information isn’t out there on the table. If the kid in the neighborhood taunts you, saying “My dad is stronger than your dad,” the Elizabeth Warren solution is to get them both to submit to strength tests. It misconstrues the issue—she doesn’t get the underlying power dynamic.

      For Warren, the problem isn’t a private, for-profit health insurance industry—she “loves” markets, after all—it’s holding them accountable and strengthening consumer protections. (And, more broadly, holding capitalism accountable.) It’s not just that she’s “capitalist to the bone,” it’s that she seems pretty oblivious to both the underlying power relations—imagine FDR saying he wanted to hold the “economic royalists” “accountable” (what he said was “I should like to have it said…that…these forces [of selfishness and of lust] met their master”)—and, more specifically, to the idea that some things, such as health care, are best not left to an for-profit private sector, even one that is “accountable.” That’s not an issue of capitalism and the status quo per se any more than Warren’s response regarding her background is about DNA tests—it’s that her take on systems is wrong. (Hillary Clinton’s “never, ever” statement on single payer was more of a systemic take, in its own cynical way, than Warren’s opposition.) Warren might be all about “leverage,” according to one of her allies, but, in her talk of transparency and fairness and accountability, she picks the points of weakest leverage in the system and doesn’t even seem to realize she’s doing so.

  11. chuck roast

    It is clear to me that Bernie has always viewed us as “citizens” while Warren appears to take the view that we are all “consumers”.

  12. Jim A.

    At some level, I think that the question is whether we want to save capitalism (from itself) or replace it. I don’t think that assuming that the current extreme free-markets uber alles version of capitalism is the only or even inevitable form by ignoring the post war period when capitalism worked reasonably well for the middle class is particularly useful. It is the mirror image to those that regard any form of socialism as the first step of an inevitable slide to Venezuelan/Zimbabwean authoritarian market collapse and ignoring the Nordic countries which seem to manage a high level of government intervention pretty well thank-you-very-much. Neither system works very well when taken to extremes.

    To a real extant, I just think that it is easier to move from where we are now to reasonably well functioning system like that we had in the 60s than to a Nordic-style economy.

  13. Bill Carson

    The differences between these two candidates is substantial and important. If Sanders supporters can’t articulate why Warren’s stances are unacceptable, then it will be that much easier for the Hillary/Warren/Establishment wing of the DNC to paint us as misogynists.

    1. ambrit

      The DNC is already “painting” the Sanders ‘wing’ of American politics as misogynist. It doesn’t matter whether it is true or not. The “Big Lie” method is being used. That method has no relation to objective reality, by design. So, don’t defend against the Big Lies’ specific items. Attack the ‘Big Lie’ itself and it’s enablers head on.
      For instance, when a Hillbot attacks you because “one of Bernies staffers watches porn,” don’t whine about “people are all over the place and the bad apples will be thrown out of our barrel.” Instead, tell them that you’d rather have one of your staffers watching porn than having the candidates husband raping underage girls on the “Lolita Express.” This level of savagery is needed. The Dem apparatchiks have already self selected for “True Believers,” who will stop at nothing to get their way. They must be expunged igneously.
      “If Sanders supporters can’t articulate why Warren’s stances are unacceptable…..” That just means that Sanders supporters haven’t done their homework sufficiently. The Sanders campaign needs to put out a source of quick replies to anti-Sanders attacks. A Political F.A.Q.s sidebar on the campaign website as it were.
      “Politics ain’t bean-bag.” – Mr. Dooley

  14. PKMKII

    The one quibble I would have with this analysis is the idea that Sanders is inherently more “sweeping” than Warren in policy changes. Despite his label, the actual policy positions that Sanders pushes are more SocDem than DemSoc. Don’t get me wrong, the expanded welfare state he proposes would be a vast improvement, but that’s standard issue nordic-style sandbox capitalism; it doesn’t touch on the “worker control of the means of production” part that makes up the socialist part of Democratic Socialism.

    Warren’s plan, while the optics are “save capitalism,” ironically does more in that regard by giving workers in large corporations co-determination and some effective veto powers on board decisions. I’m not saying the policy is socialism, but it would cause just as much disruption to the political economy as the Sanders agenda.

    1. jrs

      Yea she might actually be in some ways more radical.

      Although I rather doubt either of them are the revolutionaries the writer seems to be looking for. AOC maybe? We don’t have very much experience to go by there though, so it’s really too soon to say.

  15. Jon Dhoe

    How often have we heard about working from the inside? How often do you have to do it before realizing it will not work with these overwhelmingly entrenched powers? Moreover, how much more leverage would a Sanders/Warren (or vice versa) ticket have? Far, far more than a Senator Warren who is lukewarm on issue vital to the people?

  16. doug

    ‘Both are critics of the Democratic establishment. Both are foes of Wall Street. And both are substantive, policy-focused politicians.’

    Yes, and this will prevent either of them getting the nomination…

    1. Bob Simmons

      Blame the voters. Most are neo-liberals. It was many a neo-liberal who didn’t like Hillary Clinton and wouldn’t vote for her. But a Biden? Sure, he is old, but they like him. Hillary lost 400,000 votes from Ohio just from James Comey’s hatch act violations. Now think about that for a sec.

      Elections are popularity contest. Always have been. Its about dopamine release.

  17. John Mc

    I am not sure who is going to be the best (Warren, Sanders or others). Both are capable of challenging power and both are capable of selling out to get what they want or perceive to be their issues.

    But I do know, I could care less about insider and outsider — when control and influence is an illusion in these positions.

    What I want is for someone who is honest enough to be able to communicate effectively with clarity of vision —-> not distorting front stage practices (Goffman) with smoked filled back room deals (Good Ole Boy). Calling out the decay for all of us to see — we are beyond the point where pretending things are not going well is a feasible strategy.

    Neither are going to fix the current rot, but we do need someone with some popularity to get massive support as we need new supremes with RBG hanging on, and many more competent state legislatures –

    The best idea I have is to create a team of the top dems (top 5) get tons of support and then pair the best politician with the best entertainer/ hitting demographic, social and economic groups hard.

    Before reading below, please know I did not mean to offend and I apologize profusely in advance if someone actually takes this list seriously or crystallizes anything from these mind droppings other than a poor attempt at silliness.

    Elizabeth Warren & Matt Damon — how you like them apples (nationalize Apple)
    Bernie Sanders & Oprah Winfrey — Ebony/Ivory – no Joe Piscopo
    Beto O Rourke & Amal Clooney – Ocean’s 46 – White House Rookie Scam
    Kamala Harris & Jeff Bezos — The Crazy Neoliberals Next Door
    Joe Biden & Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez — Chica and the Man

  18. Tony Wright

    Most national economies, including that of the US, are held together by mountains of debt, variously estimated at figures well over $US 125 trillion. Thanks to a decade of ridiculously low interest rates, so are many large companies. Sooner or later some black swan or other will cause one of these financial houses of cards to topple, and the leverage and interconnectedness of modern finance, together with the massive proliferation of more and new derivative markets will cause a massive cascading financial crash, worldwide.
    This is notwithstanding the remarkable levels of creativity displayed by financial and political institutions like the US Fed, the EU and the IMF to kick the proverbial debt cans down the road still further.
    Then and only then will the majority of us working stiffs (i.e. Those other than the top one percent) realise that the hyper capitalism that we have arrived at over the last decade or so simply does not work for most people.
    Then and only then will we see real and meaningful economic, political and necessary environmental policy change. The sooner the better.
    In the mean time the old Roman recipe of “Feed them Bread and Circuses” will continue , to the ever increasing detriment of the planet.

  19. Susan the Other

    Can’t change the system from the inside except by radical mutation or extinction. Which looks to be our course. Liz is just another elite sell-out. Would she be able to articulate what the country wants (medicare for all, free education, etc) if it weren’t for Bernie? No, she would not. She’s a coward. Her pronouncements are as vacuous but emphatic as Theresa May’s. “Leverage” is her euphemism – she just wants to find cover and suck up. What exactly does she mean by “regulate markets to shape pre-distribution income before taxes”? For god’s sake, this is stuff we should have looked at 50 years ago, now it’s too late. She wants to “be in the room” – I’m pretty sure that would be a circular love-fest as usual. Liz is busy fogging up the mirror. She can’t hold a candle to Bernie.

    1. Tony Wright

      If the current economic “system” is not made extinct soon the ecological basis of our existence will become so damaged that the human race will become extinct.

  20. Bob Simmons

    Sanders is going to get drowned out in 2020. He is too old and it shows. He got lucky in 2016 when Biden’s son died making Hillary the consensus favorite with her large “ethics issues”. If Biden’s son hadn’t died, he would have been the nominee. Instead he could blather on and be the “protest vote”.

    There may be 30 candidates this cycle. It will be crazy. He is going to feel the Bern all right.

    1. ambrit

      My take is quite the opposite.
      Sanders can stand out from the pack with his no nonsense policy stances. The rest so far look to be a box of cookie cutter candidates.

      1. Bob Simmons

        Maybe, but his age won’t help. He is old, very old. He is older than Biden. I think he also comes off as a carpetbagger to neo-libs where Warren or O’Neoliberal is more frank.

        It is just like most who whine about “cultural marxism” don’t get marxists also don’t support cultural marxism…….because it isn’t marxist. It is nothing more than a gimmick sold by “contards” to stimulate the dopamine receptors of their flock.

        1. ambrit

          Ah, but there is precedent. Reagan was quite old, and mentally incapacitated when he ran for his second term, and won. At least with Sanders, we don’t have the Alzheimers to work around.
          Now he does come across as a Carpetbagger, but to the older, much more conservative cohorts in the American South. There is a large ‘deplorables’ population here Down South. Sanders can get very far with them by running an economic justice policy campaign.

        2. cm

          He is old, very old. He is older than Biden.

          SO OLD…. OOOLLLDDD…..

          Joe Biden’s DOB: Nov 20, 1942
          Bernie Sanders’s DOB: Sept 8, 1941

          So you think the age difference between Biden & Sanders is significant? WTF are you smoking, and what is your point?

  21. Heliopause

    I don’t know, I’m more inclined to keep it simple and call Warren a standard-issue liberal whose brand is Wall Street regulation. Jay Inslee’s brand will be climate change, Biden’s will be the Golden Age of Obama and his folksiness, and so on. Sanders, on the other hand, is fundamentally not a liberal as we usually understand it, though he has compromised with liberals in a great many ways for practical reasons.

  22. mtnwoman

    There’s not much to be grateful for in the American political world, but I am grateful for Bernie Sanders, Liz Warren and anyone who dares to stir the status quo pot.

    I am thrilled with AOC as she reminds me of the authenticity of Bernie. She’s one of the first younguns to have stature and to share his vision, his outrage and she’s a hell of a lot more telegenic. 2024, come on AOC.

  23. Todd Holjeson

    After the Warren-haunt-US fiasco her credibility is fast approaching watered-down Hillery territory.

      1. ambrit

        I think it’s a reference to the ‘Pocahontas’ controversy concerning Warrens claim to be part American Indian, (or whatever the PC word of the day is.)

  24. Jeremy Grimm

    I liked Warren when she first popped into the picture … but I have real trouble thinking of her as a candidate for President. Warren seems far far too willing to focus on details, rhetoric, and then move on to some new ‘hot-rock’. She impresses me as most like Obama. Speaking the ‘right’ words, but small in her concerns, and solutions, and smaller in impact beyond the ‘right’ words.

    I remain firmly in the Bernie Sanders camp — barring the entry of some truly radical dark horse. I am concerned about his age. I might be less concerned if he could give a hint about who he favors as his Vice-President — maybe he has but I’m just not aware(?). Even so, completely discounting his age, Bernie is not my ideal candidate. I think he is radical only by comparison with everyone else who might have a chance to become POTUS.

    Without radical reform of our Society and its economic system I fear we approach threat of a time of “luan” as tao99 described such times in Chinese history in a comment to today’s post on China [tao99. January 11, 2019 at 7:29 am]: “…in China the biggest fear amongst the government and the people is “luan” (translated basically meaning chaos). Collective memories are there of the points in the not so distant past where starvation and chaos did reign – and this puts some additional urgency in trying not to go over the cliff.” How many coincident ‘unfortunate’ events would it take to make — food and water — life-and-death concerns for those living in some of our great cities? What if the power went out but there was no replacement transformer and no one coming to install it?

  25. Michael C.

    Sanders is the wrench in the system, Warren the oil.

    I was aware of Sanders well before seeing him about ten years ago giving an impassioned speech at a single-payer event and lobby day in D.C. put on by Progressives, the California Nurses Association (now NNU) and other groups. Unfortunately, but the nature of policy and those outside the pale of the mainstream media and centrist politics is the hinterlands. They do not get the platform or visibility. We might also ask who ever heard of HR 676 (the better single-payer bill when compared to Sanders’) and John Conyers back then, who had been the sponsor of a single payer bill (until his reason problems), but the number of those endorsing it has grown in recent years, much due to the work of single payer groups and people like Sanders who have raised the profile of it. And now the Progressive Caucus (though now filled with some faux progressives who need to co-opt the brand) was then and is even much more so now the largest caucus in the House. Sanders had a lot to do with raising the profile of single payer, and many other issues that got little attention, and his penchant for movement building sits well with a populace that is disillusioned by both political parties and the years of neoliberalism that have made their prosperity suffer.

    Sanders keeps plugging away, year after year, and his expanding base are more politically conscious of the need for systemic change. Regardless of his shortcomings and the already many attacks by the corporate Dems and their surrogates and the mainstream media Jake Tapper types, he is the only candidate that will enthuse voters, if or course the establishment mud slinging does not bring him down once again along with centrist Dem machinations.

    His continual emphasis on policy is key for me, particularly since he works to avoid the cult of personality that others rely on, such as Beto O’Rourke. The manner in which Warren handled the whole “Pocahontas” debacle showed a real weakness on her part to navigate the political world, even if she is good at navigating well in power centers. At times her speeches appear to self-serving and lack the genuineness of a Sanders speech, and he after all has remained fairly consistent over decades.

    When he runs, which I think he will, it would behoove anyone desiring throwing a wrench into the works to do all they can to get him elected. I say that as one who eschews any cultist belief in him.

  26. Jeremy Grimm

    I like your quip: “Sanders is the wrench in the system, Warren the oil.” It is most fitting.

Comments are closed.