Elizabeth Warren needs to do better

Warren has potential, but must make major changes


Collegian File Photo

By Ana Pietrewicz, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

The Democratic candidates for the presidential seat in 2020 are a mess.

This is the only takeaway from the last round of the Democratic debates. Even without Marianne Williamson’s strange and unusual stage presence, the debate felt scattered and Trump-focused. Candidates talked in circles and repeated the same policy ideas.

Despite the somewhat otiose debates, the major players in the Democratic field have emerged. The “big three” so far appear to be Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, the evident leader in the polls. All three of the candidates have managed to hold most of the focus from potential voters. But why has Warren held onto one of the top three spots so tightly?

During the Sept. 12 debates, Warren was noticeably quiet despite her center-stage position. Some of this can be attributed to the lack of questions lobbed her way as well as the large number of candidates onstage. When Warren did answer questions, she mostly avoided mentioning policies. Instead, she focused on her personal narrative and her experience as a teacher.

Warren is very strong on policies. In fact, she has over three times as many plans as any of her fellow candidates. But many of her policies feel half-baked. The problem with Warren, as with many Democratic candidates, is the financial grandiosity of her policies without legitimate plans to eliminate the problems they would create. For example, her plan for free college – a plan costing $1.25 trillion, would be paid for by her “Ultra-Millionaire Tax.”

Now, I’m all for free college and taxing the rich in order to generate tax revenue. Implementing both of those things would certainly make my life as a broke college student a lot easier. But beyond considering the greediness of colleges as well as millionaires, Warren’s plan relies on the unlikely scenario that the tax will be implemented in the first place.

Warren has also faced criticism for her hypocritical campaign funding strategy. She recently denounced donations made to her campaign by big corporations, instead opting for a grassroots donor strategy adopted by candidates like Sanders and Texas’s Beto O’Rourke. However, a large portion of Warren’s campaign funds were leftover donations from her 2018 senatorial run – made by the same big money donors attempts to denounce.

There is no doubt that Warren is a strong candidate for the presidential seat, but in the hodgepodge of Democratic candidates, she sometimes fails to stand out. In fact, this seems to be the problem that a lot of the candidates are encountering – they are struggling to find a way to stand out in the crowd. Even the formerly charismatic O’Rourke has struggled to win back the massive wave of support he gained during his unsuccessful senatorial bid.

There is not one clear candidate that Democrats can get behind. While it’s still early in the race, the only apparent and consistent frontrunner is, surprisingly, Joe Biden. With his many gaffes and deteriorating mental state – he slipped up and called Bernie Sanders “the president” during Thursday’s debate – Biden should be an easy candidate to beat. But Democrats are holding on to nostalgia the association Biden had with former President Obama, even when he can’t remember Obama’s name.

Warren might be a great candidate for the Democratic nomination. She has proved that she can hold her own in the polls. Potential voters see something in her that they like, but in order to beat Biden and Sanders, Warren has to rise to the occasion. She needs a healthcare plan that isn’t just co-singing Sanders’ bill. For instance, healthcare should be a universal right, but Warren should develop a policy which appeals more to moderates. Warren also needs to clarify her policies and outline them in a concise way.

The Democratic party needs a candidate with a clear vision for the future of the United States who can appeal to moderates as well as progressives. Warren can be that candidate, so long as she proposes policies that will work. Warren can bring the Democrats back down to Earth, but only if her campaign can keep itself together. Who knows, maybe our first female president will be in office sooner than we think.

Ana Pietrewicz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @AnaPietrewicz.