Elizabeth Warren is Rising Because She Acts Like a President Should
It was just weeks ago that media critics homed in on media’s lack of or primarily negative coverage of female candidates lined up for the Democratic primary. Way back then, Elizabeth Warren was barely a whisper on pundit lips, but the big finance-busting candidate is lately proving you don’t have to be a man to play this game. So, what magic trick is she pulling off to grab the spotlight and define herself in the crowded room?
It turns out there’s no trick at all – her method of standing out among the campaign madness is built on one simple thing: She’s acting like a president.
The Independence Hall Association, a non-profit that offers non-biased history education material, provide the following list of qualities most common in presidents viewed favorably by presidential historians:
- A strong vision for the country’s future
- An ability to put their own times in the perspective of history
- Effective communication skills
- The courage to make unpopular decisions
- Crisis management skills
- Character and integrity
- Wise appointments
- An ability to work with Congress
Of all the candidates fishing for that one golden ticket, Warren is most effectively demonstrating several of the qualities considered fairly necessary for a good leader or great president. That’s not to say others don’t possess the same or similar characteristics, some very well might, but Warren is just doing the best job at the moment of showing us what she’s made of.
We can’t assess her ability to make wise appointments or work with Congress, at least not in a presidential sense, but from an observational standpoint, she’s hitting the mark with the rest of the list.
STRONG VISION FOR THE COUNTRY’S FUTURE
Warren’s entire campaign has been built on her vision of the future and unlike many other candidates, present and past, she is very detailed and thoughtful about exactly what that vision is. It’s somewhat understandable that some political hopefuls choose to remain vague as they make their way through the circus – there’s less to pick apart when there’s less information given. But the senator does not shy from the scrutiny of putting it all out there.
Economically, she is extremely clear about where she’s coming from and where she wants to see the country headed. She told a crowd at SXSW the same thing she’s been saying for years – she wants to break up monopolies and tech giants, address big money corruption and get rid of tax loop holes perverted to benefit the very few.
If we put a 2% tax on the wealthiest families in the country, we can provide universal Pre-K, universal free college, knock back student loan debt for 95% of Americans—and still have a trillion dollars leftover. #WarrenTownHall pic.twitter.com/1MMM1eOghf
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) April 23, 2019
She’s come out swinging with her wealth tax proposal, which would collect 2 percent from those with assets of more than $50 million per year and 3 percent on people with more than $1 billion. The revenue would be used to forgive about 75 percent of all student debt, make public two-year and four-colleges tuition-free and load up the Pell grant coffers to help student manage other expenses. Although her numbers are being dissected, unlike most candidates, she’s showing her math and dedication to the details.
On foreign policy, she takes the unexpected route and agrees with her current presidential nemesis on the need to pull out of Syria, although she moves in the opposite direction on the topic of Iran and wants to end the war in Yemen.
Warren expresses the desire to rebuild the immigration system from the ground up and joins other progressive voices like Kamala Harris in calling for the dismantling and replacement of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “with something that reflects our morality.”
Her vision may or may not be one you share, but it is no secret where she wants to go as a country and how she wants to get there.
ABILITY TO PUT THEIR OWN TIMES IN THE PERSPECTIVE OF HISTORY
One word illustrates Warren’s adherence to this quality: impeachment. The senator has called on Congress to act on articles of impeachment against Donald Trump in the wake of the Mueller report release. Where other establishment Democrats are reluctant to invoke the “I” word, fearing it will create insurmountable backlash against the election backdrop, Warren stated that “there is no political convenience exception the United States Constitution.”
It may not be politically advantageous for Dems to chase the impeachment dragon this far into the campaign season, but Warren is willing to take the risk for the better good. She has made her choice clear, she would rather take the political hit than stand on the wrong side of history.
COURAGE TO MAKE UNPOPULAR DECISIONS
If Warren is anything, she is courageous in her moral defiance of the status quo. Breaking up big banks and taking on corruption is pretty unpopular in the circles she’s forced to travel in. Calling for impeachment when Nancy Pelosi advises against it is getting her a lot of attention, much of it heat from people who worry about how that will play out at the ballot box. She may not always be right, but she is not afraid to be disliked for standing with what she believes.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT SKILLS
We all know about “Pocahontas” and the DNA test. The whole thing was a disaster in terms of trust and public relations and she had to eat some crow through it all. The thing is, she did just that. She came out and apologized, hung her head low for just a little while and then got back up on the bike.
People were ready to call her done, and yet, here she is, polling in the top five and catching more airtime than any of the other media favorites. Her journey out of crisis and into the spotlight as a serious contender was made on the back of the familiar, doing exactly what she has always done, spreading the message she’s always been quick to spread. Warren didn’t look for a headline or scandal to bolster her position, she just stuck it out. Her tenacity when times are rough speaks volumes.
CHARACTER AND INTEGRITY
It’s no secret that Warren and Trump are not rushing out to buy friendship bracelets, yet she resisted the urge to rest on anti-Trump laurels and in fact warned other candidates in the field:
“If our message is not Trump, it’s not going to work.”
Theoretically, she could have taken a page from Trump’s 2016 book and capitalized on bitterness and anger many Americans feel toward the current president, and given the amount of grief he gives her, she’d be well within her rights to do so. But that’s not the path she’s taken – she’s opting for difficult policy discussion over lazy, petty rhetoric. It is a testament to her character that she’s chosen to prioritize her vision above what’s easy and sensational.
Think what you will of Warren, but even those who detest her have to admit she stands firm in her beliefs. The senator is consistent in her advocacy for consumers and economic justice, and although it seldom makes her popular among other D.C. elites, she has yet to waver. Her work with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is proof that her words are more than political hype. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, integrity is defined as: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles that you refuse to change. You don’t have to agree with her principles to concede that she is driven by a strong sense of moral purpose.
MARKS OF GREAT LEADER
Elizabeth Warren may not the shiniest button out there – she’s not the youngest, she’s not the only woman or the only progressive, but she is bringing real policy ideas to the debate and she is rising steadily without warping her character to fit political whims. The longer we have to assess her as a potential leader of the free world, the more signs we see of a woman who just might be made for the job.
Her message is bold and consistent. Her resolve is strong. She weathers storms and is unafraid to be unpopular. She agrees with her opposition when it is appropriate and fights like hell when she needs to. Her demeanor is a balance of passion and calmness. Elizabeth Warren is facing the crowd as a genuine representation of who she’s always been – we’re just now noticing how presidential she can be.
She may have taken a while to get here but today, she’s the dark horse in this race. Watch her go.