Structural change must come from political revolution

Mills Sparkman

When Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her candidacy for president last year, I was thrilled to support her. Now I’m not so sure.

Warren was a fresh face to many, myself included.

She is a public school teacher turned Harvard law professor turned senator, and a Republican turned Democrat.

Rather than turning me off, Warren’s changes in viewpoint and career made me more confident in her ability to lead the country.

She saw how the U.S. adapted and adapted herself. She understood how the Great Recession happened, and she would keep it from happening again as president.

Besides, I wasn’t convinced of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ capability to unite the party, much less the nation.

After he lost the Democratic primary in 2016, albeit among some controversy over the process, I thought he was just too radical to gain the support needed to win the presidency.

But, after Sanders’ recent success in the Iowa caucuses and Warren’s subsequent drop in the polls, I’m not sure I have that same faith in Warren’s honesty or ability to win anymore.

Unlike Warren, Sanders did undeniably well in the Iowa caucuses, winning 26.1% of the vote to Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 26.9% according to a Feb. 6 New York Times poll.

Unlike Warren, Sanders has a young and diverse base of supporters.

Thirty-nine percent of Latinos in California said they prefer Sanders, compared to 5% for Warren, according to a September 2019 Public Policy Institute of California study.

Support for Sanders is split evenly between men and women, and most heavily driven by voters aged 18-44, according to a January 2019 Morning Consult and Politico poll.

And Sanders is second only to former Vice President Joe Biden in support from black voters nationwide, according to a Jan. 12 NPR article.

Unlike Warren, Sanders has stood for the same causes since he was mayor of our college town: a living wage, affordable housing and health care for all, according to his campaign website.

One could even say Sanders was ahead of his time with his work for these causes when his colleagues did not support them.

It was arguably because of his advocacy as mayor and later as a U.S. senator that these causes, and others like them, went from being unrealistic to being essential to a progressive campaign.

Because of Sanders’ work, Warren was able to advocate for the same or very similar policies in the Senate and in her presidential campaign.

However, Warren’s proposals were received very differently, even accepted by more moderate Democrats in a way that Sanders never was.

All this is not to say that I don’t like Warren, because I do. I feel confused, even somewhat guilty, for changing my mind and not fully supporting a qualified and accomplished female candidate.

However, I would feel much worse going against my gut in one of the most important elections I will ever vote in.

In 2020, we need a presidential candidate who can rally younger voters and cross both race and gender barriers.

We need a presidential candidate who can understand that President Donald Trump’s election was not a political anomaly but an exposure of injustices that have existed since the U.S. was first founded.

To solve the great challenges that we face as a country, we need a presidential candidate who has seen them and fought against them all along.

And I don’t think that Warren is that candidate.