The last time Hillary Clinton ran for president, I worked so many long hours for her, she sent me a signed thank you note. When she lost, I was heartbroken. This upcoming election, I will support her again, but given a choice, I’d prefer to support Elizabeth Warren. I admire the Senator’s populist stands and know what it costs to work outside the inner circle of power. A person might think rubbing shoulders with oligarchs wouldn’t matter if one had the ear of the people. But the ear of the people is an illusion, not only because our country is diverse, but also because, while we applaud populist values, we don’t embrace them. A reason we tolerate the 1%ers is we secretly hope to become one of them. Isn’t that the American Dream? To get ahead? But to get ahead, we must leave others behind, the opposite of equality.
Larry Summer, head of the National Economic Council when Warren arrived in Washington, warned her about the folly of courting “the people.” She ignored his advice and the decision cost her a permanent appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency she created. (“A Woman of the People,” by Michael Tomasky, Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2014 pg. 66). That may have been a good thing because it freed her to run for the U. S. Senate seat and win. Now she has a bully pulpit which she is using to pull the Democratic Party from the centrist positions established by Bill Clinton and bringing it further to the left, dragging a conflicted Hillary Clinton with her. Or is she conflicted? Perhaps Warren is paving the way for the former first lady to take the party in a direction nearer to her heart.
I admit, Hillary is a pragmatist where Warren is not. Hillary acknowledges the power of the inner circle. She’s comfortable among its members and because of it, she is a master of the deal. Unnoble as this sounds, deals have to be made if there is to be progress. The Republican party over the past few years has taught us this lesson well. In politics, there’s no virtue in practicing unbending idealism.
Like everyone else, I’m tired of reading about Hillary mistakes: her email debacle and the recent headlines about foreign contributions to the Clinton charitable foundation. Yet I know those who stand in the spotlight cast shadows blacker than their reality. Yes, I’m sometimes surprised by her compromises. People who compromise are less predictable than purists. They live in a complex world, a dilemma those who see in black and white never need confront.
Warren, on the other hand, though a complex thinker, wants to reduce conditions to simplicity. She wants to help us understand. Sadly, for her, we do and we mistrust that simplicity though we wish it were real. Maybe, it’s ourselves we mistrust and our personal ambitions that run afoul of purity. I’m not sure, but I doubt in this time and place, Warren could be elected president of the United States. A society needs its dreamers; but it’s difficult to live with them.
Hillary Clinton will make a good president, and better than her husband because, though she earns $300,000 for a speech, she knows how to shop at a grocery store. She knows a parent’s desire to nurture the child, and she knows that it takes a village to do it.
Two women I admire are taking different political roads. In a better world their paths may one day converge. I hope so.