Elizabeth Warren makes the first move towards a U.S. presidential bid
Elizabeth Warren, Democratic Senator of Massachusetts, has announced her likely candidacy for the 2020 U.S. presidential race. In her statement she put racial and gender-based inequality front and centre in her campaign agenda, as much as income inequality faced by the middle class. For these ills of the American economy, she blamed the excesses of under-regulated Wall Street corporations and billionaires with the money muscle to bend political rules. Although Ms. Warren, who won a second six-year Senate term in November, had declined to enter the 2016 general election and challenge Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, she made a name for herself as a top-tier Democrat by taking on President Donald Trump, describing him as a “thin-skinned racist bully”. However, she attracted criticism for an unnecessary controversy over taking a DNA test to establish her Native American heritage, after Mr. Trump used racist epithets to provoke and smear her ethnic antecedents. Notwithstanding that blip, the former Harvard law professor, who hails from a blue-collar background in Oklahoma, has repeatedly underscored her credentials as a champion of multiracial populism. Over the past year she has sharpened her attack on Mr. Trump’s politics, arguing that he deflects attention from the impact of his divisive policies on ordinary American families and instead blames “other working people, people who are black, or brown, people born somewhere else.”
Despite the considerable achievements of Ms. Warren, who had not held public office before 2013, the obstacles ahead for her proposed presidential run are formidable. First, the general expectation is that the field for the Democratic nomination will widen considerably over through 2019, given that more than three dozen Democratic candidates-in-the-making are said to be considering joining the race, several of them for the first time. Some, such as Kamala Harris of California or Cory Booker of New Jersey, could hold stronger appeal with millennial voters and people of colour. Second, it is hard to predict how Ms. Warren will fare against self-professed Democratic socialist candidate Bernie Sanders, or Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, both economic populists who could hypothetically cut into her share of voters of a similar ideological persuasion. Finally, the risk of pursuing a populist theme from the centre-left of the political spectrum is that she would be an easy target for Mr. Trump and conservatives, who are likely to deride her as an out-of-touch liberal academic and a threat to free enterprise. Nevertheless, as a candidate for the nation’s highest office, Ms. Warren’s ideological moorings are set. It is not inconceivable that, given how bitterly polarised the electorate is today, Ms. Warren’s bold liberalism could offer hope to millions of voters dismayed at what Mr. Trump has done to their nation.