"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Elizabeth Warren vs Hillary Clinton in 2016?

An interesting piece by Noam Scheiber in TNR about a potential challenge to Hillary Clinton by Elizabeth Warren for the democratic nomination in 2016. He's absolutely right that "inevitable candidates have a way of becoming 'evitable'", and in drawing deja-vu parallels around Clinton's potential mis-alignment with the base (if not the nation in toto) over how to handle inequality and the finance sector vis-a-vis her positions on national security (esp Iraq) in 2008. It's an interesting read.

He also does a good job of describing how Warren wields her influence, by being willing to violate some of the social norms of Capital Hill in very public settings, for instance asking regulators "when was the last time you took a bank who broke the law to trial?" (to which they had no answer). I am a fan of Warren's rhetoric and style, and pedigree as an antagonist of the neoliberal establishment.

Still, I'm skeptical that Warren will make the run, but Scheiber makes a compelling case that she's motivated enough by her belief in economic policy and what it means for working families that she'd do it even as a long shot. He notes:

Of course, any prediction of a populist revolt against the party’s top brass must grapple with the tendency of such predictions to be wrong. From the Howard Dean campaign in 2004 to the Occupy Movement in 2011, the last decade in Democratic politics has been rife with heady declarations of grassroots rebellion, only to see the insiders assert control each time. Even the one insurgency that did succeed, the Obama campaign, was quickly absorbed into the party establishment, from which Obama was never so far removed in the first place.

But concludes with a quote from an insider:

“Yeah, Hillary is running. And she’ll probably win,” says the former [Warren] aide. “But Elizabeth doesn’t care about winning. She doesn’t care whose turn it is.”

We could be looking at in interesting 2016 primary season on the Democratic side of the isle. Clinton would be the heavy presumptive favorite and the only challenges that could be legitimately entertained would need to be both motivated by this kind of moral mission, and also have a constituency. There would only be room for one or two white male mainstreamers angling for the veep slot.

More in another post as to why I think this matters, vis a vis Russel Brand's charismatic case for disengagement. I'm sympathetic to the "don't vote for wankers" argument, but I think I have a better one. But more on that another day.