The next seven days will determine the tone of the presidential race for the next five months. Specifically, much of the onus for how Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party fares against Donald Trump will be up to Bernie Sanders and the difficult choices he’s tasked with making between now and sometime midweek next week, when the last primary wraps up.
Everything will be full-speed-ahead if Bernie does the right thing and concedes to Hillary. Perhaps, as Cenk Uygur advised today, Bernie should merely suspend his campaign — a de facto concession, and a remarkably sensible and fair one given the alternatives. (By the way, yes, I think Cenk’s advice was magnanimous and reasonable. There’s hope yet.) MoveOn.org, which was squarely in Bernie’s camp, also called for the Vermont senator to wrap it up and, well, you know.
Regardless of what Bernie decides to do, there will continue to be millions of disaffected supporters and political revolutionaries who feel as if they’ve been cheated, both figuratively and literally. Sure, a good many of them were caught up in a cult of personality, while more than a few are earnestly and firmly ensconced in the policy proposals Bernie has successfully injected into the mainstream conversation. There’s almost literally nothing anyone can do to cajole Bernie’s people into embracing Hillary or her campaign. Many will do their part to defeat Trump, but that won’t include any direct contact with Hillary or her people. It turns out, humans like to save face, and when Hillary people rub the noses of Bernie supporters in shit, they tend to frown upon joining forces with their tormentors. Shocking, I know.
Bernie himself can go a long way toward delivering a sizable chunk of his people to Hillary’s camp, but few will like it. There’s one option, though, that has nothing to do with how Bernie chooses to move forward.
Late last week, The Boston Globe reported that Harry Reid is looking into whether losing Elizabeth Warren as a senator might negatively impact the balance of power in the upper chamber of Congress. And, on Wednesday, The Huffington Post further reported that Reid’s top choice for vice president is Warren, according to “four Senate sources familiar with Reid’s thinking.”
Reid and Warren have a history. As majority leader, he plucked Warren from Harvard Law School to name her chairman of a panel overseeing the Wall Street bailout. She used that visibility that came with that platform to push the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into law. Warren then was given the task of standing the institution up. Republicans and some bank-friendly Democrats blocked her from becoming the permanent head of the agency she created, but what they got instead was a powerful senator from Massachusetts, and now a leading contender for for vice president.
Warren also represents a magic bullet, of sorts, that’d more than assuage the angst and disappointment of the Bernie loyalists. If there’s a hero who’s more widely regarded by the progressive left than Bernie himself, it’s Warren.
Full disclosure: had she run for president, I would’ve easily endorsed her. (I chose not to endorse any candidates this time around.) And her recent assault upon Donald Trump vindicated my secret political-crush. In many ways, she’s the real deal, and the contrast between her reputation as a bare-knuckles-fighter and her disarming gosh-golly Mom-like personality would keep Trump and his GOP minions hopelessly off balance.
Were she to team up with Hillary, it’s extremely likely that the vast majority of Bernie supporters would make the transition over to a Clinton-Warren dream team. She’s too appealing to ignore and, in terms of Hillary’s immediate strategy moving forward, announcing Warren sooner rather than later would effectively neuter Bernie, should he decide to engage in a more caustic approach between now and Philadelphia. Even if Bernie graciously steps off and campaigns for Hillary, many of his disciples won’t follow suit. But Warren would be too tempting to ignore.
Back to Trump, it’d be thoroughly entertaining to watch Hillary and Warren tag-team against Trump, taking turns kicking him in his shriveled balls at every turn — tempting him to make a crack about the all-woman ticket that’d absolutely drive more voters away from the misogynistic, racist Twitter troll. And, when elected, Warren could easily fulfill Joe Biden’s roll as the outspoken conscience of the Clinton 2.0 administration, cultivating progressive support for Hillary’s policy agenda, while nailing the obstructionist congressional Republicans.
Whether Hillary agrees is another story entirely. My gut tells me Hillary might go for a safer bet (O’Malley, for example — but I hope not) or a Latino candidate (Julian Castro, perhaps) to further lock down the Latino vote in the Democratic column for another several generations. But if she’s interested in de-fanging the Bernie crowd, Warren might be the running-mate to do it.