Why “President Elizabeth Warren” Would be a Huge Waste of a Great Senator

sen-warrenI think anyone who follows me knows I absolutely adore Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.  She has skyrocketed to being one of my favorite politicians.  Her straight-forward talk, her tendency to say what many Americans have been saying for years and the way she comes off as someone who genuinely believes in what she’s saying — as opposed to the typical politician who seems to just say whatever they think will get them the most votes — is simply refreshing.

That being said, I think her running for president would be a giant mistake.

Listen, while I absolutely love her as a United States Senator, her power and charisma is best left where she can make the most difference — and that’s not in the White House.

I think at least one thing President Obama has taught many liberals is that being the president doesn’t really give you a whole lot of power.  Sure, in this country the president is the one who takes the brunt of the blame because it’s a singular figure and it’s just easier to blame them. But the reality is that being the president doesn’t give you a great deal of power to create policy, let alone pass it.

The most a president can really do is threaten to use their veto power in hopes that the threat will force Congress to send legislation to their desk that they support.

But in our country, like it or not, Congress has most of the power.  And Congress is where I think someone like Senator Warren can make the most difference.

While many liberals (including myself) are huge fans of Ms. Warren, she’ll never be a figure that gets real mainstream acceptance.  She’s not a centrist.  Which is a good thing for liberals when it comes to the Senate, just not as a president.

One of the issues I’ve always had with President Obama is I feel he needed a little more “seasoning.”  He was idealistic, bold, full of bright new ideas and campaign promises — without knowing exactly what it is he was getting himself into.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe he’s been a good president, I just think the way in which he handled certain situations made them worse than they needed to be.

It didn’t help that Republicans weren’t going to, under any circumstances, help him achieve anything.  But he continually failed to control the message and often allowed Republicans to dictate “truth” to the American people.  “Truth” which was almost always some right-wing lie.

Also, as senator, Warren can be more idealistic.  She can say more of what’s on her mind.  As president, like it or not, you’re forced to be a little less confrontational and must abide by a different set of rules.

I want to see Senator Warren rise to Senate leadership.  I want to see Senator Warren turn the senate into a progressive movement against rampant corruption that’s taken over Wall Street and big business.  I want to see her take on fools like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul year after year on the senate floor.  I want to see her have the ability to stand there in the same room with these people and tell them we’re not taking their crap anymore — it’s time for real change.

Plus presidents are simply stretched too thin.  As senator, Warren can focus on the handful of issues which she’s most passionate about.  And in doing so, she stands a much better chance at bringing about real change.

Presidents just can’t do this.  Sure they can be very influential, and we need the right person in the White House to help bring positive change to this country, but a president at their best is often one who has the right people behind them, with them bringing everything together.

Elizabeth Warren doesn’t strike me as that type of person.  And again, that’s a good thing.  Not everyone who’s a great political leader should be president.  I see Warren’s best strengths as being an antagonist.  She’s someone who can go blow for blow with right-wing insanity in the senate — and win.

But as president you can’t be that confrontational.  You can’t be someone who’s always “shaking things up.”  Presidential leadership and congressional leadership aren’t exactly the same.  In fact, they’re often very different.

It’s like coaching.  Some coaches make fantastic coordinators or assistant coaches, but they’re not nearly as effective as a head coach.

Now I’m sure plenty of liberals will completely disagree with what I’m saying here, and that’s fine.

I would just like to see Senator Warren make her legacy as the senator who changed the Senate.  Because I believe that’s where her true strengths lie, and can be showcased for many years to come.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • Mrs_oatmeal

    Agreed! Go Elizabeth!

  • Mike Williams

    I read this article and am in agreement. I think the country would be better off with her as a senator. We need more like her. A lot more.

    Mind blowing ad on my read of this article (they’re just served up like spam from Monty Python) …

    “Mitch McConnell a fine upstanding Kentucky conservative.” ~ via Rand Paul… a ringing endorsement.

    I just find it frakking comical to be served up on the same dish as EW.

    Nice big slice of common sense served with a steamy side of bullshit….

    Here is this fine conservative in action…a prelude of things to come.

    As a matter of great national importance Senator “save-a-buck” used federal money to congratulate the winner of the Kentucky Derby.

    S.RES.129 : A resolution commending Louisiana jockey Calvin Borel for his victory in the 135th Kentucky Derby. (2009- co-sponsor)

    Really? We needed a bill to tell us to pick up a phone, or just tweet the guy? Had to be an act of congress?

    • Seriously? An act of Congress to thank a man? A simple phone call was too much?

  • I agree. Sen Warren has a nice ring to it and she will get a hell of a lot more done in Congress than the White House. Lets keep her there…and get more like her. I wish she could run a congress school…

  • Marty Cox

    You make a good and intelligent case …one I’ve had in the back of my mind.
    Her value as a Senator is irreplaceable.

  • I Once Was Andrew

    We need a president who comes from outside the existing Washington power structure. President Warren is the only hope for truly sweeping reform that we’ve got.

  • Drew

    Warren should run for president. Why? Because on the campaign trail she could share her message with millions of people. She would make Hillary Clinton and others listen to a more radical voice. That would an incredibly valuable contribution to American politics. So what if she loses. She remains senator and the world has heard her voice.

    Also, comparing her to Obama is logical but wrong. He is a moderate Republican in his politics. He bombs other countries all the time, increases troops, doesn’t shut down Gitmo, helps big banks and major investment firms. The guy is more like George W. Bush than Elizabeth Warren. His being stymied as president is not because he’s too liberal. It’s because he’s up against irrational ideologues who are fueled by racism. He’s also an inexperienced negotiator, which Warren probably is as well, but she’s no push over like Obama.

    Lastly, you can’t say Congress has more power than the president because of the situation going on right now. If the Tea Party is voted out next term, things will be totally different. In 2016, who knows what the situation will be.

    Warren should get out there and campaign. Spend the money and share her message with the national audience. Maybe she’d even win and then we’d have a powerful voice for justice in the White House.

  • Marc D

    Totally agree, and Warren isn’t going to run for president anyway, so the point is moot. What we need is some kind of cross between someone with Warren’s smarts and philosophy, and a career politician who can face the brunt of a national campaign. We got a couple years yet to figure that one out.

    • Kirk welch

      Drew, your not seeing the big picture. Warren is already getting her message out to Millions of Americans, she doesn’t need to be POTUS to do that. she is Centered on specific issues, if she leaves her position in the Senate who do we have with the balls to do what she is doing now.
      More importantly, We have a winner in Hillery, The GOP doesn’t have a single person that has 1/2 of Hillery’s popularity, they are a splintered group, the Moderate Conservatives like Chuck Hagel, the Libertarians, Ron Paul, The Tealaban, Ted Cruz and the insane Christian Ultra Right Wing Teavanglists Party with Palin and crazy eyes Bauchman.
      Right now the best they have to offer is a Cuban born Canadian who moved to Texas so he could blend in with the Mexican Americans and that ain’t workin so well for him, and Christy who has been thrown under the buss more times than a shop mechanics grease rag by his own party.
      What we don’t need is to dilute the democratic voting pool at this point. What we do need is to take back as many House seats as we can and keep control of the Senate for the next 10 yrs.
      Get Hillery into Office and keep her there for two terms and the Supreme Court goes from Conservative back to a more Liberal or Moderate Court and we end this Filibuster madness.
      the kids that are going to be voting in the next 2-10 yrs are not going to buy into all the Racism, Bigotry and Misogyny being spewed from the GOP and the more they talk the more they sound like mad scientists.
      I agree with Allen about allowing the GOP to control the Media but they have their very own bought and paid for Propaganda Machine in FOX. We need the same but we need it to be on the level. truth instead of innuendo and lies. People focus on FOX News but forget they have contracts for coverage of NASCAR and major NFL Games, in short FOX has a following that will be hard to top.

  • Linda Bridges Baker

    I agree,I didn’t think I would agree with you but you made a great case.Keeping her in the legislature is invaluable.

  • Tom

    I have thought the same thing. I think she is in the right place at the right time. Hopefully her straightforward nature will finally catch on in the midst of all the rest of the craziness. Thank you for putting this out there. I always enjoy reading what you have to write.

  • Beth

    A couple of classmates and I were talking about this today. My classmate (a poli sci major) disagreed with me when I said I’d like to see her as president for the same reasons. And I agree because I like that as senator, she has the ability to focus all of her energy on particular key issues (and I can’t really see her as Commander-in-Chief).
    My classmate made an excellent point though; she said she’d like to see her run. Not because she thought that Warren could or should win, but because it would force Clinton into talking about Wall Street and other issues which she might ignore.

  • Michael Slattery

    If Warren can “straighten out the Senate” then we must agree but a popular President can be very powerful. Obama is a polarizing figure and so, with a split Congress, not so much. Congress must respect a popular President who could then better control the legislative agenda. Warren is a liberal and would probably perpetuate the hate-hate relationship between the parties as would Hillary. Is there another Bill Clinton out there or a Reagan on the other side? You don’t know till you catch ’em playing the sax on Arsenio…

  • Linda Jenkins

    Well, if we go with the opinion of the author, the next best nominees would be Joe Biden or Rahm Emmanuel.

  • scribble73

    While I respect your argument, I don’t agree.

    The thing is; Obama has been perhaps the weakest President in modern times — and by no stretch is he a Progressive. I think Elizabeth Warren would NOT run the Presidency the way Obama is running (or not running) it, and thereby would lie her success.

    She would politely crack a few heads together; pull a few earmarks out of Bills, deliver a few speeches in home districts of uncooperative House Representatives, deliver some really good speeches on what policies she supported (try getting THAT out of Obama), and she would veto a few horrific legislative Bills — Just the way every American President through Reagan did, and the way Obama does not.

    It would be a lumpy ride, but Congress would learn to at least partially behave, just as it learned during the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon and Reagan administrations.

  • Adrian

    The reason I want Warren as President is that I hope she can be the next FDR. And I know a lot of people said that about Obama as well, and he hasn’t been fulfilling the demands of the populist caucus of the Democratic Party the way people thought he would, but everyone is forgetting one thing: He was always a centrist. Sure, he made a speech in ’07 about how “The Time has Come for Universal Healthcare”, but what he gave us instead was a reform so watered down, Dick Cheney is pouring it over the detainees’ heads in Gitmo. But Warren will be different, because she has always been one of the most liberal voices in the country. Where Obama would try to pander to the Right, Warren would, as Roosevelt said, “Welcome their hatred”. Warren could America’s only current hope for a Universal Health System, a less aggressive and more diplomatic foreign policy, and someone who finally, ironic as it may sound, has the balls to stand up to the NRA, Cross Roads America, and the AFP, and end the far-right wing’s influence.

  • Nancy Hall

    I agree with your argument. One thing that people tend to forget is that the federal government is a massive, complex, rigid structure with rules and practices so entrenched that change is virtually impossible. I think this is what has stymied Obama in his efforts to transform government. Government doesn’t want to be transformed. It’s happy with things the way they are. .

    The NSA is a good example. It runs itself and no outsider, including the President, knows what they’re up to. They like it that way.That doesn’t mean that Obama shouldn’t try for NSA reform. It just means that they’ll fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo. I think that Obama will succeed in making some change in government, but a full makeover would mean that he never did anything else at all.

    Is this really how people want to see Warren’s talents squandered…in continuing the endless task of making government more flexible and accessible while also cleaning up Bush era messes? I don’t.

  • kissyface

    i want Warren to gain leadership in the senate and Hillary in the white house

  • AsIfUknow

    Excellent points. I will give up my selfish dream of POTUS Warren for the good of the country then.