Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president, is now sorting out her pick for her running mate and potential vice president. She’s launched the ‘search,’ the traditional and often irritating public surfacing of various possibilities, paying respect to different constituencies and different personalities, before settling on a choice.
One possibility being floated clearly merits serious consideration. Consider this resume: Raised in a family struggling to get by, this prospect started working while still in high school, went to college on a debate scholarship, graduated from law school, and became a Harvard Law professor and expert on bankruptcy law, particularly as it relates to how the financial industry preys on families in crisis.
This person wrote path-breaking books on the economic pressures on working families, then chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel monitoring the federal bailout of the U.S. banking system and created the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), ushering it from conception to passage into law. Then elected as U.S. senator, immediately gaining a national reputation as a progressive leader willing to take on the big banks and stand up for working people, this leader has demonstrated a tough mind, a full heart, a strong will and a gift for inspiring people. What’s not to like?
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is, of course, a woman. Some suggest it’s impossible to have two women lead the party’s ticket. But haven’t we gone far beyond that? We’ve had two men lead parties forever, so there’s no tradition of gender balance. Hillary Clinton should be looking for the strongest candidate. And on that criterion, Warren is hard to beat.
Warren would help Clinton heal the divisions of the primaries. She appeals to the Sanders wing of the party, to independents and the young. Indeed, before Sanders announced, progressives organized across the country to urge Warren to run. She speaks with a credibility earned by her willingness to take the side of working families against powerful interests and the Washington establishment. She’s already demonstrated the fire needed to call out Donald Trump and the party that is about to nominate him.
Warren exemplifies Clinton’s goal to be a “progressive with results.” She had to take on the banking lobby, Obama’s treasury secretary, entrenched regulators, and Republican and more than a few Democratic members of Congress to get the CFPB enshrined in law. Already that agency has helped consumers recover more than $10 billion from credit card companies and banking institutions that had defrauded them. If she is on the ticket and helping to lead the administration, voters can be confident that Wall Street bankers will finally be held accountable.
Warren has been a leader in the effort to expand Social Security, now an emerging consensus in the Democratic Party. She led the effort to reduce student debt from college. She’s been a strong supporter of lifting the minimum wage and creating a floor under workers.
Warren has less experience in international affairs and national security. But what is required there is intelligence and judgment. No one doubts she has the intelligence to learn what is at stake in any crisis. She exhibits the judgment (and a skepticism about foreign military adventures) that is badly needed in any White House. And of course, she’s already shown she will call them as she sees them, ensuring that Clinton would get her best informed and unvarnished opinion, no matter who is lined up on the other side.
Clinton, like most presidential candidates, will make her choice on the basis of political judgment, extensive vetting and personal affinity. She will want to choose someone who will add strength to the ticket, and to the administration if elected, and have her confidence. She should not let the fact that Warren is female get in the way of giving her strong consideration.