Winkler Headshot_sketchMassachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has said it time and time again: she is not running for president. Yet, choosing not to run could be the most powerful move of all.

There is a certain risk that comes with running for president. Aside from the exorbitantly high price tag, a candidate’s reputation is at risk of being tarnished for at least one or two election cycles. Rick Perry understands this lesson all too well, with his infamous “oops” during a 2012 Republican presidential debate still held over his head.

By not running, Warren isn’t only avoiding all of these costs; she is also reaping the benefit of not having to worry about polling or being directly attacked by other candidates. She can effectively be the conscience of the 2016 election.

Warren’s influence is already apparent. With the realization that Warren herself will not run, political groups with the aim of encouraging the senator to run for president are now turning their attention to the current field of Democratic nominees. For example, Ready for Warren campaign manager Erica Sagrans and co-founder Charles Lenchner wrote an op-ed for CNN saying that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) is a “good fit” for Warren supporters.

That doesn’t mean other Democratic candidates won’t try to court Warren supporters, though. In early June, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told supporters in an email that “every student should be able to go to college debt-free,” an issue on the forefront of Warren’s political agenda. Furthermore, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Warren as a “progressive champion” for Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

However, it seems very unlikely that too many Warren supporters will jump on the Clinton bandwagon. Clinton, unlike Warren, is “cozy” with Wall Street, accepting sizeable donations from financial sector sources like Citigroup and JP Morgan. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is also commonly referred to as a “personal friend” of Clinton. Moreover, Clinton has been noticeably silent on the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade proposal, a topic that Warren strongly and vocally opposes. So it is doubtful that many Warren supporters will see Hillary Clinton as their new liberal lion.

Consequently, Warren’s supporters could give Sanders the added push he needs to actually be considered an alternative to Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Although it is still early in the election cycle and Clinton holds quite the lead over Sanders (75% of Democrats prefer Clinton while 15% prefer Sanders in the recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll), Sanders easily tops the Democratic field when it comes to being the second choice. He could provide the left a more progressive alternative than what Clinton seems to be offering. Sanders will have to embrace this as well as Warren’s attitude of advocacy to stand a chance, though. If he doesn’t, Warren will make sure everyone knows it.


Sydney Winkler is a rising senior in the College. Democracy or Bust appears every other Saturday.

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