Opinion: How Elizabeth Warren reclaimed every attack, and still lost

Annie Bolin

Unelectable. Unlikeable. Strident, shrieking, off-putting. A snake and a traitor. And my personal favorite, an impolite, arrogant woman. All used to describe Elizabeth Warren.

On Thursday, Warren ended her campaign for president, a shock and heartbreak to some and a welcomed decision by others. In a presidential race where no one was safe from the ruthlessness of inflammatory language, Warren took every gendered insult lobbed at her and ran with it.

More specifically, she profited. A look through Warren’s official online store shows she has no qualms with reclaiming attacks on her policies, identity and catchphrases.

Available for purchase throughout her campaign were t-shirts, tote bags, stickers and pins boasting adaptations of her most famous lines and, of course, all the sexist attacks from her opposition.

Even when viewers took issue with her refusal to sit tight during debates, she turned it into a t-shirt. Now, any Warren Democrat in your life can wear a shirt with a throwback picture of Warren smack-dab in the center, proclaiming that, like her, they are a debate champion.

Her supporters ate it up. The Warren campaign said it raised over $71 million in 2019, but that still left her staggering behind candidates like Sanders and Buttigieg as quarterly totals were released.

Regardless, Warren Democrats, not unlike Bernie supporters, operated like a club, a movement all their own with a mission to finally propel a woman with a plan to the presidency.

With all this momentum, it seemed almost out of another dimension that Warren completely flatlined on Super Tuesday, winning zero states and only 64 delegates as of Thursday. As a result, that Warren Democrat fervor is now being reexamined.

In a move of maturity from their refusal to budge in 2016, Sanders supporters are reaching out to Warren supporters in an effort to unite the progressive vote. Whether reluctantly or eagerly, progressives in Sanders’ court are extending a hand, and those recovering from their loss of Warren are accepting it, forming the #NotMeUs movement.

#NotMeUS arguably brings new energy to the progressive cause, but with Warren dropping out, any predictions for the outcome of the general election in November are up in the air.

This was made messier after the convening of what can only be described as the Ex-Republicans Club (moderates welcome, too) when Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg all dropped out of the race within a few days and immediately endorsed Joe Biden.

This creates an obstacle for the progressive cause as Sanders moves forward. At this point, it seems as if his only hope among former candidates lies with Tom Steyer, who hasn’t endorsed another candidate but said he would support the nominee.

With a push, Steyer could land his support with Sanders before the Democratic National Convention considering the similarities in their policies, a win for #NotMeUs.

Still, Warren’s campaign was important.

On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s dramatic loss four years ago, Warren brought new life to the hope many Americans have to see a woman elected president in their lifetime. Because of this, she was the rejuvenation women voters needed.

Warren’s qualities are what I expected of a Democratic candidate for president when I registered to vote at 17. When I cast my ballot in the 2016 general election at 18, I didn’t think I would be as discouraged the next time around. And now at 22, here we are again.

Warren added a new face to the progressive cause as it attempts to upend the political establishment funded by billionaires (I’m looking at you, Bloomberg).

But she lost.

One day, voters will tire of electing doctrinarian men to our highest office. Until then, let Elizabeth Warren serve as the prime example of an electable, intelligent, prepared, qualified woman candidate with a plan who makes being loud, transparent and dissenting necessary.