Earlier in the year, Senator Elizabeth Warren declared her intent to run for re-election. She made clear that her focus was on her constituents in Massachusetts. At the same time, Warren declined to respond to speculation about a possible presidential run in 2020. Many perhaps considered this prudent given the stereotypical political landscape of the Bay State. American politics, however, has entered into a new phase of hyper-engagement, a time in which constituents directly seek, even demand, answers from their elected officials; Massachusetts residents have required little, if any, adaptation to this new reality.
Elizabeth Warren has proven quite adept at capturing the limelight. In fact, her time as the senior senator of Massachusetts has often seemed like a reality show: “What Will Lizzy Do Next?” As this year draws to a close, she will have to define who she is though. She will need to make her case for re-election as she faces several Republicans, including State Representative Geoff Diehl; Beth Lindstrom, one-time aide to former Governor Mitt Romney; and John Kingston, a businessman, hoping for a chance to unseat her. Warren will also square off against an independent challenger in the person of Shiva Ayyadurai, who is a scientist and entrepreneur. She will, therefore, have little choice but to answer some tough questions.
For example, education activists could very well present the senator with some difficult queries. While she supported the idea of keeping the cap on charter schools last September, she had previously expressed support for lifting it. Moreover, some were dismayed by her initial reluctance to take a definitive stand as many readily expressed their position on the issue.
More recently, in a startling about-face, Elizabeth Warren walked back her claim that the Democratic National Committee was “rigged” in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Nevertheless, many remained upset with her first assertion, which they saw as divisive and unnecessary. It also led some to question her role as one of the leaders of the Democratic Party.
Elizabeth Warren has equally come under harsh scrutiny for her tepid response to the allegations of sexual misconduct that are currently engulfing Senator Al Franken. Although she has labeled the alleged behavior as “unacceptable and deeply disappointing”, she has not called for his resignation. This stance sharply differs from the one that she has adopted vis-à-vis the sex allegations that have hobbled Roy Moore’s senatorial campaign in Alabama. In fact, raising the specter of a double standard, Warren has called on him to drop out.
With her constituents’ heightened interest in politics, Elizabeth Warren will have to do more than engage in attention-grabbing antics. Further, her many sound bites will no longer serve as viable substitutes for answers to questions from the public. Not only will she now have a record that she must defend, but she will also have to justify the hype that has developed around her public persona. The senator will have to show people who she is and where she stands.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]