Sen. Elizabeth Warren may have missed her moment. Progressives love her, to be sure — but they don’t know if they want her. Consider Lisa Lunsford, a 58-year-old banker from Oklahoma City.
Like so many other Warren supporters, Lunsford adores the progressive Democratic senator from Massachusetts. But Lunsford wondered aloud to the Los Angeles Times whether or not the senator was too old to make a bid for the presidency.
[More: Elizabeth Warren teases 2020 presidential run: It's time 'for women to go to Washington']
"If she ran I would vote for her, but I think it's time for us old folks to step aside and let the young crop have a chance," Lunsford said. The young crop she proceeded to mention includes the up-and-comers making waves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif. Both are progressive and both are comparatively young, 49 and 53 years old, respectively.
Don’t call me ageist for making that observation — it's what some voters are thinking.
The progressive faithful are grateful to Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. A cult following showed up in Sanders and Warren swag to an Oklahoma rally telling the Los Angeles Times that, yes, they are “beyond excited” about seeing Warren on the ballot in 2020 but, yes, they are also worried she might blow it.
She helped clear a path for far-left socialists and helped make far-left socialist ideas political winners in some parts of the country. At the same time, the progressive faithful increasingly wonder if Warren should just step aside.
That this doubt is even surfacing this early out suggests a harsh reality: Warren only has one shot — 2020 or bust. She won’t get a sequel or comeback or a second chance. Warren either dominates the primaries or Warren becomes a sort of elder statesman banished to live out her career in the Senate. The Left won’t make the same mistake they made with Hillary Clinton, although they may be running into the same problems, namely the lack of a clear and consistent message.
Over at the Washington Post, Dan Balz observes a doddering Democratic Party. The unpopularity of the current president has provided cover for an awkward and unwilling changing of the guard between generations. “It is a party in flux,” Balz writes, a party “moving from one era to another, with no obvious leader and an identity yet to be fully shaped.”
The old guard is, well, old. Very old, Balz notes:
Democrats suffer from a generational bottleneck at a time when they are increasingly reliant on younger voters. They are led by a collection of officials long ago eligible for Medicare and Social Security. Biden is 75, Sanders is 77 and Warren is 69. Among Democratic congressional leaders, Nancy Pelosi is 78; Steny Hoyer, 79; James Clyburn, 78; Chuck Schumer, 67; Dick Durbin, 73.
Warren, while a popular trailblazer, has assumed but not solidified her front-runner status:
There are concerns about whether she can unite the country, views aired privately by some strategists and voiced spontaneously by rank-and-file Democrats as well.
And Democrats who are anti-Trump and ostensibly anti-corporation are another thing — not up-to-date:
Democratic elected officials have struggled to find a clear and compelling message that speaks effectively to the whole of the country. General principles and values are one thing; a succinct and up-to-date message is another.
Warren will persist and will run for president (a statement to the contrary brought immediate laughter during a recent speech she gave at the National Press Club). But Warren is getting older, voters are getting younger, and Democrats are getting worried.