Yesterday afternoon, I scrolled through my Facebook feed and smiled at a full wall of pictures of Elizabeth Warren with her sensible gold stud earrings and preppy hair. Friend after friend posted articles about the greatness of Warren and projected a clear win for her. There were a couple of plucky supporters for Biden in the. mix, but it was mostly Warren.
Today, the mood is funerarial. Because Warren was demolished last night in Super Tuesday’s primaries, and everybody’s second choice, Sanders, is behind Biden, who nobody in my world wanted.
Nobody was rooting for Biden among my Facebook crowd. Why is that? Because I’m a former college professor and am currently a journalist. I’m not average. Always important to keep in mind.
Matt Ygelsias has an excellent post at Vox, “Why Elizabeth Warren in losing even if all your friends love her: White college grads are living in the Warren bubble.”
He points out that the US is a working class country and all her talk about student loan forgiveness and free college didn’t resonate with them.
Validated data from the 2016 election, for example, suggests that only about one-third of 2016 voters had college degrees. The share among Hillary Clinton voters was higher, at 43 percent, but even among the more educated in the party, most people haven’t graduated college. And among college graduates, about 75 percent attend schools that accept more than half of applicants, rather than the kind of state university flagships or elite private universities whose graduates dominate the media. In my friend group, it’s not unusual for someone to be a lawyer or a doctor or to have a master’s degree in something or other. As a policy journalist, I speak to a lot of experts in academia or the think tank world who have advanced degrees.
But in the actual American population distribution, there are more high school dropouts than people with master’s degrees. The median American under the age of 30 has $0 in student loan debt, not because the median young person is superrich but because most people didn’t attend expensive higher education institutions in the first place.
Her loss is a big loss for student loan reforms. Also for the teachers unions, who supported her. It was a loss for pundits, who make a living by explaining American political behavior; clearly they are clueless. All that talk about the youth vote — topics that appeal to the 20-something editors who dominate our media climate — was just that. Talk.
Not only was Warren a big loser last night, so was Sanders. He didn’t do as well as projected. He lost in Texas and didn’t win enough in CA. Biden has more delegates and is getting set for states where he’s expected to do extremely well, like Florida. At this point, the race is Biden’s to lose.
Scholars who write about American exceptionalism try to find reasons why the United States never had the extreme political movements — right wing nationalism, fascist parties, social democrats, communism — that are commonplace in Europe. One explanation is that certain political institutions — our two party system, federalism, electoral college — naturally filters out groups that can’t attract the attention of the majority of people. Another explanation is that there is something about American culture that naturally veers from big changes.
I think last night clearly shows that most Americans want a moderate political climate. They are not ready for Sanders and his major changes in the status quo. They worry about changes to their healthcare plans. Things may not be great right now, but they worry that things could be a lot worse. The guys lining up in the local deli for egg sandwiches on Saturday morning don’t think Sanders is talking to them.
Me? I’m not upset. As I’ve said over and over, all I care about is that we see somebody else in the White House in January. If Biden has the best chance to accomplish that task, he’ll get my vote.