"Run Warren Run" runs out of gas

The move to “draft” Elizabeth Warren into the Democrat primary was one of the more popular bits of media catnip for quite a while. It attracted a large number of activists who were well to the left of Hillary Clinton’s stated positions, with petitions being gathered, money being raised and advertisements being purchased. But now, the Run Warren Run brand seems to have come to the sad realization that the Senator was serious when she said roughly one million times that she had no plans of running. They will take one last grab at the brass ring this week and then throw in the towel.

Six months after launching “Run Warren Run,” a quixotic campaign to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential race, the two progressive organizations behind it will call it quits and focus more broadly on a populist agenda in the 2016 presidential race, according to a spokesman.

Democracy for America and MoveOn.org, which together spent $1.25 million dollars launching the campaign last December, plan to visit Warren’s Washington, DC office on June 8 and deliver a petition with 365,000 signatures asking the senator to run.

The organizations will then pivot to more issue-specific advocacy, including thwarting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous, 12-nation free trade pact that liberals argue will kill jobs and reduce labor and environmental standards worldwide. Warren, who has said repeatedly that she has no intention of running for the White House, has been a staunch critic of the trade pact.

I don’t think the real story here has all that much to do with Elizabeth Warren in particular. If she had the stomach for a head to head battle with Hillary Clinton, we’d have known about it long ago. She also stated that she had no interest in or intention of running so many times that she effectively painted herself into a corner. Turning around now and announcing a bid would be difficult to explain at best. But in some ways, her reluctance to run probably did more for her than any actual campaign could. The plaintive cries of the disaffected hard left made for great headlines and kept her name and her agenda on the front page for a long time. It also lent her a sort of kingmaker (or perhaps queenmaker) position in the party without having to put any marketing effort into it on her own behalf. The results were obvious, since she is widely sought after as a speaker and her party created a new leadership position for her out of thin air just to quiet their base a bit.

But the story behind the story as the curtain comes down on Run Warren Run is really about the foolishness of these “draft” efforts in general when it comes to American politics. Most of the people who have any serious thoughts of mounting a national campaign don’t need to be “drafted” to get them off the bench. They’re already just looking for an opening. And if someone seriously doesn’t feel the call, it’s doubtful that a stack of petitions are going to suddenly convince them to upend their entire lives for what will usually wind up being a doomed and expensive expedition. Most of the Draft efforts you see are fare more likely to be vanity movements on behalf of people who already know they plan to run, and serve as a rather painfully obvious attempt at ginning up more media buzz. (I would cite the Run Ben Run effort on behalf of Dr. Ben Carson in the latter category. I don’t think there was ever any doubt that he was looking at doing it.)

Elizabeth Warren is out, barring a house suddenly falling out of the sky and landing on Hillary. And in the end, by choosing not to play she probably came out of this mess as one of the biggest winners among the Democrats.