Though we wish it could be so, Elizabeth Warren is not running for president. The dominant narrative has already become: Warren’s supporters will now have to settle for trying to exert influence on Hillary Clinton. Not so fast, narrative!

If you are a person who cares about economic inequality, and the inordinate influence of money on our democracy, and Wall Street’s unaccountability and plunder of public resources—a well-informed person, in other words—you were probably disappointed to learn that Elizabeth Warren would not be running for president, because she is the strongest mainstream political voice in America who speaks out intelligently in favor of addressing those very issues. Some would have you believe that Warren’s decision not to enter the race means that those of you who believe in the causes that she champions should not slide over into the camp of The Inevitable Nominee Hillary Clinton, who will reward you with, perhaps, a gentle leftward nod and wink during the course of her staunchly centrist campaign.

“There are frequent references to a Warren wing of the Democratic party and to the need to appeal to it,” Bloomberg writes. “Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, is openly courting her.” In the New Yorker, Ryan Lizza says that “Clinton has taken notice” of Warren, already making overt efforts to enfold her in the comforting embrace of Planet Hillary.

I say to everyone who supports Elizabeth Warren’s eminently reasonable positions on issues of basic fairness: hope is not lost. You do not have to throw up your hands in despair and slide your support over to Hillary Clinton. The inevitability of Hillary Clinton’s triumph is a facade, manufactured by a team of political consultants for the purpose of making her victory easier by encouraging any and all opponents to give up and fade away. There is absolutely no reason that progressives should lay down and surrender to Hillary Clinton—who is a calculating and talented politician who is better than a Republican, but who cannot be called a progressive if that term is to mean anything. Even as Hillary Clinton mouths platitudes about fighting inequality, her own legion of Wall Street backers does not take any of it seriously. “She’s not saying that a hedge fund manager shouldn’t be making what they’re making,” one financier shrugged to Politico. “Just that someone in another job shouldn’t be making 300 times less.”

In fact, a hedge fund manager shouldn’t be making what they’re making. If you have enough of a sense of justice to understand that, there is no reason for you to feel that your vote is already a foregone conclusion, a year and a half before the actual election. Even without Elizabeth Warren, there is a candidate in the race who represents true progressive ideals. That candidate is Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders favors strong progressive taxation to fight the ongoing trend of massive accumulations of wealth among a tiny elite.

Bernie Sanders favors an expanded social safety net to protect the poor.

Bernie Sanders favors a single-payer public health care system for all.

Bernie Sanders favors breaking up the “Too Big to Fail” Wall Street banks that pulled the world into a global recession in 2008.

Bernie Sanders favors a $15 per hour minimum wage.

Bernie Sanders favors stronger support for organized labor.

Bernie Sanders also favors legalizing marijuana, by the way.

Compare the positions of Bernie Sanders with those of Elizabeth Warren. Anyone who feels strongly about the economic and social causes championed by Warren will have little choice but to recognize that Bernie Sanders fully embraces most of the same causes, and the same policy solutions. There is no need to make some emotional, over-the-top, campaign ad-style plea here. Look at what the candidates believe. Vote for the candidate who represents what you believe.

Three and a half decades of rising inequality must stop, or else. Bernie Sanders should have the support of everyone in this country smart enough to understand that. Everyone including Elizabeth Warren.

[Photo: AP]

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