Yoo hoo! Elizabeth Warren fans! Over here!
Yes, we're still here. Gather round. Scooch on in. We've been shoved into this little corner at the edge of the stage, but we're not leaving yet. The pundits' wind is bitter cold, and history is giving us the wary eye, and our friends are sniffing, "Get over it."
Nevertheless, we persist. So does Elizabeth Warren.
It's not that we Warren fans dislike the other Democratic candidates. Or maybe it's better to say that not all of us dislike all of them. Go Amy. Go Pete. Go Anybody Who Can Beat the Foul-Mouthed Autocrat-in-Chief.
What we don't like? It's the way Warren has been written out of the 2020 presidential race faster than you can say "Iowa and New Hampshire."
We all know what happened in Iowa and New Hampshire. Once again, two small, overwhelming white, not-very-urban states cast the first votes in the Democratic primary.
Two states. Out of 50. Two states with a white population above 90%, in a country far more diverse than that. Two states with a combined total population less than half of metro Chicago's. These two states, with unspectacular voter turnouts, have picked their favorite candidates, and Warren wasn't among them.
So R.I.P., Pocahontas!
(May as well get the Pocahontas-Fauxcahontas bit out of the way now and save certain readers the work of pointing it out.)
But here in the chilly sidelines of the political stage, we Warren fans aren't convinced an obituary is in order yet, despite the media dirges.
In many news reports Warren has become a footnote, or has vanished altogether, while the media gaze shifts to exciting new dramas.
Look! It's the "battle" between Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg! It's the "surge" of Sen. Amy Klobuchar! And there's "billionaire" Mike Bloomberg "storming" Super Tuesday states!
Former Vice President Joe Biden's name stays in the headlines, too, because his decline from front-runner to laggard has been so tragically stark.
But Warren? Her swift "fall," as it's being called, has been less heralded than Biden's, though in the few days since the New Hampshire primary her name has been resurrected just long enough to bury it.
"What Happened to Elizabeth Warren?" asked the New Yorker.
"Elizabeth Warren faces a harsh reality after disappointing finishes," intoned CNN, which went on to warn that "no candidate in modern political history has overcome such dire finishes in the first two contests."
("Dire" means that she came in third in Iowa, ahead of Biden.)
A New York Times headline noted that Warren "said she did not want to 'burn down the rest of the party' in order to triumph. And then she lost in New Hampshire." The story's tone was elegiac.
All of these reports are based on facts. But truth is more than fact. Truth involves how facts are presented - and how facts are presented can affect what turns out to be true.
When the media repeat often enough that a candidate is doomed, the odds increase that they're right. Prophecies of doom sow seeds of doubt. All of us want to back a winner and when the seeds of doubt grow large enough, it's only natural, sometimes logical, to switch allegiances.
But the alacrity with which Warren has been hustled out of the story should put us on guard. We shouldn't let quickie postelection stories be the sum of what we know and think, or a guide to what we do.
The same is true of polls. According to a couple of polls, Warren faces doomsday again in South Carolina's upcoming primary.
On the other hand, there's a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll that suggests Warren is potentially stronger than it seems. That poll measures how each of the Democratic candidates would fare in a one-on-one contest with Sanders. He handily beats them all - except Warren, who trails him by only two points.
But, again, we should be wary of polls. Like political stories and opinions, they have their place, but they're not the whole truth. We, the people, decide the truth by voting.
Democratic voters in 48 more states will soon get a chance to express their opinion, and the questions we need to ask ourselves as we go vote will, of course, include: Who do I think can beat Donald Trump?
But we also need to ask: Who do I think will make a good president? Who is practical enough, ethical enough, experienced enough, tough enough to guide this big, crazy country? Who works well with others? Who can I trust? Who can I stand to listen to for the next four years?
It's too soon to assume that Elizabeth Warren isn't the answer.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Mary Schmich is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
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