‘It’s just sort of trying too hard … and people have pretty good radar for that sort of thing…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to connect with Democratic millennials and online progressive activists—her viability as a 2020 Democratic presidential contender depends on it.
But a recent attempt to show her liberal hipster credentials backfired embarrassingly. Some youthful social-media purveyors might even call it “cringe.”
The 69-year-old has been widely panned for her New Year’s Eve Instagram livestream where she popped open a beer and swigged it as if the former Harvard law professor was one of the cool kids on campus.
The Boston Herald referred to the livestream as “inauthentic pandering,” while Democratic political operatives called it a desperate effort to compete with younger progressive stars like Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez and Beto O’Rourke.
“Elizabeth Warren seems more like a chardonnay senator than a beer senator,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University politics professor and longtime Democratic communications specialist.
“It’s just sort of trying too hard … and people have pretty good radar for that sort of thing,” Berkovitz said.
Democrats’ top target, President Donald Trump, is known to have never consumed alcohol, which may partially help explain Warren’s desperate reach for relatability.
Warren became the first Democrat to signal a 2020 presidential campaign when she announced a formal exploratory committee on Monday. But the party may have moved on from the once-hyped future party leader.
Warren has also become the subject of jokes relating to her apparently fraudulent claims of being a Native American—which was the basis for her Harvard tenure and multi-million-dollar law career. President Donald Trump famously refers to Warren as Pocahontas, and many social media memes peg her as Faux-cahontas.
In October, Warren released the results of a genetic test showing she is only 1/1024 parts Native American—less than the average American white person.
Curiously, Warren claimed the results proved her Native American ancestry claims.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2019
In that light, her latest spectacle may play right into an unpleasant stereotype—or it could be a cry for help.
The International Business Times reported that the rate of alcoholism among Native Americans is six times the U.S. average, according to Indian Health Services.
“Certain ethnic groups experience alcoholism on a wider level,” said addiction expert Bethany Winkel. “Native Americans are one such group. Their rate of alcoholism is much higher than the rest of the population.”
One thing Warren’s hooch habit is unlikely to translate to, however, is primary momentum. Activists in New Hampshire, the Democratic Party’s first 2020 primary state, said they have concerns about her running for president.
“I do not think she will get much traction here in New Hampshire,” said John Rauh, a former U.S. Senate candidate. “I agree with almost all of her policies. She is just not relating well to people other than those who just deeply agree with her.”
Warren’s positions put her in the extremely liberal camp, but public perception places her more within the risk-averse establishment than in camp with political mavericks like socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, another likely 2020 presidential contender.
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The left wing of the party still polls for Sanders, who won New Hampshire over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 22 points.
“I’d say 98 percent of my Sanders friends are decidedly not supportive of Warren,” said Eileen Ehlers, of Hooksett, New Hampshire, a progressive activist and former state representative.
“One frequent comment is that although her policy stances are close to Bernie’s, she did not endorse him and took a politically calculated safe route to back [Hillary] Clinton. People have not forgotten nor forgiven that,” Ehlers said.