Michael Arceneaux, The Independent
There are many ways to react to Ayanna Pressley’s endorsement of Elizabeth Warren for president, but unsurprisingly, much of the political media’s framing has centered on Pressley “breaking” from her congressional colleagues who make up the group known as “The Squad.”
On some level, I suppose it’s mildly intriguing that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have all recently endorsed Bernie Sanders for president and Pressley opted to go in a different direction. That is, if you are late in recognising that not all women think the same, and yes, that even includes a clique of nonwhite women who are each other’s work BFFs. Personally, I’ve long been fully aware of such reality, thus found Pressley’s endorsement of Warren a little less surprising and not warranting so many headlines.
Pressley is a congresswoman in the state of Massachusetts and Warren is a Senator in the state of Massachusetts. She joins other Massachusetts politicians, Senator Ed Markey, his primary challenger, Congressman Joe Kennedy, and Katherine Clark, a member of House leadership. It all makes sense. But that hasn’t stopped many speculating over the purported “real” reason Pressley chose Warren over Sanders.
One writer for the conservative outlet The Washington Examiner urged that we “don’t disregard the possibility that Pressley’s motives may not be pure and that she could be angling for a Senate seat.” Personally, I doubt this. While Ocasio-Cortez commands a lot of media attention, Pressley has long been tipped as a rising star herself. With or without Elizabeth Warren’s blessing, her current career trajectory means it is more likely than not she will become her state’s first black woman senator and our nation’s third at some point.
But, of course, for some people, Pressley’s failure to endorse Bernie Sanders is “evidence” that she’s less progressive than her fellow Squad members.
So let’s get a couple things straight: Ayanna Pressley serving on the Boston City Council for almost a decade before joining Congress does not necessarily make her a “member of the establishment”. Nor does serving as a delegate for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Was Hillary Clinton the most progressive candidate running? No, but during the 2016 presidential campaign, numerous publications published articles centered on her “quiet revolution” and the progressive tilt it spurred in her.
The simple fact is that Clinton had a far larger share of black support, so while the pragmatism of black voters and black politicians at the time may not be enough for some (privileged, white) progressives now, none of us live in a world in which we have to adhere to their slanted purity tests. What Pressley’s endorsement today is likely actually signaling has been conveniently ignored.
For several months now, Warren has been trying to make inroads with black voters — specifically black women. Now, an influential group of more than 100 black female activists are rewarding her efforts with a full-fledged endorsement.
In a letter released on Thursday, the group Black Womxn For calls Warren a “leader” and “partner.” Additionally, she was hailed for having “a proven track record and understanding of structural racism and inequality” and for being someone “who is willing to be held accountable.”
It harkens to Pressley’s statement in which she declared: “This election is a fight for the very soul of our nation. Elizabeth knows how to fight and she knows how to win. I’m proud to call her my senator. I can’t wait to call her our president.”
Pressley might be breaking from the Squad, but the bigger story here is that her candidate of choice might be experiencing a breakthrough with black women, the most reliable base within the Democratic Party.
If that proves to be the case, the Warren-for-president campaign will become all the more formidable.
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