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'Trading Places II' Starring Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders

06/03/2015 12:37 pm ET | Updated Jun 03, 2016
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Throughout his Senate career, Bernie Sanders has been a gadfly who's good at raising progressive issues in the liberal media like MSNBC, but has had virtually no impact on influencing actual laws.

Until now, many Elizabeth Warren fans have seen her as more than an issue-raiser, but as a progressive leader with sufficient national standing to potentially defeat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and win the Presidency.

It's now become all but certain that Sen. Warren has no stomach for a presidential race and, as a result, will simply be a gadfly in the Senate, good at raising issues, but ineffective at impacting legislation. Even the Run Warren Run movement, to which I've contributed money and given support on HuffPost, is throwing in the towel on a Warren candidacy.

So now it's Bernie Sanders who is likely to be the only real progressive to be willing to take on Clinton, Inc. in the Democratic primary, although, unlike Warren, he has virtually no chance of defeating Clinton. No longer a threat to Hillary's candidacy, Warren's real-world influence will wane, and she'll be reduced to the Sanders role as the Senate gadfly.

Keep in mind that as one of a hundred Senators, Warren has failed to change much in the real world, although she's given impassioned speeches raising important issues and gained millions of enthusiastic supporters. The inconvenient truth is that Warren has been unable to alter the corporate-influenced decisions of Barack Obama, a president of her own party. And going forward, she's even less likely to be able to influence decisions (as opposed to the rhetoric) of a President Clinton, assuming Clinton is able to gain a third straight Democratic presidential term, which is far from certain.

Just like with President Obama, who is President Clinton more likely to listen to when it comes to basic economic policy? Her Wall Street cronies who paid her and Bill hundreds of millions of dollars in speaking fees (which they'll be glad to do for ex-President Obama, too) and even more in campaign contributions? Or, one loud-mouth Senator and her grassroots supporters?

Warren has failed to defeat the Obama-Republican alliance to gain fast-track authority for a corporate-written trade agreement, which would give authority to make the U.S. government pay damages to corporations who's profits might be diminished by labor or environmental laws, or even to force Obama to make the Treaty public before the Senate votes for fast-track.

She failed to block the Obama-supported amendment to Dodd-Frank, known derisively as the "Citigroup bailout." She was able to block Obama's Wall Street nominee for under-Treasury Secretary Antonio Weiss, but Obama just did an end run and appointed Weiss as a special Treasury advisor, which didn't require Senate confirmation. Warren's one, major real-world accomplishment, the creations of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, preceded her Senate tenure.

In other words, in the real world of the Senate, Sen. Warren has had little more impact than Sen. Sanders. And as it becomes clear that Warren poses no threat to Hillary, her influence on Hillary will be slight at best.

Now, it's Sanders who will carry the mantle of progressive politics in the Democratic primary and Warren who will be the liberal gadfly in the Senate. This movie could be named Trading Places II.