The former law professor and senator has a plan for everything, including taking on billionaires and reforming the US electoral college. But can she win it?by Emily Tamkin / December 6, 2019 / Leave a comment
The advert making its way around American social media in June read: “Grab a Beer with Elizabeth,” adding “or Coffee or Tea or Whatever.” At one level, its purpose was perfectly clear: to make more people donate to Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in the hope of being selected to go for a drink with her.
But there was something else—and more disruptive—about that advert. “The beer test” is such a staple of American politics that articles in the US press no longer need to explain that the test is over which candidate the average voter would rather have a drink with. And for the last 40 years, it is said, the candidate who comes out on top has also claimed the White House.
Traditionally, the more likeable guy for grabbing a beer with is just that—a guy. The very idea of grabbing a beer conjures up images of men drinking together. In the early days of Warren’s campaign, some supporters feared that she might be brought down by the same charges that dogged Hillary Clinton in 2016: that she was “shrill” and not relatable. Another unlikeable woman.
But for several months after that contest, Warren went from strength to strength. And for admirers at least, by weaving her own personal story together with her rage against the sense that America is rigged and her detailed plans for putting that right, she became likeable along the way: they stand in lines after her rallies for the chance to take a “selfie” with her (actually, a photo taken by her campaign staffers).
It is as though her whole campaign is posing a question: what if the candidate to vote for isn’t the man with whom you might want to grab a beer with, just to pass the time? What if, instead, the best candidate—man or woman—to grab a beer (or coffee or whatever) with was, in fact, the person you wanted to listen to, because they might have something useful to say?
Elizabeth Herring was born in Oklahoma in 1949. Her father sold fencing and carpeting, but when Elizabeth was 12, he…