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The False Promise of 'Political Opportunity'

Perhaps, when Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts says she won't run for president, she really means it. There is evidence to support Warren's apparent belief that she could do more good as a senator than as a president (her work creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau comes to mind).

But, as Julian Zelizer writes in his op-ed for CNN, relying on the public statements of politicians re: candidacy is "rarely the best way to predict what a candidate will actually do."

More to the point: Zelizer says that Warren has been given a "giant political opportunity" in the form of handling the oversight hearings regarding regulators and the banks they regulate on Wall Street, which could put Warren in a prime position for a presidential run in 2016.

Here's why: Tapes surfaced in 2012 showing just how "cozy" the Federal Reserve was, in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown, with bigwigs at Goldman Sachs, indicating that the government has no real interest in protecting the American public from too-big-to-fail banks.

Spotlight on Warren

Sen. Warren is a big deal for Democratic progressives. She had a big role to play in the creation of the CFPB, an agency with the mission of protecting American consumers from predatory financial practices. Warren is also an outspoken voice on financial issues Americans face. Not only has she spoken out against regulators who have failed to hold too-big-to-fail banks accountable, but she has been speaking out against the exorbitant cost (and resulting student-loan hardship) of getting an education.

Why is Warren's 'Political Opportunity' a False Promise?

This goes back to the reality of politics itself. Warren appears to believe that being in the role of president will necessarily shift one's priorities and challenges. Even if she decides to run and wins, she must know that effecting change as president on certain issues is much more difficult than doing so as a senator.

The Role of the Private Bar

As self-serving as this sounds (this is our blog, after all), holding businesses accountable for negligence or wrongdoing is also within the power of lawyers - arguably much more so. For example, private counsel can help make things right on a large scale with class action lawsuits, which speak much louder than words. It may be Elizabeth Warren's moment, as Zelizer writes, but that's just politics.

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