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Elizabeth Warren's campaign ended Thursday and so did a lot of our dreams. I confess I'd hoped 2020 would end in a head-to-head between Warren and Kamala Harris: East coast versus West Coast. Instead, Warren exited the race without a single win. Hillary Clinton is still the only woman to have won a presidential primary contest. This is a distinction Clinton gladly would've shared with Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Harris, and Warren (#NeverTulsi). I don't want to join the many pundits vivisecting Warren while she still breathes, but I do want to set the stage for how impressive her interview with Rachel Maddow was last night.

Maddow raised the concern many women shared yesterday that if Clinton couldn't beat Trump, if Harris can't make it to the Iowa, and if Warren can't win her own state, maybe it "just can't be any woman ever." Maybe it's not whether a woman candidate is too "angry" or too "shrill" or too "opportunistic" or just too "woman." Maybe the American electorate isn't Goldilocks. Maybe there's just no pleasing voters if you're a woman candidate. We're just going to run "white men in their late 70s against each other" forever.

Warren, even while bearing the fresh scars of defeat, refused to accept this as our reality.

MADDOW: There's a feeling that your campaign ending is very specific to you and also it also feels a little bit like a death knell in terms of the prospects of having a woman for president in our lifetimes.

WARREN: Oh God, please no. That can't be right. I know exactly what you're talking about. This cannot be the right answer. Part of the reason I know it's not the right answer is I walked through my headquarters today and I saw all those strong powerful women. I saw all those women who said, "Thank you for standing up to Michael Bloomberg." I saw all those women who said, "Thank you for being smart and making that okay." "Thank you for talking over men sometimes because I'm just damn tired of always having it go the other way."

While I go cry in a corner and try to compose myself, watch this clip of Warren on Maddow.

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There's a certain degree to which a woman candidate is expected to die for our political sins. Women candidates feel a pressure to "admit" they failed all by themselves. They didn't do enough. If they even discuss the Chris Matthews-shaped wall of misogyny they shattered their fists against during their campaigns, are they promoting the narrative that no woman, no matter how perfect or capable of putting words together coherently, can ever win?

Men stormed to social media to explain why Warren's loss had nothing to do with sexism and everything to do with her possessing negative traits traditionally associated with women who seek power on their own. Men can't help mansplaining. It's who we are. It's part of our lifestyle. We do like women who help men, and I've seen guys thanking Warren for dismantling Mike Bloomberg because it benefitted Joe Biden. Sure, tactically, Warren could've played with her food a little longer and let Bloomberg continue leeching support from our favorite vice president. That might've helped her longterm. But burning Bloomberg to the ground was something Warren had to do as soon as he stepped on a Democratic debate stage, and she's damn proud.

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Maddow reminded Warren that she outlasted Bloomberg in the primary, and Warren gleefully turned Bloomberg's dismissive " I didn't realize she was still in" on its head. Warren doesn't like Bloomberg, and this isn't "Moonlighting" or some other reference that dates me. There's no intense sexual tension simmering beneath the contempt. She loathes the guy.

MADDOW: A lot of postmortems on his campaign credit you with singlehandedly tanking his candidacy with the way you took him apart in that debate. Is that what you were trying to do?

WARREN: Yes.

OMG! That's just beautiful. She came to murderize and she'd do it again. Bloomberg thought it was billionaire boy day, but Warren showed him it wasn't.

MADDOW: Do you take credit.

WARREN: Sure. But the point is [Bloomberg's] not going to be the Democratic nominee and he shouldn't be the Democratic nominee. In my view, he was the riskiest candidate for Democrats on that stage ... He wouldn't even be able to launch the autocrat argument against [Trump] because Michael Bloomberg's the guy who when he was mayor literally got the change in the law so he could hold onto power longer.

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Perhaps the biggest moment in the interview is when Warren addressed the "organized nastiness" directed at her online from some Bernie Sanders supporters. Warren's been called a "snake" and a "traitor" and some other even less kind descriptions. Warren didn't focus on those personal attacks. She took issue with the targeted harassment of others, specifically union leaders in Nevada who were doxxed after criticizing Sanders.

WARREN: They actually published the phone numbers and home addresses of the two women, immigrant women, and really put them in fear for their families. … These are tough women who run labor organizing campaigns … and yet said for the first time because of this onslaught of online threats that they felt really under attack, and that wasn't the first time it happened.

Sanders has rightly disavowed and denounced any of his supporters who behave like fetid assholes, but Warren contends that every candidate is "responsible for the people who claim to be our supporters and do really threatening, ugly, dangerous things." Warren said she'd spoken to Sanders about this and the conversation was "short." I agree with her that it's a serious problem, regardless of whether Sanders is the nominee. Maddow described it as "factionalist" and "injurious" to the party. I don't disagree.

Warren didn't endorse during the 2016 primary, and she hasn't endorsed anyone yet no matter how much certain people scream at her on Twitter. We'll miss seeing her on the campaign trail and cutting fools on the debate stage.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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