Just one Elizabeth Warren isn’t enough—at least for progressives!
Time magazine has a new article headlined “The Left’s Quest to Create Hundreds of Elizabeth Warrens.”
The article starts with Warren being greeted by ecstatic participants at a candidate-training conference put on by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and held in a swank Washington, D.C., hotel:
The thumbs up came from the back of the meeting room, and two hundred future Sen. Elizabeth Warrens stood up and waited for their prototype to enter. Spindly and with a bouncy step, the Massachusetts senator strode rapidly into the room and was waylaid by a friendly sea of imperfect facsimiles calling for selfies. “What a way to start the morning!” Warren said at last, breathless at the podium.
Confession: I thought at first that the Time piece was making fun of a kind of mindless hysteria, but then I realized that it was a quite positive story about training more candidates to be like Massachusetts’ far left Senator Elizabeth Warren. Time, after all, was “one of the only publications granted access to the meeting.”
And here is some of what Time observed:
And Warren was the star attraction. “You are the progressive bench, and we need a bench,” Warren told them. Dozens of attendees wore identical blue shirts that said, I’m from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party. “Elizabeth Warren is the North Star,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the PCCC. And the enthusiasm for Warren has spilled over all across the left: “I want to clone Elizabeth Warren into every candidate,” said Tefere Gebre the executive vice president of the AFL-CIO, in an interview with TIME two weeks ago.
In the Washington hotel, building an army of Warrens to challenge establishment-backed Democrats was exactly the point. “Yes, this is about building campaigns and winning office, but this is also about building a movement,” Warren said during her keynote on Thursday. “You are the living spark of the progressive movement.” It was a sentiment made clear by the conference organizers. “How do we elect 300 more Elizabeth Warrens?” said Stephanie Taylor, the co-founder of the PCCC who dreamt up the conference. “This training is part of it: finding them and giving them the tools to run great campaigns.”
First, the idea that there are “establishment-backed Democrats” who are different from Warren is erroneous. Senator Warren is part of the Democratic establishment. She is a pillar of it. The outsiders challenging the Democratic establishment are more conservative Democrats, an endangered species, such as Jim Webb, former Virginia senator and announced presidential hopeful, and West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin, who just deviated from his party on taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.
Second though: an army of Elizabeth Warrens–scary idea. She is knee-jerk left and advocates ideas that would further hamper economic growth.
Third thought: there will not be an army of Elizabeth Warrens because she is sui generis. She has her own style and background. But there will likely be an army of candidates who think like Elizabeth Warren. That is just as scary because an army of Elizabeh Warrens could have a profoundly negative effect on our economy for years to come.
The Time article tries to portray the training conference as as an attempt to catch up with conservatives in movement building. The author cites as GOP movement builders Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh of course is enormously influential but he is a talk show host who is not engaged in building coalitions, though you’d be hard-pressed to find a lefty who doesn’t believe Limbaugh runs the Republican Party.
I think what you really see in the Time article is that Democrats tend, with exceptions such as Webb and Manchin, to line up behind the left-most stalwarts of their party with an enormous degree of enthusiasm.
In fact, the GOP might envy their coordination: Democratic politicians likely will prove willing to line up behind the White House, even when they fear it is wrong (see: nuclear agreement with Iran), and even free-lance liberal talking heads all sound on TV as if they are reading from White House approved scripts,
Meanwhile, Republicans are more like an unruly mob.
In a must-read article headlined “Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army,” Michael Barone captures the differences between the two parties:
Republican voters have been seething with discontent toward their party’s officeholders and have not become enchanted with any one of 15 more or less conventional politicians who are running. Democratic voters support their officeholders with lockstep loyalty and seem untroubled by the serious flaws of their party’s clear frontrunner.
This asymmetry helps explain some otherwise puzzling things. One is why polls have continued for several years to show the Republican Party being disliked more than the Democratic Party, even as both parties get roughly the same number of votes. The reason is that while virtually no Democrats express negative feelings about their party, many Republicans do.
Democratic voters seem much more content with their officeholders. That’s one reason Barack Obama’s job approval rating has held pretty constantly around the 45 percent level, not down below 30 percent where George W. Bush’s plummeted when Republicans as well as Democrats and Independents soured on the war in Iraq.
The asymmetry between the parties’ voters reflects their different media environments. Talk radio, conservative websites and Fox News bristle with criticism of Republican officeholders and complaints about their squishiness. That helps sustain a critical frame of mind and a sense, particularly outside metropolitan centers, that ordinary people’s concerns are being ignored by a manipulative establishment.
In contrast, Democrats, who fancy themselves as critical thinkers, are comfortable consumers of “mainstream” media in which their “smelly little orthodoxies” (George Orwell’s term) are rarely challenged.
So supposedly docile Republicans increasingly behave like an unruly mob while supposedly freethinking Democrats keep acting like a regimented army. Curious.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this Democratic propensity to march in lockstep indicates that –yes–there will be more Elizabeth Warrens thinkalikes, though few will have the raw political talent of Ms. Warren. But their ideas will still be just as harmful to the economy, even if they are imitations of the real Elizabeth Warren.
I urge you to read Michael Barone’s column. It has what strikes me as the best-yet explanation of the Donald Trump phenomenon: “Call it the Bulworth syndrome.”