Six weeks ago, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) was stuck in a political quagmire of trying to be the champion of too many different causes — all topics important to her, but left her with a message that lacked focus. The Obama administration’s attempt to fast track the Senate review of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has changed all of that, creating a “new” Warren with a razor sharp message: we are in danger of living the “American Nightmare.”
Speaking before the California Democratic Party convention in Anaheim on May 16, Warren criticized the willingness of the far-right to stick with dogmatic political ideologies of the 1980s. She continued by taking swipes at ideological-hero President Ronald Reagan’s tenure as governor of California and then President of the United States — that his trickle-down policies were the epicenter of an economic earthquake felt only by the everyday American.
The last thirty years of economic policies have created a concentration of wealth never before seen in human history — and is for many creating “the American Nightmare”:
This country isn’t working for working people. It’s working only for people at the top. That’s not the American dream. That’s the American nightmare. — U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 5/16/2015, Anaheim, Ca.
Poking fun at the Republican field, and taking advantage of the convention’s proximity to Disneyland, Warren jested that the Republican contenders had taken “one spin too many” on the tea-cup rides when it comes to their economic planning for the future.
The far-left has been more than a little interested with Warren’s rebirth, still trying to “draft” her into the presidential race — especially with Hillary Clinton’s move to appeal as a left-center candidate. The far-left feels like it is being ignored, and Warren’s continued appeal will probably play out one of two ways: a possible vice presidential nod or a party schism.
Warren the VP
Modern politics has put the vice president’s role as one of the campaign’s attack dogs. This frees up the presidential candidate to stay on message, while addressing (and even deflecting) issues important to the base and swing voters.
Warren is in a good position for this slot, mainly because of her wide interest in the core Democratic values important to the far-left base. If anything, championing too many causes serves as a benefit because it panders the base.
Her populist values, much like those of Bernie Sanders, have considerable appeal in the left, and Clinton takes an enormous risk (if nominated) ignoring them.
Warren the Spoiler
Going against your own party’s incumbent president is usually not a recipe for success in an election cycle.
President Obama harshly criticized Warren’s opposition to the TPP fast-track during an interview on MSNBC, frankly stating that his party should trust him on his record to protect and lift the middle class.
Warren was quick to fire back during an interview with the Washington Post, stating:
If the president is so confident it’s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it.
In the end, Warren could be correct. Common sense usually tells us that more information is generally better than less when it comes to politics. But this kind of party infighting doesn’t historically work out well.
Warren the Messenger
Regardless of which of the roles Warren winds up playing — the reluctant presidential candidate, the VP attack dog, or the spoiler — she still has a valuable message that is important to a large portion of Democratic voters.
She has captivated the media’s attention, giving her a national platform to spread her message. Any attempts by the president or the presidential candidates to trivialize or ignore her message are likely to alienate a sizable portion of the base.
One thing is certain:
Warren isn’t going to simply “go away” this election cycle, and her message against the “American Nightmare” will probably only grow louder.