Senator Elizabeth Warren seems to have exploded out of nowhere, much like another young senator did in 2008. Warren was a Harvard Law School professor who specialized in bankruptcy law. She wrote two books about the effect of debt and the changing economy on middle class Americans. Her knowledge on the topic of how the middle class is shrinking in America put her in the mix of the post-2008 economic crash debate.
Warren has been seen as a champion of middle class values and opportunity. But she is also seen as something of a rarity in American politics nowadays: a Democrat who is actually liberal. Warren will tell you flat-out that she is a Progressive. She doesn’t mince words and try to be all things to everyone like President Obama.
Recently, Warren outlined what has come to be known as the “11 Commandments of Progressivism”. If Elizabeth Warren had the beginnings of a presidential election campaign message, this would be it. “What does it mean to be a progressive?”, Warren asked.
– “We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”
– “We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.”
– “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.”
– “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.”
– “We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.”
– “We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.”
– “We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.”
– “We believe—I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work.”
– “We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.”
– “We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.”
– “And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!”
Warren drew a sharp contrast between these Progressive values and what she sees as the message that the current incarnation of American conservatism sends: “I got mine. The rest of you are on your own.”
These “11 Commandments” are in line with Warren’s message back on the senate campaign trail. In a now-famous recording of her speaking in someone’s home about her views on the interconnectedness of all persons and opportunities in modern-day America. Warren’s message then and now was simple: Nobody makes it on their own. We can’t take our fans and give nothing back to society.
“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own,” she said. “Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.”
These kinds of statements are not what passes for centrism in American politics nowadays. The common definition of the American political spectrum is that the left has moved to the middle, the right has moved far right, and true progressives are castigated as Socialists.
Well, Warren is having none of it. And her message is taking root in a post-crash world where homes were lost and retirement accounts evaporated. Ironically, the very factors that launched a successful Warren senate campaign were behind the formation of the Tea Party. They just ended up taking to two different roads.
Now Warren’s popularity among Democrats is so strong that some wonder if she might prove to be a challenge for Hillary herself. Most recognize that Hillary brings a war chest and background to the primary season that will likely wipe any challenger from the field. But hopeful dreams of some true Liberals are for a Clinton/Warren ticket in 2016.
“Let’s put it this way,” said one Warren fan. “I want to see [Clinton] run for president because I know she would win. Who would I really want to see run for president? Elizabeth Warren.”
Another voter, a labor union rep from Los Angeles put it this way.
“Is [Clinton] the strongest possible candidate for the Democrats? Yes,. But Warren captures the concerns of a lot of people in this country with economic security.”
Perhaps a Clinton presidency with Warren at Treasury? Time will tell.
Elizabeth Warren may end up being the liberal presidential candidate that does not happen in 2016, but the one that liberals really want. The question then becomes: What role would she have in a Clinton administration?
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