The headline seemed to promise a big story about something going terribly wrong on the Senate floor, perhaps with an ill-chosen prop. But instead of a Capitol Hill horror show, we get the delightful tale of the next Great White Progressive Hope:
Progressive activists haven’t agreed on what to call the movement urging Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for president, but they largely concur on this: With every recent anti-establishment move, the Massachusetts Democrat grows more attractive as a 2016 candidate, both in her own right and as a progressive foil for Hillary Clinton.
Such sentiments were on vivid display this week at RootsCamp, a gathering of some 2,000 progressive activists held in Washington, D.C. The event was held as Warren and others on the left have been denouncing the “cromnibus” spending bill winding its way through Congress over provisions they say are too friendly to Wall Street.
One panel at the conference, for instance, was called #HillaryProblems, and it delved into the disconnect between the Democratic establishment and the grass roots. Another was devoted to the “Draft Warren” movement, and it included members of groups such as MoveOn.org, which has pledged to spend at least $1 million to nudge the senator into the race, something she has said she won’t do.
Her mouth says No, but her firebrand eyes say Yes.
If she does run — and nobody has any real idea if she will or not — Warren would be the most outspokenly far-left candidate since George McGovern. I use the modifier “outspoken” because although she might not actually be any further to the left than President Obama, he ran a stealth campaign (which many of us on the right saw right through) based on biography rather than on ideology.
McGovern of course went on to lose roughly 57 states against Richard Nixon.
But this isn’t 1972, and two important dynamics have changed since then.
The first is that Warren wouldn’t be running against a GOP incumbent. Second — and this is the truly salient point — the Culture Wars weren’t nearly so far along, but instead were just really getting heated up. Nixon could count on his “Silent Majority” of Americans who hadn’t yet gone totally bat guano crazy, steeped in mythical tales of the War on Women, cisnormative patriarchal racism binders, and the like. And back then probably a majority of our public schools still produced graduates with enough math and civics to allow them to fully function as adult citizens.
Those days, needless to say, are over — and Warren could very well prove to be the first Marxist American to run and win as a Marxist American.
She has to want it, and she has to want it badly enough to go head-to-head against the entire Clinton Machine. But culturally the country has never been more ready for President Marxist American.
Politically? That’s the real test, and right now the Democrats are hurting. Here’s a little something from Jamelle Bouie at Slate:
As Amy Walter notes for the Cook Political Report, Democrats lost big at all levels of government, including the states. “Today,” she writes, “about 55 percent of all state legislative seats in the country are held by Republicans. That’s the largest share of GOP state legislators since the 1920s.” What’s more, “just 11 states have an all Democratic-controlled legislature,” and Democrats hold single-party control in just seven states. By contrast, “Republicans have a legislative majority in 30 states, including the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina,” and single-party control in most of the South.
This, Walter says, is a slow-moving disaster for congressional Democrats. She’s right. Absent major gains in 2016, 2018, and 2020, Democrats will be shut out of the next round of redistricting. If, she writes, “Democrats can’t get a seat at the redistricting table in 2020, they may find themselves locked out of a congressional majority for another 10 years.” And even if they do get a seat at the table, argues Greg Sargent for the Washington Post, there’s still the problem of population distribution; even in blue states, most Democratic voters are crammed in a handful of urban areas, which dilutes their strength in House elections.
If conservatives and libertarians are serious about fighting the Culture Wars which someday will produce a President Marxist American, there’s never been a better time or opportunity to launch a counteroffensive — from the states and counties first.