Elizabeth Warren isn’t running for president. But I wish she were. And I base this in part on the soaring inequality that is stifling growth, destroying the middle class and eroding the very fabric of our democracy.
To me, the senior senator from Massachusetts is the national thought leader and policy leader on restoring the middle class and she is remarkably independent from the corporate and Wall Street interests that have bought off our political system and created the economic one that we are now suffering under.
According to some on the right, though, the very suggestion that there’s anything wrong with our current model of capitalism or that perhaps we should consider restoring some of the rights that have been stripped from workers, makes me a far-left lunatic. Bill O’Reilly actually made a pretty spectacular leap from my comments to…wait for it…communism in Cuba.
And while O’Reilly takes my argument to an extreme place, a fair amount of the feedback I received from Democrats about Warren as a presidential candidate was also of the “she’s too liberal” variety. This view is puzzling because Warren and her policies are quite popular.
For starters, she is a strong backer of lifting the minimum wage which is massively popular across the ideological spectrum.
And Warren’s supposedly radical idea that we should expand Social Security by more accurately calculating the cost of living is also very popular. The National Academy of Social Insurance found that 7 in 10 Americans preferred expanding Social Security and paying for it by lifting the income cap to our current system.
But Warren has really made her name by fearlessly challenging banks and trying to reign in their predatory practices. Here again, she’s got the public’s backing with 68% of Americans believing that banks are hurting the country.
On the issue of inequality, to me the central issue facing our nation, voters overwhelmingly believe inequality is growing and that the government should do something about it. So, if Warren’s a radical leftist, well I guess much of the country is as well.
The real problem is not that Warren is too left, it’s that we’ve allowed our politics and what is considered the “center” in our politics to be pulled farther right. That’s no accident. A lot of money has gone into convincing us that the moderate, centrist responsible thing to do is to lower corporate taxes, cut social security and basically let banks do whatever the hell they want. So yeah, Warren might be too liberal for the donor class, and Bill O’Reilly might want you to think that she’s too liberal for America, but America overwhelmingly disagrees. It is long past time for a course correction.
That doesn’t mean Warren can’t fundraise. In fact, she raised more in her Senate race than any other congressional candidate in the country. It turns out that there are a lot of folks who’d be willing to make a small investment in some actual people-powered, unbought democracy.