Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Elizabeth Warren Wing Of The Democratic Party?


Several of my friends have been grumbling about Elizabeth Warren's support for conservative border state and Southern Democrats, Alison Lundergan Grimes (KY), Natlaie Tennant (WV), Mary Landrieu (LA), Sam Nunn's daughter (GA), Mark Pryor (AR) and Kay Hagan (NC). On a national level, she's, by far, the biggest star in the Senate. Other than lobbyists, Wall Street brokers and special interests who would go out to a rally headlined by Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mark Warner, Dianne Feinstein, Joe Donnelly? Most people don't even know what states these people are from. Cory Booker? Developing story… but, for now… mostly Wall Street brokers. Liz Warren is the star and every campaign wants her to help them turn out audiences, voters, grassroots donors. Democrats and independents love her powerful Wall Street vs Main Street message. That would be a tough one for Schumer, Gillibrand or Booker to deliver.

Real people recognize something they don't see in other senators: authenticity and concern for their interests. Progressives aren't necessarily overjoyed that she's using that to bolster people like Landrieu-- whose vote allowed Alito to be confirmed and who's campaigning against Climate Change amelioration-- and Alison Lundergan Grimes, whose tepid, consultant-driven campaign is the antithesis of how a bold progressive, populist wins, of how Elizabeth Warren won last cycle against Wall Street's favorite senator (who the banksters gave $7,233,298-- almost as much as the $9,891,795 they gave McConnell).

Warren has already raised over $2 million for endangered incumbents and some of the Democratic candidates. A few months ago she bucked EMILY's List, which had guaranteed ConservaDem Colleen Hanabusa they could deliver her support, and endorsed progressive champion Brian Schatz in the contentious Hawaii Senate primary. She's been raising him money as well and helping clarify the contrast between the corrupt New Dem Hanabusa and Schatz who has identified himself clearly as part of the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party and campaigns on the same populist issues that won her a smashing victory against Scott Brown in 2012.

Similarly, when Harry Reid, Michael Bennet, Guy Cecil (in effect, the DSCC) decided prairie populist Rick Weiland should be shunned for being too liberal and for scaring Blue Dog lobbyist/loser Stephanie Herseth Sandlin out of the South Dakota Senate race, Warren stepped in with an endorsement and some real money. Yesterday she sent out a letter asking for contributions from her followers for Weiland:
Democrat Tim Johnson is retiring from the Senate this year, and we're in for a tough fight in South Dakota. Luckily our candidate is ready to fight: former Tom Daschle aide and state AARP leader Rick Weiland. He's actively fighting for campaign finance reform and taking back government for hard-working people. Rick is running hard on a truly progressive agenda, and he needs your help to keep South Dakota's seat in Democratic hands.
In less than 24 hours, 936 Warren supporters gave Weiland $16,657.25, his biggest single ActBlue haul since getting into the race. (And his second biggest ActBlue haul, $12,217.31 from PCCC, was entitled "Give Elizabeth Warren the allies she needs in the Senate.")

She's helping progressives like Jeff Merkley in Oregon, moderates Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire and conservatives like Mark Pryor in Arkansas. If DSCC chairman Michael Bennet has been a 2 on a 1-10 scale, Warren has been an 11. She's going to states where Obama and Reid are not especially welcome-- like West Virginia.
Obama is unpopular in the Mountain State, having lost there by 27 points in 2012, and would not be welcomed by the Tennant campaign. But the candidate invited Warren to help her roll out her education policy agenda on July 14 in the state's eastern panhandle and to help her paint Capito as a supporter of Wall Street.

"Like Tennant, Warren grew up in a working-class family and worked to help make ends meet," the West Virginian's campaign said. "Warren took babysitting jobs and worked at her aunt's restaurant after her dad had a heart attack and lost his job. Tennant worked her way through college at WVU on a minimum wage job at a Morgantown florist shop-- her dad helped make up the rest of her tuition by selling cows."
A couple days ago, Kate Nocera speculated that "if Democrats hold onto the Senate this year, the biggest winner may be Elizabeth Warren. "Warren’s ability to fundraise for fellow Democrats," she wrote, "could help her own future aspirations, whatever they may be. Though she has emphatically denied she has any plans to run for president, it certainly doesn’t hurt to give generously to colleagues now." She's building a power base in the Senate-- and people in the crowd wore t-shirts that said, "I'm from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party." They wanted photos with her, notespecially with Grimes. Gary Turner, who was at the rally, told Nocera, "Would I have 100% been here if Warren wasn’t coming? No." He was there for Warren. "She’s like what Obama was, she’s just got something about her. I am all for Alison and I hope she wins but I wanted the chance to see Warren."

Warren told Nocera in Louisville over the weekend that "Democrats are the same page on what’s happening to America economically. That’s what we’re all out there talking about. I don’t agree with every Democratic candidate on every issue. But on the core economic issues, the fact the playing field is tilted, on the need to fight for working families, we are all in the same place and that’s why I’m out here." And she told the crowd, "You send us Alison Grimes instead of Mitch McConnell and you change the world."
And while Grimes has tried to distance herself from President Obama and certain Democratic issues, there was little daylight between Grimes and Warren on Sunday. The two stood on stage together railing against Grimes’ opponent, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and declared that on issues of the economy they were perfectly in sync.

Grimes called Warren "someone who has fought as hard as anyone could fight in the United States Senate." And if Kentucky sends her to the Senate, Grimes noted, "will have someone to fight for the middle class right along with her."

"As the middle child, I’m used to operating from the center," Grimes added. "My husband and I don’t agree on every issue; as Sen. Warren said, we don’t agree on every issue, but we do agree that Washington isn’t working for Kentucky families or American families."
Watch a clip from her speech up top: "Alison and I don't agree on everything; we don't. But Alison and I agree that there is a lot on the line here: our economy, our country, our values. We want to work together wherever we can. We want to build a great future for this country, a great future for our children and our grandchildren. And we are willing to fight shoulder to shoulder to make that happen. That's what tough women do."

No one is perfect-- not even Warren-- and its gigantically disappointing that she is pointedly not campaigning for this cycle's Elizabeth Warren: Shenna Bellows in Maine. A contact at the DSCC told me Warren has refused to do anything that could be interpreted as a slight against Maine incumbent Susan Collins, something many progressives will remember for a very long time. One of my friends, knowing what a big supporter of hers I am, railed at me, "She's backing Nunn and Grimes and Pryor and ignoring Bellows. She's just like all the DC phonies." I just finished reading her new book, A Fighting Chance. Last night I read the epilogue as I was eating dinner. It was written after she had been in the Senate for just over a year. "I've seen our Congress up close," she wrote, "and parts of it are truly dysfunctional." But her epilogue is upbeat and filled with the kind of hope she's bringing voters in Kentucky, West Virginia, and Georgia… even as she ignores Mainers. "Every day I wrestle with the same ruthless reality that I've known for many years: Change-- real change-- is hard. Uphill, grind-grind-grind, sweat-it-out hard."
Yes, change is hard, but it is possible-- and that's the part that fires me up.

I've heard a lot of talk about what can't be done. People said the new consumer agency was a pipe dream. But now it's the law of the land, and in July, 2013 I presided over the US Senate as Rich Cordray finally became the first full-fledged, real-deal director. That agency is here to stay. After Rich's confirmation, one headline read: ELIZABETH WARREN SMILES BIG AFTER RICH CORDRAY CONFIRMATION. Got that right!

There are other ways to make change happen. Committee hearings are pretty dull affairs, the stuff that fills the 3:00 A.M. slot on CSPAN. But those hearings offer a chance to make some progress. At my first Banking Committee hearing, I pushed regulators to name the last time they took a big bank all the way to trial. They stumbled and fumbled and a video of the exchange [she below] shot around the Internet and was viewed by more than a million people. Maybe, just maybe, more government officials will think twice before deciding that some bank executive is too big to jail.

And student loans? No, I didn't get the Bank on Students Act passed. But at least the final deal on student loan interest was better than where it started: $15 billion better for students over the next ten years. And, in the end, I wasn't alone. More than a dozen senators from around the country stood up to me to say no to any deal in which the government makes a profit off the backs of our students. That's not a bad place to begin the next round in the battle-- and, believe me, we will come back to this issue again.

Of course, student loans are just a start. There are many more fights ahead, and more work to be done-- and I worry that we're running out of time. For generations now, America's middle class has been squeezed, chipped away, and hammered so hard that the foundations of our economic security are beginning to crumble.

Every day I think about the people I've met who are part of the battle. The woman in New Bedford who walked two miles so she could talk to someone who would fight for her. The father who worried that basic fairness would be denied to his transgender child. The woman who brought her tall, good-looking husband to a rally and talked with me about his slide into the darkness of Alzheimer's. The big guy at the construction site who went nine months without work last year. I remember their faces, their fears, their determination.

Every one of them worries about our future. Every one of them has anxious days and sleepless nights. Every one of them is tough and resourceful. And every one of them-- every single one of them-- has a deep core of optimism that says we can do better.

I believe that it's this optimism about the future that sets us apart as a people, this optimism that makes America an exceptional nation. We built this country by striking out on new adventures and propelling ourselves forward on a path we named progress. Along the way, we learned that when we invest in one another, when we build school and roads and research lanes, we build a better future-- a better future for ourselves and our children and our grandchildren.

Equality. Opportunity. The pursuit of happiness. An America that builds something better for the next kid and the kid after that and the kid after that.

No one is asking for a handout. All we want is a country where everyone pays a fair share, a country where we build opportunities for all of us; a country where everyone plays by the same rules and everyone is held accountable. and we have begun to fight for it.

I believe in us. I believe in what we can do together, in what we will do together. All we need is a fighting chance.
The Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party-- right here… especially Shenna Bellows.

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At 6:38 PM, Blogger CNYOrange said...

Um, Warren can't be forgiven for refusing to support Bellows, this slight can't be overlooked.


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