There are some aspects of learning that students should abide by. Here is a list.
Here comes Elizabeth Warren, who says that she is not—at the moment—running for president. However, rhetorically, she sure sounds like she’s trying to influence who is nominated. What if nobody she likes is nominated? Warren, who was featured in Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story when she was a professor at Harvard, is the consummate voice of the left (some would say the tea party left), and she more than anyone in the Democrat Party poses a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders has not the charisma nor the articulate appeal that Warren does, and he carries the identification of “socialist” around as a proud badge, and that’s immediate disqualification for a majority of the voters in the general.
Warren, however, has a populist appeal that could get her far into the primary, and she appeals to the Democratic base when she is not obligated to do so, particularly among those who believe Obama has betrayed them. As a result, Warren is garnering much attention:
Interviews with more than a dozen attendees, along with comments from panelists, suggest that Clinton — who many on the left view as too hawkish and soft on Wall Street — is still struggling to generate enthusiasm among progressives, even as she’s all but certain to announce a 2016 bid within a few months. The lack of excitement is especially palpable among younger liberals, the set that helped power Barack Obama to the Democratic nod over Clinton in 2008.
Warren keeps saying she is not (in the present) running. But that is true until she says she’s running (and for the record, Hillary is not running either at the moment). In other words, she has not ruled it out:
As NPR’s Steve Inskeep and many other observers have noticed, Warren always answers the presidential query in the present tense and assiduously avoids any deviation that might rule out a future bid.
Warren may not be “running for president” at the moment, but neither is anyone else, for that matter.
Far more relevant is the question that she has repeatedly chooses not to answer: Might she run for president, after the 2016 campaign official kicks off next year?
Can Warren win, as David Brooks recently opined in the affirmative in the NYT? He concludes:
Clinton is obviously tough, but she just can’t speak with a clear voice against Wall Street and Washington insiders. Warren’s wing shows increasing passion and strength, both in opposing certain Obama nominees and in last week’s budget fight.
The history of populist candidates is that they never actually get the nomination. The establishment wins. That’s still likely. But there is something in the air. The fundamental truth is that every structural and historical advantage favors Clinton, but every day more Democrats embrace the emotion and view defined by Warren.
Brooks is too optimistic for the moment, but there is a conceivable path to Warren winning with Clinton’s continued mis-steps and the base’s continued anger at Obama and the prior Clinton administration’s forays into the center.
Remember back in the day oh so long ago—as little as in 2013—when people were prophesying the death of conservatism? Indeed, if you click on one of those links, the tradition of predicting the death of the right goes back a long time to the early 90s.
Presently, we have an equal litany of pundits and thinkers predicting a liberal crackup. This is not new. Even in the 1980s, Bill Buckley on his excellent Firing Line considered the “liberal crackup” after Reagan’s landslide elections:
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Auguries of the death of this or that party have plagued us since the Founding. Sometimes, parties actually do collapse. However, most of the time predictions about a party’s demise are incorrect. After 2008, the Republicans were not collapsing, they were in the middle of an internal battle. The Tea Party sprung up to the right of center, and was the bane of of the party leading it to defeat after defeat electorally. Fast forward a few years to 2014, and the latest shellacking of the Democrats were not largely due to the Tea Party. The Tea Party was seen as too extreme, and it did not benefit the governing coalition on the Hill. Presently, leading Tea Party politician, Ted Cruz, is a man isolated. Being politically savvy is not the strong suit of the Tea Party to be sure.
In similar fashion, the Democrats are about ready to make the same mistake (although they are doing it willingly!), and it is here the Republicans can capitalize greatly. Since the feckless presidency of Barrack Obama, the left wing of the party has began to flex it’s muscle. Indeed, Obama was seen as the great left hope, but he has been a crushing disappointment. So much so, Hillary Clinton is too far to the right of many of the rank and file Democrats, and Jim Webb, among others, will likely challenge her from the left–though it is safe to say that Webb could be seen as a more reliable middle of the road candidate similar to Sec. Clinton. So, it’s no surprise that certain factions of the Democrat Party are calling for a Tea Party of the Left, and doing so willingly. The problem is that these small movements only appeal to a tiny portion of the base, but usually that’s enough to keep electable candidates with which they disagree from winning.
The more recent problems for the Democrats is that they are losing white voters; Republicans conversely are increasingly losing minorities. We are facing the reality that if trends continue, the two parties will be very racially split. This is not a good things for the country or our politics for it will become increasingly divisive. Republicans can stave off this racial division presently, as even the Democrats alienate the rest of their white blue collar coalition.
The Republicans are standing in the midst of a great opportunity, if they can only see it. They are poised to adopt an electoral and governing majority by instituting a version of fusionism. We should call it New Fusion–in honor of Frank Meyer who thought that an alliance between anti-communists, social and traditional conservatives, and libertarians (free marketers) could be created and turned into a winning electoral coalition, as well as a robust intellectual society. What should this candidate look like?
Mitt Romney was an awful candidate in many ways: he did not appeal to the voters because he appeared to lack empathy, he seemed to be a ruthless businessman (Bain Capital), and he did not appeal to the base (not conservative enough). Much of Romney’s depressing candidacy is noted in the excellent books After Hope and Change and Barrack Obama and the New America. Let’s stake out a few areas the Republicans have an opportunity to make inroads into the Democrat coalition nationally. These are by no means meant to be exhaustive.
I understand there will be much about this vignette open for debate. We could certainly add more to the list. But, it seems time for the Republicans to choose a New Fusion while the Democrats are taking time for their own small implosion.