Elizabeth Warren — she of the imagined American Indian heritage that launched a thousand puns — addressed her real tribe the other day, laying out a warpath agenda for delegates to the far-left Netroots Nation conference.
The venue could not have been more ideal: A stage in a dying city — Detroit — that is the poster child for unrestricted liberal impulses. Not that anyone with a Netroots Nation credential would have noticed, or admitted as much. In their world, when liberalism fails, it’s because it wasn’t tried hard enough, or long enough, or it was sabotaged by insidious right-wing forces.
Such purity of faith helps explain why the delegates whooped as Warren described her us-vs.-sinister-them platform for 2014 and beyond. Why, John Nichols, columnist for The Nation, was practically rhapsodic.
What Elizabeth Warren, the perfect Massachusetts U.S. senator, brought to the Netroots Nation gathering was a progressive vision that is of the moment — a vision rooted in the understandings that have been established in the years since the “Republican wave” election of 2010. As Republicans in Congress practiced obstructionism, and as an increasingly activist Supreme Court knocked down historic democratic protections, Republican governors aggressively attacked labor rights, voting rights and women’s rights. Citizens responded with rallies, marches and movements — in state capitals, on Wall Street, across the country. They developed a new progressive vision that is more aggressive and more precisely focused on economic and social justice demands, and on challenging the power of corporations and their political allies.
Warren, Nichols wrote, “gets it,” connecting “the movements and the political process that has tremendous significance for the coming election cycles.” And the far-left activists who think the only cure for failed liberalism is more liberalism — my words, not Nichols’ — found in Warren’s rallying call their sticking place.
Her agenda is the usual laundry list of unworkable, impractical, uneconomic, fantastical and, if enacted, endlessly litigious notions. Equal pay for equal work? OK, who decides what’s “equal”? Equal marriage rights? Where do polygamists sign up? Hike the minimum wage? You’ll have to suspend the laws of economics at the same time. Rein in Wall Street? To keep up with Dodd-Frank, investment houses already are adding compliance officers, who produce no revenue, by the thousands while laying off brokers and analysts.
Immigration/amnesty, coerced contraceptive coverage, government control of the Internet, corporations-aren’t-people, climate-change “science” — it’s all in there, and Warren is happy to strut it among fellow travelers who never worry about what happens next, who never even think to ask, “And then what happens?” These are the people who would Warren to challenge Hillary Clinton’s claim on the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
And conservatives reply: Please, oh please, oh please, oh please.