by Brent Budowsky
After listening to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on NPR refuse four times to directly say that she will not run for president in 2016, I now believe the odds are 40 percent that she ultimately throws her hat into the presidential ring, which I do not advocate here.
After learning that Hillary Clinton will apparently continue her paid speaking tour through March 2015, I now believe Clinton is more ambivalent about whether to run than most commentators suspect.
After watching the sad performance of President Obama and Democrats in Congress as they orchestrated a stunning retreat from the limited Dodd-Frank financial reforms, endorsed losses from highly speculative Wall Street trading as being eligible for future bailouts, and legalized far more lavish spending by wealthy donors seeking to buy influence with both political parties, it is clear there is now a battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.
If Warren were a tech company, she would be called a disruptor. She is like the iPad, which did not exist five years ago but has revolutionized personal computing. Last week, Warren, as a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, denounced what other Democratic leaders and the Democratic president were doing. For the next two years, she will be a watchdog working from the inside and a reformer. Every battle she wages will energize and mobilize Democrats across America.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently described the latest Democratic capitulations as merely a tactical move. He could not be more wrong. These are principle issues about what Democrats stand for, about who has the power to buy influence, and how little some insider Democrats have learned or even care about the abuses that caused the most devastating recession and financial crash since the Great Depression.
It is time for straight talk about a Democratic Party that has surrendered its spirit, forgotten its values and lost its way. Democrats should never act as water boys for lobbyists, participants in crony capitalism or beneficiaries of influence peddling through political donations.
In January 2009, a Democratic president who promised transforming change was inaugurated with nearly 70 percent of Americans behind him, along with large Democratic majorities in the Senate and House. Since those golden days for Democrats, they have suffered the destruction of the Democratic Senate and House, the defeat of Democratic governors and state legislators and the disastrous decline of public approval for the Democratic brand.
After the latest electoral disaster for Democrats, the only high-level official who “lost his head” was a Republican, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who deserved far better.
The major reason Democrats were annihilated in the 2014 midterms was that millions of Democratic-leaning voters stayed home because they did not believe voting for Democrats would improve their lives. Obama can criticize them, but when Democrats in December escalate the practices that depressed their voters in November, they dramatize the definition of insanity by repeating the same mistakes and expecting things to turn out differently.
As Christmas approaches, Democrats might study the teachings of Pope Francis, the most popular figure on the world stage, who prays for a world of economic justice and financial responsibility and has not praised bailouts that enrich speculators.
There is a revolt brewing from real Democrats outside a capital where corruptions offend what most Democrats stand for. This liberal revolt, which battles for changes approved by a majority of all voters, began in earnest this week. It will escalate through the next Congress and reach a crescendo during the 2016 campaign when the often-maligned Democratic base will have a powerful voice choosing the party’s nominee.
My hope is that Hillary Clinton, one of the most qualified candidates to seek the presidency in the 21st century, becomes the champion of this change. If she does not, someone else will.
When the new Congress convenes, get ready for Warren to escalate her insurgency for change from the Senate. We will soon learn whether Clinton is ready to lead a party that stands for a government that serves all the people and is not bought or rented by the people with money.