[ Since her initial announcement in December, Warren’s campaign
has rolled out a series of detailed policy proposals in quick
succession, outlining structural changes to major industries,
government functions, and regulatory procedures...]
[https://portside.org/] 

 ELIZABETH WARREN IS THE INTELLECTUAL POWERHOUSE OF THE DEMOCRATIC
PARTY   [https://portside.org/node/19833] 

 

 Moira Donegan 
 April 12, 2019
The Guardian
[https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/12/elizabeth-warren-idemocratic-party-influence-2020]


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 _ Since her initial announcement in December, Warren’s campaign has
rolled out a series of detailed policy proposals in quick succession,
outlining structural changes to major industries, government
functions, and regulatory procedures... _ 

 Elizabeth Warren, since announcing her presidential intentions in
December, has rolled out a series of detailed policy proposals.,
Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock // The Guardian 

 

There’s

still nearly a year to go before the Iowa caucuses, the first contest
of the Democratic presidential primary, but the media has already
counted Senator Elizabeth Warren
[https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/elizabeth-warren] out. The
conventional wisdom has rapidly devolved from declaring her a
frontrunner when she announced her bid on New Year’s Eve to
confident assertions that her campaign is dead in the water,
out-raised and out-charmed by the white male candidates – Bernie,
Biden, Beto and Buttigieg – whose presidential bids have dominated
the first months of the contest.

There’s some evidence to back this up: Warren is receiving less
cable news coverage
[https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/which-2020-democrat-got-the-most-cable-news-attention-last-week/] than
some of the other major contenders, notably Beto O’Rourke and Kamala
Harris, and a recent poll
[https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/437770-warren-places-third-in-2020-poll-of-massachusetts] in
her home state of Massachusetts found her in third place as a
presidential contender even among her own constituents; she was beaten
by the better-known early frontrunners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
She raised a robust $6
[https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/10/politics/elizabeth-warren-first-quarter-fundraising/index.html]m
[https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/10/politics/elizabeth-warren-first-quarter-fundraising/index.html] in
the first quarter of 2019, outperforming the dire predictions of
horserace cynics, but she suffered the embarrassment of coming up
short to the inexperienced and baby-faced young Indiana mayor Pete
Buttigieg, who raised $7m.

But since her initial announcement in December, Warren’s campaign
has rolled out a series of detailed policy proposals in quick
succession, outlining structural changes to major industries,
government functions, and regulatory procedures that would facilitate
more equitable representation in the federal government and overhaul
the economy in favor of the working class. These policy proposals have
made Warren the Democratic party’s new intellectual center of
gravity, a formidable influence who is steadily pushing the
presidential primary field to the left and forcing all of her primary
challengers to define their political positions against hers.

 

Warren has become the Democratic party's new intellectual center of
gravity

Warren herself is an anti-trust nerd, having come to the Senate from a
career as an academic studying corporate and banking law. On the
stump, she’s most detailed in the same areas where she is most
passionate, like when she talks about about breaking up
[https://medium.com/@teamwarren/heres-how-we-can-break-up-big-tech-9ad9e0da324c] huge
tech companies such as Amazon and Google, and implementing a
21st-century–version of the Glass-Steagall act that would separate
commercial and investment banking (she has also called for prosecuting
and jailing bank executives
[https://truthout.org/articles/on-10th-anniversary-of-crash-warren-says-break-up-the-banks-jail-the-bankers/] who
break the law). But her policy agenda is broader than that, taking on
pocketbook issues that have resonance with working families.

Warren outlined a huge overhaul of the childcare system that would
revolutionize the quality, cost and curriculum of early childhood
education, with subsidies for families and a living wage for
caregivers. It’s a proposal that she talks about in the context of
her own career when, as a young mother and fledgling legal mind, she
almost had to give up a job as a law professor because childcare for
her young son was too expensive.

Warren has also proposed a housing plan
[https://medium.com/@teamwarren/my-housing-plan-for-america-20038e19dc26] that
would limit huge investors’ abilities to buy up homes, give
incentives for localities to adopt renters’ protections, and build
new public housing. Crucially, and uniquely, her housing plan would
also provide home ownership grants
[https://www.theroot.com/sen-elizabeth-warren-breaks-down-america-s-ugly-histor-1829439424] to
buyers in minority communities that have historically been
“redlined”, a term for the racist federal housing policies that
denied federally backed mortgages to black families. The provision,
aimed to help black and brown families buy their first homes, is a
crucial step toward amending the racial wealth gap, and it has helped
sparked a broader conversation within the party about the need to pay
reparations
[https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-warren/senator-elizabeth-warren-backs-reparations-for-black-americans-idUSKCN1QA2WF] to
the descendants of slaves – a concept that Warren has also endorsed.

Taking her cues from pro-democracy and voting rights advocates such as
Stacey Abrams, Warren has also taken on anti-majoritarian
constitutional provisions, aiming to make American democracy more
representative and less structurally hostile to a progressive agenda.
She has called for abolishing the electoral college
[https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/19/elizabeth-warren-eliminate-electoral-college-1226686],
the unfair institution the US uses to elect chief executives that
makes a vote in New York count less than a vote in Wyoming, and which
has resulted in two disastrous Republican presidencies in the past two
decades. She has advocated eliminating the filibuster
[https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/05/politics/elizabeth-warren-2020-senate-filibuster/index.html],
an archaic procedural quirk of the Senate that would keep the
Democrats from ever passing their agenda if they were to regain
control of that body. And she has signaled a willingness to pack the
courts
[https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/18/2020-democrats-supreme-court-1223625],
another move that will be necessary to implement leftist policies such
as Medicare for All – because even if the next Democratic president
can pass her agenda through Congress, she will not be able to protect
it from the malfeasance of a federal bench filled with conservative
Trump appointees eager to strike it down.

 

When other candidates campaign, Warren's strong policy positions force
them to define themselves against her

Warren has been the first to propose all of these policies, and it is
not difficult to see other candidates falling in line behind her,
issuing belated and imitative policy proposals, or being forced to
position themselves to her right. Warren has promised not to go
negative against other Democrats
[https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/democrats], but her campaign’s
intellectual project also serves a political purpose: when other
candidates campaign, her strong policy positions force them to define
themselves against her.

After Warren announced her childcare overhaul, Kamala Harris rolled
out a plan similarly designed to combat gendered economic injustice,
calling for guaranteed family leave
[https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/15/us/paid-family-leave.html] and better
teacher pay
[https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/us/politics/kamala-harris-teacher-pay.html],
respectively. After Warren rolled out her pro-democracy agenda of
eliminating the electoral college, abolishing the filibuster and
packing the courts, her ideological rival Bernie Sanders was forced to
come out against both eliminating the filibuster
[https://www.huffpost.com/entry/bernie-sanders-filibuster_n_5cab5822e4b0dca03304dae5] and packing
the courts
[https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/436866-sanders-packing-supreme-court-not-the-ultimate-solution],
damaging his reputation with a party base who knew that without these
interventions, a progressive agenda will probably never be enacted.
The pressure eventually forced Sanders to cave to Warren’s vision
and concede that he would be open to eliminating the filibuster in
order to pass Medicare for All.

There’s still a long time before the first contests, and it’s
possible that Warren will succumb to the flaws that her critics see in
her campaign. In particular, she might not be able to raise enough
money. She’s decided not to take any Pac money and not to fundraise
with wealthy donors, a position that may be as much practical as it is
principled: the super-rich are not likely to donate to Warren anyway,
since she has such a detailed plan, called the Ultra Millionaire Tax
[https://www.warren.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/senator-warren-unveils-proposal-to-tax-wealth-of-ultra-rich-americans],
to redistribute their money. She may fall victim to the seemingly
unshakable controversy over her old claims of Native American
ancestry, and she seems doomed to be smeared and underestimated for
her sex, called cold and unlikable
[https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/04/elizabeth-warren-likability-sexism-2020-presidential-race] for
her intellect and then, as with other female candidates, derided as
pandering
[https://www.thecut.com/2017/09/elizabeth-warren-hillary-clinton-sexism.html] when
she tries to seem more relatable.

But it would be a mistake to write Warren off as a virtuous also-ran,
the kind of candidate whose intellectual and moral commitments doom
her in a race dominated by the deep divisions in the electorate and
the craven demagoguery of the incumbent. Elizabeth Warren does not
seem to be running for president to make a point, or to position
herself for a different job. Instead, she is making bold interventions
in the political imagination of the party. It may well not be Warren
who wins the Democratic nomination, but whoever does will be
campaigning on her ideas.

_[Moira Donegan is a Guardian US columnist.]_

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