I’ve been arguing for a while now that Fake Indian will run and win the Democrat nomination in 2016. I’m not even sure Clinton runs again. She is old, fat and sick and the Left generally hates old people. The only way they back Her is if they think the Republican candidate is going to win. Given the state of the GOP, they will not be nominating a sure thing in 2016. Instead it will be some bland establishment guy who does not scare the establishment. It looks like Jonah Goldberg agrees.
In 2007, Democrats were delirious with rage about the Iraq war. Hillary Clinton, the “inevitable” presidential front-runner, had voted for the war and refused to apologize for it. Other leading candidates, including Joe Biden, John Edwards, and Chris Dodd, voted for it too. This left a huge opening for a credible antiwar candidate. Barack Obama, inexperienced and underqualified, nonetheless jumped into the vacuum. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the issue that obsesses the base of the Democratic party is income inequality. I think that’s foolish. The underlying causes of inequality — miserable economic growth, stagnating wages, poverty, etc. — are vastly more worthy challenges. Though, in fairness, many people actually have those problems in mind when they talk about inequality.
There’s another, more important reason. In the 1990’s, the Left radicalized and, like Africanized honey bees, became very aggressive. They were convinced Clinton was too timid and let the “extreme right” push him around. Loyalty to the cause kept them from revolting against the Clintons, but the resentment turned into rage by 2000. Just as fundamentalist Muslims went violently crazy after the end of the Cold War, the American Left went bonkers when the Clintons left town.
In 2008, the most anti-Bush candidate was Obama. In 2016, the Left will embrace the most aggressively liberal candidate in the field. The Left largely feels Obama has not been aggressive enough, particularly with the Wall Street crowd. That’s what makes Fake Indian’s faux populism so appealing. it not authentic, but is makes the Left feel like they are something other than toadies to corporate America. Warren would serve the narrative, which is what matters.
There’s another component to the inequality obsession: populism. People increasingly feel that economic and political elites are enriching themselves, not by making great products or selling valuable services, but by cutting backroom deals and selling influence. This rage is remarkably bipartisan. It is the one theme that loosely unites tea partiers and Wall Street occupiers alike.
Goldberg, like most of the neocons, instinctively rejects anything that smacks of populism. That’s why they tend to get it wrong as we see here. Warren’s faux populism is the sort you see in the faculty lounge or the coffee shop at Whole Foods. It’s overly credentialed cosmopolitan provincials complaining about the rich guys who sign their paycheck and keep them in the lifestyle they deserve. They may have it good, but someone with fewer diplomas has it better and that’s just unfair.
It’s why Warren sounds so weird to working class types. If you are a part-time teacher at your kid’s Montessori school, hearing a rich white woman complain about inequality sounds inspiring. If you’re working two jobs so your kid can go to the local state college one day, hearing an old rich woman talk like that sounds ridiculous. The Democrat party, however, is the party of Montessori school parents, not plumbers with two jobs.
Obscure economics professor David Brat toppled House majority leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia primary largely by tapping into that populism, particularly on such issues as immigration and Wall Street bailouts.
Senator Warren owes her left-wing hero status to the Democratic version of this kind of populism. She’s been talking for years about how the well-connected “rig the system” for their own benefit. Now, I find many of Warren’s proposed solutions — more regulation, more taxes, more government, etc. — abhorrent. But, believe it or not, I am not a Democratic-primary voter. Those who are love what Warren is selling.
I’ve been pointing this out for years. It used to be that the parties were easy to define by their marketing. The Democrats were mostly the party of the working class and rich people claiming to be for the working class. The Republicans were the party of the shop owner and other rich people. Both parties tried to fashion a majority around policy and both parties could compete in all regions of the country, based on a message aimed at the middle-class white voter.
That’s not the case today nor has it been for a long time. Here’s a quote from a 15-year old Sam Francis colums:
Today, the main political line of division in the United States is not between the regions of North and South (insofar as such regions can still be said to exist) but between elite and nonelite. As I have tried to make plain … for the last 15 years, the elite, based in Washington, New York, and a few large metropolises, allies with the underclass against Middle Americans, who pay the taxes, do the work, fight the wars, suffer the crime, and endure their own political and cultura1 dispossession at the hands of the elite and its underclass vanguard.
Warren’s faux populism is an attempt to tap into this, but she is a product of the managerial class and her message is aimed at members of that class. Clinton crying poor mouth is a similar attempt. Brat is different and comparing his appeal to that of Warren is a category error. Of course, Goldberg knows this and is trying to prevent conservatives from embracing the Sam Francis style populism by demonizing all forms of populism as left-wing. It’s classic neocon subversion.
The question is whether any of it really matters at this point. Warren is no populist and she would be a slave to the bankers and corporate elites. She is an old rich white woman willing to lie for money. While I think her shtick will work for her in 2016, nothing much will change in the Democrat party. It is and will remain the party of deluded upper middle class whites. They can’t bring themselves to align with middle and working class whites, so they stick with the party of plutocrats.