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Bradner writes: “In the aftermath of last year's election, the centrist old guard is out and progressives have won the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren declared Saturday.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: AP)
Senator Elizabeth Warren. (photo: AP)

Sen. Warren Urges Democrats to Reject Centrist Policies and Move Leftward

By Eric Bradner, CNN

13 August 17


n the aftermath of last year's election, the centrist old guard is out and progressives have won the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren declared Saturday.

"But, boy, we've inherited a hell of a challenge, haven't we?" she said at an annual gathering here of thousands of progressive activists.

In a speech that outlined Warren's vision for the party's future, the Massachusetts senator offered a series of policy prescriptions, calling on Democrats to push for Medicare for all, debt-free college or technical school, universal pre-kindergarten, a $15-an-hour minimum wage and portable benefits.

She dug in against President Donald Trump, saying Democrats would defend undocumented immigrants brought into the United States as children and that "we're never, ever going to build your stupid wall."

And she celebrated the ascendant progressive wing's takeover of the party -- which has accelerated since November's election.

"We don't have to tip-toe anymore. We don't have to hedge our bets," Warren said.

Through her speech, Warren didn't shy away from the prospect of a 2020 campaign for the presidency.

"We're going to fight to put more women in positions of power," she said at one point, "from committee rooms to boardrooms to that really nice oval-shaped room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

The crowd responded with chants of "Warren 2020!" Warren paused and smiled, and then moved on without directly addressing the chants.

Warren is already seen as one of Democrats' foremost voices -- along with Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders -- on progressives' economic policies.

So she used her speech in front of about 3,000 attendees at the progressive Netroots Nation conference Saturday to dive into issues of culture, which have split progressive and centrist Democrats since Hillary Clinton's loss in November.

In a shot at Bill Clinton-era Democratic policies, Warren said Democrats are not "going back to the days of welfare reform and the crime bill."

"We're not going back to the days of being lukewarm on choice," she said. "We're not going back to the days when universal health care was something Democrats talked about on the campaign trail but were too chicken to fight for after they got elected."

Warren's comments came at a crucial moment for the Democratic Party.

Its base is energized by the fight against Trump, and Democrats were thrilled to see the GOP effort to repeal former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act fail in late July.

However, the party is also without a national leader, and its path forward on policy is not yet settled.

For the first time in decades, Democrats reacted to a national election loss by moving leftward -- rather than to the center. The party's leaders have embraced confrontational tactics against Trump, while a growing list of its top prospects for the 2020 presidential race -- including Warren -- are embracing Sanders' call for a "Medicare for all" single-payer health care system.

But that shift has caused consternation in some quarters. Some leading Democrats -- including Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy -- recently backed the launch of a group called "New Democracy," aimed at moving Democrats toward positions that can win over moderates, independents and disaffected Republicans.

Warren pointed to a New York Times op-ed by Mark Penn, a Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign strategist, who called for the party to abandon "identity politics."

Warren noted that those calls, after previous election losses, had prevailed.

"This time, no one cared," she said. "Big yawn."

"In the wake of the last election, I've heard people say we need to decide whether we're the party of the white working class or the party of Black Lives Matter," Warren said.

"I say we can care about a dad who's worried that his kid will have to move away from their factory town to find good work -- and we can care about a mom who's worried that her kid will get shot during a traffic stop," she said. "The way I see it, those two parents have something deep down in common -- the system is rigged against both of them -- and against their kids."

Warren argued that many of the voters who abandoned Democrats and either fell into Trump's camp or stayed home in November because they see a "rigged" system and "don't feel like anyone in politics is doing anything to un-rig it, or it's too broken to un-rig at all."

"So spare me the argument about whether we ought to be trying to bring back folks who voted for Donald Trump or trying to turn out folks who just didn't vote," she said. "Because we can't do either of those things until we can show that things can change -- and that we will fight to change them."

Warren broke out her biggest applause line mid-speech, saying Democrats don't need permission from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- a reference to a clash between her and the Kentucky Republican earlier this year.

"He would probably tell me to sit down and shut up," Warren said. "Nevertheless, I would persist." your social media marketing partner


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-4 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-08-13 09:36
"the centrist old guard is out and progressives have won the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, Elizabeth Warren declared Saturday. "

Two problems with this statement:

1. What does she mean by "Progressives"? Does she mean democratic socialists in the form of the old progressive party of Robert LaFollet. Or does she mean "progressive" in the form of John Podesta/Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council and the Center for American Progress. Both of the latter are billionaire funded center right wing movements.

2. Is not clear at all that the "centrist old guard" is out. Pelosi and Schumer still control democrats in congress.

I wish what Warren said were true and I wish she were a real progressive. But her voting record in congress shows her to be a neo-con and an old guard liberal interventionist team player. She's also a supporter of Israeli crimes. Not very progressive, except in the Clinton/Podesta sense.

She voted for "Conutering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act.

Who said Russia was America's adversary?
0 # tedrey 2017-08-13 15:27
A leftist umbrella too restricted to even cover the Elizabeth Warren wing is defeated already.
-2 # Farafalla 2017-08-13 15:49
When can we dump this Russian troll?
+6 # lfeuille 2017-08-13 18:21
Podesta and Clinton are not progressives. In the current political spectrum, they are domestically centrists and internationally right wingers.

The jury is still out on whether Warren has become a real progressive domestically. She is sounding like one recently. She had zero experience when she came to the Senate so it is possible that she has learned a lot since then. He foreign policy, however is still on the neocon side. I read that recently joined with Graham and McCain to call for intervention is Pakistan.
+8 # Saberoff 2017-08-13 09:51
Warren should have acted back in the Demo primary.
+5 # lfeuille 2017-08-13 18:25
Too late to worry about that. She is the only one right now who is directly calling out the Dem leaderships natural tendency to move to the right. Bernie is working to undermine it, but he hasn't said anything that could lead to an argument with Schumer and Pelosi.
+4 # lfeuille 2017-08-13 18:28
I have a problem with Warren as the leader of the progressive wing of the party due to her foreign policy. I haven't seen anything to indicate that she has outgrown "American Exceptionalism" .
+6 # jimallyn 2017-08-13 11:07
Physician, heal thyself. You could have backed Bernie. You didn't. And now you want to tell US to move to the left? Maybe you haven't noticed, Elizabeth, but we are way out in front of you, and you're playing catch up.
+10 # grandlakeguy 2017-08-13 12:02
"We don't have to tip-toe anymore. We don't have to hedge our bets." Warren said.

It is tragic that Elizabeth Warren (whom I like a great deal) did not come to this conclusion before the DNC sabotaged Bernie Sanders' populist tsunami with their disgracefully dishonest primary paving the way for the most universally disliked (by both the left and right!) Democratic (Republican-lit e actually) candidate ever to run for President.
A strong support of Bernie would have helped him a great deal.

That said she is still one of the best bets for 2020 second only to another run by Bernie. She would be a great VP candidate for him.

BUT IF THE DEMS EVER WANT TO WIN... they must expose the fact that American elections are a complete fraud.

SENATOR WARREN: Please be the hero that speaks out about the systematic theft of our votes by the treasonous Republicans and the rigged primaries by the odious corporatist DNC!
+3 # crispy 2017-08-14 00:41
and... WARREN PLEASE call for paper ballot only elections!
+6 # librarian1984 2017-08-13 12:24
"Warren's comments came at a crucial time for the DP"

Certainly true, and I applaud Warren's candid statements .. but it's about time. I've been critical of her pro-Israel stance and hawkishness, but also her lack of courage. Her endorsement could have helped progressives during the nomination race and DAPL protests, so when she says we don't have to tip-toe or hedge our bets anymore, I think she's speaking to her own history. But better late than never.

There are some Democrats who just don't like Sanders, so Warren mainstreaming some of his ideas is good -- AND she's specifically calling for Medicare for all, the fight we SHOULD be having now. Trump says he wants the Senate to revisit health care but McConnell, I imagine, has not one iota of interest in tackling it again. This'd be a great time for the Ds and Trump to shove single payer through: win-win-lose.

It's significant, I think, that both Warren and Schumer have explicitly criticized Clinton(ism) this week. But I disagree with Warren's characterizatio n of what's happening in the party. Progressives may have won the ideological battle but no one in the establishment or neoliberal wings admit that.

And how is 'the centrist old guard out' when they're still in power? The "New Democracy" movement confirms the neoliberals aren't giving up -- they're teaming up with neocons and want to take over the DP.

Is Warren legit -- or the latest stalking horse? I'm afraid to trust.
+4 # ReconFire 2017-08-13 13:05
Was I asleep for a few months? When did "the centrist old guard" give up control of the Dem. party?
It's talk like this that makes me very suspect of Warren and her motives.
-1 # Street Level 2017-08-13 22:23
This woman is dead to me.
+6 # PABLO DIABLO 2017-08-13 14:26
The people that voted for Trump aren't going to get what they were promised. And, Hillary marginalized the liberals for the next twenty years. So, the progressive youth are our best hope.
+4 # Wise woman 2017-08-13 15:35
Just remember, Elizabeth backed Hilliary
and ignored Bernie. Since when has she become so enlightened? And given her track record, can she be trusted? Evidently, in the last few months, she's moved decidedly to the left.
+4 # Femihumanist 2017-08-13 20:42
I keep reading (elsewhere) that the Demons are back to their own tactics. The Far Left doesn't want Trump so they have to strive to get the "centrist" vote.

Warren could change about Israel and other things. Bernie changed about Israel. He didn't vote against the wars. She might learn.

But if the Demons (as a party) don't learn, all this crap we're enduring is for nothing.
+1 # Blackjack 2017-08-13 23:28
"I'm afraid to trust." So am I, Librarian! What's with Warren? It's hard to tell. She could have been a valuable voice for Bernie, but sat it out. She supported HRC. She was urged to run herself, but sat it out. She never voiced disdain for the DNC shenanigans. Now I'm afraid her star has grown dim, regardless of her recent leftward talk. I think the young people who supported Bernie have given up on her and Dems, no matter their fossilized thinking, can't win without them. More than that, I think HRC poisoned the water for a woman president, at least for 2020. If a woman were chosen to be v.p. for the Dem nominee, that might change the odds for the next election cycle, but we will be paying for Clinton's miscalculations for some time to come, I fear. Have Dems not yet learned the extent of racism and sexism that pervade our culture? On every other issue that matters all they want to do is play it safe. But on choosing presidential candidates, they don't generate that same level of thinking. True, they got Obama in, but we're paying for that now, too. There is a white male who would be an excellent choice, with Warren as v.p., but. . .we all know that won't happen! Just too risky for the play-it-safers. Even more risky than Kamala Harris, a woman of color, whose name is now being floated. Does any learning ever take place in Dem brains?
+1 # boomerjim 2017-08-14 13:18
If Democrats simply returned to their roots, it would be a major (and necessary) shift to the left. And when the left and liberals do not respond to the pain of the populace, fascism wins -- a process already taking place. The Democratic Party needs to get its house in order fast if it is to rescue the U.S. from fascism.

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