Taibbi: Elizabeth Warren for President. In 2012.
Isn't it time to have a Democratic President? A long quote from Taibbi, but a good one. And I'm glad we're starting this discussion now instead of in 2010 or, heaven forfend, 2012:
I’m personally of the opinion that our main problem lay with the fact that the Democratic Party as currently constituted is more afraid of losing the financial support of Wall Street and the health insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry than it is of losing progressive voters. In fact, I think I’ve put that wrong, because it implies that the Democratic Party pushes the agenda of industry insiders out of fear. That is a misread of the situation, I think.
I think they prefer those people to their voters. I think they feel more comfortable with them. I heard a story recently from a Democratic Party operative who tells me that certain members of one of the president’s cabinet departments only got wind of how hard it is out there for ordinary people to pay their bills when they invited in a major corporation to give them a presentation about their financial outlook for the holiday season — and through that report found out that this company’s prospective customers were spending less because large numbers of them had been laid off, or had huge medical bills, or had maxed out their credit, and so on.
Letters from customers, survey answers and such, were read to the cabinet group. And they were shocked. This is how they find out about the economic reality of this country — accidentally, from a major campaign contributor! That’s how out of touch these people are.
On these financial issues, not just the issue of financial regulation on Wall Street but the larger issue of income distribution and what kind of country we want to be — the Democratic Party no longer has a policy that makes any sense. They do not seem to understand or even recognize that real wages in this country have not grown for most people for decades. Or if they do understand, they refuse to imagine any solutions that are not in some way a compromise with their major campaign contributors. They talk about closing tax loopholes and phony corporate addresses in the Caribbean as solutions to economic problems, policy initiatives as absurd and inconsequential as then-comic Al Franken’s fictional decision (in the novel Why Not Me?) to run on a campaign promise of “ending ATM fees.”*
This is all a long-winded way of saying that we have problems whose solutions involve taking on powerful interests, political challenges that will necessarily involve prolonged and hard-fought conflicts, but what we have in the Democratic Party is an organization dedicated to avoiding such conflicts and resolving issues in the manner of a corporate board, in closed meetings with the chief cardholders where things get hashed out to the satisfaction of everyone present.
The problem from the standpoint of the typical voter is that he is not terribly present in those discussions. When Rahm Emmanuel met with Billy Tauzin and Merck and Pfizer in the Roosevelt Room (how ironic!) of the White House earlier this summer to work out the details of exactly how much of a bite** the new health bill was going to take out of the pharmaceutical industry — the answer turned out to be none, and all the insane subsidies of big Pharma are going to remain in the final bill — were you there? Was anyone representing you there?
The Democrats feel safe in leaving you and me out of that room for two big reasons. One, our main electoral alternative is the party that put George W. Bush in office. Two, the last time significant quantities of Democrats decided to buck and send the party a message, they helped get George Bush elected by giving Ralph Nader the deciding votes of what turned out to be the tightest of elections. Or at least that’s the storyline that’s been popular since that incident. The Nader “debacle” forever closed the notion of third-party progressive challenges to mainstream Democrats, at least in the minds of the Democratic Party bigwigs, anyway.
It seems to me then that the only hope of getting any of these problems is to get ourselves a national candidate who on the one hand is a mainstream politician and on the other is willing to embrace the notion of an othis discussionpen protest against the Democratic Party doctrine. We need for someone who has some legitimacy with both the media and the Democratic Party constituents themselves to come out and publicly campaign to re-seize the Party from the Wall Street interests that have come to dominate it. We need someone who understands the finance stuff (which automatically reduces the pool of possible applicants to a small handful), will know the difference between real regulatory reform and a dog-and-pony show, and will not be likely to fill a cabinet with bankers from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
The question I have lately is, why not draft Elizabeth Warren to run for president? And I don’t mean in 2016, I mean in 2012.
NOTE * Notice how "economic rents" like ATM fees turn up everywhere, as soon as you start noticing them?
NOTE ** See above. And see this discussion to find the non-wonk word or phrase for "economic rent." Taibbi's choice: "bite." That's actually fun, since you can say "Banksters bite," which they do, and so forth.
UPDATE So, anyone want to move to Iowa now? Wampum's right about that.