Third Way is afraid of left populism for same reason RW is afraid of ACA: not because they're sure it will fail, but cuz think it might work
— billmon (@billmon1) December 9, 2013
I’m liking this new “economic populism” talk. Alex Pareene on “Why Elizabeth Warren baffles pundits“:
… Most pundits writing about “Warren versus Clinton” are answering the wrong question, because of the political media’s fixation on national elections and presidents. But the “economic populism” fight isn’t about Hillary Clinton and 2016. It’s about the entire Democratic Party and every policy fight and campaign it will be involved in in the foreseeable future.
It’s certainly easier to discuss intra-party disagreements about policy and strategy in terms of big clashing personalities, but the people and organizations championing left-wing economic policy and strict financial regulation, from Demos to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, aren’t part of a shadow Warren campaign, they’re part of a campaign to drag Democrats away from the pro-rich Washington consensus… The point of “economic populism” is to fix the Democratic Party at every level.
That’s what explains the backlash, which has been growing… They’re not afraid that Warren will run for president, they’re afraid that she’ll be so popular that other senators will start acting like her. They’re worried that she’ll have money to direct to candidates who share her views. They’re worried that Warren might embarrass Democrats into passing stricter bank regulations. They’re worried that finance’s iron grip on the Democratic Party might weaken. The impetus for writing the editorial was Third Way’s realization that Warren was sabotaging the decades-long project that turned cutting Social Security into a bipartisan goal. A lot of money and time was spent encouraging elite consensus around “entitlement reform,” and suddenly a bunch of senators are talking about making the program more generous. That, of course, is a wildly popular idea, judging by all polling conducted on the subject, but the anti-populism backlash relies on reinforcing the common Washington idea that it is brave to oppose policies most people want and would benefit from. The bankers and CEOs who back Third Way understand that their policy preferences have won out in the Democratic Party in spite of popular opinion…
My emphases. Dave Weigel explains the cynics’ point of view:
… All of this, according to the New York Times, was “a sign of the left’s new aggressiveness.”
It was. For bonus points, it was a lesson in how easy it can be to draw the media, bankers, pundits, and activists into a “war,” as long as you’ve a got a working Internet connection and a strong hook. Both of the ideas at the heart of this fight—corporate influence over think tanks, expanding Social Security—had been litigated for years, well before Warren got to the Senate. This time, a small number of progressives just took advantage of the media’s bias toward big personalities, and its obsession with presidential politics, to change what the media covered….
The left’s enemies responded as predictably as Godzilla swatting at Mothra…
“That Social Security plan had been out there but really languishing,” column co-author Jim Kessler would later tell a radio host. “Because Sen. Warren has such a powerful compelling voice, she started talking about it, and it suddenly it became much more talked about and viable alternative.”…
That advanced the story. So did Warren’s open letter to five banks asking them to disclose their donations to Washington think tanks. Politico gave anonymity to a “senior D.C. Republican,” who argued that the “normally savvy” senator had blown it, and that her “ ‘give me the names’ edict sounds uncomfortably like the kind of demand that Joe McCarthy would have made in the 1950s.” It was just the sort of stuck-pig squeal that Warren’s allies expect from the bankers and their defenders. They couldn’t have scripted it—but they sort of did script it…
I say good for Senator Warren, and for all the wild-eyed DFHs who support shifting the Overton Window in the correct direction for a change!