For months now, a certain sect of Democrats have made their preference for the next presidential candidate abundantly clear.
After the third presidential debate, it was unsurprising to see Steve Rattner, American financier who served as lead adviser to the Presidential Task Force on the auto industry in 2009 for the Obama administration and now serves as an economic analyst on television, do what many white male pundits and like-minded centrists on television have done all primary season: grade Joe Biden on a curve. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Rattner said Biden did “well enough” — presumably not at all concerned with criticism over Biden’s troubling answer to a question about how to rectify systematic racism with a condescending lecture to Black parents that involved record players. No, no. He managed to stay awake and not slip and fall over a poodle of his own drool. Zoom, look at y’all’s Uncle Joe go!
Somewhat surprisingly, Rattner noted that Elizabeth Warren “had a good night,” but then offered a dire warning: “There is enormous nervousness about the idea of Elizabeth Warren against Donald Trump” because her policies are “ideas are well beyond our means,” and ever trite, “the more fundamental question of whether or not she can beat Donald Trump.”
Rattner has spoken ill of Warren’s presidential bid for months now, but they have some history. Back in 2014, Warren helped doom then-President Barack Obama’s effort to nominate former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to head the Federal Reserve. Not long after, she derailed another Obama nominee who some suggested was too friendly to Wall Street: investment banker Antonio Weiss, who Obama wanted to tap as Treasury Department’s undersecretary for domestic finance, a position with a sizable amount of power over large banks.
At the time, Rattner, who, by the way, was barred from his industry as part of an SEC settlement over his alleged role in a pay-to-play arrangement involving New York state’s flagship pension fund in 2010, told Politico about the move to block Weiss: “It is part of a much broader narrative of the fight for the soul of the Democratic Party and whether so-called progressives are going to capture that or whether more mainstream Democrats…are going to retain it.”
That battle has continued since, and around the same time Rattner made those comments on Morning Joe, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said he’s heard from those who work in Wall Street that went to comes to Elizabeth Warren, “She’s got to be stopped.”
Over at the Fox Business Network, Stuart Varney said: “Warren would force all big companies to take a lot of their profit away from shareholders. And it would be given to the workforce, the community, customers, the local and global environment, and community and societal factors (whatever that is).”
And now, we have a more recent CNBC report revealing that numerous high-dollar Democratic donors and fundraisers in the business community “are preparing to sit out the presidential campaign fundraising cycle — or even back President Donald Trump” if Elizabeth Warren is the nominee.
In response, Warren wrote on Twitter: “I’m fighting for an economy and a government that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and well-connected. I’m not afraid of anonymous quotes, and wealthy donors don’t get to buy this process. I won’t back down from fighting for the big, structural change we need.”
Republicans may be the greatest offenders, but the Democratic Party has its own problems when it comes to collectively acquiesce its purported ideals for the sake of pleasing its wealthiest supporters and their interests.
Recently, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo revisited the Obama legacy, turning to antimonopoly scholar Matt Stoller to touch on how Obama and the Democrats collectively “abandoned New Deal and Great Society liberalism in favor of a new dogma that came to be known as neoliberalism — a view of society in which markets and financial instruments, rather than government policy and direct intervention, are seen as the best way to achieve social ends.”
Manjoo goes on to write: “Only now, in the age of Sanders and Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are we beginning to relearn the lessons of the past. For at least three decades, neoliberalism has brought the left economic half-measures and political despair. It’s time to demand more.”
Indeed, many of the ideas Bernie Sanders’ advocated for in the 2016 primary campaign have found a more accommodating audience in one for 2020. And younger members of Congress, such as Ocasio-Cortez, are now introducing their own massive plans to curtail poverty and gross economic inequality in this country. Note she is trying to help the poor, not just “the middle class” whatever that means in this country in this decade.
And yes, there is Elizabeth Warren, who at the formal announcement campaign, said she would be taking on corruption, and given her long-standing pattern of taking on Republicans, billionaires, lobbyists, corporate interests, and yes, fellow Democrats, she comes across as someone who means it.
Democrats have failed working-class people for a long time, and now that there are politicians who say as much that rival the stature of more mainstream Democratic political figures, the rich are using their platforms to try and soil the moment.
I don’t buy their fears of a Warren candidacy, though.
If you ask a voter if they want a crook or to curb corruption, I don’t imagine many going for the scammer. If you ask if they would like to to make healthcare a right or would they rather return to the days when people with pre-existing conditions can be turned away, I imagine most won’t opt for the Obamacare repeal as their preferred healthcare policy. Moreover, if you framed Medicare for All not solely within the prism of higher taxation, it’s hard to believe most would say no to it if it meant lower costs for wider access to healthcare.
As for this chatter about what can and cannot be paid for, has that ever stopped this government from giving trillions away to the rich?
It’s one thing to debate whether or not Warren’s ideas will work, but it’s another to totally disregard them as unrealistic or too extreme. Frankly, only inhumane ghouls find adequate wages and fairer taxation to be political death kneels — which is probably why some of these alleged Democrats would rather vote for the sociopathy who locks babies in cages than the policy wonk who wants to make life in America not solely be best enjoyed by the wealthy and the elite.
But that’s what these rich people on television are trying to do. They do so in order to maintain the status quo.
Joe Biden represents the status quo to them, and now that his campaign is starting to show signs of decline (albeit modest decline), they’re ranting and raving. Such is their right, but what many of them fail to realize is their complaints often only serve to make Elizabeth Warren look better.
Elizabeth Warren thinks the rich get off too easily. It’s not exactly breaking news, but it is a message voters have long wanted to hear. GOP pollster Frank Luntz recently said on CNBC’s Squawk Box, “Warren is gaining more than any other candidate because her base support is more intense than any other candidate.” He added, Warren is “new and she is different and she delivers that message much more effectively.”
And how do these people respond to it? By speaking in ways that tend to prove her right.
I know America fetishes its rich. We are sold the dream of meritocracy, thus, this novel idea that if you manage to become ultra-wealthy in this country, you must be smart!
There are enough rich dummies around to dispel that myth yet it lingers, but for further convincing, let the recent rantings of these coddled rich folks on TV and in Democratic fundraising circles serve as an additional counterpoint. Because if these people were smart, they’d stop making an unintended campaign contribution to Warren’s campaign.
They probably won’t, and for that, I am most grateful.