The Elizabeth Warren Cheering Squad
Progressive groups push to send the anti-capitalist politician to the White House
By Jonathan M. Hanen, Organization Trends, May 2015 (PDF here)
Summary: A coalition of Progressive, pro-Democrat nonprofits is trying to draft Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has become a kind of folk hero to leftists, as an alternative to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest. The ACORN-affiliated Working Families Party, MoveOn, and Howard Dean’s PAC, Democracy for America, are promoting her potential candidacy relentlessly, while other nonprofits like Americans for Financial Reform and Progressive Change Campaign Committee beat the drum for Warren’s radical policy ideas aimed at crushing Wall Street. Whether Warren runs or not, her looming presence is sure to push the Democratic Party even farther to port.
In recent months, it seems as if every day the populist left-wing politician Elizabeth Warren has said “no” to her party’s Progressive wing, which desperately wants her to challenge the allegedly inevitable presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But the Progressives keep on asking, begging, and pleading with the former law professor to declare her candidacy. “We think the stakes are so high that we want to push to get her in this race,” said T. Neil Sroka, spokesman for Democracy for America. Of MoveOn.org Civic Action’s effort to draft Warren, executive director Anna Galland said, “The top objective of our campaign that we have been explicit about from the beginning is that this is an earnest effort to get her into the race.”
Warren’s reluctance to enter the race may be grounded in self-preservation. She is aware of the power and ruthlessness of the Clinton machine. Clinton’s “command of the Democratic machinery, from fundraising to grass-roots organizing, is so extensive that almost everyone else is understandably intimidated about even testing their talents against her,” Dan Balz observed in the Washington Post (Nov. 8, 2014).
The Democrats have a weak farm team, Balz adds. “The party’s national bench is so thin that Democrats count themselves lucky to have her available in 2016. If she were to decide not to run, the Democrats would have trouble identifying a field of candidates as extensive as Republicans are likely to put up in the coming presidential race.”
With that said, Warren’s wholly speculative candidacy has been going gangbusters. Democracy for America, MoveOn, and the ACORN-affiliated Working Families Party of New York have been raising money, carrying out polls, hosting events, opening offices, and hiring employees in key states “with the express purpose of showing Warren that an infrastructure exists should she discover her presidential aspirations.”
“This is a simple, direct goal,” journalist Sam Stein observes. “And were Warren showing signs of wavering about her next steps, it wouldn’t be so controversial. But she’s not. And because of that, other Progressives look at the moves meant to lift her stature and wonder if they might end up sullying her image.”
Warren isn’t a real politician, Progressives maintain. “What elevates her brand is that she is not a politician but a complete honest broker,” said Ari Rabin-Havt, who worked at the George Soros-funded fake media watchdog Media Matters for America from 2009 through 2013.
“They are absolutely, 100 percent conflicting her core message,” said Rabin-Havt, who is now a Sirius XM radio host. “They are saying she is just a normal politician who will obfuscate when asked whether she would run for president. What makes Elizabeth Warren so great is she will not obfuscate” (Huffington Post, Feb. 24, 2015).
Warren’s career and political ambitions
Warren earned a B.S. in speech pathology and audiology from the University of Houston in 1970, taught special needs children in elementary school, earned a J.D. in 1976, and subsequently spent over 30 years teaching law, including 20 at Harvard Law. According to her online Senate bio, she penned “more than a hundred articles and ten books, including three national best-sellers, A Fighting Chance, The Two-Income Trap, and All Your Worth.” These last two were co-authored with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, who chairs the board of the leftist group Demos. (Among the other Demos board members are Van Jones and Democracy Alliance member Connie Cagampang Heller. The July 2014 Organization Trends profiles Demos.)
Warren served in a number of regulatory capacities starting in 1995, when she was a consultant to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, but it wasn’t until after the financial crisis of 2008 that she gained mainstream attention. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) appointed her to chair a five-person congressional oversight panel for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Warren also served on the FDIC’s economic advisory committee from 2006 to 2010.
The not-then-established Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) was Warren’s “brainchild,” Time noted in 2010, and was “envisioned as a bulwark against what she calls the ‘tricks and traps’ that banks hide in credit-card agreements and mortgages.” (Time also named Warren one of its 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009 and 2010.) Later that year President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act, which brought the CFPB into the world. The board took the form of an unelected, unaccountable body of bureaucrats, funded by the Federal Reserve and beyond the reach of Congress’ power of the purse, with a mission to regulate the already heavily regulated financial services industry.
Warren worked as a special advisor to the president on the implementation of the CFPB, which opened shop in July 2011. But Warren never achieved the crowning glory of being its first director. Obama did not nominate her for the post, as so many on the Left had hoped. That distinction went to former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.
By September 2011, Warren had declared her congressional candidacy and, sensing an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat in arctic-blue Massachusetts during the re-election bid of a politically skilled Democratic president who was likely to have electoral coattails, the far-left money machine leapt into action. She was awarded a primetime speaking slot at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and went on to raise $39 million for her campaign, the most of any Senate candidate in 2012. The same groups that mobilized for Warren in 2012 are now gearing up for her to run for the White House next year.
This report will examine the political activities and finances of the far-left nonprofits that are buoying hopes of a Warren bid by raising money, building grassroots support, and organizing campaign staff in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Warren’s legislative agenda in the Senate, and her own speeches and writings, demonstrate that she was not lying when she said she “created much of the intellectual foundation for what” the Occupy Wall Street movement does. She added, “I support what they do.”
Warren is even farther left than President Obama. She supports single-payer healthcare, aggressive wealth redistribution, student-loan debt forgiveness, virtual elimination of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, and the radical restriction of the fossil fuel industry.
A leftist folk hero
For years before she became a U.S. senator, Warren was already a folk hero of the Left. The noxious propagandist Michael Moore helped to immortalize Warren in his 2009 movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. This is the film in which Moore declares, “Capitalism is an evil and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that is good for all people. And that something is called democracy.” As the end credits roll, the traditional Communist anthem “The Internationale” plays.
For this piece of cinematic agitprop, Warren gave a grotesquely absurd overview of the regulatory environment for the financial services industry, claiming that what legendary investor Wilbur L. Ross Jr. calls “the most heavily regulated industry in the world” is in reality more like the Wild West.
In an interview with Moore that was included in the DVD version of the film, Warren completely misrepresents the regulatory regime that governs the sector:
Financial products, and they are products, they’re products just like toasters, are sold today with the most dangerous features embedded in them because that’s what drives profitability. What’s astonishing is that we let this happen. You know you can’t buy a toaster in America that has a 1 in 5 chance of exploding but you can buy a mortgage that has a 1 in 5 chance of exploding and they don’t even have to tell you about it. We don’t hand people a wiring diagram with a toaster and say, hmpf, you figure it out, but you sit down to do a mortgage closing and it’s sign here, sign here, sign here, sign here, sign here for 141 pages. And, boy, if it turns out that back on page 89 that they really socked it to you, then you’ve just been socked too. We have consumer protection for everything you touch, taste, smell, feel, this glass tabletop, the jacket you’re wearing, your glasses, my lipstick, but there is no equivalent for credit cards, for mortgages. There’s nothing.
All of this claptrap would probably be news to officials at the alphabet soup of federal financial regulators that existed six years ago when the movie was made. There is the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).
And don’t forget other regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies that can become involved in legal cases involving credit cards, mortgages, and other “financial products.” There is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DoJ), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also plays a role in the regulatory process.
There are also hundreds of federal advisory committees with tens of thousands of members. These committees, which advise 50 federal agencies, can influence financial regulations. Even committees that on their face seem to have nothing to do with financial services could conceivably make recommendations that could impact the financial services sector. In addition there are regulatory agencies in all 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
MoveOn is working to draft Warren
The most visible leftist group in the draft Warren movement is Internet-savvy MoveOn. Its national PAC, MoveOn.org Political Action, has placed operatives in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, enlisted over 300,000 supporters, and hosted hundreds of house-party training sessions for activists. The PAC, which is now saturation-bombing its members with emails about Warren, gave away $9,922,727 in 2013 and 2014 and took in $10,032,062 in the same period.
The PAC partnered with Democracy for America to form the Run Warren Run PAC. The two groups commissioned a shock poll last February by the left-leaning YouGov. The topline was that Warren outperforms Clinton by 31 percent to 24 percent in Iowa and 30 percent to 27 percent in New Hampshire, when voters are given information about Warren’s positions and no negative information about Clinton and other prospective candidates. The poll seemed designed to turn back the media narrative of an impending Clinton coronation, but venerable pollster John Zogby vouched for its bona fides.
The endorsement and financial assistance of MoveOn is a major plus for Warren. Its website states “The MoveOn family of organizations is not-for-profit and funded by small dollar donations from our more than 8 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way.” This claim is true but disingenuous, since MoveOn was founded in 1998 by software entrepreneur Wesley Boyd and his wife Joan Blades. The original purpose of MoveOn was to aid Bill Clinton in getting the country to “move on” from the scandal involving felony obstruction of justice in the Kenneth Starr investigation and the subsequent revelation of his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky. (MoveOn was profiled in Organization Trends, August 2009.)
Could MoveOn tilt the scales in favor of Warren in the 2016 Democratic Primary? It is a distinct possibility because MoveOn is often effective. Figures provided by DiscoverTheNetworks.org indicate that, after MoveOn decided to support Obama in 2008, the group mobilized 600,000 volunteers in battleground states and 400,000 in non-battleground states, registered more than 500,000 young voters in battleground states, and gained a million new young members in the summer of 2008. MoveOn and its membership donated over $58 million directly to the Obama campaign, and spent at least $30 million in independent election efforts for other Democratic campaigns.
A get-out-the-vote army of this size and scope would be a major asset for Warren in a primary against Clinton.
Democracy for America is working to draft Warren
Howard Dean’s PAC, Democracy for America, is promoting Warren’s career on dual tracks. The group wants her to be president but, failing that, would be delighted if she replaced Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who isn’t seeking re-election, as Senate Minority Leader.
“If Elizabeth Warren doesn’t run for president, she should definitely run for leader of the Senate,” Neil Sroka, a spokesman for Democracy for America told Greg Sargent of the Washington Post. “The election for Senate leader is not going to be a slam dunk for any early front-runner, especially someone like Sen. [Chuck] Schumer. He’s closer to Wall Street while the Wall Street wing of the party is dying and the Elizabeth Warren wing is rising. It only makes sense that the next leader of the U.S. Senate is either from that wing or deeply understands how to work with that wing.”
Dylan Matthews at the left-wing Vox website thinks Warren as Senate Minority Leader is a terrible idea, because the position would force Warren to compromise too much with conservative lawmakers. “It wouldn’t move the party meaningfully to the left,” Matthews writes. “Rather, it would move Warren to the right, and it would sacrifice the most effective outside voice pushing for the caucus to adopt a more economically populist agenda.”
Democracy for America (DFA) describes itself as “a member driven, people-powered PAC” whose field organizers teach “campaign academies” and “action summits” across America to give members “tools and skills.” Its stated mission is “uniting people behind the shared values of community, security and liberty and fighting to realize a fairer, more Progressive America.” In 2013 and 2014 it gave away $313,604 and took in $537,012, according to the FEC’s online database.
Working Families Party is working to draft Warren
“We know a champion for working families when we see one,” Bill Lipton, New York State director of the Working Families Party, told the New York Times in February. “The only thing better than watching Elizabeth Warren take Wall Street to task from the Senate would be helping her bring our issues to the center of the national debate.”
Party leaders acknowledge that by pushing Warren to run for president, Clinton will at the same time be pushed leftward.
The Working Families Party, an ACORN front group notorious for corruption, played a key role in organizing the Occupy Wall Street protests. Party organizer Nelini Stamp said the Occupy movement was “actually trying to change the capitalist system we have today because it’s not working for any of us. Demonstrators are asking how do we really reform and bring revolutionary changes to the states?”
One of the SEIU-funded party’s co-founders is ACORN’s former national chief organizer, Bertha Lewis. Former Democratic National Committee executive director Patrick Gaspard also contributed to the creation of the party and sat on its board. Gaspard was a political director in the Obama White House and is a former SEIU executive.
New York’s Marxist mayor, Bill de Blasio, who was strongly backed in his election fight in 2013 by the Working Families Party, made headlines when he pointedly refused to endorse Clinton. What makes the mayor’s refusal to jump on the Hillary bandwagon so surprising is the fact that he was Clinton’s campaign manager for her successful run for the U.S. Senate in 2000.
“Not until I see—and again, I would say this about any candidate—until I see an actual vision of where they want to go,” de Blasio said on the April 12 broadcast of “Meet the Press,” when asked if he would endorse Clinton. “I think she’s a tremendous public servant. I think she is one of the most qualified people to ever run for this office. And by the way, thoroughly vetted, we can say that. But we need to see the substance.” (For a profile of de Blasio, see Labor Watch, May 2014.)
Nonprofits that like Warren but are not working to draft her
The George Soros-funded Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a PAC, strongly backed Warren in her Senate campaign in Massachusetts but has yet to weigh in on a possible presidential run. “We have different strategies,” PCCC co-founder Adam Green told the Huffington Post. “We do not oppose the Draft Warren campaign. But what we are doing is organizing in early states like New Hampshire and Iowa to incentivize all presidential candidates on the Democratic side to endorse and campaign on Elizabeth Warren’s agenda.”
The group, founded six years ago by former MoveOn organizers Green and Stephanie Taylor, claims to have “nearly” a million members who “believe in fighting for bold Progressive change.” The far-left Nation gave PCCC its “Most Valuable Campaign” award for 2011, and MSNBC talking head Ed Schultz describes PCCC as “the top Progressive group in the country.” PCCC gave away $3,909,012 in 2013 and 2014. It took in $5,086,042 in the same period, according to the FEC.
The countenance of Elizabeth Warren is all over the website of Americans for Financial Reform, which strongly advocates in favor of Warren-approved legislation. The group describes itself as “a nonpartisan and nonprofit coalition of more than 200 civil rights, consumer, labor, business, investor, faith-based, and civic and community groups.” It was created in the wake of the market collapse in 2008 and is “working to lay the foundation for a strong, stable, and ethical financial system—one that serves the economy and the nation as a whole.”
Its founder is Marxist community organizer Heather Booth, a former training director for the DNC. She supports an economy-killing “financial speculation tax.” At a conference a few years ago, she said, “A big battle still needs to be waged to curb the incentive for speculation and to get our money back to fund jobs and health care, climate and more.” Booth is a disciple of Rules for Radicals author Saul Alinsky, and she founded the Midwest Academy, a school for left-wing community organizers. “Alinsky is to community organizing as Freud is to psychoanalysis,” she has been quoted saying.
Americans for Financial Reform is a project of Leadership Conference Education Fund Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 45 employees. Its 2013 budget was $6,601,139. As of late 2014, Hillary Clinton gatekeeper Cheryl Mills was a member of its board of directors, along with former FCC diversity czar and Hugo Chavez fan Mark Lloyd. Ralph Neas, former president of People For the American Way, also serves on the board.
Although Warren’s legal writings have long garnered critical acclaim and widespread citation in legal journals, the National Review’s John Fund reports that there are some allegations of shoddy scholarship that may surface if she runs for president.
Warren’s “sleazy scholarship while a law professor” is a “scandal-in-waiting,” in Fund’s view. “She co-authored a highly-publicized study in 2005 that claimed that 54.5 percent of all bankruptcies have ‘a medical cause’ and that 46.2 percent have a ‘major medical cause,’ telling interviewers that those findings demonstrated the need for national health care. In fact, the proportion of bankruptcies caused by catastrophic medical losses is more like 2 percent. Her numbers were inflated by including ‘uncontrolled gambling,’ ‘alcohol or drug addiction,’ ‘death in family,’ and ‘birth/addition of new family member’ as ‘a medical cause.’ In addition, spending as little as $1,000 in unreimbursed medical expenses over the course of two years — hardly unusual for a family — was enough to get a bankruptcy classified as ‘a major medical cause’ even when the debtor himself or herself did not list illness or injury as a cause of the bankruptcy. A number of scholars have criticized the study as intentionally misleading.”
Progressives may be surprised to learn that in spite of Warren’s sometimes fiery populist rhetoric, she is opposed to legislation to audit the Federal Reserve and supports taxpayer dollars continuing to flow to the Export-Import Bank, a redoubt of crony capitalism, Fund notes.
And then there is the fake Cherokee Indian scandal that caused critics to label blue-eyed, blonde-haired, fair-skinned Warren “Fauxcahontas,” “Pinocchio-hontas,” “Dances With Lies,” “Running Joke,” “Sacaja-whiner,” and “Lies on Race Box.” Fund writes:
In April 2012, the Boston Globe broke the news that while Warren never claimed American Indian heritage as an undergraduate or law-school student, she began doing so in her 30s as she sought jobs at highly competitive law schools such as Harvard. The Association of American Law Schools requires law professors to answer ethnicity questions on its questionnaire. Only Warren can release a copy of her original questionnaire, and she has refused to do so.
If Warren runs for president, “Back-channel Hillary surrogates would make hay out of that” (National Review Online, Feb. 13, 2015).
What does Warren stand for?
Warren’s Senate campaign was marked from the start by populist appeals to increased taxes on the wealthy, increased corporate taxes, and increased social spending. Most of America caught their first glimpse of Warren in the now infamous “you didn’t build that” video that went viral around the time of her campaign launch. The transcript provides an opportunity to study the anatomy of class warfare rhetoric and illustrates the redistributive fervor inherent in what Warren and the Left mean by “a fair shot to get ahead” and a “fair share in taxes.” Here’s the text of the video:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
Before seeking elective office, Warren supported “universal single-payer healthcare,” i.e., completely socialized medicine. Co-author and fellow academic Deborah Thorne explained their position in the 2008 book, Get Sick, Go Broke. Universal, single-payer care would allow people to get care without risking bankruptcy, they said, and would “free families from dependence on an employer’s plan, and make certain that everyone is covered, whether or not they are employed.” They did admit “there are cost-containment issues and the ever-present specter of rationing medical care.” By the time of Warren’s Senate campaign, she had walked back this European social democratic view to merely defending and expanding Obamacare.
An enemy of the Second Amendment, she emphatically supports gun control. Warren is on record favoring an extension of the assault weapons ban and more intrusive background screenings, including of those who purchase firearms at gun shows. She opposes limits on the sharing of firearms trace information. The legal scholar seems oblivious to the origins of gun rights, which were enshrined in the Constitution as a check on government, in other words, to prevent the rise of tyrannical government in the future. The Second Amendment is materially necessary to secure the natural rights of life, liberty, and property that have been the aim of political association since the advent of modern representative government.
Warren’s legislative agenda
Warren is a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Warren partnered with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and Angus King (I-Me.) to propose the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act,” which they claim would prevent a meltdown similar to the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent taxpayer bailout of banks that were “too big to fail.” The senators wrote a Washington Post op-ed in which they asserted, “The biggest banks are substantially bigger than they were in 2008. In fact, the five biggest banks now control more than half the nation’s total banking assets.” They argue that their legislation “would separate traditional banks that offer checking and savings accounts from riskier financial services, such as investment banking and swaps dealing. …It would encourage financial institutions to shrink to manageable sizes and eliminate their ability to rely on federal depository insurance as a backstop for high-risk activities.”
Understandably, the half-baked op-ed that aims to justify breaking up the banks is couched in generalities. It makes no reference to the risk ratio of capital investment to cash holdings that could serve as the operational boundary between a traditional bank and a non-traditional, high-risk investment bank not eligible for FDIC protection. It ignores the possibility that non-traditional high-risk banks might resist and devise instruments to insure themselves and underwrite their own risk in much the same way that insurance companies band together to insure themselves. It also ignores whether the big banks, upon breaking up, would be left at a competitive disadvantage to foreign banks in, say, the currency trading markets, which are vital to the banking sector and U.S. prosperity in general.
Warren made headlines at a congressional hearing in 2013 by advocating tripling the minimum wage to a job-killing $22 per hour, well beyond Obama’s proposed hike from $7.75 to $9.00. Warren tried to sell her dubious proposal as “indexing the minimum wage.” She asked, presumably with a straight face, University of Massachusetts economics professor Arindrajit Dube, “If we started in 1960, and we said that, as productivity goes up—that is, as workers are producing more—then the minimum wage is going to go up the same. And, if that were the case, the minimum wage today would be about $22 an hour. So, my question, Mr. Dube, is what happened to the other $14.75?” If this question had been asked at a convention of economists, the laughter would have been deafening.
Left-wing groups such as MoveOn are fundraising off the hope that Warren can halt the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty. The senator uses anti-Progressive arguments to explain her opposition to TPP on the grounds that it includes the Investor Settlement Dispute System (ISDS) which enables multi-national corporations to sue foreign countries in international courts.
Contrary to the Progressive tendency to cede U.S. sovereignty to international legislative and judicial bodies, Warren made common cause with conservatives and libertarians. She argued that cases involving multinationals and the U.S. government should be tried in U.S. courts because ISDS court proceedings have already allowed multi-nationals to win taxpayer-funded settlements arising from suits against labor laws, environmental laws, and minimum wage hikes in various foreign countries. Warren’s ultimate motivation in defending the conservative principle of the sovereignty of U.S. courts appears to be to prevent multinationals from suing the U.S. and other countries that have implemented Progressive legislation on these fronts.
MoveOn has also been fundraising off of Warren’s proposal to lower student loan interest rates and align them with corporate borrowing rates. In 2014 she told a student loan symposium,“This exploding debt is crushing our young people” and “These students didn’t go to the mall and run up a bunch of charges on credit cards. They worked hard to learn new skills that will benefit this country…. They deserve our support, not an extra tax for trying to get an education.”
This is another tug at populist heart strings that defies economic reality. In any situation that ever involved a credit risk, it made sense for the lender to provide better rates to better credit risks who are more likely to repay. Corporations, having assets, are generally better credit risks than college students, who tend to be low on assets. In this case, however, the lender is the government and the funds are tax dollars. Warren is in effect pressuring Congress to subsidize loans that are already below what a free market would offer to students, by either making cuts to other unspecified government programs or, more likely, increasing government revenue in the form of corporate or individual tax hikes.
There is a common thread to these left-wing activist groups such as MoveOn, Democracy for America, and the Working Families Party, that are laying the groundwork for a potential Warren 2016 run at the White House. Such groups compose what could be called the Occupy Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. Their extreme utopian demands for social justice go beyond the litany of social programs listed in FDR’s second bill of rights, e.g., social security and free health care, food, clothing and shelter for the poor, which have for the most part been achieved through the creative destruction of the free market plus targeted social programs. These groups exhibit the collectivist dream that a President Warren would succeed where Obama has failed by instituting universal, single-payer health care, forgiving all student loan debt, redistributing wealth and eliminating income inequality altogether, and eliminating the fossil fuel industry. They seek to replace the traditional American right to the free pursuit of happiness with a guarantee of happiness meted out to the ignorant by allegedly enlightened bureaucrats. They seek to replace the traditional American and small-r republican vision of justice as equality before the law with a state-enforced equality of results.
George Will remarked of the project of modern liberalism and Warren’s vision in particular: “The project is to dilute the concept of individualism, thereby refuting respect for the individual’s zone of sovereignty. The regulatory state, liberalism’s instrument, constantly tries to contract that zone—for the individual’s own good, it says.” The cost of completing the 100-year Progressive project to achieve utopian social equality would be the loss of freedom itself and the complete assimilation of state and local self-government, civil society, and free markets into the administrative state. In practice, a Warren presidency means not just a sacrifice of some freedom for a few more social programs, but a continued attempt to re-make the American federal republic along the lines of European social democracy.
Jonathan M. Hanen is a freelance writer and political consultant based in Washington, D.C. A native of Connecticut, he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University.