David Brooks, the New York Times columnist, wrote a curious piece the other day. He said Elizabeth Warren can win the Democratic nomination for president. Brooks, a Republican moderate, is sticking his nose into a family feud.
The rise of Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, is an intriguing subject. The Harvard law professor is a freshman politician but she is already getting national attention. Brooks admires her memoir of growing up in hard times. As an adult her big battle “has been against the banks, against what she saw as their rapacious exploitation of the poor and vulnerable,” Brooks quotes from her memoir, “A Fighting Chance.”
She makes the argument that “it’s not just social conditions like globalization and technological change that threaten the middle class. It’s an active conspiracy by the rich and powerful. The game is rigged. The proper response is not just policy-making; its indignation and combat.” Brooks notes that the words “fight” or “fighting” appear in the book 224 times, thus defining her as confrontational and combative.
“The political class,’’ the Republican pundit so informs us, “has been wondering if Warren will take on Hillary Clinton…for the Democratic presidential nomination. This speculation is usually based on the premise that Warren couldn’t actually win, but that she could move the party in her direction. But, today, even for those of us who disagree with Warren fundamentally, it seems clear that she does have a significant and growing chance of being nominated.”
Brooks is suggesting that a feisty candidate like Warren might be the Democratic candidate to trump Hillary and open the floodgates to a Republican triumph come November 2016.
Hillary is widely expected to announce a campaign for the presidency in 2015. For now she is the favorite to succeed Obama as the party’s nominee in 2016. But she could have a problem in a party that may be rediscovering its roots in populism and the New Deal.
This no doubt is what Brooks is savoring: a movement on the left that could deny Hillary the nomination, install in her place a candidate that is or could be out of control. For now Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren seems to fill the bill.
Hillary, a favorite of Wall Street from her time representing New York in the Senate, is the most likely candidate to lead the Democratic party today, tomorrow, and in 2016. Brooks concedes populist candidates like Warren rarely win. The young senator from Massachusetts, however appealing to the left in the dawn of a new year, is not likely to take the nomination away from the establishment.
Brooks himself says as much, though in a hypocritical show of sorrow.
This article originally appeared in the San Leandro Times.