When Elizabeth Warren took Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate, America got an old fashioned New Deal/Great Society liberal in one of the major seats of power. She has been a thorn in the side of her neoliberal colleagues for years and needs to stay there.
Yet Sen. Alan Grayson, for reasons that should be held up to skepticism, has begun to circulate a petition asking “The President should appoint Warren right now, before the end of this week. That would make it a “recess appointment,” and Justice Warren could take office immediately. The obstructionists in the GOP couldn’t do anything about it.”
Whatever the motivation of Grayson, I think this is a terrible idea. Why?
In the first place, it would potentially limit whatever actions Warren might be taking to reign in the financial sector. She may have flaws in a variety of areas, but she has done some great things also that I think need to continue. Taking her away from that Senate seat would take away a great advocate for banking reform.
Second, it would effectively nullify the potential for a Sanders-Warren ticket in 2016. At this point it is almost impossible for Sanders to overcome the super-delegate fiasco, but there is the highly unlikely chance in Hades and Hyannis that things might change. But by taking away his most likely running mate, that would become more of an outside chance. And as Nate Silver has pointed out previously, a major element of the original base in the Sanders campaign came from when the Run Warren Run PAC dissolved this summer and sent its members to, as it were, Feel the Bern.
Third, does Grayson remember that raving psychopath Scott Brown, the Tea Party darling who made everyone miserable with his faux-rugged tough guy attitude and boneheaded behavior? What is to say that either
- Warren would not be replaced in an electoral free-for-all that would allow all sorts of goofballs and doofuses near the levers of power, or
- Governor Charlie Baker would not appoint someone with deep ties to the financial, tech, and pharmaceutical industries that find solace in the Boston area, particularly since Baker has long-standing ties to the medical-industrial complex?
This of course is assuming that the Democrats would act in good faith and actually want to hold the seat. But I do not think that is a sure thing. If one thing is abundantly clear from this election season, it is obvious that Bernie Sanders, whatever his flaws (and they are many), has absolutely horrified the banking and medical industries that are known Democratic Party donors. The whole charade of the debates and controversy involving the behavior of Debbie Wasserman Schultz is demonstrative of a party in the midst of a massive identity crisis.
On the one hand, the Democrats are the party of Wall Street, the tech/drug/education deform advocates that make no bones about busting public sector unions and raiding pensions to help out their buddies in the banks. On the other hand, their major voting demographics are sick to death of this status quo paradigm and want to return to New Deal/Great Society Keynesian economics under the auspices of Sanders and Warren, something Hillary Clinton and her donors would rather drink hemlock than allow.
I would go as far right now to predict that, if through some absurd miracle Sanders does win the nomination, the Clinton machine and their slimy weasel operatives like David ‘The Real Anita Hill‘ Brock and Sidney ‘Birther Numero Uno‘ Blumenthal, along with the godforsaken mainstream press (MS DNC/Clinton News Network/New York Time/Time Magazine/whatever other birdcage liner you can name) would go into overdrive and actually work against a Democratic Party victory to protect Wall Street. Why think something so radically insane?
Because the Clintons did it before!
Arguably one of the finest moments in American Left history in the past two decades was the “Battle of Seattle”, the 1999 protests of the World Trade Organization conference that saw everyone from green anarchists to the Teamsters take to the street to protest a job-killing policy initiative that could have furthered neoliberal hegemony for decades to come. Bill Clinton knew he was in hot water when Jimmy Hoffa Jr. could not be silenced. And yet, in an electoral year that in hindsight we know was so vital for so many reasons, Bubba nobly soldiered forth. In fact, it was only because delegates from the Global South looked outside and knew they would be crazy to sell their countries down the river on a platter that more damage was not done.
A year later, my editor at CounterPunch, Jeffrey St. Clair, and his writing partner, the late Alexander Cockburn, promoting their account Five Days That Shook The World: Seattle and Beyond, told a packed crowd that one could make a decent case that what killed Gore’s votes in key states was the events in Seattle. Activists and socially-conscious liberals who were disgusted by the police brutality and refusal of the Democrats to cede to the whims of democracy were finally fed up and went to vote for Ralph Nader. This is not to say that Florida and the actions of the Bush political machine were not real, it is to say that Florida would have just been a side-show story with no impact on the election had Clinton and Gore listened to what people thought about their wretched World Trade Organization. But back then, the corporations were more important than the voters.
What’s to say they would not do this again? It’s why I have been keeping my vote for Jill Stein squeaky-clean all year while everyone else goes nuts for Chairman Bernie.