Elizabeth Warren: The Rise of the Progressives

We are having a baton transferring election. Yes, Joe Biden is still in the lead, and most of this is still name recognition. The fact-is, his numbers have gone up and down, but mostly trend downwards. However, his lead is still commanding, but Otis still early. So there is time for his opponents to gain, even overcome his lead.

What is significant is that both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the other leading candidates in a still large field. They are both progressives and splitting that vote. Why? The country is desperate for real change. President Donald Trump has not delivered on that, and except for true believers, the country is at unease. We are living through a populist moment, and it behooves us to recognize this. Ergo, why populist politicians are taking off.

This is why Warren is nipping at Biden’s heels. Sanders opened the door in 2016 for progressive policies, and now Warren is kicking that door further in. Fact is that the country, or at least a majority, is ready to have a healthy discussion on the future of health care. Whether we will join large majorities of the world and adopt single-payer, or less common hybrid systems is part of the debate. However, the country seems ready to leave behind the highly dysfunctional medical system we have at present. Our system is inefficient and extremely expensive.

We are also having an open discussion on college, the American dream and the path to the middle class. For some, the cost of college is currently making it out of reach. College is fast growing out of reach. Why? Like medical care, the cost is growing very fast. This has distorted the way the economy and the American Dream works for young Americans. While medical care is doing that with older Americans.

The climate emergency is also making inroads into the discussion. The debate is mostly over. We know it’s happening, and even some Republicans are willing to admit that it is happening. They will not necessarily concede that it is human-caused, but even that will start to change. Democrats are divided on how fast to act.

So the standard-bearers for the Democratic Party are now divided within a very sharp line. We have the slow progress, incrementalist Neoliberal wing of the party, while the other side is willing to make faster progress. This needs to be said. This discussion is not between moderate Democrats and far-left Democrats. It is between business-friendly, center-right Democrats and center-left Democrats. We have nothing that is radical in any respect in this country that is even close to organized. Single-payer healthcare is hardly revolutionary. Nor is free college. It is using those taxes differently than we do these days. These two programs are standard around the world, and not just Western Europe. Nor are these crazy, radical ideas that will break the state. Most nations that have some form of these programs in place see it as an investment in their people, which pays back in far more productive and less worried workers.

Single-payer would make us far more competitive around the world. However, it would restructure about one-third of the economy.

Biden is popular because he has name recognition, especially among older Americans. Whether they are black or white is immaterial. He also knows that these voters will be at the polls. Both Sanders and Warren have deeper support (and large rally presence) among the younger generation. The problem is that many of their supporters are not regular voting booth attendees, even if Millennials are at the point that statistically, they should. If their supporters start coming out to the polls on a regular basis, the country will more likely adopt the policies they favor. As I wrote, they should be at that inflection point. And this is a moment of change.

We know they were essential in 2018 and likely gave the House to Democrats. As this new reality starts to filter up to the rarefied spaces of political kingmakers, this will also change who wins nominations. For the moment, party elders are still working on the idea that these young voters are not coming out to the polls. However, when they do, they will move the country in a new direction.

Which brings me to 2016 and the current age. There was a feeling that Hillary Clinton was the favored one by the same generation that took to the streets in Chicago in 1968. They protested smoked filled rooms back then, but it seems they want to bring those back. I called it back then a Dédazo, which is very Mexican and authoritarian. This means a person is chosen to succeed the previous president. In the current context, it feels to me like the Democrats will do all they can to get Biden to the finish line in the nominating process. It is not just older Democrats, but also the country national elites. Why? Those elites are slowly losing power to a new diverse generation. This frightens them.

Why they reacted the way they did when Julian Castro raised a critical issue. This is Biden’s age and apparent memory problems. And in this sense, it is not just Biden. The job of president entails a certain level of stress that cannot be equated with anything else. It is something that shortens the lives of presidents, statistically speaking. We know Ronald Reagan had early Alzheimers at least during his second term. It may have started in the first. We suspect Trump is facing cognitive decline as well. There are rumors that Biden is facing the same. And to be honest, while Sanders looks sharp as a tack, if he should be the nominee, like FDR, who he selects for VEEP will be essential.

I know I am about to step on a few toes. Anybody over 75 should not run, period. Short of drugs to prevent this very normal age-related decline, it will come. When it does, it will be obvious and dangerous for the nation. This is a strong reason not to vote for either Biden or Sanders, and policy-wise, I like Sanders.

However, the younger generations are mostly to the left of the older generations. The country is changing. It is never still, truth be told. But we are living in a populist moment, and the revolt of the young Turks of 1980, and the New Orleans Declaration is over. It is a matter of time whether it will be now, or later, but it is happening. We are living through a new revolt. One that is leading to new policies and ideas about the world.

Regardless of who wins the Democratic nomination, Trump and Republicans will call them Socialists and radicals. Why? Scare tactics work. Americans are poorly educated regarding politics. They have done this since the early 20th century. The red-baiting works.

Edited for clarity.

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Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game.

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