Pro-Con: Is Elizabeth Warren really a prime contender for the presidency?

Yes: A united left — with media help — could put Warren in the White House

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts likely will be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2020. Her fighting brigades will include feminists, neo-socialists and, of course, the nation’s powerful left wing media.

Whitt Flora
Whitt Flora TNS

Unfortunately, the Democrats just don’t have anyone else with a national following, and aren’t likely to come up with anyone.

As things stand, the Harvard emeritus professor of law has become the leading left winger in a party that’s been taken over by the hard left, and she’s a feminist icon. Those are two huge advantages almost impossible for her primary opponents to overcome — especially if they happen to be male centrists.

The Democrats have largely abandoned the center of the political spectrum once embraced by Bill Clinton, and have embraced populist alt-left politics, as shown by a recent Warren speech.

Warren said the Clintons’ effort to push Democrats toward the political center is over. “The Democratic Party isn’t going back to the days of welfare reform and the crime bill,” she said of measures Bill Clinton signed into law as president that are hated by much of the far left. “It is not going to happen.”

“We are not the gatecrashers of today’s Democratic Party. We are the heart and soul of today’s Democratic Party,” she said.

Warren first rose to stardom on the left because of her populist attacks against concentrated economic power, and she has since broadened her case against what she calls “a rigged system.”

She claims women, undocumented immigrants, African-Americans and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people all suffer from fundamental inequities.

And, there’s no doubt that she’s right about the direction her party has taken. That first became obvious when avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., did surprisingly well in the Democratic primaries in the 2016 race against relative centrist Hillary Clinton.

Sanders promised free college education and health care, which would have meant a 91 percent income tax rate, but that didn’t matter to the far left, which adored him.

Warren appeals to middle class voters with a left-wing populist message, saying they have gotten a raw deal from the system rigged by the rich.

That’s the perfect message for people who’ve had stagnant wages for decades. Added to that, Warren’s latest book is titled This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class.

Here’s a sample of her populist rhetoric:

“Throughout our history, powerful interests have tried to capture Washington and rig the system in their favor. From tax policy to retirement security, the voices of hard-working people get drowned out by powerful industries and well-financed front groups. Those with power fight to make sure that every rule tilts in their favor. Everyone else just gets left behind.”

“Just look at the big banks. They cheated American families, crashed the economy, got bailed out, and now the six biggest banks are 37 percent bigger than they were in 2008. They still swagger through Washington, blocking reforms and pushing around agencies. A kid gets caught with a few ounces of pot and goes to jail, but a big bank breaks the law on laundering drug money or manipulating currency, and no one even gets arrested. The game is rigged — and it’s not right!”

Meanwhile, hard-core feminists are poised to use social media to blast any mainstream male Democrat with the effrontery to run against her.

They’ve done it to Senate leadership over a procedural dispute and have an ongoing dispute with Trump administration over a financial agency.

It doesn't matter who’s right — she’s their icon and that’s all that matters.

Whitt Flora, an independent journalist, covered the White House for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and was chief congressional correspondent for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. Readers may write him at 319 Shagbark Rd., Middle River, Md. 21220.

No: Nominating Warren would doom Dems’ chances in 2020

Many Democrats — probably a majority — believe Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the perfect person to replace the aging Sen. Bernie Sanders as the party’s torch-bearer for progressive causes in 2020.

Pro-Con Justin Haskins
Justin Haskins TNS

But nominating Warren would be a massive mistake for Democrats, and making her president would be even worse for America.

There’s no question Warren could win the ivory tower left-wing academics, alt-left media and progressive enclaves in states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, California and New York.

But her desire to centralize even more power in Washington, D.C., has little appeal throughout the rest of the country, including in regions important for Democrats to win in 2020.

To beat President Donald Trump in a general election, Warren would need to convince his Democratic-leaning voters in states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to reject Trump’s mostly pro-market economic views and embrace of American exceptionalism in favor of Warren’s leftist policies.

There are a number of reasons to believe this is unlikely to occur.

First, Trump’s economic policies are working. Over the past two quarters, GDP growth has topped 3 percent, something Barack Obama never achieved as president.

Further, since Trump won the election in November 2016, the unemployment rate has improved by 0.7 percentage points, and the economy has added more than 138,000 manufacturing jobs so far in 2017.

Compare that to Barack Obama’s last year in 2016, when the United States lost 16,000 manufacturing jobs.

Considering how vital manufacturing is in parts of the Midwest, these figures likely will be especially important for many of the region’s Democratic-leaning voters who backed Trump in 2016.

Trump’s economic successes are largely due to his support for the very same free-market principles Warren has long denounced and fought hard to reject.

For instance, Warren wants to implement additional regulations and taxes on businesses, imposing billions of dollars in costs on job-creating corporations and investors.

Warren also views Trump’s vigorous pro-energy policies an anathema.

Yet the nation’s energy sector, including the oil, natural gas, and coal industries are important to communities throughout the country, but especially in the Midwest.

Warren wants to block new pipelines and phase out cheap fossil fuels, replacing them with much more expensive forms of energy, such as solar and wind.

Solar and wind can’t survive without the huge and costly government subsidies they receive today. Her policy banks on forcing traditional forms of energy out of business. These policies would devastate many towns and cities in the Midwest, Great Plains and Southwest areas of the nation, as they did under Obama.

Warren also routinely advocates for expanding the behemoth national government and squashing state and individual rights.

Her embrace of radical economic redistributionist policies would force hard-working taxpayers to give even more of their money to others to pay for things like solar panels and free college tuition.

That’s most clearly revealed by the actions of her brainchild — the monstrous Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

CFPB’s stated purpose is to protect consumers from misleading and fraudulent activities by banks and other financial institutions.

But in reality it has stifled businesses that are essential for economic growth by imposing unnecessary and redundant costs, which inevitably get passed on to the public.

It’s reasonable to assume that if she were to be elected president, she’d support the creation of similar reckless government institutions — agencies most middle-of-the-road Democrats don’t want.

Warren’s socialist policies are totally out of touch with voters’ views, but this is particularly true in regions such as the Midwest, where Democrats must perform better in 2020 than they did in 2016 to have any hope of beating Trump.

To win back the White House, Democrats need to nominate moderate candidates for president and vice president.

Some may emerge as we get nearer to the 2020 election, but right now a Warren-Sanders ticket appears to be the best the party can offer voters.

Justin Hawkins is the executive editor of The Heartland Institute, a conservative think-tank based in the northern Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. Readers may write him at Heartland, 3939 North Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, Ill 60004.