Elizabeth Warren: An Honest and Courageous Woman in a Cowardly and Centrist Democratic Party

12/17/2014 01:22 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017


What does the Democratic Party stand for nowadays?

We're the Anti-war Party, right?

Okay, stop laughing.

We're a foil to the corporatists in the GOP, correct? We'll stand up for the middle class and ensure that the same people who caused the financial collapse in 2008 won't hurt us once more, right?

We're different from Lindsay Graham, who stated the following about Elizabeth Warren's refusal to accept a spending bill that caters to Wall Street interests:

"If you follow the lead of the senator of Massachusetts ... people are not going to believe you are mature enough to run the place," Graham said. "Don't follow her lead. She's the problem."

We're brave enough, as a political party, to stand up to the snide comment of a Republican leader in the Senate, aren't we?

Nope, try again.

Instead, we've proven that we can indeed "run the place" in the manner the GOP and Wall Street deem commendable. The cowardice of cold pragmatism rules the Democratic Party in 2014. Compromise is great, but just don't compromise the economy in the name of bargaining or reaching across the aisle.

Some true believing liberals might say that Democrats represent the eloquence and determination of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In an NPR Interview, Warren highlights the points introduced in her now legendary Senate floor speech:

"Republicans slipped in a provision at the last minute that would let derivatives traders on Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and then get bailed out by the government when their risky bets threaten to blow up our financial system," she told NPR.

...A provision of the Dodd-Frank law required banks to create subsidiary companies to do their trading -- with their own money. The idea was to create a firewall between the banks' trading and customers' deposits, which are federally insured.

The spending bill that the Senate passed over the weekend eliminates the new rules, and keeps financial trading within the banks.

"You know, it was literally never introduced in the Senate. It had no hearings. There was no discussion about this. And let's keep in mind about this provision, this is a provision that Citigroup lobbyists literally wrote. And then, just to make sure that everybody got the point, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan, personally made phone calls to House members to push for this change. I think that tells you what was really going on here. They want to be able to juice their profits. A half-dozen of the largest financial institutions in this country want to be able to take riskier bets, and, hey, if it doesn't work out, they want the U.S. taxpayer to bail 'em out. I think that's a bad idea," she told NPR.

So, Citigroup and other Wall Street lobbyists practically write a provision in a spending bill (that increases their profits while ensuring higher risk in their activities) meant to ensure this nation continues to function properly.

The outrage among leading liberals was felt throughout the nation, right?

Furor over the president's capitulation to Lindsay Graham Republicans and fat cats on Wall Street caused even the probable Democratic nominee to defend a liberal standing up to the GOP and investment banks, correct?

Keep dreaming. All you heard was the deafening silence of centrists.

According to The Hill article titled Clinton quiet as Warren rises, a much needed voice turned mute during the battle over liberal values and Wall Street greed:

Hillary Clinton and her allies were quiet while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led a Democratic uprising in the Senate over changes to the Wall Street reform bill that were included by Republicans in a $1.1 trillion government-funding bill...

The reason for Clinton's silence, some of her staunchest supporters say, is that she likely supported the spending bill -- even if she didn't want to go on record with that support.

"I don't think she would have considered the legislation deeply flawed," said one ally. "She would have some issues with it, of course, and she'd think that it's not a perfect bill but I don't think she would have taken Warren's stance."

...Clinton is seen as close to Wall Street because of her years as a New York senator and her husband's administration, where years of economic growth were managed at the Treasury Department by Secretary Robert Rubin, a veteran of Citibank.

That's the same entity that pushed for the change to the Wall Street reform bill that was included in the $1.1 trillion spending bill. It allows banks covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to engage in derivatives trading.

Banks covered by the FDIC are now allowed to engage in derivative trading? Sounds like fun, what's the worst that could happen?

If this were a bill about abortion or women's rights, then Clinton's voice and political power would have been a factor in the debate. However, when you're Wall Street Republicans "dark secret", as POLITCO once wrote about Hillary Clinton, then silence is golden when Wall Street asks for a favor. Yes, Clinton is no longer in government, but her voice is global and she's the frontrunner for Democrats in 2016.

If anyone thinks I'm being unfair to Hillary or perhaps overstating the importance of Elizabeth Warren's opposition to the recent spending bill, let's take a trip down memory lane. Joseph Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize in 2001, wrote an article titled Capitalist Fools in Vanity Fair about the dangers of derivatives and the origins of the financial collapse:

Even then, it was clear that derivatives posed a danger. We didn't put it as memorably as Warren Buffett--who saw derivatives as "financial weapons of mass destruction"--but we took his point. And yet, for all the risk, the deregulators in charge of the financial system--at the Fed, at the Securities and Exchange Commission, and elsewhere--decided to do nothing, worried that any action might interfere with "innovation" in the financial system. But innovation, like "change," has no inherent value. It can be bad (the "liar" loans are a good example) as well as good.

So, we've allowed what Warren Buffet has referred to as WMD to become part of the our recent federal budget, and what a Nobel Prize winning economist refers to as "a danger" in the guise of innovation.

What could possibly go wrong?

With all due respect to a brilliant and thought provoking article in The Huffington Post by Miles Mogulescu titled The Speech That Could Make Elizabeth Warren the Next President of the United States, the Democratic Party has proven far too cowardly to nominate Elizabeth Warren as its presidential nominee. Senator Warren is far too honest, principled, passionate about the middle class, willing to get powerful interests angry and "hostile" towards Wall Street to prevent Hillary's 2016 locomotive from running over real liberal candidates for president. When I say "real liberals," I mean people who stand by their value system even when powerful corporate interests have their way with a spending bill.

Finally, let's analyze American economic logic after a collapse former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner labeled worse "than the one that had led to the Great Depression." Wall Street plays with America's money and burns itself with reckless financial activity that cost America close to $22 trillion in lost wealth. Then Bush starts the bailouts and Obama continues them in order to address the "100 year storm" that Henry Paulson described as the financial collapse. Fine, I'll accept the "too big to fail" reality after Glass-Steagall was repealed in 1999 and banks meant to keep your money safe engaged in risky trading of derivatives.

If teenagers get the keys to your Ferrari, don't be surprised if you see a real life Ferris Bueler's Day Off. Just use this analogy for our economic future and you'll see what I mean.

Then a myriad of excuses were made to continue shelling out money to Wall Street. The rationale behind TARP from Hank Paulson was, "To restore confidence in our markets and our financial institutions, so they can fuel continued growth and prosperity, we must address the underlying problem." We will never let Wall Street burn this nation again, we've learned from our mistakes, and the biggest collapse since 1929 has taught us all some tough lessons. That was essentially the message given to most Americans.

Less than seven years later, after Obama's policies increased the national debt by $1.4 trillion as a result of the Wall Street collapse (other estimates cite a much higher figure than the White House estimate), we've forgotten the lessons of 2008. The American people are just as apathetic about sending over 3,000 soldiers back to a failed war as they are about allowing banks to once again run amok. If a problem isn't staring us directly in the face, then our national amnesia takes hold; fixating us on the latest news cycle and topic of the day.

Truly the definition of insanity, President Obama's first term in office was cleaning up the mess created by Wall Street, and now he's acquiescing to the same interests who caused the mess he was elected in the first place to help contain. The cycle of American politics rolls on without a glitch, and while both sides of the aisle seem content with finally passing part of a federal budget, Wall Street is dreaming up new and exciting ways to make money at our expense.

Sadly, only a few brave voices are saying "not on my watch," and not many have the intelligence, passion or national presence of Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Warren should be the next president of this country, not Hillary Clinton, and I've stated my case in the past. Alas, Hillary has raised $328,742,879 in her career as a politician; Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are three of Clinton's top five donors.

This dwarf's Warrens $45,251,039 in contributions during her career. Furthermore, unlike Clinton's love affair with Wall Street, Moveon.org, Harvard University, and MIT are three of Warren's top donors. Money and influence help a great deal in our political system, as do connections and cold pragmatism, so it's difficult to see a principled Elizabeth Warren beating a Machiavellian Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Anything's possible, however, and I wish Senator Warren the best. America needs an honest and courageous woman like the Massachusetts Senator to stand up for the average citizen who never gets bailed out for anything. Unlike the GOP however, a party that sticks to its ideological base like Charleston Hesston's death grip on a shotgun, the Democratic Party is weak willed and easily bullied. People like Hillary and President Obama "evolve" towards gay marriage and marijuana legalization, they don't set an agenda towards these social issues. Centrism is the brand Democrats sell, not ideological adherence towards liberal values.

Wall Street may have won today, and will probably win again tomorrow, but at least we all have Elizabeth Warren to defend the people of this country from those who'd bet the farm and get the farm back when they inevitably lose the bet. Hank Paulson has already warned Americans of another financial collapse, saying that there's "a crisis we can't ignore" on the horizon, but we mustn't upset the banks. They've taken long enough to regain their foothold on the conscience of most Democrats and Republicans, and to stand up to them any further would be irresponsible in the minds of people like Lindsay Graham.

I hope Sen. Warren simply says, "I told you so," the next time Wall Street brings this nation to its knees because of reckless speculation. Just like in 1999 with the end Glass-Steagall, a Democratic President (with urging from the GOP) is today laying the groundwork for another economic catastrophe, so it's good to know that both Republicans and Democratic can at least agree on some things. Of course Elizabeth Warren should be the next president of this great nation, but I stopped believing in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus a long time ago.

Some things are too good to be true in reality, and Warren's honesty, integrity, boldness, and value system make her a liability in the Democratic Party and American politics.

After all, it takes "mature" people "to run the place," not politicians who'd stand up to billions of dollars in influence and clout. When both Rand Paul and Elizabeth Warren vote "Nay" on a bill, something's wrong with the legislation. I just hope the "maturity" in Congress hasn't hurt this country's financial future.