Elizabeth Warren is revolting. No, not that way. She's leading a rebellion against moderate Senate Democrats. A partial rollback of Dodd-Frank regulations has enough bipartisan support to give it a real chance of passage and Sen. Warren (D-Mass.) doesn't like it.
Warren sent out a fundraising email attacking the Democrats who supported the banking reform bill. The email led in turn to a contentious meeting of Senate Democrats. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), who doesn't officially support the bill, has not been vocal in his opposition. Schumer reportedly urged Warren to temper her criticism by focusing on facets of the legislation that she opposes rather than engaging in intraparty warfare.
“This is what I said I was going to do,” Warren reportedly told Schumer per Politico sources. “This is why I ran for the Senate.”
The bill, officially titled the “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act,” but dubbed the “Bank Lobbyist Act” by Warren, has done what Republicans have been unable to to accomplish in other areas: split the Democrat caucus. The bill, which is favored by housing industry groups, counts 12 moderate Democrats among its cosponsors, more than enough to ensure cloture and passage.
The schism between leftist and moderate Democrats could easily lead to an intraparty rivalry similar to what Republicans experienced during the later Obama years. Moderate Democrats may find themselves pitted against the party's left wing and derided as “Democrats in name only” who are not liberal enough. It's easy to imagine Warren, the leftist stalwart, in the role of Ted Cruz, vying for the reins of the party and trying to steer it toward the left and away from compromise.
The problem for Democrats is that a strategy of going left is likely to have disastrous electoral consequences. Doug Jones in Alabama and Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania have demonstrated that moderate Democrats can be competitive in deep red Trump country, especially if Republicans continue to nominate flawed candidates, but the Warren strategy of forcing these moderates to the hard left after they are elected would invariably lead to a Republican wave similar to 2010 and 2014.
Schumer seems to realize this. His decision to allow moderates to work on the bipartisan bill to reform Dodd-Frank may have been made with the upcoming elections in mind. The success of the bill would allow moderates to crow about a positive accomplishment rather than being forced to run on opposition to President Trump.
DNC Chair Tom Perez hinted at a similar strategy in a recent segment on CNN. When asked about a Conor Lamb ad in which the candidate distanced himself from Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Perez replied, “Listen, Democrats are going to do what they believe is best to win their races.”
Dana Bash then asked, “So you don't think that Nancy Pelosi is a drag on Democrats in tough races?”
Perez deflected the question, but the answer is obvious. “San Fran Nan,” who isn't even popular with liberals these days, would be the kiss of death for moderate Democrats in red or purple states.
Democrats hope for a “blue wave” this November, but to make that a reality they will have to nominate candidates that are a good fit for the local electorate. Candidates for swing states will need to be more moderate than the Democratic Party at large and may not fit with the liberal orthodoxy on issues like guns, taxes and especially cultural matters such as gender and abortion. This is a recipe for conflict down the road.
The paradox of winning a majority is that Democrats will find that a larger congressional caucus means that the party is more moderate. While the Elizabeth Warrens of the left may not like this move to the center, to force representatives of swing districts into hard left voting patterns would mean that any majority would be short-lived.
Originally published on The Resurgent