As The Hill’s long-time commentator John Feehery adroitly suggests in his column this week, “Populism run amok,” it is not only the young 'uns at CPAC that are going all Jacksonian — Sarah Palin, Rand Paul and others — but also the new Massachusetts senator, Democrat Elizabeth Warren. Exactly so. And in so many ways; she is an Okie grandmother who knows how to bake a cake and loves Tom Brady. She is as country as is Sarah Palin, and I am sure she knows herself to be the anti-Palin. And it was the Democrats, with recent Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who first opened to door to Andrew Jackson.
I grew up about a day’s sail away when that beautiful, bucolic little corner of New England was lined with elm trees. Portuguese fishermen in plaid shirts would head out into the fog every morning before dawn in grey flat-bottom skiffs and flinty Yankee lawyers would drive the oil executives to apoplexy at town meetings. One lobbyist actually had a heart attack and died at a town meeting. But after the death of the Kennedys, a shadow fell upon us from which we have barely crawled out, and Nantucket became the focus of a decadent and dilettante kind of liberalism that seemed from then on defeatist and increasingly nihilistic. It echoes still today.
I would love to see a Jacksonian Democrat run against a Jacksonian Republican in 2016. It would begin to bring our lives under control. And it is in the Democrats' best interest to do so because really there are two creation myths in America: the one in Boston Harbor and the one at the Alamo. It is not clear which will dominate or if we can and will live in equilibrium, because this is not over. History follows wealth and demographics. The greater potential for wealth rises today in the Heartland and the Northeast is falling behind.
I see Warren as the best of all possible worlds for the Democrats. Warren knows her mind. And she did not follow her husband or anyone else to her future. Simply put, she is not a generational cultural figure but a problem-solver and politician.
Possibly the most important thing that happened at CPAC 2013 this past week was that Republicans, young and old, proved that they could successfully engage and embrace a new generation. It gives them the great advantage, getting there first, because soon, the MSM will follow like a flock of geese. The tawdry Palin mockers will recede and the MSM will go slouching from denial to acceptance. Already this morning, The Washington Post’s most prominent liberal commentator, Dana Milbank, says, “I stand with Rand — for now.”
The Democrats must now play catch up as the Republicans had to do when Andrew Jackson first showed up in Washington. But if the Republicans can get past “endless Bushes” and the old school, the Democrats should be able to get over the Kennedys and the Clinton generation culture (cult). If they want to compete, they should abandon the decadent Nantucket scene and start again from scratch with Jacksonian heartland populists like Elizabeth Warren and Jim Webb.