Elizabeth Warren and the Mudcat manifesto

From The Hill, Aug. 26, 2008: "Several years ago, Mark Warner, former governor of Virginia and candidate for Senate today, and Jim Webb, the new Senator from Virginia, started the new season for the Democrats. It was first identified when Markos Moulitsas, Hill commentator and founder of the original political blog, The Daily Kos, identified a generational division within the Democrats in an op-ed for The Washington Post. He mentioned Mark Warner and Howard Dean as 'new Democrats' or representatives of a new generation of Democrats."

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Or not: "In that same period [Moulitsas] had a post on Daily Kos asking, 'Won't these Clinton-era Democrats ever go away?' Mark Warner and Jim Webb have always had sky high ratings with this group. Hillary's ratings have usually hovered around zero and were never higher than 11 [percent]."

It was an idea before its time. Warner was the first major speaker at YearlyKos in 2006, rebranded as Netroots Nation in 2008. This year, The Huffington Post reports: "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) faced an enthusiastic crowd of supporters Friday when she took the stage at Netroots Nation, with fans toting 'Elizabeth Warren for President' hats and signs and chanting 'Run, Liz, Run!'"

As the Clintons closed one door, Warner opens another, I said in my piece cited above. But the door didn't open. Warren is the gatekeeper. She is the anti-Hillary, an Okie grandmother who bakes pies on Valentine's Day, loves Tom Brady, the Pats and her country aunties. She may even be the anti-Palin; that is, the country fire that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) conjured for conservatives — one might say artificially — can be found more essentially in Warren's tradition and background and her Pilgrim's Progress from Oklahoma and home, to Harvard and onward again to the Senate.

Warren brings an older, truer version of liberalism than the comprehensive generational culture of the Clintons and their "participation mystique" and one indigenous to America's rural traditions. Her politics and personal culture also suggest the vision of the rural Virginia savant behind the successful campaigns of Warner and Webb, Dave "Mudcat" Saunders.

If the left is getting "Ready for Warren" as a group is called which hopes to "convince her that there is grassroots support for her to run for president in 2016," then perhaps liberalism is today morphing in a new direction, a direction well outlined in Mudcat's manifesto, a book he published in 2006 with Steve Jarding, Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run 'em Out. It is a masterpiece of political style and sensibility and a political pathfinder's guide to rising tides in contemporary liberalism.

"In just a few short years," wrote Saunders in the introduction, "Americans have witnessed the greatest redistribution of wealth from the working class to the richest elites in the history of our nation."

We hear that again today from Warren, and today we listen.

"Our political leaders increasingly have become puppets and pawns for special interests," he writes. Again, this is a hallmark of Warren's victorious Senate candidacy and will be the basis of her presumed candidacy in 2016.

"On top of that, because corporate America is given free rein, too often their bottom line takes precedence over any sense of corporate responsibility." It could be coming from Warren's speeches today.

Pundits today looking for Warren might turn to Saunders and Jarding for historical context and to identify the dominant tide rising in the contemporary left; a vision whose time has finally arrived.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.

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