By Brent Budowsky - 06/18/14 07:15 PM EDT
In our season of political discontent, an enterprising pollster should run numbers for a potential ticket of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton running with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as the ultimate team of transforming change for voters who want to end business as usual in Washington.
I predict that, if Clinton is nominated in 2016, such polling data would inspire her to seriously consider this possibility as the tidal wave of voter rebellion against status quo politics reaches epic proportion. A ticket of two women would appear as a refreshing broom to sweep aside the discredited politics of demonization, destruction and dysfunction that most Americans detest.
The insider establishment is oblivious to the powerful hunger for transforming change from voters who have endured a decade of scarce jobs, stagnant wages, rising costs and financial pain in an economy they know is fixed and a politics they know is rigged.
Polling charts from Real Clear Politics reveal historic, intense voter negativity: Voters disapprove of Congress by nearly 80 percent, disapprove of the direction of the nation by more than 60 percent, and disapprove of President Obama by more than 50 percent.
As Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) recently learned losing his primary, and as Europeans recently learned in European Parliament elections, there is an angry rebellion from economically hurting and dissatisfied voters throughout Western democracies.
There is a populist wave across the democratic world and a battle between the left and right to determine who will ride that wave to power. Take note: Cantor was defeated by Dave Brat running against crony capitalism as much as against foreign immigrants.
Few incumbents from either party should sleep well with 80 percent of voters disapproving of Congress. No matter who prevails this November, gridlock and dysfunction — and intense voter backlash against it — will grow even worse after midterm elections that will give neither party a governing majority. Republicans fearing 2016 primaries will become even more hard-line. For angry and dissatisfied voters, Washington will remain the city from hell through 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Clinton as candidate must be a bold change agent who gives voice to — and empowers — voters who are hurting, worried and repulsed by politics as usual. Clinton as president needs more than a victory. She needs a mandate.
Political practitioners should visit C-SPAN and watch the recent appearance by Warren, the progressive populist champion in Congress, and professor Thomas Piketty, whose mega-selling book Capital in the Twenty First Century has electrified the income inequality debate.
Warren’s appeal transcends ideology and gender. She reaches the same working-class men that Clinton successfully addressed midway through her 2008 campaign, when she abandoned her consultant-driven caution and fully hit her stride. Today, Warren works with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for a 21st century version of Glass-Steagall financial reform.
With voter backlash against economic pain and voter rebellion against dysfunction in Washington, the successful models for 2016 would be Robert Kennedy in 1968, who appealed to minorities and working-class whites who also supported segregationist George Wallace, and Ronald Reagan in 1980, who appealed to “Reagan Democrats.”
The 20 women senators, Democrats and Republicans, who regularly collaborate with professionalism and respect to get things done, offer a governing model for how Washington can work.
If a ticket of two women offers economic revival and transformational change based on financial justice championed by Pope Francis, the most popular figure on the world stage, support from women would be stratospheric and many men would join them.
President Clinton would have her mandate to reach out to Washington and Wall Street for a shared spirit of economic patriotism that would lift the nation and change the world.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.