In a recent speech to members of the AFL-CIO, U.S. Senator Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple MORE fired a shot at establishment Democratic and Republican politicians for three decades of “[talking] about the evils of ‘big government’ and call[ing] for deregulation.” Warren continued:

It sounded good, but it was really about tying the hands of regulators and turning loose big banks and giant international corporations to do whatever they wanted to do-turning them loose to rig the markets and reduce competition, to outsource more jobs, to load up on more risks and hide behind taxpayer guarantees, to sell more mortgages and credit cards that cheated people. 


This speech followed earlier statements from Warren arguing middle class families “work harder than ever, but they can't get ahead [because]…the game is rigged against them.“

Intrigued by this kind of rhetoric, political pundits on the left and progressive organizations such as MoveOn want the junior senator from Massachusetts in the race for president. An open letter signed by 300 former Obama staffers urging Warren to run pleads, “we want someone who will stand up for working families and take on the Wall Street banks and special interests that took down our economy.”

BUT, haven’t we heard this before?

In a 2007 interview in Storm Lake, Iowa, the junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama said, “our tax policy has been skewed toward the top 1 percent and away from the middle class, working class in this country.” Hill Columnist Juan Williams has compared Warren and Obama directly. Warren “can talk the way President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJudge denies Trump spokesman's effort to force Jan. 6 committee to return financial records Gina McCarthy: Why I'm more optimistic than ever on tackling the climate crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE did back in the ’08 campaign about what is right,” Williams wrote.

So, why would this time be any different? Do Democrats believe Warren’s charisma and communication skills are so superior to Obama’s that she will succeed where he has not? Would Warren’s ‘new car smell’ and inspiring personal story be enough to part the Red Sea in Congress and roll back the tide of policies favoring the powerful?

Of course not. As the website Vox pointed out, in 2014, the Senate's 46 Democrats got 20 million more votes than its 54 Republicans. In 2012, Democratic House candidates won about 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, according to Bloomberg News. More Americans want Democrats in control than Republicans. However, quirks in our electoral system prevent a strong Democratic majority from taking hold.

Noticeably absent from any of the recent remarks of Warren, Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat Left laughs off floated changes to 2024 ticket MORE, or any prominent Democrat is a serious call for political reform. Warren rails against “politicians in Washington [who] have made deliberate choices that favored those with money and power.” But you have to ask why they made those “deliberate” choices?

Policies favoring Wall Street are a symptom of the virus gripping Washington; not the disease itself. The anti-democratic effects of laws restricting the vote, partisan gerrymandering, a broken campaign finance system, and out-of-date institutional rules of Congress have created a legislative branch that FDR, LBJ, or even the deftest politician would find immovable. The current GOP majority, which is the largest since 1930s, would frustrate a Warren or Clinton administration as easily as it has the Obama administration.  

Recent polls show government dysfunction surpassing the economy as top problem facing the United States. So why is there no serious call in the Democratic Party for political reform to be front and center in the 2016 race?  

Democrats would be wise to zero in on a long-term strategy to win a majority by proposing policies that ensure we have a Congress that represents the majority of Americans. Simply electing another Democratic president will not be enough.

Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes’ (D) comments last month come closer to identifying the real problem of a rigged electoral system. “[E]veryday citizens are being left out — almost locked out — of their own democracy,” he says.  

Maybe he’s onto something.

Carlasare, a lawyer, is president of the Young Democrats of illinois.