The conventional wisdom in the mainstream media is that Elizabeth Warren is too radical to have national appeal. Beltway pundits typically characterize Warren as a far left Senator who has appeal with Democratic progressives and with her Massachusetts constituents. However, they typically depict her as too far outside the political mainstream to have appeal in swing states or red states.
However, the out of touch pundits may be overlooking the appeal of Warren’s economic populism. Red state Democrats may have discovered the strength of Warren’s message to help out folks on Main Street instead of Wall Street. Elizabeth Warren has already been welcomed by Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Michelle Nunn in Georgia, to campaign on their behalf.
Now West Virginia Senate candidate Natalie Tennant plans to campaign with Elizabeth Warren in July. Although the state went 62-36 for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in 2012, Tennant is welcoming Warren to boost her chances of winning the Senate race in November. Red state Democrats may have finally figured out that economic populism is not only the right ideology to fight for working families, but that fighting for working families is also smart politics.
Elizabeth Warren’s progressive economic agenda of holding Wall Street accountable, raising the minimum wage and lowering interest rates for student loans is popular. Democratic consultants have long embraced the mythology that the way to win in Southern red states is to support milquetoast candidates who take bland centrist positions on the issues so as not to offend right-center leaning Independents. This approach has done nothing but lead to the Democratic Party’s virtual collapse in the American South.
Now in 2014, some Democratic candidates appear to be waking up to the idea that poor and middle class people, who might be moderately conservative on social issues, are still progressively populist leaning on bread and butter issues. Democrats need to recognize that fighting for working class and middle class households is uncontroversial and that voters will support them if they believe Democrats will stand up for them when they go to Washington. Natalie Tennant has Joined Alison Lundergan Grimes and Michelle Nunn in recognizing that Elizabeth Warren’s economic populism is the key to victory even in red states.
While the media may still think that Warren’s leftist economic ideas are politically toxic in conservative areas, Democratic Senate candidates know better. The future of the party is bright if they move to the left on economic issues and align themselves with the hopes and aspirations of America’s struggling middle and working class voters.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.