Sen. Elizabeth Warren is delighting many Democrats with her populist rhetoric, but Republicans are the ones who should pay attention.
The movement to push Warren toward the presidential race is spearheaded by organizations like MoveOn.org, which earnestly believes that most voters want more of President Obama’s agenda: blame American engagement abroad, racism, and sexism, and the wealthy for all the problems of humanity.
No matter that after six years of his misplaced idealism, ISIL holds American hostages, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is Hollywood’s new censor, Al Sharpton and Attorney General Eric Holder have whipped up lethal mob hysteria about police, and nearly one in six men between the ages of 25 and 54 remains jobless and without hope.
Americans are angry. But while they may drub Obama in the polls, the strongest presidential candidate remains Hillary Clinton. And she is now salting her campaign speeches with populist rhetoric in deference to Warren’s appeal.
And Republicans don’t have an attractive response to Warren or Clinton.
Republicans have been slow to learn that the hard left’s prescriptions may be wrong, but their sense of what angers Americans is spot on.
New technologies have made the world more difficult for American foreign policy to manage. Cellphones permit revolutionaries to organize, as they did in Egypt, under the noses of national leaders, and cheap software permits North Korean hackers to dictate policy to Sony and snatch ordinary folks’ most private information.
Unless Americans are willing to use force—for example by shutting down North Korea’s power grid—they are going to have to accept a lot of grief from dictators likes Kim.
Sen. John McCain is correct that cyberattacks are a new form of warfare. But Americans are simply not willing to bloody many noses. Democrats like Sen. Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton will play on that in 2016.
More importantly, Warren’s harping about big business and even bigger banks ring true to Americans—because they are true—even if misadventures like “Obamacare” and Dodd-Frank have proven the most robust of failures of liberalism in our age.
Health care is too expensive—as are so many other things—and banks do abuse most Americans, because Democrats have cynically supported monopolies for those who generously contribute to their political campaigns.
Those monopolies enrich friends of the party that fancies itself friend of the common man. For example, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is a big fundraiser for Obama and pays Al Sharpton’s MSNBC salary, and has leveraged a dull utility into a media empire.
Sen. Schumer is legend for mining Wall Street to support Democratic candidates.
GOP leaders like Paul Ryan need to go after those insidious alliances and their connections to high prices, low wages, and negligible interest most Americans earn on their savings, instead of apologizing for free markets and offering vouchers to fix health care.
Ordinary Americans would profit from a competitive market place, but Elizabeth Warren—and the likely Democratic standard bearer in 2016, Hillary Clinton—is right. These days, the American marketplace is hardly competitive.
What should separate the GOP from Democrats is not middle-class angst but that Warren, Clinton and other Democrats want even more government regulation. That will permit them to dole out even more favors to their friends in business in exchange for campaign largess, keeping American families pinned down, dependent on government, and more likely to vote Democratic.
The GOP should take a page from Republican Teddy Roosevelt: Become trustbusters. Advocate breaking up the big health insurance, drug, and cable companies, and the worst offenders, Wall Street’s banks. That could reinvigorate growth and make essentials like health care affordable again.
Give the economy back to Americans. They will make it run and run well again.
Peter Morici, professor at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Previously he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Follow @pmorici1
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.