National Journal — Disruptive Politics: How Rising Populism is Changing the Identity of Both Parties
Editor’s Note: One of America ‘s leading political analysts, Charlie Cook, discusses the rise of populism in both parties and how the establishment is responding in today’s National Journal.
Back in the mid-1990s, Harvard professor Clayton Christensen coined the phrases “disruptive technology” and “disruptive innovation” to describe certain kinds of game-changing developments in the business world. Now, in politics, we are seeing a variation on that theme.
On the left, the Occupy movement helped spawned a new populism that is reflected in rising interest in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s ideas and future, with her name increasingly being bandied about as a presidential hopeful despite her statements urging Hillary Clinton to run. Warren is fighting banks and other financial institutions in a way that is catching on much more noticeably than the late Sen. Paul Wellstone’s tilting at windmills. She’s recently made forays into surprising places, touting red-state Senate candidates such as Alison Lundergan Grimes, Mitch McConnell’s Democratic challenger in Kentucky, and Natalie Tennant, the Democratic nominee for West Virginia’s open Senate seat. Neither would want President Obama to campaign for them, but inviting a Massachusetts Democrat who is considerably more liberal–and more populist–than the president made sense to them.
This isn’t just a left-wing phenomenon. Populism fueled the tea-party movement, currently personified by Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who both could be serious contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. This development is causing consternation among old-guard Republicans, who are much more accustomed to fighting Democrats who rail against the established order of things–not fellow Republicans.