Democrats Divided by Elizabeth Warren's 'Economic Populism'

Democrats Divided by Elizabeth Warren's 'Economic Populism'

Jim Kessler, co-founder of think tank Third Way, helped pen an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal urging Democrats to shy away from the far-left populists making headlines this year. He subsequently admitted that Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s statements on Social Security triggered his warning.

This foreshadows a potential battle between centrists and far-leftists for the identity of the Democratic Party in 2016.

On Sirius XM with Ari Rabin-Havt, Huffington Post reports, Kessler noted that Third Way had already begun to worry about how far left the Democrat party appeared to be tilting on economics. In fact, the first example in the WSJ op-ed itself is Bill De Blasio, the mayor-elect of New York, famous for his ties to radical leftist groups and personal views that led him to a welcome party for Robert Mugabe. But it was Sen. Warren herself who “alarmed” him the most with the speed at which the Social Security debate picked up steam once she began making it a cornerstone of her agenda.

Kessler gave Sen. Warren the credit for reviving a Social Security reform plan that “had been out there but really languishing” with her “powerful compelling voice.” He praised her as a “compelling elected official” who helped her state greatly but could be problematic as a national public figure. He saw the momentum behind her as a sign that things were “getting out of hand.”

Though Sen. Warren has promised not to run in 2016 (for now), many view her as the most viable candidate in that election cycle left of Hillary Clinton, even going as far as to describe her as Clinton’s “nightmare.” While her lack of experience in public office would make her another Barack Obama by resumée standards, she would also successfully avoid bringing the foreign policy baggage Clinton would to the table post-Benghazi. This latest shower of attacks is best read as a shower of compliments, as it demonstrates that many on the more moderate left view her as a threat, both to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and to the soul of the Democratic Party. 

Even before winning her elected seat from Republican Sen. Scott Brown, Warren concerned groups like, who warned that it could not sufficiently fund her campaign should it want to dump money into the Wisconsin left’s anti-Scott Walker efforts. has, however, attacked Third Way for its column, and other groups are calling for Democrats tied to Third Way to resign their positions there.

Sen. Warren herself reacted to Kessler’s op-ed in an interview with Mother Jones, imploring Third Way to “stop having a conversation about cutting Social Security a little bit or a lot.” She also independently requested that banks begin to disclose what money they give to D.C. think tanks, a move interpreted by some as an attempt at payback against Third Way for the op-ed.