Elizabeth Warren's message could ignite Democrats, but only if progressive activists unify and get out the vote.

Elizabeth Warren’s message could ignite Democrats, but only if progressive activists unify and get out the vote.

TO UNDERSTAND how Elizabeth Warren could ignite progressives and turn a very tough midterm election season into the Democrat’s fighting chance, you have to begin by revisiting the history of Bill Clinton’s sixth year in office. It was 1998 and the Lewinsky scandal was on every front page, with President Clinton’s approval numbers crashing. Conventional wisdom said Democrats were doomed in the midterms.

[…] If the conventional wisdom had been followed, 1998 might well have been another 1994 sort of Republican landslide. But a coalition of people and groups willing to go against the conventional wisdom was willing to create a different, more aggressive strategy that was built around the idea of punching back on the impeachment issue and pivoting to the broader economic issues that really mattered to people. Our case was that, rather than obsessing about Clinton’s sex scandal and rehashing it over and over, the country needed to move on and talk about the economic issues that mattered to voters’ lives. Stan Greenberg and James Carville did polling to shape that message; People For the American Way (where I worked) did TV ads and grassroots organizing to push the idea… […] We changed the political conversation, changed the dynamics in that election, and we shattered the conventional wisdom in the elections that year, picking up 5 Democratic seats in the House rather than losing the 30 that had been predicted by the pundits, and winning many of the competitive Governor and Senate races. – Mike Lux, Co-founder Democracy Partners

Progressive leader and one of the original forces behind Elizabeth Warren’s Senate candidacy, Mike Lux has written a powerfully convincing post giving progressive activists a game plan for 2014. Another part reads..

Our answer to the frontal assault facing our party’s candidates and values is our own attack on the wealthy powers that be that are using their economic and political power to squeeze the middle class and the working poor.

We have to take on Wall Street, Big Oil, the Koch brothers, and Sheldon Adelson fearlessly. We need to tell voters that when they see all those attack ads, they should think about the motivations of the people paying for them: they are billionaires who want to avoid paying taxes so that you have to pay more; they are Too-Big-To-Fail Wall Street bankers who want no oversight when they manipulate markets, and want bailouts when they get into trouble; they are big oil tycoons who want to be able to pollute and jack up prices at will; they are Walmart and McDonald’s executives who don’t want to raise their workers’ low wages; they are government lobbyists and contractors who want insider sweetheart deals; they are casino owners who want no oversight whatsoever on all the cash running through their operations.

This is why the Harry Reid strategy of taking the Koch brothers and their money head on makes an enormous amount of sense, and why Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats championing a public financing of campaigns bill is a big winner. But we need this message to be more than a Washington talk point or piece of legislation mentioned by party leaders, we need a to build a real campaign around it.

There’s been too much focus on 2016 and what Elizabeth Warren could do nationally, as if the presidency is the most important place for her to exert her considerable influence. Senator Warren knows better.

This presidential obsession of people ignores a powerful election in November that is critically important for Democrats, but especially for President Obama.

Reorienting priorities is the only way progressives can turn a dismal turnout fear, which exists at present, into something other than a projected outcome of those fears.

Elizabeth Warren’s powerful message speaks to progressive priorities. Taking that message national, into to every state and county to reach Democrats to get out and vote is the toughest task progressive activists have had in a very long time. It’s the only way to turn a dismal forecast into Democrats holding their own.