I went to a meeting of “Run, Warren, Run” a couple of days ago. This is a group organized by Moveon.org, which is the “left wing” of the Democrats. They are trying to push Liberal US Senator Elizabeth Warren to run against Clinton for president.
Prior to the meeting, we were getting all sorts of e mails asking people to bring extra chairs as way over 50 people had committed to coming. As it turned out, there were twelve present at the back of an auto shop in an industrial area in deep east Oakland. Of the twelve, there were three who could be called political players. One had just gotten back from “overseas”. It turned out he’d been in Jordan and Afghanistan where he’d been working as an advisor to civilians who work for the US military. It’s not impossible that he worked in some way with the CIA. He also said he’d worked on both Obama presidential campaigns.
Then there was a woman maybe in her mid 40s who was a staffer for SEIU 1021. This is the largest and most influential union in the east bay area. She was there with a slightly older guy who had set up a non-profit with her a few years ago to consult with the union leadership. The woman had been involved in different campaigns before.
When it became clear that just a dozen people were going to be there, these three left. They didn’t even stay for the home made red beans and rice and dim sum that was set out! The others who were there were mainly an assortment of misfits. Mostly over 50, although there was one young couple. The organizer said he was a scientist who consults for NASA on their drone program (!) He described how his research was going to be taken by NASA and then handed over to private industry. He also talked a lot about his experience with Moveon. He said they are totally centrally controlled, including the fact that there is no means for Moveon supporters to communicate with each other online; they can only communicate with the central leadership. On three separate occasions in the past, he’d organized some meeting for them around some election campaign or another and then each time been told to stop everything he was doing. He was even called up by a lawyer who threatened him. He was asked if Moveon had a longer term strategy and he said that if they do he didn’t know what it was.
As we got to talking, some things came out. They all more or less agreed that Warren was not going to win the nomination, but their hope was that by running they would push Clinton to the left. I also asked the organizer of the meeting what was his longer term strategy. He said, “we need to do to the Democratic Party what the Tea Party has done to the Republicans!” Later in the discussion, I pointed out that what the Tea Party had done was accomplished with the financial backing of major rich people and corporations as well as one entire TV network – Fox TV. Where would we get such resources? Nobody could really answer this.
A big issue – the main reason for support for Warren according to the organizer of the event – was the fact that she wants to build “Main St.” as opposed to the domination of “Wall St.” The meeting was being held in a building that was built during WW II to house small industry, and the organizer recounted the history of all the small industrial plants that had sprung up during the war to further the war effort. He said that now, Wall St. had come to dominate and that what Warren wants is to sufficiently regulate Wall St. to restore the balance. I pointed out that every regulatory body is controlled by the industry it’s supposed to regulate, and his reply was that the problem is that the SEC and similar bodies have been gutted and they need to hire more regulators. He cited the Savings and Loan scandal of the 80s, and how some top bankers went to jail as opposed to what happened recently.
There was a lot of flowery talk about Barbara Lee and her having been the sole vote against war, etc. I raised the story that went round about when Pres. Bill Clinton was pushing NAFTA through the Senate and a few senators told him that they were going to vote against it, but if their vote was needed for it to pass, they’d vote for it. I wondered how much the dissident votes like Lee’s were like that. Nobody commented.
We went around the circle and talked about why we were there. I had to be honest, and I said that I was just there checking it out but that I had some issues. I raised the issue of Warren’s support for Israel. At that point, the organizer – who was a very nice, friendly guy – cut me off and vigorously argued that she doesn’t really support Israel, etc. etc. He didn’t interrupt anybody else, and I suspect that he did with me because they know that Warren is really indefensible on that issue.
I also talked some about the prospects for Warren to run. My view is that if there is a real development of the movement in the streets, if it really sinks roots and spreads further, then she might run to draw it into Democratic Party politics but that what I thought what was needed was a new, mass left party.
At that point, one of the guys said, “so why are you even here?” I replied that I could leave if people wanted me to, but everybody else was too nice to say so. At that point, things started to get pretty boring – just repetition of what other liberals were saying. So I waited ten minutes and then left.
At least here in Alameda county, the Warren movement doesn’t seem to be growing much legs. As I say, if the present movement in the streets really seems to be sinking roots and threatens to be longer lasting, then the “left” wing of the Democrats could throw more resources behind Warren.