Uh Oh: Elizabeth Warren's Past May Catch Up To Her

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Posted: Apr 22, 2019 5:35 PM
Uh Oh: Elizabeth Warren's Past May Catch Up To Her

Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-WA) has made a name for herself as "strong progressive." She's championed traditionally progressive values like gun control, taxing the rich and even forgiving people's student loan debt. But before Warren was a progressive darling she was actually a registered Republican, POLITICO reported.

For quite a few years, Warren was a registered Republican in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. It wasn't until she was 47 years old and a Harvard professor that she suddenly changed parties. 

From POLITICO (emphasis mine):

Warren has acknowledged her Republican past before, but she does not often discuss it, or else downplays it. In a recent interview over tea at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she said she assumes the first time she registered as a Democrat was 1996, but added, “I’m not even 100 percent sure what I was registered as.” According to Warren, in the six presidential elections she voted in before 1996, she cast her ballot for just one GOP nominee, Gerald Ford in 1976. She does not talk about her Republican past in either of her books or as part of the biography she recounts in her stump speech; the information often comes as a surprise even to Beltway politicos and longtime Warren allies.

“I was just never very political,” is how Warren explains her Republican years. “I just never thought much about the political end.”

Some on the left have already pointed out the less-than-progressive stances in her 2003 book, The Two Income Trap, including the rejection of a “quasi-socialist safety net to rival the European model.” But a review of Warren’s early scholarship and interviews with more than 20 friends and colleagues from her high school years through her academic career reveal a longer conservative track record that has not been fully explored. Warren’s conservatism centered not on social issues like abortion or gay rights, friends say, but on economic policy, the dominant focus of her academic work and now her presidential candidacy.

Katrina Harry, one of Warren’s best friends in high school in Oklahoma, remembers that she and Warren “talked politics a lot, taxes and welfare and such, and I was just a flaming liberal back then.” Harry adds, “Liz was a diehard conservative in those days. … Now we’ve swapped—a 180-degree turn and an about-face.”

“Liz was sometimes surprisingly anti-consumer in her attitude,” says law professor Calvin Johnson, a colleague of Warren’s at the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1980s, who was also her neighbor and carpooled with Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann.

“I remember the first time I became aware of her as a political person and heard her speak, I almost fell off my chair,” says Rutgers law professor Gary Francione, who was a colleague of Warren’s at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. “She’s definitely changed. It’s absolutely clear that something happened.”

According to POLITICO's in-depth analysis, Warren's "evolution" occurred when she began traveling across the country to bankruptcy courts during the 1980s. When she was placed on a federal commission in the 90s "she became the unapologetic partisan brawler she was in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

That's when she realized being nonpartisan wasn't working. And then she suddenly became hyper partisan.

Some friends and colleagues say Warren became radicalized, equating her change to a religious experience, to being born again. “She really did have a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion when she saw the bankrupt consumers really were suffering—forced into bankruptcy by illness, firing or divorce—and not predators,” Johnson says. Other friends argue Warren’s shift has been more gradual, and that she is not the extremist her opponents have sought to portray her as. “It drives me crazy when she’s described as a radical left-winger. She moved from being moderately conservative to being moderately liberal,” says Warren’s co-author and longtime collaborator Jay Westbrook. “When you look at consumer debt and what happens to consumers in America, you begin to think the capitalist machine is out of line.”

What's interesting is Warren's lack of consistency: 

The fact that Warren likely has spent more of her voting years outside the Democratic Party than in it distinguishes her from her 2020 primary opponents. She and Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, share many policy objectives and an inclination to rail against the powerful. The Vermont senator, however, largely decided what he believed 50 years ago and has been remarkably consistent ever since. Warren is ever-evolving, questioning her own assumptions and hungry for new information—even today, as she sets the pace of the 2020 policy debate with detailed new proposals on childcare, taxes on the wealthy and large corporations, and a call for a new era of trust-busting in sectors from tech to agriculture.

Look, people's political stances change over time, especially as they get older. It's bound to happen. But to go from a believer in free markets to someone who wants people to give over the majority of their paychecks to the federal government is rather extreme. No one wakes up and suddenly has some sort of epiphany that everything they've believed the majority of their life is wrong. 

Warren is doing a ton of political pandering. And it should upset everyone, not just Republicans. Democrats should be upset that they have someone in their party who can't decide what she believes. They should be upset that her thoughts on issues change depending on where the votes are. She's actively working to obtain the progressive vote, the votes Bernie Sanders would typically get, but does she truly believe what she's saying? Doubt it.

Either way, she's dangerous. She's dangerous for those of us who want the government out of our lives. We know she'll buckle down and take away our freedoms. Just how many freedoms or what comes first, we don't know. 

Whether or not Democrats will see through her ploy...only time will tell.