The Democratic party’s new intellectual center of gravity

The pundits are declaring Elizabeth Warren irrelevant (after years of announcing she should run for president when she had only just started being a senator and was focused on that), but her ideas matter either way.

But since her initial announcement in December, Warren’s campaign has rolled out a series of detailed policy proposals in quick succession, outlining structural changes to major industries, government functions, and regulatory procedures that would facilitate more equitable representation in the federal government and overhaul the economy in favor of the working class. These policy proposals have made Warren the Democratic party’s new intellectual center of gravity, a formidable influence who is steadily pushing the presidential primary field to the left and forcing all of her primary challengers to define their political positions against hers.

The Democrats desperately need more of that. They’ve been letting themselves be dragged to the right since forever, and they need to knock it off.

Warren outlined a huge overhaul of the childcare system that would revolutionize the quality, cost and curriculum of early childhood education, with subsidies for families and a living wage for caregivers. It’s a proposal that she talks about in the context of her own career when, as a young mother and fledgling legal mind, she almost had to give up a job as a law professor because childcare for her young son was too expensive.

Warren has also proposed a housing plan that would limit huge investors’ abilities to buy up homes, give incentives for localities to adopt renters’ protections, and build new public housing. Crucially, and uniquely, her housing plan would also provide home ownership grants to buyers in minority communities that have historically been “redlined”, a term for the racist federal housing policies that denied federally backed mortgages to black families. The provision, aimed to help black and brown families buy their first homes, is a crucial step toward amending the racial wealth gap, and it has helped sparked a broader conversation within the party about the need to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves – a concept that Warren has also endorsed.

It’s easier to kneecap candidates than it is to kneecap ideas.

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