When Larry Summers realized his nomination for chairman of the Federal Reserve would be a fight, his first move was to get a meeting with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who has emerged as a Democratic powerhouse in her first term in the Senate and is likely to be one of the serious names to watch for in the 2016 presidential election. Sen. Warren will be a major player in the Democratic Party on the road to 2016, even if she doesn't run herself. Whether as a primary contender or as Hillary Clinton's running mate or as a prominent national figure preaching economic populism, she will have a prominent place in the country's leadership.
Sen. Warren has been shoring up her credibility with the public and making the right kind of enemies in Washington, D.C. She has championed economic issues such as student loan debt and increased banking regulations as part of her mission to bring those who caused the Great Recession to justice. Her failed fight to stop student interest rates from rising brought her press and public attention, even if she was unable to garner political support in getting it passed. Her persistence in protecting the financial rights of the middle class has provided her with an invaluable reserve of legitimacy in the public at a time when the economy is reeling from the mistakes of Wall Street insiders and politicians who are loyal to them, such as Larry Summers.
Summers' nomination for chairman of the Fed was undone by Sen. Warren and her allies in the Senate because of Summers' well-documented chauvinism and support for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act as treasury secretary under President Clinton. (In fairness, current Fed chairman front-runner Janet Yellen also supported the repeal.) However, Sen. Warren played a perfectly shrewd political hand in Summers' removal from the running as well. When President Obama tasked Elizabeth Warren to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau it was assumed she would be appointed to run it as well. Enter Larry Summers. As an economic adviser to President Obama, Summers campaigned against her nomination on behalf of major players in the finance industry who were afraid of her power. Now, Sen. Warren just secured her payback by forcing Summers out of the running for Fed chairman. Liberals are feeling very empowered by Summers' defeat and are crediting it to Warren's politicking.
Democrats have not had a leader who is both charismatic and morally authoritative in quite some time, but Sen. Warren is about to change that. She has not even completed a full year in her tenure as senator but has already emerged with a clear legislative and political agenda that she is forthright about and sticking to. Since President Obama's first inauguration, D.C. politics have been hijacked by the loud and unruly Tea Partiers who have done everything to derail any legislative agenda put forth by the White House. Sen. Warren emerges from this mess as a Democrat who is unwilling to be overwhelmed by power or threatened by politics as usual.
Furthermore, one of the primary critiques of Hillary Clinton, according to The Washington Post, has been that she wants to be president just to win an election, and not to be a leader. Sen. Warren will have a crucial advantage over Clinton if the latter is unable to convince the public of her legislative and moral authority, which is something that D.C. is notably lacking.
Regardless of how 2016 plays out, Sen. Warren has planted her flag in D.C. as a Democrat prepared to fight for actual Democratic Party values. Everybody else had better watch out.