WASHINGTON- As the Democratic Party scrambles to pick its leadership after last week’s presidential loss, people have looked toward several high-profile lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who said on Tuesday that Democrats need to demonstrate support for working class people and not corporations.
Speaking to over 100 business executives at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, Warren said last week’s election was about some Americans making sure they’re not left behind in the country’s economic growth.
“This government has not been a government that has helped move it as far in that direction as it should,” said Warren, “I think this is the true challenge in the 21st century- I think it’s a challenge for all of [business leaders], for the Democratic Party, for all of America.”
President-elect Donald Trump successfully campaigned on getting rid of Wall Street influence in politics, Warren said. The Massachusetts senator denounced Trump’s transition team for being “full of lobbyists — the kind of people he ran against.” On Tuesday, Steven Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs partner and Trump campaign official, has been rumored as a possible pick for treasury secretary. Steve Bannon, who was named chief strategist for the Trump administration, also is a former Goldman Sachs banker and was singled out by Warren as a concerning choice.
She said the Trump team is not aligned with his pre-election “drain the swamp” promises.
Bannon, who is former executive chairman of Breitbart News, faces criticism for the support he’s gained among white supremacist groups, anti-Semitic views he has been accused of, and past comments against feminism.
Since Trump was elected as president, Warren and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders both said they would work with Trump on economic issues, but would fiercely oppose him if pursues policies that are “racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-immigration.” In his first press conference since Trump’s election, President Barack Obama said on Monday that Democrats have to rebuild their grassroots organization at all levels of government.
The challenge for the Democratic Party moving forward, according to Warren, is to find leadership that can prove its commitment to improve opportunities for the working class through cooperation with the Republican Party while opposing corporate influence in politics.
The election results made clear that voters were sick of the “revolving door” of industry leaders that work in government to regulate the very industries they worked in, Warren said. The urgency of this issue prompted many voters to disregard Trump’s divisive comments about minorities, women and people with disabilities.
“I know the K Street lobbyists are absolutely out there salivating, dancing on the streets,” said Warren, “They say: ‘This is our chance. We’re going to be able to slash regulations then look for a tax cut for those at the top.’ That’s what the K Street lobbyists might be thinking this morning, but that’s not what the people who voted him in are thinking.”
Warren pointed out a disconnect within the Republican Party as well, arguing that Trump didn’t win on House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “deregulatory” agenda.
Trump delivered the message that he would pursue policies for working-class voters this election. And while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, whom Warren campaigned for, also ran on the same argument, Warren said Trump successfully portrayed the Democratic Party as too close to Wall Street and big corporations.