His 2014 State of the Union address brushed over deficit reduction quickly before getting onto the main event: a pledge to create “opportunity for all,” infused with the themes that Warren rode to Washington a little over a year ago.
After that speech, any doubt about whether the Democratic Party would embrace economic populism can now be put to rest. The party is united behind an agenda that puts economic inequality front-and-center, and they think voters will reward them for it. Warren did not move the needle alone, and perhaps was just a leading indicator of these changing winds, but her once-insurgent message has now become mainstream in the party, albeit with some edges sanded off.
“The two big themes coming out of President Obama’s speech are economic populism and a new willingness to fight. President Obama is basically taking steps to sound more and more like Elizabeth Warren,” says Adam Green, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, an outside group that backed Warren’s Senate campaign.
The party has shifted noticeably to the left on economic issues, said Neera Tanden, the president of the center-left Center for American Progress. “Economic populism is a uniting force in the Democratic Party and progressive movement, and will help draw a contrast with Republicans in 2014 and future cycles,” she said.