Elizabeth Warren’s Secret

Reader Supported News has the article Elizabeth Warren’s Secret by David Dayen, Salon.

The senator tells Salon how one senator can wield tremendous power – and (kind of) addresses those ’16 rumors

It’s been well-documented that the 113th Congress specializes in getting nothing consequential done. While the nation’s supply of named post offices is apparently well-stocked, anything more critical has generally stalled out, with little hope to break the gridlock.

So let’s say you’re a high-profile freshman senator walking into this den of inertia, and you want to make your large following proud and advance your agenda, but you’re in no position to do that legislatively? How do you, Elizabeth Warren, find your way through this minefield, and even chalk up successes?

A very nice article that gives a lot of insight about how a Senator can change the way things are done even without making legislative changes.  Part of what I like about the way Elizabeth Warren works is that she understands you have to change the terms of the debate before you present legislation.  If you don’t do that, you end up like the feckless President who bargains himself down before he even faces his opposition.

The President defers to Congress to dream up the legislation to advance his agenda.  All the while that this process is playing out, the opposition has a heyday framing the debate on terms unfavorable to the President’s agenda.  At the very tail end, the President jumps in and is forced to debate the topic on the opposition’s terms.  His own terms never even get a chance to be part of the debate.

Here is the scenario if the President used the Warren strategy.  You start talking about the issue.  You make some high profile appearances where you set the terms of the debate.  After the conversation seems to be going in your desired direction, you propose some specific legislation.  Since you have set the tone of the debate, the opposition is forced to debate you on your terms and hardly has time to get to their debating points.  Notice that you don’t move to the succeeding steps until you have some indication that your point of view has sunk in sufficiently to weather whatever storm the opposition can try to raise.  If you are not making the progress you want at each phase, you adjust your tactics, and keep trying until it works.  I often don’t have the stomach for this in my world, but that is why Obama was elected as the country’s President and I was not (at least one of the reasons :-).

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