July 23 2014
‘Run Liz Run’: Stuck in the Age of Folk
Democrats know how to reach voters. I’m not talking about using better data or GOTV techniques – I mean how to reach people emotionally. That’s exactly the point of the new video – “Run Liz Run” – promoting Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Set to a catchy folk-song it’s a portrait of enthusiastic supporters carrying signs and cheering for the Senator as she gives a passionate speech at the progressive Netroots Nation conference. It makes you feel hopeful, excited about the prospects of seeing a woman in the White House, and paints politics as accessible.
Despite the video’s positive vibe, however, it’s clear supporters of Liz Warren view life in America as inherently unfair. “Run Liz Run” calls for a “leader who won’t stand for all the Wall Street bull—-;” stresses that “people think the system is rigged because it is,” and reminds us that “nobody got rich on their own, not nobody.” The video skillfully pits Americans against one another – a technique Warren has already perfected, by using the word “fighting” with great frequency – without ever making the viewer feel angry.
Of course, “Run Liz Run” conforms to the tradition of folk songs. It’s speaking to the “oppressed” – workers, minorities, women – with a message that a president Warren can help us overcome our social and economic hardship. And it’s the discordant effect that makes folk songs like “Run Liz Run” powerful. Bob Dylan’s comforting voice asking “how many times must the cannon balls fly/ Before they’re forever banned?“ Or Marlo Thomas singing “Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free“ in the eponymous song from the playful children’s album Free To Be You and Me. Folk songs are meant to resonate with everyday Americans, and Warren’s agenda is meant to address their adversity.
It’s not surprising Warren supporters are using this tried and true technique, as little has changed in progressive politics over the half-century since the 1960s folk resurgence of Dylan, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell. Instead of evolving and improving, the disheartening message of inequality and victimhood remains the mainstay for Democrats like Warren – and especially for liberal women’s groups who will actively support her and her big-government agenda.
This is not to suggest we don’t have challenges in America today, or that there isn’t a need to strengthen our economy, build stronger communities, and streamline our government. There has always been and always will be a need to improve the American experiment. But lost in the folksy style of “Run Liz Run” is how Warren’s feel-good policies of raising the minimum wage, passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, advocating for government-run schools (and naturally limiting choice and freedom in education), forcing resources into green-only energy solutions, and pushing for “free” benefits for women in ObamaCare will actually help improve the lives of more Americans.
Even with the best song, perpetuating the narrative that women are a victim class, or that workers are oppressed by corporations, doesn’t strengthen society. It’s simply a tool used to encourage even greater dependence on the state, and to give government even more control over our lives.
We have real challenges in this country that require a conversation and perhaps even a “revolution” of sorts. But instead of turning failed progressive policies into a soundtrack, we need Americans to rise up against government largesse and advance policies that improve the country while staying true to our founding ideals of liberty and individualism.
Sabrina L. Schaeffer is executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum and a contributor to the forthcoming IWF book, “Lean Together: An Agenda for Greater Economic Security, Stronger Communities, and Smarter Government.”