2020 presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is known for her left-wing views on issues from health care-for-all to taxing the super-wealthy. But a new deep dive into the left-wing firebrand’s past finds that she was known as a “diehard conservative” in school.
Politico reports that, while Warren has acknowledged but downplayed her Republican past in public, a review of her scholarship and interviews with friends reveals that she has a hitherto unexplored “conservative track record” -- mainly on economic policy.
“Liz was a diehard conservative in those days. … Now we’ve swapped — a 180-degree turn and an about-face,” Katrina Harry, one of Warren’s high school friends, told the outlet.
“Liz was sometimes surprisingly anti-consumer in her attitude,” law professor Calvin Johnson, a colleague of Warren’s at the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1980s, said of the future senator, who, decades later, would be credited as architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB.)
“She’s definitely changed. It’s absolutely clear that something happened,” said Rutgers law professor Gary Francione, another Warren colleague from the 1980s.
Politico reports that Warren first had a political conversion in the '80s when she traveled to bankruptcy courts and saw that Americans filing, far from being irresponsible as she'd imagined, actually resembled her own family.
But she reportedly moved to the left when she was recruited on a federal commission to reform the bankruptcy code in the mid-1990s, before losing that battle in 2005.
“She really did have a ‘Road to Damascus’ conversion when she saw the bankrupt consumers really were suffering -- forced into bankruptcy by illness, firing or divorce—and not predators,” Johnson said.
“I realize nonpartisan just isn’t working,” Warren told Politico. “By then it’s clear: The only allies I have are in the Democratic Party, and it’s not even the majority of Democrats.”
Despite Warren’s conservative past, her left-wing credentials are not in doubt. In addition to supporting radical policies such as the Green New Deal and Medicare-for-all, Warren has distanced herself from the 2020 field by pushing a “wealth tax” for those with more than $50 million in assets.
"The rich & powerful run Washington. Here’s one benefit they wrote for themselves: After making a killing from the economy they’ve rigged, they don't pay taxes on that accumulated wealth. It’s a system that’s rigged for the top if I ever saw one," she tweeted.
But should Warren secure the 2020 Democratic nomination, she wouldn’t be the only one on the ballot to have switched parties. President Trump donated to Democratic candidates in the past, and was registered as a Democrat between 2001 and 2009.