Warren and Trump Speeches Attack Corruption, but Two Different Kinds

Senator Elizabeth Warren at a rally in New York on Monday. “Corruption has put our planet at risk, corruption has broken our economy and corruption is breaking our democracy,” she said.

They are both trailing...

They are both trailing behind Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president, in the Democratic race; Mr. Biden has run on a far more conventional message of making gradual policy improvements from the center-left, and he has expressed reservations about the rhetoric of his more liberal rivals about corporations and billionaires. The party is currently locked in a grand debate over how best to build an electoral majority, and whether Democrats would be better off appealing to voters with a soothing promise of returning to normalcy or with a more activist message about economic and social injustice.

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These divergent strains of populism are far from new in American politics: for much of the country’s modern history, mass social movements channeling grievances with government or big business have competed with other forces directing outrage at racial and cultural minorities, immigrants and foreign countries.

To some Democrats, the task of delivering a credible message of changing a broken system in Washington is a defining challenge of the 2020 election. Tiffany Muller, head of the influential clean-government group End Citizens United, said her organization’s research showed that many swing voters still see Mr. Trump as a political outsider with what Ms. Muller called an undeserved veneer of ethical independence.

“What we’ve seen is that Trump actually maintains strength on this issue — that, frankly, voters don’t know who to trust on the issue of corruption and cleaning up Washington,” Ms. Muller said in an interview on Monday afternoon. “We have got to go after his strength on this issue and win back some of the voters we lost in 2016.”


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