Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Are you following the Democratic Party primary? If yes, you may have seen that the New York Times endorsed two candidates yesterday: Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. I woke up to the news this morning and it was interesting to see the reactions — I saw a few responses along the lines of: YES! Anyone but a white male. But far more responses that accused the NYT of wimping out, and saying that if the field was all men, the Times would never have endorsed two options.
Except for the fact that the primary season lasts way too long, I admit, I have really enjoyed getting to know the Democratic candidates for president. From the beginning, my two favorites were Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — our family went to both of their first events in Oakland (Kamala launched her campaign there!) and were deeply impressed with both. Over the past year, they continued to be my favorites and I was quick to like and retweet their messages. Now, with Harris no longer in the race (there are whole dissertations that need to be written on this), Warren has my vote.
I’m not the New York Times, and no one needs my official endorsement, but here it is anyway: I’m officially endorsing Elizabeth Warren.
There are a few reasons why Warren has remained a favorite candidate for me, and I’d love to share them with you. But before I do, I want to say:
1- I will enthusiastically endorse whomever gets the Democratic nomination. And I mean that sincerely. I will promote them, I will phone bank, I will do whatever I can to get out the vote for them. So if you have a different favorite candidate than mine, don’t be alarmed. I like your candidate too.
2- This thing a lot of Americans do, where we become super-fans of a candidate, seems like a really dumb, unhealthy thing (here’s a good thread on that topic). The more we idolize someone, the more we will feel betrayed when it turns out they aren’t perfect. And NONE of the candidates are perfect. So let that go. Saying I like or prefer or endorse a candidate, does not mean I think they are without legitimate criticism. To state it another way, I’m about to say a lot of nice things about Elizabeth Warren, and that doesn’t mean I think she’s perfect.
With that said, here are some of the key things I appreciate about Elizabeth Warren.
-She’s a teacher. You can tell in her writing. She doesn’t assume you know, she doesn’t expect everyone to know the ins-and-outs of government. She explains things clearly, in a way that never feels condescending.
-She’s super smart. There are lots of smart candidates, but I haven’t seen anyone like her. She knows her stuff so deeply. She has a very clear big picture of what’s happening, while at the same time, she understands how every aspect of the big picture affects the actual details of people’s lives. She gets that trade policy X, which random citizen has never heard of, will actually affect their ability to pay rent. Her ability to do this is really quite remarkable.
-She starts from the assumption that Americans are hard working and trying their best. She doesn’t accuse anyone of being lazy or imply they’re no good because they’ve lost a job or can’t get hired. She grew up in a lower middle class home and understands in her bones what it means to have a crisis (health, financial, etc.) that can put the whole family at risk. She’s very loyal to Americans and to the best ideals of this country.
-She values justice and fairness and her biggest priority is rooting out corruption. My priorities align with hers.
-She knows the history of our country so well! She’s a true authority. She has extensive experience and learning to back up what she says. She has truly earned her positions.
-She used to be a Republican, and two of her 3 brothers are currently Republicans — and she has great relationships with them. So she’s not afraid of Republicans and doesn’t assume they’re evil.
-For those who care, she’s also a life-long practicing Christian who has been open about how her faith has shaped her. There’s a cute story in her book about teaching 5th graders during Sunday School that I very much related to.
-Her respect for the sanctity of home and family is beautiful. She gets what it means to care for ailing parents, for a new baby, to balance work and marriage, or work and raising teens. She knows people want to improve themselves, get an education so they can make a better life for their family. She knows it’s way too hard to do that right now. She understands that pretty much everyone is just trying to take care of each other and work hard. Related: Did you know she was a special-needs public school teacher?
-It’s easy to see as you watch her interact with people on the campaign trail and take questions from the audience: she genuinely cares about people, and about our country. Her writings and her speeches are filled with stories about specific individuals from across the country representing all walks of life. She truly loves people.
-She’s practical. She has loads of mom-who-gets-everything-done energy that I totally relate to and trust. You don’t want to mess with her. (Related, it seems like she terrifies weak men.)
Reading her book, This Fight is Our Fight, really brought her to the top of my list. The book came out in 2018, but we didn’t buy it till last fall. We got the audiobook version and I’ve listened to it twice now. Whether you like Warren or not, whether you think she can get the nomination or not, I encourage you to read it. I learned so much. The corruption detailed in the book is so bad and so blatant, that it got me pretty raging angry, and I had to take breaks after some chapters. But even with that, it’s still very worth a read, I promise.
The whole book is excellent, but I’m going to focus in on Chapter 4 to give you a sense of what’s covered:
She talks about the Dodd Frank Act and why it was passed in 2010. The goal was to make sure the big banks were being watched closely, and weren’t allowed to make risky investments that would crash the economy again. And how the bank lobbies keep trying to peel back the Dodd Frank regulations.
She talks about how in 2014, there was an amendment written by Citibank lobbyists (not joking! it was literally written by the banks!) and added to a government funding bill. The amendment repealed a protection and allowed the same actions that’s caused the 2008 financial crisis. Remember that one? Where 22 trillion was lost? Basically, the banks fought (and continue to fight) for the same regulations they had before the crash.
“Four big banks had dictated a change in the law and the United States Congress had obediently bowed down as instructed.”
Whaaaa???? This is one of the parts of the book that made me want to scream and call up anyone I know who works in big banking. I think of the employees at Google that make big noise when their company isn’t behaving well, and I wonder how the employees at big banks aren’t up in arms. Don’t they know the trauma their industry caused? The lives that their companies ruined? The people who caused the crash are still around, still ruining people’s lives.
She talks about how the Koch brothers, whose fortunes come from oil, coal, and gas, openly threatened and influenced republican senators who thought the Merrick Garland nomination should go up for a vote.
She talks about how concentrated wealth and democracy are not compatible, how Citizens United flooded politics with money, and how harmful it is that our politicians end up spending an average of 2-4 days a week raising money. It’s not just a waste of time, it also skews their views, because the problems constantly presented to them by the wealthy become their priorities. “Senators end up talking more with Walmart investors, not Walmart employees.”
She discusses lobbying. How it works. Why it’s harmful. Why lobbying is big business. She explains how the Chamber of Commerce is the number one lobbying group and does a ton of private lobbying — they do the dirty work of companies without triggering bad press for the company. They want to give their clients — like tobacco, health insurance, big banks — plausible deniability.
She talks about how drug companies didn’t want to work with Medicaid, because they were afraid the government would use bulk purchasing to drive down the cost of drugs. So instead, lobbyists came up with Medicaid Part D, which requires the federal government to pay for prescriptions without any price negotiations. It brings enormous profits to the drug industry and costs American taxpayers 25 billion dollars per year.
She talks about the revolving door between government and big business, about how $1 spent on lobbying earns a company $225 via tax breaks and deregulation, and that lobbying is one of the most successful investment strategies in the world.
She talks about how there’s a provision in our trade deals that if a multi-national company doesn’t think a country has done what it promised to do, then the corporation can go to an arbitration panel made up of corporate lawyers, and get a quick judgement. If the corporation wins, it can demand immediate payment from the government. No appeals. The government just pays up. But can workers or environmental groups go to that same arbitration panel if companies are breaking an agreement — like using forced prison labor? Nope. Instead, they have to convince the government to fight in international court, spending years and massive amounts of money.
She talks about how trade deals can be set up in a way that don’t hurt American workers.
She talks about how the Supreme Court is stacked with pro-commerce judges, and how the Chamber of Commerce sent 185 federal judges to all-expenses paid luxury retreats. Supreme Court Justice Scalia took 21 of those trips.
She talks about how the wealthy and powerful aren’t necessarily bad guys, but that “The playing field isn’t level and the people at the top don’t notice it.”
And that’s just a small sampling! I’m telling you, the book is so good. She’s really such a great teacher and it shows.
Whether you like her or not, whether she’s your pick or not, I encourage you to read her book. I can’t stop thinking about it. It will give you a sense of what’s happening in America right now, the easy-to-understand reasons why there’s so much income inequality, why that’s so harmful, and real ways to fix it.
If you read her book, that doesn’t mean you have to love Elizabeth Warren, and you don’t have to vote for her either (though I hope you do!). I want you to read it, because when you do, I know you’ll go into the election year with a solid sense of what’s happening right now with trade policies that harm U.S. workers, with big business and lobbyists buying influence, with tax rates that go easy on the wealthy and punish the poor, with money in politics that pushes our country to look less and less like a democratic republic and more and more like an oligarchy — a nation in which the powerful people ensure the government works in their own best interests.
I appreciated her book so much, and I think it’s so important for all Americans to read that I’m going to giveaway FIVE COPIES. This is not sponsored and no one asked me to do this. This is just me, encouraging people to read Elizabeth Warren’s book.
Want to win a copy of This Fight is Our Fight? All you have to do is comment on this blog post — tell me favorite sources for election updates (Twitter? News apps? TV? Newspaper? Magazines?), or whatever other election topics are on your mind.
Make sure you use a real email address in your comment profile so I can contact you if you win. I’ll randomly pick 5 winners on Friday. You can choose the paper version of her book, or kindle version, or audible version. U.S. shipping addresses only, please.
[ UPDATE: The 5 winners have been contacted via email, and the giveaway is now closed. ]
P.S. — I took this little quiz, and my views aligned with Warren the most, like by far! We matched on 17 points. My second match was Sanders with 12 matches.
Here’s a list of 9 tweets/links about Warren I’ve collected for you, so you can hear from other voices as well:
-A thread from a middle-age white male in a red state who considers himself an independent.
-Elizabeth Warren has pledged to cancel up to $50,000 of debt for 95% of student loan borrowers if she’s elected president — and she says she could cancel those debts all on her own. NPR say that it turns out: She’s probably right.
-A tweet proclaiming Warren as our FDR.
-A short thread from Will Wilkinson on why he likes her, even though his friends think she has a horrible economic plan.
-NYT in depth Q&A with Warren.
-Best-selling author Chuck Wendig attempts to look at why he’s voting for Warren.
-Is it possible to like Warren so much it scares you?
-Use this calculator to find out how much big corporations would pay when they pay their fair share under Elizabeth Warren’s tax plan.