I’ve been waiting my whole life for a Presidential candidate I could believe in as much as I believe in Elizabeth Warren. To be honest, I didn’t think there would ever be one, at least not with a credible shot at winning. I never felt that way about Ralph Nader, or Bernie Sanders, both of whom I supported on pragmatic grounds (Nader as a way of getting the Green Party – still new back then, and not the RT-funded spoiler party it later became – federal matching funds, Bernie because he helped mainstream some vitally important issues that were considered fringe by the punditariat and the mainstream media despite their widespread popularity). Both those men were, frankly, imperfect vessels at best, for reasons easy enough to find that I don’t feel a need to get sidetracked into explaining them.
But, as with so much in life, sometimes you have to take what you can get and make do the best you can.
But sometimes life does give you that unambiguously good choice, the one that seems too good to be true, that cynicism tells you can’t possibly be what it gives every indication of being, and will try and talk you out of believing in it, if for no other reason than to protect your precious, scar-crusted heart from being broken again. When that time comes, no matter how weary, how wary you are, you have to find the courage to make that leap of faith, and believe.
This is that time. Elizabeth Warren is that candidate.
Now, if you know me, you’ll know I’ve been a fan of hers since before she got into politics. The former Republican (she’s from Oklahoma, after all) who was tasked to study why working families went broke, who expected to find it was from personal failures (as Republicans tend to believe because it’s the narrative they’ve been taught), who let the findings speak for themselves and discovered that no, actually it was a financial system rigged by the wealthy against the vast majority of working families so as to keep themselves rich and everyone else anxious and broke enough not to upset the societal apple cart and break out the guillotines. And, you know, it’s not hard to see why they’d do it: it’s in their narrow self-interest, and we live in a society and economy that rewards narrow self-interest above all.
That we can see why they do it doesn’t excuse the behavior, though, nor justify the outcome of the vast majority of human beings living in worry, anxiety, and ill health instead of living in a society that cultivates and invests in everyone, so that everyone can contribute the most and live happy, balanced, meaningful lives.
There’s a lot to like about Warren the candidate, despite the early misstep with the gene test. She decided early to forgo big donor and PAC money. She releases a new, detailed, workable policy paper pretty much every week, really meaty stuff, too, the kind of wonky, nerdy stuff that’s supposed to make the average American’s eyes roll back in his head out of boredom but is actually a ray of sunshine to a nation of people who’d like to be treated as adults for a change. She goes to red counties in red states, places the DNC wrote off decades ago, and takes unfiltered questions from skeptical voters. She’ll take a selfie with any- and everyone who asks.
Better than that, she has a simple message, a straightforward story about what she stands for, that credibly underlies everything her policy shop puts out: wealth inequality and big money have corrupted our democracy and made it so our government works for the oligarchy and the big corporations, and we have to turn it around before it’s too late to save our democracy and the planet we live on, too.
So, like I said, I was a fan even before I went to her Town Hall in Seattle on Sunday. A supporter, a donor, a willing and eager volunteer. It’s what I saw there, what I heard in her voice and read in her body language, what I took from her story and her calls to action and her plans to fix so many of the things that are wrong with the country and the world: that’s what made me a believer.
Who is Elizabeth Warren, and why is she in this fight? She’s a girl from a poor family who almost lost their home when her dad couldn’t work after having a heart attack. She’s a mother whose education and job prospects were cut short and made harder because she had children. She’s a teacher, a professor who studied a rigged system and had the moral clarity to think, and then say “This isn’t right, and someone oughtta do something about it, and if no one else is going to then that someone is going to have to be me.”
What does she aim to do? Three simple things. 1) Root out the corruption in our political system through meaningful structural change. 2) Use a wealth tax of two pennies of every dollar in income over $50,000,000 to fund universal, pre-school, pre-K, trade school, community and four-year college for everyone and forgive the student loans crippling a whole generation. 3) Protect our democracy by making sure everyone gets to vote and every vote gets counted.
Just sit and think for a while on what could be accomplished with those three things. How much injustice could be reversed. How much progress made. The vast majority of Americans want economic justice, democratic freedom, and to save the planet we live on for the generations who’ll come after us. Get those three things done, and we can do all that and more.
Maybe it’s an act, the cynic says. Even if she means it, it’ll never happen. There’s too much resistance. Too much power arrayed to keep the status quo the status quo.
To that I say, go see for yourself. Hear the quiver in her voice when she tells the story of her mom psyching herself up to go get her first job at fifty years old so they don’t lose the house. Hear the resolve when she talks about what needs to be done, and the assurance when she talks about her plans for doing it. And then ask yourself: what will it take to turn things around? Will baby steps do anymore? What does the enormity of crisis we face as a society, as a species, demand? Ask yourself, do you have the courage and strength to take the leap of faith and believe it can be done? I believe that you do.
And then? Once you’ve made that leap, once you’ve firmed your resolve to do your part to make it happen and save our world and democracy?
Then it’s time to get to work.