Living in Society

Why I Support Elizabeth Warren for President

The author with Elizabeth Warren at the Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City, Iowa on Dec. 2, 2019.

I will support Elizabeth Warren during the run up to the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020.

We need a president able to dream big and fight hard for progressive values. Of the candidate’s I met and studied this cycle, Warren is the one.

I had a moment with Warren yesterday, during which I thanked her for introducing the No First Use Act in the U.S. Senate. Her reply was, “I can’t believe we don’t have that yet.

After hearing her in person for the third time, I’m ready to pick a presidential candidate and dash to the Iowa Caucus finish line.

My support for Warren is no secret. When asked why I support her my answer has been a variation of “I like the work she did organizing the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in 2011, I followed the progress of Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat and was happy when she got it back from the Republican in 2013, and if she had run in 2016 I would have caucused for her.” My decision to endorse Elizabeth Warren is more complicated than what I say to people.

An epiphany occurred last night when she spoke about forming the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. There was a brief window, she said, before which creating CFPB was not possible and after which it wouldn’t be possible either. In that crack of opportunity she helped push open the door and created the bureau. In many ways our politics has become the art of recognizing what is possible, when it is possible, and then doing it. That’s the kind of president we need in 2021.

I lived long enough to recognize a political mandate. Lyndon Johnson had that after his election to a full term in 1964. Johnson’s work in the U.S. Senate and as president serves as a monument to the art of what’s politically possible. No Democratic president has had such a mandate or accomplished so much since then.

The closest Republicans came to a mandate in my life was the re-election of Ronald Reagan in 1984 when he won 58.8 percent of the popular vote and 49 of the 50 states in the Electoral College. Scandal, the Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives beginning in the 99th U.S. Congress, and Democratic control of both legislative chambers in the 100th Congress held the president at bay. Republicans have had no mandate, even during the Trump administration when they controlled the presidency and both chambers of the legislature in the 115th Congress.

The inherent Republican falsehood of acting as if they had a mandate created a toxic political environment in which the only things that got done were those related to their wealthy supporters and corporations, or stoked their base of support. Such toxicity led the electorate to vote for a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. The Republican Senate now delays, obfuscates and fails to hold votes while packing the judiciary with their nominees.

It’s unlikely Democrats will have a mandate like Johnson did in my lifetime. That’s what makes Warren’s candidacy appealing. Absent a mandate, Democrats must move quickly when opportunity for substantial, progressive change presents itself. Based on what I’ve heard from Elizabeth Warren, she’s ready.

The chief executive has a lot of power to act on her own. Yesterday Warren said she would do everything she could to exercise the power of the executive branch. That’s what President Obama did. Without congress working with her, that may be all she can do. As we’ve seen with the cycles of national politics since Johnson, it is not a scenario for curing what’s toxic in our politics. Warren acknowledged that yesterday and asked those present to stick with her during the primary, during the general election, and after inauguration to hold government accountable to the people. If she could inspire the electorate to do that, she’s on her way.

The most important reason I support Elizabeth Warren is her unending commitment to tackle the problem of corruption in our government. Whether or not she is nominated, or elected as president, I expect her campaign against corruption to continue.

I wrote why support for Elizabeth Warren persists in October. We need a liberal as president and Warren is that. She’s also a woman and my response to critics of her gender remains the same, we will never have a female president if we don’t nominate one.

For these reasons and more I endorse Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president. I’ll continue to dream big and fight hard all the way to the general election, and beyond.

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