Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren waves to the audience before taking questions during a presidential forum held by She The People on the Texas State University campus. File/Associated Press
When voters look at Elizabeth Warren, it’s hard to see what’s not to like. She looks professional, yet approachable. She speaks clearly and intelligently while using stories and everyday language to address her audiences and each of them —from Mississippi to New Hampshire to Iowa — loves her. She has detailed plans for everything. Her campaign slogan could easily be “Yes We Can — I’ve Got A Plan,” and that’s not just a convenient rhyme; she reminds me very much of Barack Obama, specifically during his 2008 run.
Both Obama and Warren believe in ending political corruption, strengthening the American healthcare system and economy, restructuring the tax system to unburden the average citizen, eliminating bigotry, and ending the cycle of foreign wars. Obama’s potential constituents were most concerned about the economy, healthcare, education, energy, and Iraq. Today’s liberal voters feel similarly (substituting Syria for Iraq). And they both believe in raising their own campaign funds, though Warren rejects the PAC dollars that Obama didn’t.
When looking at the results of Warren’s recent Senate election, they align too. The majority of people of colour, those between the ages of 18 and 44, and those with incomes below $50,000 voted for Obama in the general election, while Warren performed best in young and “blue collar” communities, and captured the majority of the non-white vote.
When Obama ran, 71 per cent of all voters disapproved of Bush and 48 per cent believed McCain would continue his policies; today, only 8 per cent of Democrats approve of Trump. In fact, the majority of liberals today don’t trust his ability to handle the vast majority of presidential duties — never mind his ethics, ability (or lack thereof) to handle conflicts of interest, and his conduct during the Mueller investigation.
With all these parallels in mind, why is Warren polling at a mere 6.5 per cent? It seems her biggest challenge is something Obama never faced: liberals today are more worried about leadership skills and electability than a candidate’s policies whereas 68 per cent of Obama voters supported him because of his policies. Today, people want someone who can beat Trump and they feel that either Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders fit the bill.
Yet many felt that Obama’s short Senate career made him an unfit presidential candidate. Some worried that his race would factor into how voters felt about him. There were rumors that he was Muslim (not, in fact, a bad thing) or that he wasn’t a citizen. With less than a year to the general election, he trailed Clinton, the liberal frontrunner, by 18 per cent. None of those ultimately mattered.
Still, Warren faces challenges of her own. Some believe she falsely claimed Native heritage to get ahead in her schooling and career, even though a 2018 investigation found no such evidence and a leading genetic scientist analyzed her DNA, finding Native heritage with 99 per cent probability. Still, she apologised to the Cherokee nation for believing, due to impressions from her mother and three aunts, she was descended from their tribe, saying, “I wish that I had been more mindful of the distinction between heritage and tribal citizenship...Only the tribes can determine tribal citizenship and I respect their right. That’s why now I don’t list myself here in the Senate as Native American.”
Others demonise her as a socialist, even though an interview on Bloomberg shows she’s capitalist. And others are probably just sexist. This is an old hat in politics. Why support a female Senator who’s held positions of leadership in Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Judicial Education Committee, the American Law Institute, and the National Bankruptcy Review Commission — just to name a few — when you could support old white guys who you may not agree with, but who feel safer?
Here’s another one for you: why do the old white guys feel safer to us than women with similar resumes? Because white men have always held positions of power in this country. They’re what we know. Why would we take a chance on a woman who could become an ‘emotional’ Commander-in-Chief? Why would we trust ‘the weaker sex’ to govern a nation?
Because we overcame our systemic racism and elected a black man as president. Because we’ve decided sexism is tired and women across the board want to see more women in political office. Because if 29-year-old Latinx server/activist AOC can beat a ten-term, rich, white congressman, all elected positions are fair game to people of all backgrounds. Because, in the end, leaders are elected when we stop listening to our fears and start showing up for what we truly believe.
Warren believes in eliminating tax ‘getaways’ for the ultra-wealthy, empowering people of color, ensuring that every citizen has the right to vote, and abolishing the Electoral College so every vote counts. She wants to begin a Green New Deal that banishes subsidies for fossil fuel companies, shore up our legal system so all Americans can truly have ‘equal justice under law,’ support family farmers so they can compete fairly with big corporations, and break up big tech companies to avoid illegal monopolies.
She will lower our rent, cancel our student loans and eliminate tuition, raise our wages, give our babies universal childcare, improve our military housing, and strengthen our unions.
Better yet, she can make these ideas into realities — if we let her. Elizabeth Warren can fulfill the promise of Obama’s ‘Yes We Can,’ with the added oath: ‘I’ve got a plan.’ We need only show up for her to make it so. So what do you believe in, America? Polling data that screams of fear — or the possibility of a better, stronger country for us all?
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