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The Case For Elizabeth Warren

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren reacts to audience members during a campaign rally Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren reacts to audience members during a campaign rally Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Denver. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Editor’s note: This piece is one of five pieces, about each of the Democratic presidential candidates, published on Monday, March 2, the day before Super Tuesday.

In an interview with Rebecca Traister, Elizabeth Warren told the story of how she proposed to her husband, Bruce Mann, after watching him teach a class. “It was the thing I needed to know. I couldn’t be married to another teacher if I didn’t respect his teaching … he cared and he was cute and I was already pretty crazy about him …”

I was already a Warren supporter based on the insight she’d shown in “The Two-Income Trap.” That book showed how macro-economic forces play out in the daily lives of ordinary people, warning us against conflating social failures with personal ones. But when I heard this courtship story, I was even more forcefully struck by the weave of heart, head and principle that would make Elizabeth Warren a great candidate and transformative president.

Elizabeth Warren wants to build a country that delivers on its promise of equal opportunity for all, of a government that’s accountable to its people, not its corporate donors.

She grew up in Oklahoma in a family that barely clung to what Warren has described as “the ragged edge of the middle class.” As the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB) — which, before it was eviscerated by the Trump administration, had won nearly $12 billion for 29 million consumers in refunds and canceled debts — she has managerial savvy. And having defeated a well-funded Republican incumbent in her first Senate race and won a second victory in 2016, she’s demonstrated the political stamina needed to win tough battles.

But it’s her intellectual honesty and fierce heart that can unite people within and across the party. Though she champions regulated capitalism (vs. democratic socialism), her policies and those of Bernie Sanders are almost identical. But she’ll be more effectual in getting those policies enacted, because she knows how to dismantle the infrastructure of corruption that perverts every aspect of government. She also doesn’t reject incremental improvements while pressing for big structural change.

In a 2011 speech she said:

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. ... You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for ... Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific ... God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay it forward for the next kid who comes along."

Elizabeth Warren was the next kid who came along, and she knows how to pay it forward.

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The Case For The Candidates

Ahead of Super Tuesday, Cog contributors make their best arguments for the top Democrats running for president: 

Julie Wittes Schlack Twitter Cognoscenti contributor
Julie Wittes Schlack writes essays, short stories and book reviews for various publications, including WBUR's Cognoscenti and The ARTery, and is the author of “This All-at-Onceness” (Pact Press, 2019).

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