Elizabeth Warren – the real deal (updated)

I love posts like this - first person report, long-time BMGer, important stuff, something that doesn't make the papers. Thanks for posting this! (David). Bumped. - promoted by Bob_Neer

We were honored to host Elizabeth Warren at our home in Arlington today for a lunch with about 30 local activists. I’ve been an admirer of Warren’s work on bankruptcy and her advocacy to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but I never previously had the opportunity to meet her in person. I was very pleased to discover that the passionate and articulate powerhouse I had seen on TV is also warm, funny and a natural campaigner.

Warren shared some stories about her roots. She is the descendant of Oklahoma pioneers and grew up in what she called the “ragged edge of the middle class.” Ensuring that we have a government and financial system that works for middle class families isn’t just an area of academic study for Warren; it clearly springs from deeply held values and experiences.

Although Warren has not previously run for elected office, she assured us that she is no stranger to campaigning. We have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in Washington today because she built a coalition and campaigned relentlessly – and won – against the politicians and corporate interests that opposed its creation.

Warren wowed our group in Arlington today. The mood of the group was summed up by one veteran activist’s question on why Warren had not yet formally announced her candidacy for Senate: “So what are you waiting for already?”

Warren’s answer was spot on – if I run, she told us, it has to be from the grassroots. Campaigns are about a lot of people coming together. She told us that she needs to know that her message about fighting to preserve the middle class will resonate and that Massachusetts activists are with her. Judging by what I saw today, I think she need have no fear on that score. Go Elizabeth!

Update: here’s a link to a blog posting about another Warren house party in Dorchester on Monday night.

Warren’s listening tour is also covered in the Globe metro section this (Wednesday, August 17) morning. The story, link here, references the Dorchester party, as well as our house party in Arlington, one in Cambridge, one in Lexington, and others planned this week in Framingham, Shrewsbury, New Bedford, Falmouth, Brockton, Springfield, and Pittsfield.

Recommended by lynpb, jasiu, smashrgrl, mass-ave, johnk, pablo.


38 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I would definitely support her candidacy

    I really feel positive about Elizabeth Warren being able to connect with the people I know. Her track record and advocacy for the working middle class is something that I can share with others with confidence and enthusiasm. Thanks so much!

  2. I attended another meeting

    I was lucky enough to be at another home that hosted Warren and it went much like what Bean described (and the host in the update link). One thing that is really sticking with me (that hasn’t been mentioned) is that she already has the experience of getting a controversial bill passed – one that was deemed dead on arrival in the Senate, one that the bank lobby absolutely did not want to see passed.

  3. What does she know about Massachusetts?

    … being a carpetbagger from the foreign land of Cambridge? (haw haw)

    Did anyone challenge her on some of the local stuff on which she’s going to get questions? Education? Health care? Fishing? Western MA? Local economy? etc.

    • some of these

      Fishing industry, sports teams, and choice of campaign vehicle were brought up.

    • What does Scott Brown know about Massachusetts?

      He’s a carpetbagger too. Born in Maine. That’s the funniest part about this “professor Warren from Oklahoma” schtick.

      • I don't actually think

        Charley was being serious about the carpetbagger thing. Just curious about any local questions.

        RyansTake   @   Wed 17 Aug 5:06 PM
        • Charley may not have been serious

          Scott Brown is:

          They are so obsessed with winning this seat back that Washington elitists are trying to push aside local Democrat candidates in favor of Professor Warren from Oklahoma.

          • Professor Warren from Oklahoma?

            Really? Literally back to the founding generation states have been represented by folks who were not born there. Boston native Ben Franklin represented PA in the Continental Congress and Federal Convention, for example. I don’t think any state requires their Governor to be native-born and the US Constitution only requires that one be a resident at the time of election. I admit, though, that having Warren win an OK Senate seat from one of the wingnuts currently representing that state would in a way be sweeter!

    • Education

      We had a good contingent of teachers at our meeting. Warren talked about starting her career as a speech and language pathology teacher, before she became a lawyer, and about the importance of education to provide social mobility. Warren is concerned that we’re on a path where too few public goods essential to the middle-class, including education, get funded. The wealthy can buy private schools, healthcare, even security in gated communities for themselves, but the rest of us could be out of luck. She reminded us all that how we spend money and allocate budgets – as individuals and as a society – is a reflection of our values.

      • Her own Harvard is an important part of that legacy.

        Massachusetts has always valued public education and has been at the forefront of educational innovation. This was important enough to write into our constitution and to single out Harvard. The need for public education and an educated population was the broad consensus among our Founders. Funny how so many today who idolize that generation disparage one of their fundamental beliefs. For that matter, ditto on the idea of church/state separation.

  4. I am looking forward to her first public appearances

    That will be a better indication of her strength as a new candidate than house parties where there is a certain amount of pre-selection going on.

    I hope that soon she starts making her schedule known in advance so that anyone can go to see and hear her and ask questions.

    That said, she certainly seems to have scared the crap out of Scott Brown, which is an unqualified GOOD THING!

    • That will come

      almost the minute she declares that she’s in. For now, IMHO she is smart to do this kind of rollout – as many have pointed out, she’s never run for office before, and she needs at least a little bit of practice.

  5. Not Sold on Elizabeth Warren for U.S. Senate

    I believe it is an open question whether Elizabeth Warren is actually prepared for the “rough and tumble” of a competitive U.S. Senate campaign againtst a formidable Republican incumbent who will have millions of $$$ at his disposal to run a negative campaign against her.
    As we have seen with President Obama, intellectuals tend to view politics as Oxford-style debating contests of competing political ideas. We should know by now that politics in America has degenerated into a corrupting electoral process in which the winning candidate often is the one who can effectively frame political rhetoric, discourse, and images into persuasive emotional reference points for voters that play into their deepest fears about the economy, national security, morality etc…
    The question remains whether Professor Elizabeth Warren, who has spent most of her professional life in the cloistered Ivy League halls of academia, has the political experience and wisdom, and “the fire in the belly” to approach the upcoming senatorial campaign in a manner inimical to the considered, intellecutal approach she honed in academia. Specifically, I question whether Elizabeth Warren comprehends and appreciates how fierce, costly, unreasonable, distorted, and, yes, ridiculous the senatorial campaign is likely to become over the next year. Finally, I can assure Professor Warren that Sen. Scott Brown will not be approaching nor undertaking the upcoming campaign an academic exercise of competing political ideas, but rather as another welcome opportunity to “roll out that pick-up truck across Massaschusetts to demonstrate his middle-class street cred.”

    • She's been around Congress *a lot*

      I suspect she’s been better tested in the rough and tumble of national politics than a lot of folks.

    • This "academia" thing is absurd.

      I have to agree with Charley and Sue. The notion that Ms. Warren has spent her career discussing fine points of law over a cool Chardonnay at pleasant Ivy League cocktail parties in dark-paneled rooms on leafy campuses is, frankly, silly. She’s spent the last couple of years fighting tooth and nail to save an agency that, were it not for her, would not exist today. Before that, she was the person charged with figuring out where the TARP money went. Those are political thickets far more intense than what most would-be Senators have ever experienced – certainly including Scott Brown.

      Absolutely, there remain questions to be answered. But this “considered, intellectual approach” line of attack against her is a weak one. She’s not a national figure because of her academic work, as impressive as that is. She’s a national figure because she’s already got an impressive political track record.

      • What about her primary opponents?

        I doubt the abbreviated 2010 Senate Dem primary really prepared Khazei or the Newton mayoral race really prepared the other Warren for a Senate race against Scott Brown. (Let alone her other Dem primary opponents.)

        Although on the other hand, I doubt the last race against Coakley really prepared Scott Brown for what’s about to come down the pipe at him! It will be a much longer, more grueling campaign, with an anti-incumbent mood due to the terrible economy, but Obama is still going to win Mass comfortably at the top of the ticket (and normal presidential election turnout would have had him losing to Coakley).

    • It's very easy to write these things

      without really taking the time to listen to them speak.

      Listen to her speak once and you get the firm impression that she’s not just some “cloistered” Harvard elite, at least I did watching her on numerous occasions, watching Rachel Maddow. She came from a middle class background and worked her way up in life purely on her smarts and being willing to engage in the “rough and tumble” of things, be it fiery rhetoric or actually doing the down-and-dirty work to get things done. And there’s nothing so rough and tumble as trying to pass a bill through congress that holds the banks accountable — which she did, despite earth-shatteringly-huge-sized odds against her.

      I have to admit… I keep hearing this “is she ready for the “rough and tumble” rhetoric, and can’t help but ask myself, “Has Setti Warren or Alan Khazei faced these sorts of questions?” that? I think the answer is no.

      RyansTake   @   Wed 17 Aug 5:42 PM
    • Lizzie Warren took an ax /

      And gave Senator Fratboy fifty whacks /
      And when she saw what she had done . . .

      … she finally won the friendship of Eddie Coyle. And they both lived happily ever after.

      Citizen Eddiie, by the way, has found an ingenious new way of ridiculing that ever-analysis-wrecking notion, “the Middle Class.”

      Where, o where, is Middleclass Street, that I may go there in quest of ‘cred”? And then, once I am standing out on the hot pavement questing, how long before the local constabulary drive up to deal with the latest threat to Property Values?

      Happy days.

  6. Cloistered Ivy League halls of academia?

    Excuse, please name another candidate who has spent as much time being grilled by not only the press, but Congressional Republicans? Distorting her actions, calling her a liar, threat of the evil empire…. and standing her ground – for us.

    Funny you should bring this up when this experience is her strength.

  7. I knew Ms. Warren briefly in law school. She was feisty then, with a particularly keen sense of self. She’d make a great senator.

  8. I love her.

    I truly do. Every time I have watched her on TV, I have said, “Wow.”

    But… my usual question. I look at the world as K-12 public education, a former school committee member, and a school administrator. I care passionately about local government and K-12 education. What does she know about my world?

    • She went to college to be a teacher

      She started her career as a special education teacher because the loan forgiveness was 15 percent for special Ed compared to 10 percent for regular Ed. Now she is a teacher at a law school. Our own Mary Cummings asked her a question about teachers and she was pleased with the response.

      Elizabeth Warren said that you can tell a lot about a persons values by how they budget. That resonated with our newest selectman. He commented that Elizabeth sounded like Annie. I think she understands local issues.

    • I trust

      that you’ll have an opportunity to ask her. Did you know she used to teach elementary school?

  9. elementary teacher?

    Didn’t know that. Nice.

  10. Martha Coakley used to be the new Jesus...

    … Now I guess it’s Elizabeth Warren. Well, I’m still planning to vote for Martha Coakley, if she runs, over any other candidate.

    This new found hope you all have suddenly got, while heartening to see, is destined to meet disappointment. I remember reading blogs from way back before they were called blogs, in similar meter, when the latest new Jesus went by the name of Bil Bradley/Al Gore/Wes Clark/Howard Dean/John Edwards/Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama… You could find encomiums virtually identical to that posted above save a change of name, for each of the characters listed above…

    This is not to say that Elizabeth Warren is other than “the real deal”… She surely may well be. But what does it matter? The first time she is faced with the insanity of the GOP and fails, utterly, to make them act rationally, you’ll turn on her too. She’ll very quickly become, in your eyes, ‘a washington insider’ and ‘a sellout’ and you’ll look for a new new Jesus fix. Or, if she fails to win the office you’ll sigh and moan and dream of ‘if only’ and ‘what coulda been’… I know Martha Coakley isn’t going to disappoint me in this way because I’m not expecting ‘the real deal’ to be anything other than a messy struggle of blood sweat toil and tears.

    How about a little constancy, here? How about some digging in for the long haul and the hard work? How about we work, not from election to election, hoping for the right messiah to come along, but from day to day moving whomever is elected, closer and closer to that ideal, however incrementally? Or, in the case of someone useless like Scott Brown, opposing them heartily instead of biding our time waiting for the messiah to show up for the next election? My parents generation had to take it on the chin through the great depression, WWII, the cold war, Korea and Vietnam as well as the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK. You think you got it bad? You think you know disappointment? You think you feel betrayed? Talk to somebody who voted in 1968.

    This incessant leapfrogging from genuflection to disappointment back to genuflection, this ongoing cotillion of ever changing dance cards searching for the ideal tango, smacks of a superficiality and a lazy citizenry. And, as some here are fond of saying, you get the politics you deserve and who’s more superficial and lazy than Scott Brown?

    • Coakley was never thought of as a

      savior. She was considered a demographic sure thing: a Massachusetts Democrat, a woman with a good record as AG running against a light-weight Republican state senator. Unfortunately, she and the rest of the Democratic Establishment thought what she was would trump what she did on the campaign trail.

    • Who specifically is genuflecting?

      Let us also be clear that winning campaigns is in large part theater.

      A carefully nuanced view of Obama in 2008, say Krugman’s in 2008 (quite accurate, by the way) is just not politically effective. If you’ve ever worked on a local campaign, you too may find yourself being rather positive indeed about someone whose faults you know only too well.

    • Woah! You mean they might both run?

    • Gor, who are you talking to, Petr?

      I pick a candidate of good will and good values, work hard to get him or her elected, and rarely spout off publicly about any disappointments post-election – in my view, doing that usually only strengthens the other team. What’s that line Deval Patrick uses? A politician should be evaluated in comparison to the other candidates, not to the Almighty.

  11. petr, this is a little off

    most of us have opposed Scott Brown heartily for the past 2 years, and we are dug in for the long haul.

  12. I hope that I get to see her speak...

    …Soon. All of the hoopla over her possibly joining the race has sort of canceled out all the conversation going on among other campaigns. I still know very little about Warren besides her work in DC. I want to know where she stands on the issues, and I’d prefer to know that before she’s deemed the winner long before the primary.

  13. Down here in the Red (State) Belt we yearn for a Democratic candidate like Elizabeth Warren. If she does get into the race, you all in Massachusetts owe it to liberals across the nation (especially those of us whose own Georgia Senators are irredeemable corporate toadies) to help us to a measure of legislative representation, too. You’d be electing her for the whole nation.

  14. Electricity

    I met Elizabeth Warren in Framingham tonight and she was truly exciting. She was unabashedly liberal and she knew how to defend that liberalism effectively. You could actually feel the electricity and energy in the room. She was able to tell a story and relate to her audience. Every person in there knew they were watching a dynamo of a candidate who would become an immediate leader in the Senate. There were people in the room who were already committed to other candidates, but after listening to Elizabeth Warren, they knew she was the Democrat to beat. And, whether these people stick with their candidate or not, they know that this was someone who could defeat Scott Brown. I’ve been a liberal Democratic activists since the ’50s and I have not felt such electricity and excitement for any candidate for any office for a very, very long time.


One Trackback

« Blue Mass Group Front Page

Add Your Comments

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Mon 24 Apr 3:17 PM