The first time I heard of Elizabeth Warren was back in 2006/7 when I watched a video of her speaking at Berkeley with the heading “The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class”. It is an hour long video and I watched it three times in a row, taking notes the third time.
You need to understand that at the time, I was a recovering “Ditto Head” Republican who suffered a case of depression, blaming myself for a terrible year where I was unemployed, my wife was in the hospital, we had spent most of our savings to move to Massachusetts a year earlier, and now we were close to losing it all. As a believer in the free market, boot straps mentality, and the notion that anyone on welfare of any kind is a freeloading bum, the weight of it all came crashing down on me as I must me the single reason my family was failing. I was hospitalized for depression.
My sister, a life long Democrat, often recommended that I read Chomsky, Warren, and others to see things her way. I resisted. Then one day I came across this video and decided to give it a look. After my third viewing, I sent off an email to then professor Warren, thanking her for opening my eyes to the reality that I was not to blame and it was the system that was rigged against us. My wife and I were both college graduates, we had insurance, savings, we both took classes regularly to improve our education and job skills, We had two children and lived a frugal life, but in spite of all that, we were suddenly on the edge of bankruptcy because she was diagnosed with breast cancer on the same week that I was laid off at my job. Clearly, there is something wrong with the system and I thanked her for her work in showing that to me. I felt cleared of a great wrongdoing. I could be proud of myself once more.
A few weeks later, I received an email from her administrative assistant, The email said that while Professor Warren reads all her emails, she cannot personally reply to them all but nonetheless, she appreciated my email and hoped for the best for my wife and me.
Then a few months later, I received an email from Professor Warren herself. She explained that after reading our story, she had to write us personally and thank us for sharing our story and that she was glad that we were doing well, and that its people like us that inspire her to keep up effort to make things right. I wish I saved those emails.
Much later, when Professor Warren announced that she was running for the US Senate and would be holding her first campaign rally at Framingham State, my wife and I decided to go. We were late getting there. The auditorium was nearly full with just a few of us left in line, waiting to get in. At the front of the line, there was Elizabeth Warren, personally thanking each person who was attending.
I thought to myself, how, in a few seconds after this woman has already met hundreds of people, can I say “Hello, I sent you an email a few years ago and you wrote me back and ,,,,,,,” and not look like an idiot? Somehow, when that moment came, I just shook her hand and said, “Hello, my name is John and I’m from Franklin. I wrote you some time ago about your Berkeley video when I was out of work and…..” she stopped me right there, her eyes widened and she said “Hi John, where’s your wife, I hope she’s okay” She was, and she was right behind me. Elizabeth greeted my wife and gave her a hug.
That was all my wife and I needed to hear. She remembered us and what we went through. In the middle of her first campaign announcement, she was more interested in my wife’s well being than her campaign.
The next day, my wife and I went to the town clerk. I changed my voter registration from unregistered to Democrat and my wife changed hers from Republican to Democrats….and the rest is history.
Elizabeth Warren is authentic. No one will ever convince me otherwise.
I think the thing that her opponents fear — and perhaps hope to exploit – is that she is very very real, absolutely sincere in her beliefs and commitment to those on the “ragged edge of the middle class”. That’s her life’s work, and attention must be paid.