Progressives Love Elizabeth Warren. Will Massachusetts Voters?
Photo Credit: Netroots Nation 2012/Marta Evry
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Elizabeth Warren hasn't yet won her U.S. Senate race, and already progressives are talking about her as a potential presidential candidate. "I think that if she gets there, she's going to be in the White House someday," activist and former White House official Van Jones told Politico.
That progressive love was on display last week in Providence, R.I., at Netroots Nation, the annual convention of bloggers and activists, where Warren, who is challenging Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, addressed the crowd in a general session devoted to the right-wing war on women. There, nearly any declarative sentence uttered by Warren was met with cheers. In a voice made ragged by a heavy campaign schedule and, she said, the parties following her clinching of the Democratic nomination on June 2, she made plenty of them.
Here's Warren on being a woman in politics:
If you get yourself in a position to run for the United States Senate or the United States House of Representatives as you're a woman, believe me, you 've learned how to fight for what you believe in. I've lived for a long time in a world where, in commercial law, in money law, dealing with Wall Street and Wall Street issues, in both the academic world and in Washington, in which -- let me put it politely: there was never a line in the Ladies' Room.
Here she is on being Elizabeth Warren in politics:
I got in this race because real people are getting hammered, and they're counting on me to stand up for them. And let me be clear -- I'm not backing down.
Then there's this, a rejoinder to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's assertion that "corporations are people":
No, Mitt, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they love, they cry, they dance, they live and they die -- learn the difference.
To progressive ears, Warren's proclamations were music worthy of standing ovations.
It Began With the Banks
Before Occupy was a gleam in an activist's eye, Elizabeth Warren was began her relentless crusade against the widening income inequality gap, and the financial-sector shenanigans that were sending middle-class and lower income families into irreparable levels of debt. The progressive romance with Warren, a professor at Harvard University Law School, began with her aggressive advocacy for regulation of the kinds of financial products that were paving a path to ruin for regular people, such as payday loans, as well as mortgages and credit-card contracts with sneaky balloon payments or exploding interest rates. Even before the financial crisis tanked the stock market in 2008, Warren, known as one of the nation's top bankruptcy experts, was imploring banks and politicians to put an end to the public duping.
After failing to get banks to sign onto a "clean contract" pledge, Warren came up with an idea for a new federal agency, first floated in an essay she penned for the journal Democracy, whose job it would be to regulate the language and implementation of mortgage, credit card and loan contracts, and personally lobbied so relentlessly for it that she actually brought to fruition, via the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In her 2007 essay for Democracy, Warren wrote:
It is impossible to buy a toaster that has a one-in-five chance of bursting into flames and burning down your house. But it is possible to refinance an existing home with a mortgage that has the same one-in-five chance of putting the family out on the street -- and the mortgage won't even carry a disclosure of that fact to the homeowner.
President Barack Obama appointed her to set up the new agency, but she deemed so controversial by Republicans and Wall Street toadies that she was passed over for the agency's top job, which ultimately went to Richard Cordray, a former state attorney general from Ohio who served as the bureau's enforcement officer in its earliest days.