Elizabeth Warren follow-up

February 26, 2020

Politics, Uncategorized

I was too slow on the draw.

No sooner did I chide some of Elizabeth Warren’s followers than a friend pinged me: “Look at this Facebook post praising the Democratic presidential candidate,” she said.

I read it. I was impressed. I was eager to paste it here. I could display my even-handed fairness. After all, I’m not anti-Warren per se. I just think some fans raced to unsubstantiated America-can’t-tolerate-assertive-women conclusions when her popularity plunged. Professional campaign organizers would ask: “What did we do wrong?” They’d see the legitimate questions hovering over her policy proposals and, perhaps more vital in this all-important election year, her lack of old fashioned salesmanship: She snubbed the slew of Americans holding to traditional marriage beliefs. Classic baby-kissing politicians know how to advocate a viewpoint without demeaning the other side – especially when that issue is rooted in religion.

Democratic primary voters must ask: Does Warren have the political chops to woo those 2016 stay-at-home Rustbelt voters? Remember Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida.

Then came my friend’s ping. I was thrilled. I’d paste it. I searched for the author to get permission. I came up empty, but my friend assured me the essay has been passed around so much I should go ahead.

But, like I said, I was too slow. Warren is her own worst enemy. She wielded her acerbic wit over the weekend in a passing comment: “I want to talk specifically for just a minute at the top, about a threat that is coming our way. And it’s a big threat. Not a tall one but a big one: Michael Bloomberg (emphasis added).”

Think of America’s short people as they remember mocking playground bullies. Happy, are they? Think of doubters over her political acumen. Are they assured? Think of all dwelling in the so-called fly-over states, suspicious of coastal liberalism’s discourtesy. What’s their verdict on a candidate who fires cheap shots for cheap laughs?

I repeat my theme in the last post: Intellectual brilliance is not enough. Voters long for a smart president who cares.

It’s a pity, even a tragedy. Insiders say Warren really does care — and, in my opinion, she’s the preferable of the two 2020 Democratic lefties. As the following essay shows, she’s given a lot of thought to America’s dilemmas and she’s rolled-out impressive plans. It’s too bad she can’t restrain herself when the cameras are rolling.

Her ideas deserve a hearing. I don’t agree with all of them, of course, but this essay presents them well. Here it is, cleansed of some foul language and edited of analysis of other candidates:

I started reading Warren’s plans in regard to the wealth tax and then Medicare for All. I was a compliance officer at a healthcare brokerage when ACA (Affordable Care Act) was being implemented so I have a lot of insight as to what it’s going to take to make a wholesale change to our healthcare system. Anyone who claims they can fully implement M4A (Medicare for All) on day one without Congress is naive or lying. A total changeover solely by any president isn’t feasible.

Having read Warren’s plan, I believe it has the best chance of being successfully implemented and, unlike ACA, the three phase implementation (to be clear, it’s three phases within three years so M4A will be fully implemented within her first term) is set up to move more and more people to M4A so people can try it, like it and support the next step. ACA had bad PR and marketing made worse by Republican opposition. People didn’t start liking it until around the time it was being taken away. Warren compensates for that.

Warren is very smart and has experience navigating the process of creating and changing a system for the better despite opposition from Republicans and Wall Street. We need that sort of experience to get stuff done. Heck, she found the legal criteria for a president to unilaterally lower prices on the most common drugs.

She’s a policy wonk who uses that info to put together plans that can actually work. I don’t want pie-in-the-sky ideas. I want someone who has big ideas AND concrete, tangible plans for how to pay for and implement them. Of all the campaign documentation I’ve read, hers meet that criteria the best.

I also really like Warren’s plans for LBGTQA rights, the disability community, regulating giant corporations, Native American rights, etc. While I haven’t read every plan of hers yet (there are a lot!) the ones I have read are well thought out AND she credits experts from within each marginalized community or policy oversight group (depending upon the topic) who contributed to the plan. She gets buy-in from the marginalized communities involved.

And Warren walks her talk. A disabled friend who is politically active attended a Warren/Castro rally to check them out. She was highly impressed by how well-prepared every aspect of their accessibility accommodations were. She didn’t even have to ask for certain things. They had sign language interpreters. They started the event by announcing their pronouns. She said she had never felt so seen and welcome at any event before. That tells me Warren’s disability and LBGTQA positions aren’t just lip service.

Warren also made a point of looking at plans by people who dropped out of the race and if they had something she believed in she went to that person and asked their permission to add it to her platform with their name. So Harris’ plan for laws to ensure body autonomy and Gillibrand’s plans for childcare (Warren already had a plan to pay for universal childcare but Gillibrand had details she didn’t) were incorporated into her campaign. Why? Because she said that just because a marginalized person leaves the table their issues shouldn’t. That’s someone with their heart in the right place, and the humility to realize they don’t have all the ideas.

Things like that and how she reaches out to other marginalized communities and LISTENS to their concerns and needs — I want that in a leader. I also think it’s a quality that will be essential in building unity both in the party and nationally for the long haul.

She’s been talking a lot lately about corruption in D.C. and how corporations have essentially bought the process because that’s an issue people all across the political spectrum can agree upon. She still plans to do the wealth tax, M4A, etc. but she’s got to get voters in the door to listen before she can pitch them on those topics. That’s called strategy but she gets accused of “backpedaling” if she doesn’t list *every* policy position she has in every three minute soundbite.

Last time around the media was working hard to erase Bernie because he scared them. This time they’re erasing Warren. That tells you something, IMO.

I like Bernie (though I swear some of his supporters are trying to change that). He’s my second choice, but I want a mix of ideas/systemic change AND concrete plans for accomplishing them. Warren hits that sweet spot for me.

I’ve watched several interviews with Bernie, including the extended NYT endorsement interview, where, in response to the question “How will you implement your ideas if the GOP holds the Senate” he says something along the lines of “our movement will make them cooperate.” I have a background in communications, film and video production and criticism. I watch for the cuts in the interviews. There aren’t any that could involve lopping off an answer. That’s both too vague and too idealistic for my taste. It also feels vaguely cultish.

Warren does talk about the three phase implementation of M4A giving people a chance to like it so they can fight for it but it’s tied to a more practical plan that Medicare would have been expanded for at least a year and a half before mid-term elections to galvanize voters. You could argue both approaches are similar but one is definitely more grounded and practical.

Bernie is my second choice, followed by Klobuchar, but Warren’s mix of wanting to make big, systemic change and practical plans with methods to pay for them is what I want in a leader. Funding for some of Bernie’s plans is definitely fuzzy in places, and I want more implementation details.

Whoever beats trump is going to have a mess on their hands. They have to rebuild the government and get Congress to pass laws to prevent repeats in the future, like forcing prospective candidates to turn over their tax returns when they file to run. The sort of practical, methodical approach Warren has demonstrated for years will be needed because we have to fix things as fast as possible, like restoring the Scientific Council and rebuilding the State Dept, which trump has been hollowing out.

And I think Warren can make mincemeat of trump in a general campaign. Bernie’s debate performance has been mixed. Warren went to college the first time on a debate scholarship. He’s going to attack. She’ll do a mix of getting under his skin and making him look unhinged. It won’t change his cultish base, but it will work for other people.

Plus, you know, there is an element of “judge people by their enemies” and the fact that Warren scares Bezos, Zuck and even Bloomberg so much makes me happy.

Oh, and teeing up Castro as a prospective running mate is the cherry on top. He’s young, smart, eloquent and Latino. He could put Texas back in play and force the GOP to defend it (it’s been trending purplish, albeit reddish purple). I’d like to see Bernie pick Harris, Andrew Gillim or Stacy Abrams as a running mate but have seen no signs of that sort of thinking.

So I don’t dislike Bernie but careful consideration and deep research has made me an enthusiastic supporter for Warren as my first choice. She isn’t perfect. No candidate is. But she ticks more boxes that are important to me.

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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern

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