I’m a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. For nearly all my life I would have said I’m a teacher, but I guess I really can’t say that anymore. Now I have to introduce myself as a United States senator, tho I still feel a small jolt of surprise whenever I say that.
This is my story, and it’s a story born of gratitude.
A few weeks ago I went with Ellen and some friends to see and hear Elizabeth Warren talk about her just published book A Fighting Chance.
Over the last few days I took the time to read that book, the tenth one she’s written.
In her appearance, Elizabeth (Betsy as her friends apparently call her) was mostly speaking to the choir. The audience didn’t need too much introduction to this new political face. Some had known her for years, some had been her students, some had worked with her, some had worked for her campaign in Massachusetts, and some had been won over by what they had learned of her in the last year or so.
I fit into that last category.
She started by telling the story of her own life, and it was an appealing story, which I’ll leave for those of you who read her book to discover for yourselves.
Know that she is a good story teller.
But she is also much more than that.
Over the ensuing hour she moved from her own story to her understanding of what had occurred in the last 30 years that had changed the “playing field” for a large number of middle class Americans. She talked about deregulation for businesses and banks, changes in the tax code (loopholes) that favored the wealthy and cuts in investment in American. She talked about the TARP bailout and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Board.
Primarily she discussed her views about who the country benefits and who is left behind. It will come as no surprise that she believes the system is “rigged” and those who do not have money, lawyers, lobbyists and access to the levers of decision makers are the ones left out.
“But,” she said, “the rest of us have our voices and our vote.” And she talked about “fighting back,” saying passionately, “we can win when we fight back.”
A Fighting Chance contains a more detailed recounting of her own story prior to her emergence into the public spotlight. It also recounts her experiences in fighting for better bankruptcy laws (she largely failed), her attempts to provide oversight on the $700 Billion TARP expenditures (some modest successes), her role in the idea and creation of the CFPB (success), and her decision and experiences in running for the Senate. She writes well, explains complicated issues in clear, understandable language and demonstrates the knowledge she has gained from her many years of teaching, writing and research.
In both her book lecture and in the book itself she talks and writes about her gratitude for the opportunities she has had and her equally passionate belief that our system has shifted in such a way that we are no longer investing in our kids and in the middle class, in what has made our country grow. She clearly believes that individuals can make a difference, particularly if they are engaged, make their voices heard and vote.
As the Politics & Prose bookstore owner said in an introduction to her lecture, “The book is both a memoir and a political proclamation.”
Some will also say it’s a prelude to a future run for higher office.
There is a part of me that is wary of political memoirs/proclamations, but that is a topic for a future post.
For me, A Fighting Chance gave me the opportunity to get a sense of who Elizabeth Warren is and what she has done.
My take on Elizabeth Warren?
We are fortunate to have this woman now working in Washington. She is knowledgeable. She is bright. She cares deeply about what has happened in our country to working families. She is a fighter. And she has a sense of humor, a sense of humanity and a sense of humility.
To this point in her professional career(s), she has not been bought, neither financially nor by the insiders in Washington, something that cannot be said about many politicians.
I am not ready to crown her as a savior, but I sure am glad the voters of Massachusetts have sent her to Washington.
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Update: 5/28: Thanx to a tip from MillersTime reader Diane K., you can listen to a Podcast of Elizabeth Warren’s Politics & Prose book talk. It is about 42 minutes in length.
Elizabeth Goodman said:
I worked on EW’s campaign and have heard her speak in some very intimate gatherings as well as at the JFK Library 2 weeks ago where she did a “book talk.” I can tell you that this woman is genuine — with a capital G. I continue to be a big supporter because her positions are principled and pragmatic — at the same time. That she can pull that one off is a testament to her intelligence and grasp of the issues.
At the JFK talk, she defined the purposes of government in about this many words: “One, national defense; everyone agrees on that. Two, to keep a cop on the beat, whether the cop is protecting you from robbers on the street or robbers of your IRA. And three, to invest in the activities we need as a group but can’t afford to accomplish as individual, like keeping transportation systems running.” Simple and clear.
She freely admits to having a Populist message, and I know that Populism has a complicated history in the US. So that’s a worry. As for “higher office,” let’s not anoint prematurely; looking for saviors, we’ve already done that.
Principled, pragmatic and genuine. Definitely. Straight forward and inspiring too. Thanx all for those comments and additions to the post.
Sounds like a good woman. I like the simplicity of what she says
Lisa Kile said:
Thanks, Rick, for reviewing the book and the senator. I have been hearing a lot about her lately, and now I am interested in reading her story.
Diane Kupelian said:
I also heard Elizabeth Warren speak. I found her thrilling and inspiring. I hope she stays in the Senate for a long time! She will do tremendous good for our country.
###Unfortunately I don’t think she will clinch the SenateThe preolbm I have with her well-meaning message on bullying is that I can’t help but discount any opinion expressed by someone with political ambition ~ when push comes to shove politicians leave the high ground & head for the votes###Now comes the Hippy side of my character:Regarding the Two-Income Trap [which I have read about, but not read] I think another reason people get mired in the quicksand of debt is an unwillingness to recognise the absurdity of acquiring stuff’. Every $1 spent on buying useless stuff’ is an extra $1 of stuff’ to protect & worry about. It costs you TIME [& often your freedom of choice] to earn that dollar. That $1 could have bought you freedom if you had used it right [by investing it rather than spending it] or you could have chosen to have taken the TIME instead & used the TIME to learn something, love someone, go for a walk, read a book or have an extra 10 minutes sleep. Do something you bloody wall enjoy doing !###