I vividly remember the first time I heard about Elizabeth Warren, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. It was late June. I was sitting behind my desk at my summer internship, typing away at a letter, when MSNBC played a clip from one of Warren’s fundraising events for President Obama. In this soundbite, Mrs. Warren took aim at Mitt Romney’s claim that corporations are, in fact, people. “No, Mitt,” Warren chided. “Corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they love, and they cry, and they dance. They live and they die. Learn the difference.” That was all I needed to hear. I was hooked. So, I took it upon myself to learn more about Warren and her campaign. I very much liked what I saw.
This election is not just about reelecting President Obama; it is also about preserving the slim Democratic majority in the Senate. My fellow Democrats: surely you remember the good old days of 2009, when Ted Kennedy still walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol? I know I do. His passing marked the end of the Democratic supermajority in the Senate as his seat went to Republican Scott Brown. Somehow, the famously liberal Massachusetts-state of the Kennedys, John Kerry, and Michael Dukakis-had foisted upon the American public a conservative Senator. Sure, Brown’s campaign was enormously successful; people were so enamored of his truck-drivin’, folksy, regular-guy appeal that they forgot the fact that he owns six houses. But the “People’s Seat” was at stake, and Brown- allegedly a man of the people-was sworn in on February 4, 2010. The ramifications of his election were felt almost immediately, as his presence put the Affordable Care Act’s fate in jeopardy.
Surely, though, Brown hasn’t been all that bad? After all, the bill still passed. Brown votes with his party about 67% of the time, a number far lower than most Republicans. Recent statements by Brown, however, confirm his dedication to Republican policies and rhetoric on issues like the Bush tax cuts. When asked by radio host Jim Braude of Boston if he would vote to extend the cuts for those making under $250,000 per year, while raising taxes to pre-2001 levels on the wealthiest Americans, Brown said, “No… You’re talking about raising taxes on our job creators, our small-business owners.” And, as everyone knows, those poor job creators just refused to create any jobs before President Bush swept in with his benevolent tax reductions, didn’t they? Furthermore, in the center of the “Issues” page on his website, Senator Brown put a very simple phrase: “Repeal Obamacare.” In short, the “People’s Seat” has been filled by a man not of the people, but of the special interests and corporations dedicated to keeping money and influence in this country in the hands of the few at the expense of the many.
Warren, on the other hand, is running a very different kind of campaign. She has pledged to defend the Affordable Care Act in the face of continued Republican opposition. Furthermore, she has pledged to strengthen the bill for American families suffering from bankruptcy due to their health problems. Warren’s true passion lies here: in the protection of the rights of the people. Her advocacy led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011. Republicans ran scared at the thought of Warren becoming the Bureau’s first director, and she was not put up for the position on the basis of fear of Republican opposition. The Director of the Bureau is currently Richard Cordray. When Republicans come at the organization from all sides, Warren’s voice will be sorely needed in the Senate to stand in its defense. Her goal, and, by extension, the goal of the Bureau, is to prevent more risky business dealings and practices that began the recession of 2008.
I am always amazed at the ability of members of the public to vote against their own self-interests. If the people of Massachusetts want healthcare reform overturned and control over their rights as patients returned to insurance companies, then they should vote for Scott Brown. If they want to perpetuate our deficit by hanging on to tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, then Scott Brown is their guy. If they want continued opposition to marriage equality, closing tax loopholes for big oil, the creation of American jobs, and the “Buffett Rule,” then they need look no further than Scott Brown. For those who want progress on these issues and a new voice for the American consumer, there’s Elizabeth Warren. Her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has already begun investigating the affairs of credit card companies, as stated by Warren in her rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention. The latest polls from the Western New England University Polling Institution show Warren up by six percentage points (50% to Brown’s 44%). For the sake of the voiceless among us- those without a special interest group or lobbyist- let’s hope this is a sign of good things to come for Warren. After all, the “People’s Seat” is waiting.