Endorsements on Parade: Warren, Again, Our One Hundredth…
From the moment of her first election, Elizabeth Warren was to stand astride history. By beating incumbent Republican Scott Brown in that bruising 2012 campaign, she became the first woman to represent the commonwealth in the Senate. Yet, Warren did so in spectacular fashion, replacing Brown as an object of national attention.
Today, America feels like a much different place than in 2012. Donald Trump has succeeded Obama, leading an administration defined by narcissism and greed. The wealthy hold a firmer grip than ever on the levers of power, enriching themselves in the process. Six years ago, this blog urged the election of Warren because she would be the better senator. Her reelection is essential today because few in the Senate are better advocates for the less powerful than she.
Compared to 2012, Warren’s race has been relatively quiet. Though Republican Geoff Diehl is a Trumpkin, he has avoided the most vile of his idol’s rhetoric. Diehl does not cut the monstrous figure of some of his ideological ilk. Yet his worldview is grossly out of step with Massachusetts.
Briefly we must note Shiva Ayyadurai, an independent candidate. Put aside his loonier claims as creator of email. Whatever his heritage, Ayyadurai’s rhetoric on Warren’s heritage is deeply offensive. His tactics are needlessly aggressive. Police were needed to keep his people from blocking attendees at a Warren event in Holyoke. Had he simply trolled the rally with his campaign bus across the street, Ayyadurai would have remained a jerk, but within the bounds of fair campaign territory. Approaching harassment is another thing.
Republicans, the party of Trump here as much as anywhere, picked their most unelectable candidate. Beth Lindstrom, a longtime Republican functionary, would have been a far less problematic choice. While this blog would not have endorsed her over Warren, Lindstrom did appreciate the fear and concern among admittedly Democratic constituencies—who, had she been elected, would have been her constituents, too. It’s not at all clear Diehl does.
Rather Diehl spouts off talking points from the far right, like about plain English readings of the citizenship clause in the 14th Amendment. There were bizarre answers like linking Puerto Rico to immigration—Puerto Ricans are US citizens and may come to the mainland whenever. We are all guilty of living in bubbles from time to time, but Diehl has time and time again proven himself to have never exited the cave of his own comfort and beliefs.
How a candidate would treat our city, Springfield, is a top concern. Ours is a diverse city and it needs a senator who understand what that means and how to represent all. Diehl has given no indication he can. Warren, by contrast, has shown that interest and outreach all the time.
Then there is Diehl’s continual references to Warren’s possible presidential ambitions. This is loserspeak by other means. He has campaigned on nothing that Massachusetts voters want to hear, so he hopes to discredit her for being ambitious.
After the 2012 election, David Bernstein observed that Massachusetts ejected Brown because they expected their senators to be big figures. Lodges, Kennedys, Brookes, Tsongases, Kerrys, and now Warrens are Massachusetts senators. None were small people. Diehl, in critiquing Warren’s profile, is reverse-engineering and pitching what Bay State voters rejected in Brown.
While voters appear cool to Warren’s potential bid for a promotion, they are want larger than life figures as their representatives and, to get them, Bay Staters are willing to accept ambition as a risk.
Moreover, progressive voices are essential in the Senate. The most progressive president will be inert without a progressive Congress. Whatever Warren’s ambitions, there is also a good chance she may, whether voluntarily or not, remain in the Senate all six years. Warren’s influence will be essential to enacting the priorities of the next Democratic president.
Warren is also more than a liberal bullhorn, though. She produces. People may read her growing legislative offerings as executive designs, but these proposals reflect the same values that animated her 2012 bid.
Before she became a senator, Warren made a career of battling corruption, corporate excess and concentrated power. That Mitch McConnell has broken the Senate in his quest for world domination should not diminish that Warren has put forward real policy and legislation, not vanity bills, in service to her goals and the national interest.
Even so Warren has passed legislation including a range of bill amendments. Among them are grants and small tweaks of law to improving the accessibility of hearing aids. In the post-earmark era, her work to secure grants she has secured in tandem with Congressman Richard Neal has been invaluable to local communities. Her outreach to the commonwealth’s minority communities is real, such as the attention she has paid to Puerto Rico, even before Hurricane Maria
Not all work of a senator is about legislating bill. Her intervention helped appoint the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve. Skeptics will scoff at her interrogations in committee as made for YouTube moments, but they are, in fact, necessary to yield answers about the financial system, healthcare and workers’ rights and safety. One cannot credibly attribute this to showboating. She did the same thing as an overseer of TARP back when she had no designs on elected office.
There’s another reason, too. Warren won in 2012, in part, because Brown’s reelection could empower McConnell. The same is true today. Whether minority or majority leader, McConnell has inflicted terrible damage on our system of government through sheer force of cynicism. While a Democratic majority is a steep climb, electing someone like Diehl and fortifying the Republican majority with McConnell at the top imperils our system further.
Elizabeth Warren came to the Senate with no prior experience in elective office. In that time, she has grown into the office and served the commonwealth and the nation well. We heartily endorse her reelection to the Senate on November 6.