Elizabeth Warren’s US Senate announcement is up at her website, and she previews the themes of the campaign in a video message. I might as well just put the majority of the transcript below.
Middle class families have been chipped at, hacked at, squeezed and hammered for a generation now, and I don’t think Washington gets it. Washington is rigged for big corporations that hire armies of lobbyists. A big company, like GE, pays nothing in taxes, and we’re asking college students to take on even more debt to get an education? We’re telling seniors they may have to learn to live on less? It isn’t right, and it’s the reason I’m running for the United States Senate. You know, I grew up on the ragged edge of the middle class, and I know it’s hard out there. I fought all my life for working families and I’ve stood up to some pretty powerful interests. Those interests are going to line up against this campaign, and that’s why I need you…. We have a chance to help rebuild America’s middle class. We have a chance to put Washington on the side of families. We can do this together.
Warren has combined this video message with a full day of campaigning. She greeted commuters at an MBTA stop in Boston this morning, and she plans to visit New Bedford, Framingham, Worcester, Springfield, Lowell, and Gloucester by tomorrow.
There has been some criticism from progressive circles over Warren’s entry into the race. There’s a concern that a loss would be a true setback for her agenda of consumer financial protection. They question what Warren can get done in a dysfunctional Senate.
Pardon me, but that is a seriously risk-averse take. The implication of that is to say that nobody of any import or worth should get involved in politics at any level, and that no amount of progress from the political side can possibly be good enough. I don’t see the theory of change there. If someone with integrity and a record of success wants to contribute to public service, I don’t really see the point in trying to stop them. That doesn’t mean there’s no role for movement-building outside of politics as a driver for policy that shift-with-the-wind politicians can adopt. But I don’t see why you wouldn’t want help on the inside with that.
What’s more, I do see this as an opportunity to test a legitimate anti-bank populist message against a real opponent. Massachusetts may be a blue state, but Scott Brown has a 54% approval rating and will have scads of money to tout his record and distort his opponent’s. He’s already doing some of that, playing the role of faux-populist with New England Cable Network, pretending that he “worked very hard to make sure that banks didn’t act like casinos with our money.” The history is clear. He single-handedly watered down the Volcker rule to almost nothing, mainly to protect Mass Mutual and other state banks. He has been the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars of big bank largesse. This anti-bank claim he’s trying to make is untenable. And Warren knows it.
I’m trying to think of the last candidate in America who really ran against Wall Street, rather than used an applause line against them. Someone who won’t get a dime in campaign contributions from the banking lobby. Is it William Jennings Bryan? I don’t know. But it’s worth seeing if that kind of a campaign can break the back of big money and work. Otherwise, we won’t have much of a democracy left to salvage.