First thoughts on Elizabeth Warren's prospects in Iowa

In the two weeks it’s taken me to collect my thoughts on U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s first swing through Iowa, three four more Democrats launched presidential campaigns (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator Kamala Harris, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard). More than a dozen people will seek the Democratic nomination in 2020, and eight of them will have visited Iowa this month alone.

Tracking such a large field presents challenges. Bleeding Heartland has already profiled some candidates and their pitches, including U.S. Representative John Delaney and entrepreneur Andrew Yang. I have posts in progress about most of the others. My intention is to write at least one in-depth piece about every serious contender, for the benefit of caucus-goers who want to research all options. With such a strong field, I expect the majority of Iowa Democrats to be late deciders this cycle, myself included.

I’ve transcribed below extensive portions of Warren’s stump speech and Q&A in Des Moines and Ankeny, and also enclosed audio clips for those who would rather listen than read. First, a few of my takeaways:

Warren has a coherent case for her candidacy.

The prospective Democratic candidates agree on most policy issues. So they all must be able to explain why they are running and what unique perspective they would bring to the table.

Warren’s organizing principle is simple: Washington is corrupt, and we need major, structural changes to fix the problem.

Her speech in Des Moines connected her personal history and family narrative to this theme. Answering audience questions, she explained why piecemeal approaches to ban specific abuses of power are not effective (“There are a lot of different ways that big banks can cheat people”) and repeatedly brought the conversation back to the same theme. “Whatever issues bring you here today,” Warren told the crowd in Ankeny, relate to the central problem of corruption in Washington. That’s why the government doesn’t enact policies the vast majority of Americans support.

She could appeal to disparate factions of the Democratic base.

Unlike most of of the potential contenders, Warren didn’t visit Iowa last year. Technically, the senator is still in the exploratory committee phase, but given the staff she has hired here and how she interacted with audiences, she is clearly serious about competing in the 2020 Democratic caucuses.

In such a fractured field, no one is likely to run away with the caucuses, but Warren has potential to build a broad coalition. Lots of acquaintances who caucused for Senator Bernie Sanders are open to supporting Warren, and some are already leaning her way. Her pitch echoes themes Sanders highlighted during the last campaign (“the system is rigged” against working people). I also saw and spoke with many women and men who had caucused for Hillary Clinton at the Warren events. The crowds in Des Moines and Ankeny included a mix of older and younger activists.

Many commentators noted Warren’s unusual itinerary, taking her to conservative areas. Candidates typically go first to eastern Iowa metros, where most of the state’s Democrats live. In Ankeny, one reporter asked Warren why she started in western Iowa (Council Bluffs, Sioux City, and Storm Lake). She replied, “Well, gotta start somewhere, and this is a great part of the state. And it gave me a real opportunity not only to be in cities, but also in small towns and rural areas. I think we’ve got to reach out and talk to everybody.”

Storm Lake Times editor Art Cullen wrote in a commentary for the Washington Post,

“If Democrats are going to build a grass-roots movement, they have to go where the people are — all the people, not just some,” Warren told me Saturday. “I grew up in Oklahoma. Your main drag looks like mine in Wetumka. The core values we shared are the core values that Americans believe in — they want their kids to have a fighting chance to build a future here.”

Warren gave people a sense of a personal connection, even at large events.

Iowans love being able to see presidential candidates up close, in living rooms and coffee shops. It can be hard for those who draw big crowds to give people that kind of experience. Hundreds came out for each of Warren’s stops.

In Des Moines, Warren promised the audience of around 500 people and the overflow crowd that if they stuck around, she would take pictures with every person who wanted one. Presidential candidates routinely pose for selfies with caucus-goers–Senator Cory Booker’s staff even sent many Iowans autographed copies of those pictures after his trip here in October. But it can get chaotic when masses of people are trying to get close enough for a photo. I was skeptical when I saw well over a hundred people standing in line. I figured, after ten or fifteen minutes staff would say they were so sorry, but the senator needed to leave. This was at the end of a long day, when Warren was battling a cold.

Wrong. About 50 minutes after the senator wrapped up her stump speech, the last few people waiting were getting their pictures taken with her.

Then the senator spent about another fifteen or twenty minutes in a back area autographing books and photographs staff had collected earlier in the evening. The Democrats I spoke with were excited to show off their memorabilia.

She isn’t afraid of unscripted moments.

Warren took questions from the public at every venue, and even from the overflow crowd who couldn’t get into the packed building in Des Moines. She took at least a few questions from the media after most of her Iowa stops as well. That’s risky, because it is easy to “make news” with an awkward comment about an unexpected topic, distracting from the intended message of the day. In fact, the first person called on in Sioux City brought up Warren’s controversial decision to release results from a DNA test, proving she had some Native American ancestry. (The Des Moines Register published her full response.)

The second half of Warren’s Des Moines event consisted of Q&A for about 25 minutes, followed by the last portion of her speech. The questioners were not pre-screened. Rather, numbered tickets were drawn out of a bucket to determine who would get a turn. Warren explained that they use this system to give everyone an equal chance to be heard, not just the people who rush to the microphone first. The following day in Ankeny, they did random drawings again.

She is funny.

Republican operatives and dark money groups have tried to depict Warren as an elitist Harvard professor. She came across as nothing like that caricature.

It’s not just a matter of having a speechwriter insert a few clever lines into her script. At several points during the Q&A, she had the audience laughing. For instance, responding to a question about the separation of church and state, Warren assured listeners, “Look, I was a great Sunday school teacher. […] All I can say is, no one was injured. It was a very low bar.”

All in all, Warren had a successful rollout in Iowa. While few caucus-goers are ready to commit to any candidate at this stage, I haven’t spoken to anyone who ruled out Warren after seeing her in person.

Any comments related to the Iowa caucus campaign are welcome in this thread.

Audio of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s speech in Des Moines on January 5, 2019:

My transcript:

So the bad news is, I’ve caught a cold. The good news is, nevertheless, I persist.

I want to start just by saying, these are dangerous times for our country. And the direction we go will in part be set right here in Iowa.

I am grateful to all of you who take this seriously, who are in this fight all the way, and who are going to help us make a better country. So thank you.

Warren said she’d tell the crowd a little about herself, take some questions, and then take pictures. She grew up in Oklahoma. “My daddy sold stuff: he sold carpeting. He sold paint. He sold housewares.” Her three older brothers all served in the military and “carry their veterans’ cards today proudly.”

I was what used to be known as “the late-in-life baby.” My mama always called me “the surprise.” I was about 30 before it hit me what that meant.

So for a long time, it was just my mama and my daddy and me. And when I was in middle school, Daddy had a heart attack, and my mama and I thought that he was going to die. He didn’t, but he was in the hospital for a while. And then he came home and he couldn’t work.

And so the bills piled up, we lost our family station wagon. And at night my mama would tuck me into bed, and I’d hear them talk and learned words like “mortgage” and “foreclosure.” Heavy words for a kid.

One day I walked into my folks’ bedroom, and laid out on the bed was “the dress.” Now some of you know the dress. It’s the one that only comes out for weddings, funerals, and graduations. And my mother had it laid out. And she was pacing, pacing back and forth. She was in her stocking feet. And she was crying.

And she was saying, “We will not lose this house. We will not lose this house. We will not lose this house.”

She was 50 years old, she had never worked outside the home, and she was terrified. And so, finally, she pulled that dress on, she put on her high heels, blew her nose, and she walked to the Sears and got a minimum-wage job. And that minimum-wage job saved our house, and it saved our family.

And if you want to know who I am, there it is. That’s the story written on my heart.

And for a long time, I thought that story was a story just about my mother. A story about how she dug deep, and when she had to, she dug deeper.

And then I started to understand years later, it’s the story of millions of families across this country. People who do what needs to be done to take care of those they love.

And then, years after that, I came to understand, it’s also a story about government. Because when I was a kid, a minimum-wage job would support a family of three. Yeah. It would cover a mortgage, it would cover utilities, and it would still get basic food on the table.

Today, a minimum-wage job in America, full-time, will not keep a mama and a baby out of poverty. That is wrong.

Warren mentioned that she wanted to be a schoolteacher, but her family couldn’t afford college. She got a scholarship, then dropped out to get married. “Smart,” she joked. Later, she got her degree at a commuter college that cost $50 per semester. She had children, went to a state law school, and ended up working as a professor.

Yeah, that was pretty amazing. But the one thing I can tell you, about all of my growing-up professional life, it that it is centered around one fundamental question: what’s happening to working families in this country? Why is it getting harder and harder for young people to be able to build some security? Why is the path getting rockier, and particularly rockier for people of color? Why is that happening?

So, let me just lay it out a little bit. It’s Washington.

And think about it, with the story I started out with. Back when I was a little girl, the folks in Washington–I checked this–they thought about the minimum wage in terms of, what does it take a family of three to survive? And that’s where they thought the minimum wage should be set, because it should be an opportunity, a gateway, a chance to get in.

Today, the folks in Washington who are in charge think the way to set a minimum wage is to maximize the profits of a multinational corporation. They work for the rich and the powerful, not for the rest of us.

And it’s not just there. It’s throughout the system. Washington works great for giant drug companies, not for people who are trying to fill a prescription.

Washington works great for giant oil companies that want to drill everywhere, but not for people who are worried that this planet is going to burn up.

Washington works great for giant financial institutions, but not for people whose Social Security numbers get stolen.

This is one step after another. Washington works for the rich and the powerful and leaves everyone else behind. This is corruption.

It is corruption, and it is eating away at our democracy and the very fiber of our lives.

Wages for the average family have hardly budged for an entire generation, Warren noted, but the cost of housing, education, child care, and health care have all gone up. “Families are getting squeezed because Washington’s working for the rich.”

Let me give you another one. Home ownership: number one way in America for middle-class families to build wealth. It’s generation after generation, it’s how it works. Today in America, African-American home ownership rates are the same as they were when housing discrimination was legal. Think about that. Yeah.

And student loans: like I said, I got a four-year diploma at a cost that I could pay for on a part-time waitressing job. Today, young people in this country are getting crushed by a trillion and a half dollars in student loan debt. We have got to turn this around.

Understand the impact of this corruption. Whatever issue brought you here tonight, I guarantee it intersects through a Washington that’s working for the rich and the powerful. Look, guns, gun safety. It goes through Washington. We can’t do basic things that most of us agree on. Why? Because we’ve got the NRA calling the shots in Washington.

Climate: an existential threat to all of us. But the oil companies, the coal companies keep calling the shots in Washington. We have to fight back.

We could talk about a lot of these pieces, but I want to put on the table an idea. And that is, we need change. But not just one statute here or one law over there. That’s not going to get the job done. We need big, structural change.

We’ve got to go big on this, so let me give you some ideas and some examples, and then we’ll get to some questions.

Warren said, “We need to change the rules in Washington. It’s about money in politics. It’s about the influence of money. I have the biggest anti-corruption proposal since Watergate.”

  • “Block the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington”
  • Everyone who runs for federal office must post their tax returns online
  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision changed the rules in Washington on money in politics, and we need to change them.
  • Next, structural change for the economy.

    We’ve got a problem where the big corporations, the billionaires, they’re calling the shots. We need to strengthen our unions [… unintelligible]

    And we need to attack head-on the rising costs that are crippling middle-class families. Health care is a basic human right.

    A chance to get an education without getting crushed by student loan debt.

    Child care: how about we join the rest of the developed economies and help pay for child care?

    And strengthen Social Security and protect our pensions.

    In addition to changing the rules in Washington and for the economy, we need to “change the rules in our politics,” which means “we need to protect democracy.”

    I want to see a constitutional amendment so that every American citizen has a right to vote, and that vote will be counted. […]

    We’ve got to get money out of politics, overturn Citizens United.

    Warren said she never thought “in a million years” that she would run for office. “But here’s the deal: my daddy ended up as a janitor. And I got a chance to become a public school teacher, a college professor, and a United States senator, because America invested in an opportunity for me. I am determined that we will be a country that invests in opportunity for every one of our children.”

    Next, Warren turned to “how we make change.” She’s in Iowa trying to build grassroots. “Because I don’t believe that democracy should be for sale to billionaires and corporations.” She doesn’t take money from corporate PACs–“Shoot, I don’t take PAC money of any kind”–or from federal lobbyists. “This is about rebuilding what we do together. This is about rebuilding our democracy. Person by person by person across Iowa and across our country.” She wrapped up the stump speech with a call to action:

    So, I’m going to do this grassroots. I hope everybody in here will sign up, will be part of this. ElizabethWarren dot com. Go there. Volunteer. Be part of this. Get a sign, bumper sticker, offer to make a few hone calls, pitch in five bucks. But make an investment in democracy.

    Because this is our chance. This is our chance. We, together, can dream big and fight hard, and that’s how we’ll make change.

    Warren took questions for about 25 minutes after speaking, then delivered the last few minutes of her speech. Here’s the audio from that portion of the event.

    The first question was about the separation of church & state. Warren joked that criticized the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which held that a corporation doesn’t have to provide “a full range of health care options for women” because of the company’s supposed religious views.

    “How do you debate someone who isn’t interested in civility or facts?” “Did you have someone specific in mind?” “Here’s how I see this: we have a chance now, over the next year and three-quarters, to get out there and talk about something we haven’t talked about nearly enough, and that is what we’re fighting for.” She thinks people will come together around that.

    Warren’s three brothers still live in Oklahoma. Only one of them is a Democrat, but she loves them all and she talks to them all. “We’ve got to stay focused on what matters to us. And what matters to us, is that everybody gets a fighting chance to build something. What matters to us is that people get a chance to education without getting crushed by student loan debt. What matters to us is that people get access to health care that they can afford, and it’s real, and it’s there in rural hospitals in communities all across this country.” When we talk about corruption, everyone gets it, Democrats, Republicans, and independents: “They know our government is broken,” working for those who “have already made it big” but not for their families.

    Next question: Democrats need to run as the party of the people. How can we talk about not just building up the middle class, but also the working class who are trying to become middle class? The central part is talking about opportunity, Warren said. This isn’t focus-grouped. This has been “the fight of my lifetime,” to make sure “the chances I got are there for other people.” She sees that young people, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Native American community. We’re fighting for “a level playing field.” And “We’ve got to call corruption out.”

    Next questioner drove three hours from Kansas to see Warren. Her question was about housing. Warren explained that new housing construction in the U.S. “has moved to the high end.” But there hasn’t been much new housing built for middle class or the poor. The consequence is that housing is deteriorating and the the price is going up. She has a plan to build 3.2 million new housing units, producing about a million and a half jobs and bringing down rents by about 10 percent, according to a Moody’s estimate.

    But that’s not all: buying a home has been a way for families to build wealth for generations, Warren said. It’s worked that way for generations for white families, but not for people of color. Redlining was official government policy until the mid-1960s, blocking African Americans from the benefits of home ownership. That has had a lasting impact on African-American neighborhoods. Her housing bill would take a step toward “rectifying the wrongs of the past.” It would also require the federal government to fully fund our housing obligations on Native American reservations.

    Now, “Let’s talk about democracy for a minute.” Warren acknowledged her housing plan would be expensive. How are you going to pay for it? We could cover 3.2 million new housing units just by going back to the estate tax rates that were in effect during President George W. Bush’s administration. Her bill would help seniors, people with disabilities, rural areas. The 10,000 richest families in America would pay for it. People in Washington tell her “You can never do that,” because 10,000 rich families have so much more power in Washington than millions of Americans. “So what I say to them: you just wait until 2020.”

    Next question is about democracy at a party level, how can we have a more fair, transparent primary process. “I’m not going to relitigate 2016,” Warren said. But “as Democrats, we have a chance to strengthen democracy” during our 2020 contest. All the Democrats “should link arms and say our primary is not for sale to billionaires.” They should renounce support from super-PACs and billionaires should not be able to self-finance.

    It ought to be about building a movement, person by person by person. This is how we will build democracy. This is how we restore confidence in the Democratic Party. We are the party of the people, but we’ve got to walk the walk.

    Staff said the next question would be the last. It was about offshoring and how we get corporations to keep their operations in the U.S.? Warren noted that the Republican tax bill approved in late 2017 gave away a trillion and a half dollars to corporations, much of it to multi-national corporations. We just gave away money to companies where 40 percent of the shareholders aren’t even in the United States. We did it “because Washington is corrupt, because money talks.” This is why we need to talk about “systemic change, structural change.” “We’ve got to start with an anti-corruption bill.”

    As for the tax code, Warren prepared the audience for a “really shocking principle”: everyone should pay their fair share. She also said that until the early 1980s, corporate behavior often felt a responsibility to shareholders, employees, customers, and their communities. “It used to be the case that as corporations got richer, everybody participated, that the workers got richer too. Everybody got a bigger slice of pie.” Since the late 1980s, corporate behavior has been focused only on shareholder wealth. She has a proposal for “accountable capitalism,” which would require large corporations to have a charter that would make them respond “not just to their shareholders,” but others. Employees should be able to elect, say, 40 percent of the corporate board.

    Last question was about the national debt and federal budget. “We need to make our dollars, our budgets, work for our people.” She agrees that the national debt is a drag on young people. It’s “obscene” that we went to war seventeen years ago and put it on a credit card, gave away a trillion and a half dollars to the wealthy. The way to fix it is to rewrite the tax laws and make investments in the economy, education, infrastructure.

    Would she roll back the tax cut? “For the billionaires and the big corporations, you bet.”

    Warren closed by thanking the crowd and giving them a reason to be optimistic.

    This is about dreaming big, and it’s about fighting hard. It’s about making structural change, not a nibble here and a piece there. And a lot of people say, that’s just too hard. You just can’t do that. It is just too hard.

    So let me just say to all of you: people told me after the financial crash [of 2008], we could never get a consumer agency. That crash was caused one lousy mortgage at a time. One giant bank that cheated one family, another family, another family. Targeted communities of color. Targeted young people. Targeted seniors. And crushed them. But people said to me, the banks have all the money, and they will prevail. They spent more than a million dollars a day for more than a year lobbying against financial reforms, and particularly that consumer agency.

    But here’s the deal. We had nothing on our side. We didn’t have money, we didn’t have big groups on our side. But we got organized, we fought back, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the law today.

    Warren also recalled many people telling her in 2011 and 2012 that Massachusetts would not elect a woman to the U.S. Senate. “We got organized, we fought back, I am now the senior senator representing the commonwealth.”

    One more example: Wells Fargo Bank cheated millions of customers and decided to deal with it by “firing a bunch of people who make $15 an hour.” People told her she’d never be able to get personal accountability from executives of a big company. But they got in the fight and pushed back, and now the Wells Fargo CEO is gone.

    It’s hard, but damn, a lot of things are hard! If they weren’t hard, somebody else would have already done it. But we are Americans, and we have a history of coming together to fight the hard fights. The abolitionists–they didn’t say this is too hard. The suffragettes–they didn’t say this is too hard. America’s labor movement–they didn’t say this is too hard. America’s civil rights movement.

    Yes, these folks were told, it’s too hard. Give up before you start. But they organized, they persisted, and they changed America. I am here tonight because I believe, I believe in what we can do. I believe that this right now is our moment. Our moment, to dream big, to fight hard, and to take back this country.

    Warren’s January 6 event in Ankeny was a panel discussion featuring Democratic women who ran for office in 2018: State Senator-elect Claire Celsi, Representatives-elect Karin Derry, Jennifer Konfrst, Heather Matson, and Kristin Sunde, secretary of state candidate Deidre DeJear, and state Senate candidate Amber Gustafson. I’ve transcribed some of her remarks.

    Introducing herself to the crowd, Warren apologized for her croaky voice. “I am probably the most unlikely senator you will find, and certainly unlikely to do something here in Iowa. I grew up in a paycheck to paycheck family in Oklahoma.” She shared how she was the baby of the family, her three brothers joined the military. She got a scholarship for college but dropped out after falling in love.

    “My life was pretty bumpy,” but she eventually got her degree at a commuter college and decided to go to law school despite having young children. “I never thought that I was going to end up in elected office.” As a college professor, all of her life “circled around one central issue: what’s happening to America’s working class?” Why are we getting richer as a country, but having most of the benefits go to the top, rather than to most people?

    When the big crash happened in 2008, she got a call from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, inviting her to Washington to help craft the bank bailout. She got into the fight to get a consumer protection agency through Congress, and President Barack Obama asked her to help set it up. She joked, “Do you remember pre-approved credit cards? Remember those? I am, I think, America’s first pre-rejected nominee.” Republicans said they would never allow her to be confirmed.

    So she went back to Massachusetts, planning to go back to teaching. Some encouraged her to run for the Senate against Scott Brown, who at the time had a 65 percent approval rating. Others warned her that Massachusetts would never elect a woman to the Senate. Brown had defeated a woman in the special election to replace Senator Ted Kennedy, and many people felt, we already tried that.

    Warren said she didn’t know what campaigning for office would be like before she ran. “The most astonishing part” was how many women “just came off the benches, out of the woodwork” to help her win. She went from 35 points behind to beating the incumbent by 7 points.

    Moderator Jodie Butler asked the panelists what surprised them the most about the 2018 election. Warren responded,

    It was the women. I knew it was there, but I didn’t know how big it was. It was the women who came off the sidelines and ran, which is dang tough. But let’s face it: no one would have won if it hadn’t been for all the other women, who had never been involved in politics, or never at that level, and who said I am part of this. I will make my voice heard in Washington. I will make my voice heard at the statehouse. I will make my voice heard at the county level.

    It was–I believe it was a transformative moment in America.

    Warren dated the movement to the Women’s March, the world’s largest-ever protest rally that occurred in hundreds of communities the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. “It was democracy reinventing itself.” She threw some shade at pundits who were “so smart,” and questioned whether the women who turned out for the march would stay involved. They did, and they brought their friends, relatives, and neighbors to be heard.

    This is an extraordinary moment in American history. It is a moment when our country faces great danger, but it is also a moment when democracy itself is rebuilding, is strengthening, and is becoming the kind of representative government we need in the 21st century.

    Questioners were also drawn at random in Ankeny. One of them was about climate change. Warren said America has always played a leadership role, but the problem is now we’re leading in the wrong direction. We need to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, but “that’s just the first step.” We need major changes in federal and state laws, and all of us need to change our behavior. So we need people who understand “government should not be working for giant oil companies and coal companies, but think government should be working for you. If we do that, we can save this earth.”

    Next question was about the state of discourse in the country. Trump is setting a bad example, and the voter was concerned about “how we talk to one another.” How do we confront the people who are going low?

    Warren returned to a point she had mentioned at other stops: only one of her brothers is a Democrat, but she loves them all and talks to them all. It’s important to think about what government is. It should reflect our values. She tries to talk to her brothers about core beliefs like kids should get an education, we should have a level playing field, the country shouldn’t just work for giant companies.

    This is a whole lot less about punching every day and a whole lot more about building every day. About getting out and talking about what we believe that we can do together. I think this is a moment in America when we can think big, when we can fight hard, and when we can make real change in this country. And that’s the story we need to get out there and tell.

    Another questioner asked what can be done to support people with low incomes or fixed incomes. Warren returned to the 2008 financial crisis:

    There are a lot of different ways that big banks can cheat people. Believe me, because I’ve seen a lot of them. There are a whole bunch of those. When the crash came in 2008, just remember what caused it. It happened one lousy mortgage at a time. One tricky mortgage, one mortgage somebody signed off on and didn’t realize the payments would double 24 months later, and that they would lose their home. An entire financial services industry, these big banks, would make billions of dollars off the backs of just hard-working folks around this country.

    So when the time came to think about what are we going to do about the laws, […] everybody had a thing they wanted to change. How interest rates are calculated on mortgages, what kind of disclosures you give, the paperwork on credit cards, payday loans, a lot of different pieces.

    The problem is, you pass those laws–it’s hard to get those laws passed, takes a lot of energy–but you pass them, and then they’re like fenceposts on the prairie. The financial services industry just runs around them. You know, like payday loans, we’ll call them mayday loands.

    So how do you get real change? You get real change through structural change. And for me, that was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You give it a permanent home, you put a cop on the beat, and when the financial services industry figures out another way to cheat people, you’ve got somebody there to be able to respond. It’s about structural change in this economy. And I think it’s structural change that we need to think about as we roll into 2020.

    Whatever issues bring you here today, whether it’s the environment, whether it’s guns, whether it’s the problems of student loans, of middle-class families, protecting our pensions, lots of different places, there are two things to pay attention to.

    The first one is we are not a deeply divided country on most of that. On most core economic issues, we pretty much believe–two-thirds, three-quarters of us–want to see kids get some relief from student loan debt. Want to see Social Security readjusted so it’s secure forever into the future and pays a little better for people who depend on it. Want to see affordable health care and health care where you can’t cut people out with pre-existing conditions. Want to see prescription drugs that people can actually afford. These are things we all–not all, but a huge proportion of us–agree on.

    But there’s a second part to it. You have to ask yourself, why didn’t it happen? Why hasn’t it–we live in a democracy. There are a whole lot more people trying to fill a prescription than there are CEOs of big drug companies. So why are the big drug companies getting their way in Washington? Why has there not been any change in the laws?

    And the answer is corruption, pure and simple. We have a government that works for those at the top. We have a government that works for those who can afford an army of lobbyists, an army of lawyers, an army of bought-and-paid-for experts. And we don’t have a government that’s working for the people. And we have a chance to change that as we roll into 2020. It’s why I am so deeply optimistic when I come into a room like this.

    For a long, long time, the other side had had plenty of money to spend. […] But there’s a whole lot more of us than there are of them. And when we push back

    I’m sitting with women who ran and lost and picked themselves up and ran again. We are Americans. We have gotten in these fights and won before.

    Top image: Elizabeth Warren speaking in Storm Lake, Iowa on January 5. Photo posted on the Twitter feed for the senator’s campaign.

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