Politics is all about power. Some want more power than others and will do just about anything to get it. Such people, of whom the GOP embraces many, will use their power to stroke their egos, line their pockets, and do little for the good of the country. Others also want power but actually seek to use it to serve the people. Such politicians are few and far between, so we are lucky when one comes our way. Enter Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Warren is remarkable on many levels, but her willingness to go toe-to-toe with Republicans sets her far above other politicians these days. The senator is fierce and committed, and she puts her efforts where her mouth is. Last week, she launched the Middle Class Prosperity Project and led its first forum, designed to examine economic policies that threaten the middle class and to hear leading economists’ ideas on how to help families rebuild economic security.
Warren wasted no time in calling Republicans to task. On the forum’s first day, she addressed the GOP’s recent rhetoric on wage stagnation and inequality, telling Republicans to “put up or shut up.”
“Recently Republicans seem to have discovered the struggles of America’s middle class. Out of nowhere, they’re suddenly talking about this problem. Well that’s great, but talk is cheap, and when it comes to action, these Republicans seem to have amnesia about what they’ve actually done to hard-working Americans.
“Republican trickle-down policies created tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy while leaving working families to pick up the pieces. I’ll believe Republicans care about what’s happening to America’s middle class when they stop blocking legislation that would require billionaires to pay taxes at least at the same rate that teachers and firefighters do. Republican trickle-down economics blocked increases in the minimum wage that would have lifted 14 million people out of poverty.
“I’ll believe that Republicans care about what’s happening to America’s working families when they stop blocking minimum wage increases and agree that no one, no one in this country should work full time and still live in poverty. Republican trickle-down economics squeezed billions of dollars of profits out of people who had to borrow money to go to college. I’ll believe Republicans care about what’s happening to America’s future when they agree to refinance student loans.
“I could go on, but the point is the same: Talk is cheap. It’s time for action — action that will strengthen America’s middle-class families and build a strong future, action that will produce good jobs now and in the future. It is time to put up or shut up. I have a message for my Republican colleagues: You control Congress. Stop talking about helping the middle class, and start doing it.”
Later in the week, Warren responded to Scott Walker’s comparison between Islamic State militants and Wisconsin union protesters, with whom he has repeatedly clashed. Again, she charged right out of the gate, tweeting, “If Scott Walker sees 100,000 teachers & firefighters as his enemies, maybe it’s time we take a closer look at his friends.”
At a time when so many feel powerless to stop what they see as a looming doomsday in America, Elizabeth Warren reminds us not to go quietly. I’d love to see her run for president, but on the other hand, she makes the earth move and shake in Congress. Maybe she serves us best from there.
A lifelong communicator, I'm pretty sure I came out of the womb talking. But with no siblings to chat and play with, I learned to express myself in writing. My subsequent birth as a politics junkie came while I watched my father, a career Marine, sob uncontrollably over Kennedy's assassination. Intuitively, I knew the world would never be the same, and I should pay attention. So I did.
Now, some 50 years later, I find myself dumbfounded by the trajectory of American politics and the prevalence of ignorance, bigotry, hate, and violence. I started Two Cents of Sense, hoping to help change that trajectory and to promote progressives' conversation, knowledge sharing, and actions.