On last Sunday night, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who announced her candidacy for President on February 8th in her home State of Massachusetts, visited Southern California and spoke to a crowd of 1,400 at Glendale's historic Alex Theater. Outside, lines of supporters who were not able to fit in stretched down Brand Boulevard and around the block. Her speech outlined in broad strokes what her Administration would look like once she is elected President.
First, her emphasis would be on families—a universal early pre-school education guaranteed for every child from birth until entry into a traditional school program, which would cost four times what is spent on pre-school programs now. The funds would come from a tax on the ultra-rich, the upper 1/10th of 1% financially in this country—those whose personal assets total more than $30 million dollars. She is fond of saying, "I'm tired of hearing what the richest country in the world can't afford to do." Also, the program would insure that pre-school teacher wages would equal those of regular teachers, not the pittance they receive now.
The Senator told a story that occurred during her childhood in Oklahoma. Her father had a heart attack, and her family was about to lose their house. She walked into her mother's bedroom and watched her finish dressing and put on her high heels repeating, "We will not lose our house. We will not lose our house." Her mother marched down to Sears and got a minimum wage job that saved the house. This experience was one of a few that allowed Warren to contemplate her future. "Every child should have the experience to dream of personal opportunity, like I did."
The will back a Constitutional Amendment to protect the right to work. "Workers in corporations should be able to elect 40% of the board of directors of their corporation."
"The education of our children is the most important thing we can do. And we can all unite behind this idea, no matter where we live, what party we belong to, or how much money we make. We all want the best for our children and grand children." Speaking of which, Senator Warren was ably assisted by her two elementary school-aged grandchildren through out the presentation, Their picking tickets out of a hat to see who in the audience could ask questions added an element of comedy to the show. There was none of that screened question procedure we are used to seeing. That is because Senator Warren, a former Harvard Professor of Law, seems to know about and to have thought about most of the issues on people's minds.
Another of the Senator's programs sure to gain attention is her plan to forgive all student loans. Right now student debt in the United States is one and a half Trillion dollars. "High interest rates and all kinds of extra fees are dragging down an entire generation." the Senator stated.
Elizabeth Warren traces many of our problems back to the 1970's. Before that, because of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and programs like Social Security, the Federal Government focused on the problems of common people. But Ronald Reagan, "Thank you, California." changed all that. Since then the Federal Government in Washington almost exclusively serves the rich and the giant corporations. Senator Warren states that a government like that in a democracy is a corrupt government.
"We need to give power back to the workers in this country, to the trade unions." She will back a Constitutional Amendment to protect the right to work. "Workers in corporations should be able to elect 40% of the board of directors of their corporation." That is the basis for "The Accountable Capitalism" bill which she has already introduced.
Because Washington D.C. is so corrupt, she sees our problems as "systemic." Some of her solutions are:
- Lobbying as we know it must be made illegal. No loopholes. No officeholders later becoming lobbyists. And all lobbying transaction should be subject to the light of public scrutiny.
- We must stop the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. No elected officials or administrators can be allowed to make Wall Street investments.
- Make the Supreme Court and all Federal judges follow a code of ethics and conduct. Overturn Citizens United.
- Every candidate for political office must make their tax returns public.
- Local voter suppression and gerrymandering must be stopped by Federal law and executive enforcement.
Senator Warren charges that our system also suppresses women, LGBT groups and the disabled and obviously must be changed. She has been told that her plans are too many and too ambitious. "That is what they told the union organizers in the 1920's, the abolitionists before the Civil War and the Suffragettes," she says. " And look what they did."
She stood before the audience of 1,400 people who had waited in line for hours to hears and made her pitch. "In 2020 we have a chance to change everything. This is our moment in history. This is our time to dream big. Join me to fight hard and to win."
After many standing ovations all evening, the crowd stood again and cheered even louder. There was no doubt that they were ready and willing to join Elizabeth Warren's moment in history.
Jim Nasella is a long-time film director who know works as a lawyer on expungement cases and also volunteers with the ACLU of Southern California.