Elizabeth Warren speaks truth to power

A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth WarrenA Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren

@@@@@ (5 out of 5)

Finally — a leading Democrat who understands that elections are won or lost on the basis of personal values. The same person whose gifted leadership led to the creation of the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that’s beginning to level the playing field between the public and the Wall Street banks.

Here is US Senator Elizabeth Warren getting down to the roots of the country’s current predicament: “I will be grateful to my mother and daddy until the day I die. They worked hard — really hard — to help my brothers and me along. But we also succeeded, at least in part, because we were lucky enough to grow up in an America that invested in kids like us and helped build a future where we could flourish.

“Here’s the hard truth: America isn’t building that kind of future any longer. Today the game is rigged — rigged to work for those who have money and power.”

In A Fighting Chance, Elizabeth Warren’s revealing political memoir, the recently elected Senator from Massachusetts displays both her deep understanding of the economic and social plight of the American middle class, and her passion for doing something about it. This combination of understanding and passion, which is unusual in our country’s political class, is particularly unexpected in a long-time professor at Harvard Law School. But Elizabeth Warren is no typical professor.

Born and raised in a small Oklahoma town to low-income parents hardened by the Dust Bowl and the Depression, and descended from both early settlers and Native American forebears in what was then Indian Country, Senator Warren has injected into her life ever since a ferocious commitment to economic and social justice. From an early age, as a champion high school debater, she showed a special talent for pursuing everything in life with dogged determination and a refusal to give up no matter how bleak the prospects. These qualities, together with her powerful intellect, helped her rise from a teaching post at a commuter college law school to the pinnacle of her field, first at Penn and then at Harvard. The same gifts no doubt contributed in a major way to her solid victory in a U.S. Senate race she wasn’t widely expected to win.

A Fighting Chance tells Elizabeth Warren’s story, both public and private, warts and all. You’ll follow her into an early marriage at nineteen, the birth of her children, the struggle for acceptance for the brilliant teacher she was, and then the separation from her first husband. Sen. Warren doesn’t mince words as she tells this story, and she comes across as far more critical of herself than of anyone around her. This same self-critical approach imbues the story of her later life: her ultimately unsuccessful ten-year-fight against the Big Banks to strengthen the bankruptcy laws, her appointment to head a toothless federal commission to monitor the government’s enormous bank bailout, her stewardship of the campaign to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and later of the effort to build it from scratch — against massive opposition from Wall Street at every step along the way.

Here’s Sen. Warren again, as she spoke during her 2012 campaign for the U.S. Senate:

“Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs — the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs — still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.”

In a rational world, the Democratic Party would be looking to Elizabeth Warren to head the national ticket in 2016 rather than Hillary Clinton, who wouldn’t be caught dead speaking such truth.

Consider checking out my earlier post, 35 excellent nonfiction books about politics, of which this book is one.

 

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Mal Warwick

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