What a difference a week makes: In the span of seven days, with bookend visits to Iowa and New Hampshire, Elizabeth Warren established herself as the early front runner for the Democratic nomination in 2020.
An early announcement and early visits to the first two primary states has left everyone else considering a run in her rear view mirror for now. Warren’s successful visits have established the benchmark by which every other candidate will be measured. And the bar is high. In the metrics that matter – money, message, organization, crowds, and performance – it’s hard to imagine a better week for her.
But, what makes Warren a formidable candidate is her message. You can draw a straight line from her childhood in a home struggling financially due to her father’s illness, her mother going to work for the first time in a minimum wage job at the age of 50 to save their home, and the influence that’s had on Warren both personally and professionally.
Warren uses her family’s struggles to discuss what working families confront today. Warren’s mother’s minimum wage job could save her family home from foreclosure. Not today. Why? Warren points to the way the rules are written in Washington that benefit the rich and powerful and not working families. One set of rules for the rich and one set for everyone else.
Warren’s response is the need for systemic change to reform both government and politics to place more power in the hands of the people – not the powerful. She acknowledges that change is hard but that it’s a fight that must be waged and can be won because she’s done it her whole life.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, this daughter of a custodian became a teacher, a lawyer, a professor, she established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and then was elected a U.S. Senator. Warren’s life is her track record. And she believes everyone deserves the chance she’s had to do the same.
Dream big and fight hard to make our country work for everyone. That’s Warren’s message. It’s the same message she delivered about the Great Recession in 2008, running for the Senate in 2012 and re-election in 2018. It was the same message in Iowa last week and when I saw her in New Hampshire Saturday. Throughout her speech in the New Hampshire city of Manchester, you could hear people agreeing with her as she spoke and giving her a standing ovation when she finished – 600 people who are just starting to look for a candidate to support.
In many ways Warren’s message sounds like Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders in 2016. The difference is Warren has actually worked to make life better and more fair for working families – unlike Trump and Sanders.
Trump said during his campaign he would make life better for working families, but his actions have instead made life much better for the one percent thanks to massive tax cuts that have exploded the deficit and reduced the revenues for the federal government. Fewer regulations for corporations and more tariffs have made life much tougher for working families who work more, make less, and pay more for food, goods, appliances, and automobiles (thanks to the Trump tariffs).
Sanders, like Trump, has talked a good game but never managed to get anything done in his congressional career that helped working families, or anyone for that matter. While Warren doesn’t mention either one by name in her speeches – and there is a real chance that neither one of them will run in 2020 – the contrast couldn’t be more clear.
No one has prepared more to run for president in 2020 than Warren. It shows in every measure that matters big and small. While January 2019 is too early to say who will take the oath of president of the United States in January 2021, it would be a mistake to underestimate Elizabeth Warren. She is a formidable candidate with the drive, organization, resources, and message to run the distance. And she’s off to a great start.