Ed. Note: Another in our series of personal statements of support for Democratic presidential candidates. Incidentally, Sen. Warren will appear in Arlington on Thu., Feb. 13. Click here for event details
By William Berkson:
Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a Warren fan-boy—or, more accurately, a fan-oldster. I think she’s the best political leader of my lifetime, and that includes JFK.
The reason she’s so good has do with her path into politics. She didn’t go into politics because she wanted to hold political office—as much as we need good people in politics. She had grown up at bottom of the middle class, with her family facing a continual risk of falling into poverty. Her whole career then became devoted to developing and advocating new policies to help the middle class and poor get a fairer shake in our economy. She was only dragged into politics—at age 64—in order to assure that her innovative policies could be put into place and sustained.
The other half of the story, in addition to her devotion to helping the middle class and poor, is her formidable intellect—something even her detractors concede. The combination of her devotion to helping the middle class and poor, and a relentless, creative intellect mean that on important issue after important issue she “has a plan for that.” The most important thing is that her plans focus on the critical problems of our time, and will actually help remedy them.
Warren recognizes that much of America is hurting. We have had 40 years of stagnation of middle incomes, and now have widespread “deaths of despair”—from suicide, alcoholism and drug abuse. These have shortened the average lifespan in America, particularly among white men and women who have not attended college. Meanwhile the wealth of the super-rich has skyrocketed, with the top 1% now owning more than the bottom 90%. And with extreme inequality of income and wealth has come the power of the wealthy to corrupt the political process.
As I have documented here in The Blue View, it is not a mystery why the economy didn’t benefit the middle, hurt the poor, and made the rich far richer. Since Reagan, under Republicans, median incomes almost completely stagnated, while under Democrats they grew modestly, but steadily, at an average of 1½% yearly. Under Republicans, poverty shot up over 2½% per year on average, while Democrats successfully reduced poverty by over 1½% per year. The Republicans attacked government by cutting taxes, domestic spending and regulations, while Democrats did the reverse.
The Republican anti-government philosophy and policies suffocate the economy, particularly incomes of the middle class and poor, while the Democratic devotion to investment in the people, infrastructure and ideas is oxygen to the economy, including helping the middle class and poor. Here at The Blue View I’ve also documented the history of success of wise government investment, funded by adequate, progressive taxation, and helped by laws to protect weaker—consumers, labor, small business—from the those who would abuse their power among the stronger—the wealthy and powerful.
Here’s the thing: the Clinton and Obama administrations felt a need to compromise with the Republican anti-government philosophy, rather than take it head on. As a result, their policies, while in the right direction, had only modest success. They were enough to heal Republican damage, but not enough to convince the public that Democrats could transform the economy for the better.
Sen. Warren, by contrast, fully realizes the need for much more investment in education, health care, infrastructure, and research and development. And she is willing to get the needed funding from the super-rich, through her wealth tax. At the same time, she fully understands that these investments will help private business to thrive—which we need to grow the economy and get the tax revenues to invest further in Americans and America. Warren also is a master of the legal changes that are needed to help the system work for ordinary Americans, and not just the super-rich.
Elizabeth Warren is “all in” on what needs to be done to transform our economy from a stagnant and cruelly unequal one, to an economy that is thriving and equitable. That is why this country desperately needs a President Warren, and why I’m “all in” for her.
William Berkson has a Ph.D. in philosophy and is a frequent writer on politics and policy for publications such as Washington Monthly and Columbia Journalism Review, as well as The Blue View. He is a member of Hunter Mill District Democratic Committee and co-chair of Herndon Reston Indivisible’s Economics Committee
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