A critical assessment of Elizabeth Warren

After Elizabeth Warren has abandoned the progressive cause by not only endorsing corporatist Hillary Clinton but by saying she would work with president-elect Donald Trump, it is time for a critical assessment.

During her first campaign for public office she revealed herself. There was the reality that Warren herself was “pretty well off” and arguably part of the one percent even though she said she cared (and still says) she cared about the working person. If that wasn’t enough, even liberal New Republic said that Warren received support from the entertainment industry and even in the healthcare industry during the campaign, which was said to be a “contest that pits Wall Street and industry political action committees who back Brown against unions and Hollywood celebrities who support Warren.” Additionally, her OpenSecrets donor list at the time showed she had some connections to the top 1%.

Lest us forget her hawkish position on Israel. The always wonderful and insightful commentator Max Blumenthal pointed this out, saying that her webpage “reads as though it was cobbled together from AIPAC memos and the website of the Israeli Foreign Ministry by the Democratic Party hacks who are advising her” with rejection of Palestinian statehood,” echoing a push for a war in Iran, by describing Iran as “a significant threat to the United States,” and by calling for “strong sanctions” on the country. Basically, as Blumenthal writes, “her foreign policy views are hardly distinguishable from those of her Republican rival.” [1] Even the libertarian Antiwar.com said that Warren said terrorism would be a “top priority.”

Once in the Senate, she is partially ok with neoliberalism. She met with bankers and business leaders to push for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), speaking of “her belief in free markets, and in government regulation as a mechanism that protected free enterprise by ensuring that the markets functioned fairly and honestly.” If this doesn’t sound like cozying up to Wall Street fat cats, I don’t know what is. The point of the CFPB seems to be government regulation that would ensure a functioning market. The idea of such a bureau falls in line with the reasoning of the 1930s New Deal reforms: they were meant to keep the economy moving and placate the angry public. Then again, it was better to have those reforms than have the ideas of dirty commies and socialists taking the helm. That would have been disaster!

I’m as glad as any progressive that Warren got a seat on prominent committees such as the banking committee and told the truth about income inequality. I think that she is right that better public education can make a “workforce better than any in the world.” We want the free market system, what some deride unfairly as the “capitalist system,” to run smoothly and function correctly. Reform to horrid corporate practices which caused the 2008 financial crash will make the system better for everyone, for the common person. We can’t let those communists in China beat us at our own game. After all, they abandoned their destructive, authoritarian Maoism in the 1970s and embraced the free market, they have been surging ahead and that makes me nervous.

I further think that while I don’t agree with Warren on her anti-Iran stance since that would ruin U.S. objectives to gain access to that sweet, sweet crude in that Islamic dictatorship, she had some good points. She argued in the past that “if a war is unavoidable and in our national interest, then we should be willing to pay for it as we fight it.” I also agree with opposing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but am not as sure about the current approaches to that goal. I do also agree with her that “we need to continue to support the efforts of our intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, and military professionals” to fight the terrorists plaguing our nation without sacrificing our precious liberties that our founding fathers shed their blood for. Additionally, a strong military would be necessary to maintain American presence across the world to support necessary national interests, which is directly connected to a strong economy at home.

Warren also believes on a tough policy on undocumented immigration. I think the rough policy should remain except that there should be some exceptions for those who are less fortunate and some “amnesty” as those nasty right-wing-nut-jobs call it.

I still think, despite this praise of Warren, that she is not a savior. Of course, like everyone else, I do applaud her for challenging federal regulators about prosecutions of officials from Too Big to Fail banks. I also appreciate that she borrowed her Consumer Protection Bureau idea from consumer advocate Ralph Nader. That was very clever. After all, she is clearly a “fearless consumer advocate who has made her life’s work the fight for middle class families.”

I also don’t see much of a problem with her introducing John Kerry to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who was approved for Secretary of State. This is despite the fact that I am aware that he originally supported the disastrous Iraq war, voted for the bailout of Wall Street, voted against ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, and supported NAFTA.

I do think it is worth bringing up some comments about anarchism & the Tea Party in an article widely circulated titled We are not a country of anarchists (certain sections are bolded for emphasis):

If you watch the anarchist tirades coming from extremist Republicans in the House, you’d think they believe that the government that governs best is a government that doesn’t exist at all. But behind all the slogans of the Tea Party – and all the thinly veiled calls for anarchy in Washington – is a reality: The American people don’t want a future without government. When was the last time the anarchy gang called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children’s toys? Or for inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria? Or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause horrible deformities in our babies? When? Never. In fact, whenever the anarchists make any headway in their quest and cause damage to our government, the opposite happens. After the sequester kicked in, Republicans immediately turned around and called on us to protect funding for our national defense and to keep our air traffic controllers on the job. And now that the House Republicans have shut down the government – holding the country hostage because of some imaginary government “health care boogeyman” – Republicans almost immediately turned around and called on us to start reopening parts of our government. Why do they do this? Because the boogeyman government in the alternate universe of their fiery political speeches isn’t real. It doesn’t exist. Government is real, and it has three basic functions:
Provide for the national defense.
Put rules in place rules, like traffic lights and bank regulations, that are fair and transparent.
Build the things together that none of us can build alone – roads, schools, power grids – the things that give everyone a chance to succeed.
These things did not appear by magic. In each instance, we made a choice as a people to come together. We made that choice because b wanted to be a country with a foundation that would allow anyone a chance to succeed. The Food and Drug Administration makes sure that the white pills we take are antibiotics and not baking soda. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration oversees crash tests to make sure our new cars have functioning brakes. The Consumer Product Safety Commission makes sure that babies’ car seats don’t collapse in a crash and that toasters don’t explode. We are alive, we are healthier, we are stronger because of government. Alive, healthier, stronger because of what we did together. We are not a country of anarchists. We are not a country of pessimists and ideologues whose motto is, “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.” We are not a country that tolerates dangerous drugs, unsafe meat, dirty air, or toxic mortgages. We are not that nation. We have never been that nation. And we never will be that nation. The political minority in the House that condemns government and begged for this shutdown has its day. But like all the reckless and extremist factions that have come before it, its day will pass – and the government will get back to the work we have chosen to do together.

While it is strange to come from someone who endorsed the Occupy Movement (and is considered the intellectual mindset behind it, whatever that means), which consists of a lot of filthy anarchists, this commentary has a point. While the Tea Partiers or even Republicans in general are not anarchists, she is right that they are destructive. That will definitely be the case with Trump in power.

Warren once told the Boston Globe that “Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people is reprehensible. The Administration has responded by providing direct aid to the opposition forces, and while I hope that this new aid will help opponents challenge the regime, I am deeply concerned that our aid might have unintended consequences. We need clear goals and a plan to achieve them or else the United States could get bogged down in another war in the Middle East.” While I understand that she is right to criticize chemical warfare and a tyrant like Assad, I don’t think supporting the opposition is the way to go. That will just embolden the terrorists. I tend to agree with Trump on this one, apparently, lol.

Lets also consider this speech she gave to the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents the financial services “industry” a.k.a the big banks, investment funds, etc… asking them to HELP:

“There needs to be more certainty about financial rules and regulation…there are other lower-profile but necessary tasks we need to work on too, like re-authorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act so that the owners of stadiums and skyscrapers can get insurance that would otherwise be unavailable privately….I understand that there are different views in Washington about the role of government and the appropriate level of spending. I’m eager to have a healthy debate on those issues…And, let me bring this home: this whole mess is already costing you money, and it could well cost you a lot more. If the government’s borrowing costs go up, your costs will go up. And if consumer confidence drops, your customers will spend less. The debt ceiling isn’t a Washington problem; it is an American problem. You protect your interests every day in Washington. Ending this destructive notion of politics by hostage-taking is in your interests. And preventing an actual default—a self-inflicted wound that could cause a spike in interest rates and a freeze in our credit markets—is clearly in your interests. I know that many of you have already spoken out, and I’m grateful for that. But please keep at it. For those of you who haven’t, please start now. Speak up publicly and write op-eds and give interviews. One conversation won’t get this done…The idiot sequester is your issue too, and you can’t stand sideways on this either. The sequester affects your businesses and your customers…My takeaway is that it is still possible for people in Washington to put their heads together and come up with commonsense solutions to real problems. That’s what our country needs. That’s what I came here to do. That’s what I hope you will do too.”

This appeal to the business community is deeply troubling but not surprising.After all, she was (and is?) a Consultant for Travelers Insurance Companies, which has over $104 billion in total assets, a company that Citi merged with in 1999 creating Citigroup.

I still have to go back to her good qualities. She was right to applaud the creation of an “advanced manufacturing grant” which will help prepare students to work for manufacturing companies, announcing a grant for schools in Springfield, going to the University of Massachusetts to applaud how the university is preparing people to work for manufacturing companies, and touring a General Dynamics plant, telling the workers that she supports funding for the WIN-T battlefield communications system.

This is all I have stamina to write for now, but I hope this started a conversation.

Notes

[1] I personally support a two-state solution and think all of those who advocate otherwise are just totally wrong and misinformed.

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