Those of us who volunteered like crazy for Elizabeth Warren's campaign, I think, knew deep down that she would be a formidable leader and a strong moral voice in the US Senate.
After all, she'd proven time and again how gutsy she is -- by reaching out beyond the safe confines of academia to find new ways to speak directly to average Americans about the dangers of modern finance; by being a strong and righteous voice and seriously ticking off many powers that be on behalf we, the taxpayers, in her TARP Oversight role; by building a strong coalition to fight for -- and win -- the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against the insanely formidable banking lobby, and to fight for the CFPB to be adequately funded and staffed; and by taking the risk of becoming a candidate for office, weathering months and months of sexism, racism, and every other ridiculous smear the Scott Brown campaign could come up with, and running a seriously gutsy campaign.
We knew all this about her and we knew she'd work her heart out for it -- and she did. And she won.
And now, before she's even sworn in, she's showing us what a strong leader she's going to be in the Senate:
Some politicians lead. Others follow.(As an aside, I love how the Globe wanted Warren to take a more conservative stand against her party, rather than a more liberal one, as a way of showing independence. Ah, the liberal media, ya gotta love it, eh?)
When Elizabeth Warren came to the Boston Globe for a Senate-campaign endorsement interview in the fall, we asked her to cite an area where she’d break with her party. Warren promptly responded that she’d fight much more aggressively for a federal ban on assault weapons.
Truth be told, we were looking for an area where she’d take a more conservative stand, not a more liberal one. Still, Warren’s reply was instructive. That was well before last week’s slaughter in Connecticut, well before other Democrats were showing any real resolve on the issue.
The Globe article goes on to quote an impatient Warren as saying that national action to address the scourge of gun violence is long overdue, especially in light of the school shootings in Connecticut last week:
“We have abdicated our responsibility. We can’t prevent every gun death, but we can change the risks that our children face.”
In a letter to her supporters about the Connecticut shootings, Senator-elect Warren pledged to immediately sign on to the Assault Weapons Ban once she is sworn in, and she framed her strong support for that and other gun control measures this way:
One of the country's largest billboards is next to Fenway Park, facing the Massachusetts Turnpike. It has a giant number counter.It's one thing to speak out early and often -- and to do so despite the lack of leadership in your own party on a critical issue, which hopefully is finally changing. But it's also important to insist that this issue be framed in terms of stolen lives and public health, rather than in terms of politics and gun "rights" -- and it seems to me that's what strong leaders do. They insist that we see the bigger picture and prioritize living our values and caring for our fellow citizens.
When I was running for the Senate, I passed that billboard nearly every week, sometimes three or four times in a single day. I always looked at the counter to see how it had changed since the last trip, counting the change -- up two, six more, another one.
The counter is from Stop Handgun Violence, and it shows the number of children killed by guns in the United States. Every time I saw it I thought about another small coffin.
Over the past two years, more than 6,000 children have been killed by guns. The number jumped by twenty little children last Friday, and then it climbed on Saturday, on Sunday, and kept on climbing as other children died.
Gun violence is an epidemic that is taking our children's lives in our schools, on our streets, and in our neighborhoods.
As with other epidemics, we must do everything we can to make a difference for people through prevention and treatment. We must renew our commitment to mental health care -- to ensure that children and adults can receive both the physical and psychological health care they need in America.
And we must put in place commonsense gun laws and enforce those laws.
On election night, Warren quoted the late Senator Ted Kennedy, whose seat she now holds, and promised to uphold his standard of leadership:
[I]t was exactly 50 years ago tonight that Senator Ted Kennedy was first elected to the United States Senate. We miss his passion, his enthusiasm, his energy, his commitment to fighting for working families.All I can say is what I've thought many times: Ted would be so proud of our new Senator. And I'm proud too -- to finally be represented again by someone who isn't afraid to stick her neck out and take a stand and fight like crazy on behalf of regular people.
That night, 50 years ago, he said that he would "dedicate all of [his] strength and will to serve you in the United States Senate." For 47 years, he lived up to that promise. Tonight, I pledge to do the same.