A Referendum on Progressivism: Elizabeth Warren speaks to Los Angeles
The streets are abuzz with chatter as a queue forms around the block. Volunteers smile and help people check in, asking for a picture of Elizabeth Warren’s dog “Bailey” to confirm RSVPs. Younger and older folks alike are decked out in T-shirts and buttons as well as signs that say “Dream Big, Fight Hard.”
Gathered near USC, this was the scene of Elizabeth Warren’s first campaign visit to Los Angeles heading into the 2020 election.
People quickly filled the bottom and mezzanine levels of the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles on Wednesday, August 22, all to see Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speak in a town hall style event. Fernando Vargas was in attendance and cited Warren’s, “progressive agenda,” as his draw to the town hall.
Others, cited Warren’s “obvious passion” and said they liked her and were eager to hear more policy details. Joshua Christ, a 28 year old professor at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California explained his top issues of interest in the next election as achieving universal healthcare and eliminating student loan debt.
When asked if Elizabeth Warren was his candidate for President, he answered, “Absolutely.” Christ added he’s concerned with “making sure America is better off tomorrow than today and that we have leaders who fulfill that.”
Andrea Rifelli, 72 year old clinical social worker and Warren volunteer, said she wants a sensible federal gun policy, and that “this patchwork of state policies is useless.” Rifelli’s other top issue was income inequality, “I think it drives every other issue, the problems with education, and with climate management, and everything is influenced by the inequality.”
Michael Castenda, 25, said “I’d love to hear more about if Warren has any policy plans that call out specifically, minorities and marginalized groups that aren’t necessarily being represented.”
Once the crowd fully entered the Shrine Expo Hall, Warren’s granddaughter introduced her to the stage to the tune of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5.” Warren shared personal anecdotes about her struggle growing up in Oklahoma, mentioning that the minimum wage used to put food on the table when she was growing up, but that today’s minimum wage will not keep a mother and her child out of poverty.
Warren went on to propose “big structural change,” saying that she is going to attack corruption head on. Namely, she pledges herself to “ending lobbying as we know it, Locking the revolving door between Wall St. and Washington, and pushing back against corporations.”
It’s the Koch brothers in particular, that Warren identified as being particularly harmful and prone to negligence and practicing bad faith in their investments. Continuing, Warren explained that in the early 1990’s scientists were publishing studies revealing the planet was in danger from climate change.
“[The Koch Brothers] could have invested in clean energy technologies, but instead bought politicians and ‘experts’ who denied climate change.”
As Warren began speaking to her policies, she spelled out her two percent wealth tax plan. She explained that any person whose equity exceeds $50 million must “pitch in” two cents for every dollar earned after that.
“I guarantee you [your fortune] was built at least in part with hard working employees, ...at least in part with the goods and services you transported using tax-payer funded roads and bridges.” Warren said, speaking to her vision of the civic duties of wealthy business owners.
Chants of “two cents” grew as Warren explained how the wealth tax will “invest in a whole generation.” She claimed that it could fund Universal Child Care, Universal Pre-K and raising the wages of childcare workers. She also mentioned tuition free college and cancelling student loan debt.
Shifting from tax reform, Warren began to explain her plans to “protect Democracy” after her election. She promised to advocate for a constitutional amendment protecting every citizens right to vote. “We need to repeal every single racist voter suppression law.”
Warren went on to advocate for getting rid of political gerrymandering and overturning Citizens United, a landmark U.S Supreme Court case that ruled corporate political spending is protected speech under the 1st amendment.
Taking questions from raffle winners in the crowd, Warren addressed what she would do to guarantee that transgender and nonbinary people have adequate healthcare protections. She responded that the United States government must hold accountable those who swear to protect citizen’s rights.
Warren goes on to say “universal health care is a basic human right.”
Warren left the stage hugging her grandchildren to the tune of Aretha Franklin’s 1967 song ‘Respect’ and applause. “Come 2020, we are going to decide for generations to come what kind of country we will be.” she said, waving to the crowd.