The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Elizabeth Warren has authenticity


Look to the Massachusetts Senator as a serious 2020 candidate

We’re 20 months away from the 2020 presidential election, and five months away from the first Democratic Party debate, but news and Twitter junkies have been working overtime to lock in first impressions of candidates: Beto is the shallow, privileged cool dad; Biden is the old man who once caped for systemic racism; Kamala Harris is the phony, former problematic prosecutor; Bernie is either perfect or terrible and so on.

But when we let ourselves think like this, we miss out on promising candidates with promising platforms. So far, few are as underrated as Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Warren became a household name for her work strengthening consumer protection law, but lately she’s seen other candidates rack up greater Google searches and news coverage. She’s seen herself written off as a scolding “Lisa Simpson” figure who can’t cut it in the world of politics-as-pro-wrestling.

Nevertheless, she persists, and if we open our minds just a bit, we see real policy promise conveyed with authenticity—maybe the perfect antidote to President Donald Trump.


To understand why Warren and her platform are promising, consider Bernie Sanders. Although a recent poll found that the two least desirable traits in a candidate were “over 75” and “a socialist,” Sanders sits at the front of most polls.

Name recognition and vague frustrations with “the system” are a part of Sanders’ strength, but most people who know of him also know that he (constantly) talks about free public college, higher taxes on the richest few and Medicare for all.

Sanders’ platform is popular because in poll after poll, Americans want a stronger social safety net, even when they quibble over the details. They want that safety net because so many Americans have felt the visceral grind of inequality.

People are surviving by working multiple shifts with inconsistent hours, dealing with wage theft, age, gender and racial harassment, all for less money and to still live in fear of eviction, medical emergencies or a loved one’s violent death.

It’s hard to express how this feels if you’ve never felt it—the moment that your sick days, financial aid and your faith that America will find you an answer, all run out.

Recognizing that pain, Warren has laid down a platform that addresses these specific needs step-by-step. Her housing plan encourages the market to build more housing and lower rents, but it also protects poorer renters and people of color from predatory practices.

In the workplace, Warren would mandate that 40% of the boards of America’s largest companies are elected by workers. This will stop the short-term thinking that leads to overworking and shipping jobs overseas. Even her controversial “wealth tax” and proposal to break up monopolies speak to her underlying ethic: that the government needs to level the playing field. Slogans aren’t enough, and a good candidate needs a clear plan.

The end result is a platform that recognizes both the free market’s power and the government’s responsibility to make corrections when millions play by the rules and barely survive.

Warren’s plans are more than a slogan. They are smarter than socialism and a breath of fresh air to millions of disconnected Americans trapped between overly incremental Democrats and rich, cynical, inept Republicans.

If the lazy joke is that socialists need to retake Econ 101, Warren’s platform is rooted in Econ 102—correcting market failures. It’s popular, it’s paid for, and, in the words of Vox’s Matthew Yglesias, it “saves capitalism” instead of neutering it.

All of this comes from Warren’s own experiences. Her family barely scraped by, and was further debilitated when her father had a heart attack. Warren started working at the age of thirteen, and made her way through college balancing scholarships and family obligations.

She then spent her career becoming an expert in bankruptcy and the finances of working class life and ran for office to fight for consumer financial protection.

A grounded, vivid tone is needed in a noisy world where Trump holds the loudest bullhorn. Trump’s solutions are shallow, fake and contradictory, but he succeeded with them because they spoke to people’s fears and prejudices in a way that felt realer than any other politicians’. The New York Times and former BBC editor Mark Thompson gives this phony realness the name “authenticism.”

In 2020, the best cure for Trump’s “authenticism” is true authenticity, because you can’t fake real solutions and real experience. And Warren doesn’t have to.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Hawk News

Your donation will support the student journalists of St. Joseph's University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hawk News

Comments (0)

All The Hawk News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *