I think I’m in love. It’s one of those instantly recognizable feelings, and this is The Real Deal – that feeling in the pit of my stomach, the smile every time I see her face.
Bummer, though; she’s married. Her name’s Elizabeth Warren, and she’s running for United States Senate.
I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I can find plenty to agree with both parties about – I just hate when they can’t agree on anything.
I think a lot of independents might think the same way I do, but I have an easy way to find the right candidate to support in individual elections – I vote not for party, but for person. I look at political positions, certainly, but there’s something deeper that’s more important.
It’s almost a psychological test – honestly, I look for the person most like myself. If someone’s walked in my shoes, I’m comfortable that they understand where I’m coming from and that they can be trusted to act in my best interests. It’s why I like Rick Santorum more than Mitt Romney.
Never have I seen someone with a more similar backstory to my own than Warren. This quality and others have led me to make up my mind early on in this year’s Senate race.
Warren was born into a blue collar family (same here) in Oklahoma, and was the first member of her family to attend college (me too) at the University of Houston (a public school, like mine).
Like me, her father was also a maintenance man. When she was 12, her father had a heart attack and medical bills added up quickly, putting a financial strain on their family. I was 10 when my mother’s health problems forced her into the hospital for over a month. She nearly died, but thankfully she survived after a yearlong recovery, and fortunately insurance paid her medical bills.
After college, Warren went to law school – another item on my to-do list – and ended up becoming a professor at her alma mater, Rutgers School of Law. She’s taught at several prestigious law schools around the country since then, most recently at Harvard Law School since 1992.
She’s authored academic articles and books focusing mostly on helping working class and middle-income families defend themselves from the trappings of predatory lending, credit card debt, and bankruptcy due to powerful interests taking advantage of them through a rigged system. In other words, this prominent lawyer – who could’ve been raking in plenty of cash in commercial law, working for banks and big companies to screw people over – never forgot her roots and decided she would help average people instead. So Warren is, obviously, pretty awesome.
After helping to start the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with President Barack Obama, she was going to lead it until Wall Street individuals decided this lady was way too scary for big businesses. She actually cared about the little guy, so she certainly couldn’t be allowed to have any power.
She returned to Cambridge a defeated woman. Just kidding – as soon as she got back, Warren figured, “Hey, I’ll run against Scott Brown.” And Massachusetts breathed a collective sigh of relief.
That’s not to rag on Brown; I probably agree with him on 80 percent of the issues. He’s a pretty good guy, and he tries to seem like a regular Joe – e.g., driving a certain pickup truck (it was a brand new truck, which always puzzled me).
Unlike Warren, he didn’t go to public school – more of a Tufts undergrad, Boston College Law kind of guy (but hey, who isn’t?). And he tries to paint Warren as some Harvard snob – even though she went to public schools far more modest than Brown’s institutions of higher education.
But that’s beside the point. He’s worked hard on behalf of working families. According to OnTheIssues.org, he’s voted against the current welfare system – as am I – except he’s said on multiple occasions that he grew up receiving welfare benefits. Warren’s mother held a job at Sears and Warren started waitressing in her mid-teens.
I like when someone started from humble beginnings and achieved great things. This is evident with both our Senate candidates, and it’s inspiring because theirs are uniquely American tales of possibility.
But it just seems like Warren worked harder and did the most good with her time. She hasn’t been about making money, she has instead been teaching future lawyers for decades to work ethically, and along the way she’s led by admirable example. Her tireless work for working families is a testament to her working-class upbringing and her deep compassion for people of modest circumstances.
Warren is just a regular person who worked her way through life, despite many obstacles, and has truly been able to make an impactful difference in the lives of others. I hope I can be half as successful in endeavoring to do the same in my own life.
Liz (can I call you Liz?), you’ve got my vote. You’re a real person, and I can appreciate that. I think most people in Massachusetts can.
Jon Carvalho is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]