If there’s a rock star for the progressive movement, that person is undoubtedly Senator Elizabeth Warren. The senator was today’s keynote speaker at the morning session at Netroots Nation here in Phoenix, and the crowd was not disappointed.
People were lined up an hour before her scheduled talk and the air was full of electricity.
Congressman Raul Grijalva’s introduction acknowledged the controversy in the selection of Phoenix as the site of this annual conclave of progressive activists. But he expressed appreciation for the support of the rapidly growing cadre of Arizona progressives who are transforming the state from the era of Sherrif Arpaio (“a criminal with a badge”) to one where progressive values are making inroads.
Not unexpectedly, Warren took the stage to a thundering standing ovation. Her theme was very simple and consistent. Despite the undue influence of Wall Street and other big money interests, America’s values are progressive values. Some of her remarks:
“The strength of this country starts with people, not corporations.”
“In Washington, the values of the American people are not heard.”
“Bankers who broke our economy belong in jail.”
“The federal government should not make a profit on student loans.”
“Progressives believe in trade, but not the kind written behind closed doors.”
She decried the big money interests and the incentivizaion of revolving doors where Wall Street banksters actually get obscene bonuses when they leave (temporarily) to enter government “service.”
When she started a sentence with “we have a presidential election coming up”, the crowd reacted with enthusiastic shouts of “run, Elizabeth, please run.”
She ended with a call to action: “You don’t get what you don’t fight for.”
Preaching to the choir is the easy part of her job, though. Let’s hope she has the political savvy and political capital to enact a populist progressive agenda. And that she can influence the ultimate Democratic presidential candidate to move in that direction, too.
I’ll have more on the breakout sessions and the rest of Day 2 later this evening.