From voter turnout in the presidential election to key topics the new administration should focus on to what she thinks the current president’s final few months might look like, Sen. Elizabeth Warren shared her thoughts in a virtual talk with Fels students.
The Massachusetts senator’s discussion with Fels Distinguished Fellow Elizabeth Vale, on Nov. 6, the eve of the election being called for President-elect Joseph Biden, was part of the Fels Public Policy in Practice series and featured questions submitted from Fels students.
As the votes were still being counted during the discussion, Warren said the record election turnout numbers showed that American voters’ voices were being heard.
“We’ve marched for justice, we’ve pulled through this pandemic, and we have rejected every attempt to divide us along lines of difference,” she said. “In this election, people proved that nothing was going to stop us from making our voices heard, and our votes count. So, here’s what we know: Voters decide.”
She said President Donald Trump’s efforts to stop votes from being counted were “the actions of a desperate man trying to cling to power just a little longer. It’s undemocratic, and it won’t work.”
Asked about results of U.S. Senate elections around the nation, and about the Georgia runoff in particular, Warren said she was disappointed the Democratic Party did not get bigger wins, but she and others are focusing on Georgia to help give them an edge.
“This is a time when we get out there and make the case for why it is so important to give Joe Biden this chance to be able to make some basic changes we need to make,” she said, like developing a plan to combat the coronavirus, to enact universal child care and preschool, and expand Social Security.
“Now more than ever we need an economy and a government that works for all of us, not just for the wealthy and for the well connected,” she said.
Other key issues for her are canceling student loan debt and health care for all, which she called a basic human right.
“The last thing that Americans should have to worry about during a global pandemic is health care,” she said, adding Democrats will fight back against attacks on the Affordable Care Act, and “we have to talk about how to expand it.”
As for what Americans can anticipate in the final months of a Trump presidency, Warren said she expects plenty of distractions from his election loss, efforts to stoke fear and further divide the country, but in the end, they will be meaningless.
“We know better, and we who are both witness and participant in this historic moment will stay vigilant between now and the end of January when Donald Trump is gone, and make it clear, he’s not going to divide us, he’s not going to frighten us. We’re going to keep a steady, level head throughout this process, and we’re going to make sure that the will of the people is carried out. We’re not going to let him break things on the way out.”
She said right now, she’s grateful for people who got in the fight, who showed up and marched and texted and stayed the course.
“Our democracy was put under enormous stress for four years, but the people held, and that tells you about our power,” she said. “And if we can do that and dislodge Donald Trump, even if it takes a crowbar to make it happen, then we can make the rest of the changes that we need to make. We can make this country work, not just for the rich and powerful, we can make this country work for everyone.”
Warren’s talk was followed by a discussion with Chris Sautter, a political media strategist, award-winning documentary filmmaker and an election attorney. Sautter wrote and produced President Barack Obama’s first campaign commercials and partnered with David Axelrod in the late 1980s and early 1990s, opening the Axelrod firm’s first Washington, D.C., office.
He quipped that following Elizabeth Warren’s talk was like being the “rock and roll band following Bruce Springsteen.”
He addressed the remaining divisiveness in the country and his opinion that, no matter Trump’s efforts, the courts are not going to decide this election, which was all about high voter turnout.
He ended by saying Trump needs to make a choice soon about how he wants to be remembered by history.
“President Jimmy Carter did not have, by most people’s evaluation, a successful presidency, but he’s considered to have had the most successful post-presidency of any other president,” Sautter said. “President Trump has a choice. He can either follow that lead or he can be bitter and live a different kind of life. It’s up to him.”