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BeyondGeography's Journal
BeyondGeography's Journal
December 13, 2019

Elizabeth Warren's Stealth Feminism

...as the 2020 race unfolds, with Warren as the leading female candidate, the question of just how a woman should pursue an office that has only been occupied by a man has swirled around her. It is a tough truth that full-throated feminism could help Warren in the Democratic primary but hurt her in the general election. And although she might strike voters as similar to Hillary Clinton—a fellow lawyer who came of age in the same era, policy-driven and hyperprepared—Warren’s approach to feminism, and to what it means to run as a woman in 2019, is harder to define. But her history in Texas and afterward offers clues.

Warren, who was born in 1949, was a kid sister growing up in post-war Oklahoma. “She has three older brothers, which is significant,” says her friend Elizabeth Vale, who worked with Warren at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency Warren launched after the financial crisis. That Warren, during her formative years, was obliged to play in what we might call male spaces, is—Vale speculates—part of the key to who she became. Rather than build a feminist critique of the power structure or set about dismantling the patriarchy by taking on sex discrimination cases, Warren chose to enter male fields and compete toe-to-toe.

Another Texas colleague, Jay Westbrook, uses the phrase “tomboy” to describe her: the kind of scrappy, two-fisted girl who enjoys competing with the boys, loath to complain about getting scratched and scraped in the fray. By adopting this approach, Warren has lived a compelling story of confronting and surmounting just about every impediment the past seven decades have presented to high-achieving women—but it’s a story that could seem to have unfolded in a world parallel to, and apart from, the organized feminist movement. For much of her career, she has not been a vocal champion of women’s rights, her rhetoric more muted than candidates like New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand or Hillary Clinton. “I don’t think she has a specific gender lens,” Vale says.

...That she is amping up the feminist volume might be because she feels freer, even obliged, to do so in a post-#MeToo era. Part of it, too, is surely because she must distinguish herself from her male rivals in a competitive primary. But maybe Warren’s enhanced outspokenness is not quite the pivot it seems. Without saying so, Warren long has practiced a kind of stealth feminism, gravitating toward the epicenter of male power in order to attack it from within. As both a law professor and a politician, her key targets—banks, billionaires and Big Tech—represent the chief remaining bastions of male privilege and wealth, while fields like law and medicine have been thoroughly feminized. Warren’s signature issue—a “wealth tax”—would fall harder on men, insofar as there are more male billionaires than female ones. If “angry” is the code word lobbed at powerful women, Warren deploys “billionaire” as code for powerful men.

...As Warren’s surge in the polls fades, she faces an existential moment. She remains one of the top four Democratic candidates, and the only woman among them; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has been stuck in the single digits. Klobuchar has permitted herself to blame her own standing at least in part on sexism, noting, “Women are held to a higher standard.” Which is true, but not entirely: There are new and very real advantages to being a female candidate in America today. Yet, it would be a mistake to underestimate the extent to which female authority figures trigger hostility in sectors of the electorate. And women themselves are hardly monolithic; when Warren tweeted about billionaires, there materialized a thread of responses accusing her of pandering—presumably, to female voters—and others accusing her of not pandering enough. As she attempts to find her voice on women’s rights, Warren seems to be defining feminism as confronting the male ruling class, especially its economic entitlement, head-on, but not always in an explicitly gendered way. And she is showing how that is done.

December 12, 2019

Warren Warns of Economic Trouble Without 'Bold Structural Change'

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew a stark ideological contrast between herself and political rivals on Thursday in a speech on her economic plans at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

Warren’s visit came a day after a WBUR poll showed her losing ground in New Hampshire to former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose health care and economic proposals Warren said would not accomplish the structural change she says is needed to rebuild the middle class.

Citing statistics on slow economic growth and lagging productivity, Warren warned voters that the United State’s economy is in trouble. “Families are struggling. After accounting for inflation, average wages have barely budged for decades,” she said. “Meanwhile, the core costs that most families face - housing, child care, education, health care - have shot through the roof.”

Thomas Patrowski, a 38 year-old voter who attended the event, said those costs were making it hard for him and his wife to put any of their paycheck towards savings. “I’ve been told my whole life the economy’s great and the economy’s doing really doing well,” he said. “Then you take a look at it and you’re like: ‘It’s really not.’ If it’s doing well, I wouldn’t be having the issues I’m having. My friends wouldn’t be going into bankruptcy in their 30’s.”

Warren promised that her arsenal of plans, which range from boosting green manufacturing to forgiving student loan debt to breaking up big tech, “will produce more jobs, more growth, more investment, higher wages, and stronger American companies that can compete and win.”

More at https://www.nhpr.org/post/warren-warns-economic-trouble-without-bold-structural-change#stream/0
December 12, 2019

Warren and Booker receive top marks on 2020 Racial Justice Presidential Scorecard

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Center for Urban and Racial Equity (CURE) in partnership with the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California Berkeley; Seeding Sovereignty, an indigenous womxn-led collective; and Community Health Councils released the 2020 Racial Justice Presidential Scorecard. The first of its kind, the scorecard analyzes presidential candidates' policy proposals through a racial equity lens across critical areas including criminal justice reform, education, health care, voting rights, reparations, environmental justice, immigration, indigenous rights, and policies to close the racial wealth gap. The scorecard also examines candidates' past and current rhetoric and language around racial justice issues important to communities of color.

Candidates received points based on their on-record (e.g., campaign website, news reports, public appearances) positions on policies most likely to address persistent racial inequities. The scoring criteria included support for specific policies to further racial justice, level of detail provided to describe their policy strategies, and language used in debates and public events to explain issues impacting black and brown voters. The scorecard underwent a rigorous external review process to ensure the scoring of the candidates were fair and on issues of importance to communities of color.

"With the resurgence of white nationalism, anti-immigrant rhetoric and violence, and assaults on critical policies and programs from housing to health care under the current administration, the 2020 presidential election is a change election that should be about producing real change for black and brown communities," said Dr. Judy Lubin, president of the Center for Urban and Racial Equity. "We hope the scorecard pushes candidates to make these issues a priority for their campaigns and serves as a useful tool for voters who care about racial justice to make informed decisions in 2020."

"The Racial Justice Scorecard articulates a valuable and needed conversation currently missing from the presidential election," said Janet MacGillivary, J.D., LL.M, executive director of Seeding Sovereignty. "In a time of climate crisis, severe inequalities, and attacks on communities of color, it is crucial that we elect a president that is well-equipped and willing to shift social and environmental paradigms to dismantle these issues."

More at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/senators-elizabeth-warren-and-cory-booker-receive-top-marks-on-2020-racial-justice-presidential-scorecard-while-former-vp-joe-biden-receives-an-f-grade-300973757.html

December 11, 2019

Elizabeth Warren lands coveted endorsement from Art Cullen and Storm Lake Times

The Storm Lake Times, led by Pulitzer Prize winner Art Cullen, on Wednesday endorsed U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president — a highly sought-after endorsement for candidates who want to win over rural voters.

In his endorsement, Cullen wrote Warren has "developed the most extensive agenda" to lift up rural Americans. Rural Storm Lake is in deep red Buena Vista County, where registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats 36% to 26%, and about 38% are independents. "Warren is campaigning to give us a fighting chance," he wrote...

...Cullen specifically touted Warren's plan to empower farmers in the fight against climate change by paying farmers to sequester carbon and prevent surface water pollution.

His endorsement also gives a shoutout to other Democrats he's met with, saying any of them "would restore integrity and honor to the Oval Office." He specifically mentions U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, from Minnesota, for her understanding of rural communities. But it's Warren who he says is his No. 1 choice for the Iowa Caucus on Feb. 3.

”Warren shows a real feeling for places left behind because she comes from there," Cullen wrote, referencing her Oklahoma upbringing. "She had hollered herself hoarse that day in January railing against the corruption on defiant display in the White House. Elizabeth Warren is fighting on principle like nobody else to give us a chance."

December 10, 2019

New York City Paid McKinsey Millions to Stem Jail Violence. Instead, Violence Soared.

In April 2017, partners from McKinsey & Company sent a confidential final report to the New York City corrections commissioner. They had spent almost three years leading an unusual project for a white-shoe corporate consulting firm like McKinsey: Attempting to stem the tide of inmate brawls, gang slashings and assaults by guards that threatened to overwhelm the jail complex on Rikers Island.

The report recounted that McKinsey had tested its new anti-violence strategy in what the firm called “Restart” housing units at Rikers. The results were striking. Violence had dropped more than 50% in the Restart facilities, the McKinsey partners wrote. The number was bogus. Jail officials and McKinsey consultants had jointly rigged the Restart program in its earliest phase to all but guarantee there would be few violent episodes, according to documents and interviews. They stacked the units with inmates they believed to be compliant and unlikely to get into fights or to attack staff.

Publicly, McKinsey and top corrections officials touted the drop in violence in these units as an early sign of their project’s success — without disclosing that they had tilted the scale in favor of that result. After McKinsey handed off the inmate selection process, about a year into the firm’s work at Rikers, jail officials continued to manipulate the population of the Restart units to keep their violence numbers low.

In October of this year, the New York City Council voted to approve Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to close Rikers. The vote occurred during the same month that a federal monitor, appointed by a court to oversee reform at Rikers, revealed that violence by jail guards there continues to worsen. Overall, using the metrics employed by McKinsey, jailhouse violence has risen nearly 50% since the firm began its assignment.

The full story of how New York City came to pay McKinsey $27.5 million only to abandon many of the firm’s recommendations and decide to shut Rikers has never been told. A ProPublica investigation, based on interviews with 36 people, half of whom worked directly on the project, as well as more than 10,000 pages of project documents, internal emails and other records, reveals that problems dogged the project at every stage...

December 10, 2019

Biden-Buttigieg dream of uniting Congress runs into DC skeptics

WASHINGTON Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are selling voters on their ability to unite Democrats and Republicans around their agenda. But current and former members of Congress have a message for them: Dream on. Biden frequently tells voters that if President Donald Trump is defeated, Republicans will have an "epiphany" and work with Democrats. Buttigieg, in a 30-second spot appearing in South Carolina, vows to "unify the American people" around pocketbook issues, gun violence and immigration. But the two moderate Democrats may be walking into the same trap that stymied President Barack Obama: a belief that they can overcome intense tribalism and get Republicans to work with them. Biden and Buttigieg are campaigning on ideas that mirror Obama's second-term agenda, from raising the minimum wage to regulating gun ownership to bolstering the Affordable Care Act. All have broad national support but have been blocked by Republicans.

"For Republicans specifically, most of these proposals are dead in the water," said David Jolly, a Republican congressman who represented a Florida district from 2014 to 2017 and has since left the party. He said the prospect of cross-party cooperation around such goals is "unrealistic where today's politics lie," even if it's visionary in a way that speaks to voters' aspirations. Jolly said that even if Democrats win big in 2020, the way congressional districts are drawn would hinder cooperation because each party is predominantly responsive to its core base. "Between gerrymandering, closed primaries and big money going through leadership, you create hyperpartisan behavior," he said.

..."The degree of impossibility of cooperation got worse with Trump," said Barney Frank, a former Democratic congressman from Massachusetts who retired in 2013 after 40 years. "It's not a mistake for Democrats to be open to cooperation it's a mistake to assume it's going to come. I think Obama was too naive about that...He said he was going to govern in a post-partisan manner. I said he gave me post-partisan depression when he said that." Frank said he sees "very little" hope that Republicans would cooperate on even the more modest proposals that have been advanced in the Democratic race unless they face a landslide defeat that causes them to change. He recalled Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's pledge in 2010 that his "single most important" priority was to block Obama's reelection.

...Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to Obama, said there is "a contradiction between what may be the most appealing general election message and what is the best governing strategy."

"A lot of voters want to believe that the country can be less divided than it is now and are interested in a candidate that will at least try," Pfeiffer said. "The danger of that message is that if you win, your success will be graded on whether you can get Mitch McConnell to cooperate with you, which will not happen under any circumstances."


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