Why I am proudly supporting Senator Elizabeth Warren
One of the benefits of actually knowing and trusting a candidate is that I have never really had to ‘justify’ or explain why I am supporting Elizabeth Warren. I had the absolute privilege of working side by side with her as we set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, so it’s no surprise to my family, friends, Obama alumni network, and beyond that I will be doing everything I can to support her campaign.
But that’s not a good endorsement speech, is it? Probably doesn’t sell on the doors.
So, here’s why I believe Senator Warren should be our next President.
One-room school constituency: nailed it
Our story begins at a bar. It was week 1 or 2 at the CFPB and I had just found out (thanks Google!) that her parents built one-room schools across the midwest and my heart exploded. I went to a one-room school as a kid and didn’t know many people outside of, well, the ranch where I grew up, who knew what a one-room school was. I ran up to her and she responded to my enthusiasm with her own. She absolutely lights up when people share their stories. She hears them. And as we talked about what her parents did, about where I came from, and about where it had brought both of us, she connected it right back to the topics we were focused on at the time: websites, services and reaching communities with the services that we were building.
You see, Elizabeth gets it. She understands that government is a necessary force for good. She also understands that people need to feel it, to make the value that government provides tangible. Like a schoolhouse is tangible. I remember that school! I can tell you what it was like to sit in the desks and learn there. Why isn’t it like that for other things we do with the government? Why does it sometimes feel remote?
We took that approach to tangibility with us. So instead of talking about normal government websites and how we can make her bio photo bigger, we talked about how to include the users of those services in our work. We talked about outreach plans that would ensure that the people who needed the CFPB’s services the most — typically the most financially vulnerable — could access them.
And my team was just one of several — she focussed the entire agency on its end users and the services they’d receive.
Shortly thereafter, the CFPB redesigned mortgage forms — yes, those disclosure forms that each mortgage applicant receives — and through the website, and user research, we made them significantly simpler, and easier to fill out. After launch, Elizabeth Warren, who headed the agency, told our team:
“You changed government today — you change how government works because the people that are going to use this actually helped create it.”
Making government work for people is hard work.
We’ve seen it during this campaign, right? There’s a prevailing attitude that government a) service delivery is awful b) the people who deliver those services are untalented and awful and c) the people who need those services are lazy and awful. That’s been the attitude towards government my entire life. But it is an ideology built on a lack of knowledge and understanding about exactly what government does. So, we set out to show exactly how great government could be and how much good it could do for consumers who needed it the most.
And we did it! We were a small team of insanely talented individuals (the type of talent the private sector would kill for, btw), working our asses off under a microscope from Congressional Republicans, the media, Wall Street, the Department of the Treasury (did you know that the CFPB was “incubated” by Treasury for its first year in existence? Yea, that was wild.), and anyone who cared about consumer finance.
It was intense, frenetic, and focusing. And to build an agency under this scrutiny required amazing executive leadership.
She’s a top-notch executive leader
Creating the right culture and team really mattered to Elizabeth — hell, that’s why we are all so loyal to her, 10 years later and the fields of Iowa were full of CFPB alumni in a blizzard while we knocked on doors. At the CFPB, we held weekly all-staff meetings to update on agency progress and she’d answer any questions that came up. At first, the 10 of us could fit around a table in an office. Then we grew into a conference room; then we sat on the floor around the tables of the conference room with standing room only in the back. And then we grew too big to legally (health and safety!) fit into a room in the building. So maybe the easiest thing would be to stop having most of us at the meeting.
But that wasn’t a good answer for Elizabeth. Keeping us informed and in alignment was important to her.
Elizabeth did her research and read the (building) plans. The next meeting was in an elevator lobby because it was the biggest space and people could go down hallways and pour out of office rooms. She’d discovered that the only place in the building that could fit everyone safely was the elevator bank. And then one time Barney Frank surprised us when he popped out of the elevator. Anyway, I digress.
She’s a damn brilliant executive leader.
And here we are, almost 10 years later and she is running for President. Damn straight, she should be our next President.
The vision is real — and straightforward
I read this article “Government needs to be seen, not hidden” by David Leonard and it really stuck with me. What Elizabeth is doing is creating a vision for America that’s actually fairly straightforward — it’s focused on
- creating a system that enforces existing rules to make it (financial markets, environmental standards) work for all.
- simplifying the livelihoods of small business owners by cracking down on monopolistic behavior;
- simplifying the products that everyone uses daily (it’s called the CFPB — it still exists and is hiring!);
- it’s an attempt at simplifying the lives of Americans by providing healthcare that doesn’t require constant hassle with an insurer
It’s a vision to make lives easier for people who are really struggling to survive.
It’s straightforward and in its simplicity, is the beauty. Yes, it will be difficult to create “big structural change” — but we can do it because it’s all right there.
She can do it. She has done it. When I think of what differentiates her from the other candidates, it’s this fact.
She has the vision to come up with a world changing idea; the passion to rally a country to make it happen; and the leadership to deliver it.
In short, She‘s from the future, when everyone has healthcare, NDAs don’t hide crimes, capitalism works for all (not just monopolies), we have a healthy environment, and she was elected president. That’s how she can see it all.
Join me, CFPB alumni, Obama alumni, and millions of other optimistic Americans in supporting Elizabeth Warren. You can also help me reach my fundraising goal by donating today.
If you’re an American living outside of the USA, you can vote in the Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary, which awards 21 (!!) delegates. It is REALLY easy (promise). We have a growing movement here in the UK and globally — get in touch if you want to volunteer.
Thanks to James Hupp, fellow CFPB alum, for editing support.