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Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 Movement – The Atlantic

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Standing on a crate, trying to buck up the 50 people who didn’t make it into her town hall in Peterborough, she came across as an excited schoolteacher, saying, “The bad news is that there’s no more room inside; the good news is, there’s no more room inside!” When a man shouted congratulations on the whopping $19 million she raised in the second quarter, which her campaign had just announced, she put both hands in the air and said, “Yay!”

Warren knows she’s an odd fit for a movement leader. “The difference now is, I see the path,” she told me. “I am an unexpected person to lead this movement. But I know that it’s right.”    


I’d picked up that I’m a Warren Democrat button off an organizing table in Columbia, South Carolina, the night 23 candidates attended Representative Jim Clyburn’s fish fry. Before heading to the event, Warren stopped by a Young Democrats happy hour at a bar downtown, surprising the organizers.  

Sanders’s campaign often boasts of how extensive its network is, as if everyone on his email list is ready to become a field organizer. “This is the only campaign that has over 1 million people committed to scouring this country in support of this candidate,” one of his campaign co-chairs, Nina Turner, said on a call with reporters touting his second-quarter fundraising, which was $1 million less than Warren’s. It’s not just that Sanders supporters are jumping over to Warren, though there’s a fair amount of that. “I thought I was done with Sanders before, and now I’m completely done,” Chris Rowland, a 54-year-old electrical engineer, told me in Milwaukee, saying he thought the senator from Vermont’s time had passed.

Markos Moulitsas, the Kos in the Daily Kos and the man behind Netroots Nation, has been watching Warren from when she first started coming to the conference as a professor trying to get elected to the Senate. Now she’s consistently winning the Daily Kos presidential straw polls. “The wonkiness is attractive, particularly in contrast with the literal opposite coming out of the current White House. But if it was the wonkiness of Warren 10 years ago, I think it would be problematic, because it would be the whole ‘Democrats talk in long sentences’” thing, he told me.

In Milwaukee, I asked Mona Mustafa, a 56-year-old former paralegal who’s now waiting tables at Cracker Barrel in northern Illinois, whether she was a Warren Democrat. She paused. She’s a new Democrat, she said. Quietly, she told me that she’d voted for Trump in 2016, wowed by how “he does everything in public that Washington has been doing in private for two decades,” but that she hadn’t expected that he’d turn the federal government so much into what she called a subsidiary of the Trump Organization. “Donald Trump represents corporations to me,” Mustafa said. She likes that Warren helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and doesn’t take PAC money in her campaign, and that’s just the start. She’s voting Warren “not because she’s a Democrat or Republican, but because of who she is.”

Like most of the Democrats running, Warren talks about 2020 in existential, generational terms. With what she’s tapping into so far, and what she’s seen, I ask Warren, is she worried Trump will win?

“Look, there are two ways to answer that,” she told me. “I think he won’t win. But I’ll worry about it every day until he has been packed up and sent to a Trump hotel on a distant island.”

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