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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) drew a crowd of about 20,000 people, according to her campaign, at a rally in New York's Washington Square Park on Monday. (Photo: @ewarren/Twitter)

Warren Draws Record Crowd of 20,000 in New York as She Vows to Combat Corporate Power

"We can't choose a candidate we don't believe in just because we're too scared to do anything else," Warren told the crowd. "And Democrats can't win if we're scared and looking backward."

Julia Conley

An estimated 20,000 people packed New York City's Washington Square Park Monday night as Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered a searing speech about the corporate corruption that dominates the nation's political system. 

Addressing the Manhattan crowd near the site of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the Massachusetts Democrat urged voters to support her plan to "fundamentally transform our government" by creating a system beholden to people's needs, not Wall Street interests.

Warren argued that the fire which killed 146 factory workers in less than 20 minutes in the days before federal workplace safety regulations is mirrored in the cozy relationships corporations keep with lawmakers in Washington, to the detriment of workers' rights.

Factory owners in the early 20th century "made campaign contributions and talked with their friends in the legislature," Warren told the crowd. "They greased the state government so thoroughly that nothing changed. Business owners got richer, politicians got more powerful, and working people paid the price.”

"Does any of that sound familiar?" the senator asked, drawing cheers. "Take any big problem we have in America today and you don't have to dig very deep to see the same system at work."

The rally came hours after Warren released her proposal to combat corruption in Washington, calling for laws that would restrict conflicts of interest for the president and vice president, stop lobbyists from entering government jobs, and impose a tax on excessive lobbying.

Warren has drawn progressively larger crowds in cities including Seattle and St. Paul. A Reuters poll released last week showed that her approval rating among voters has risen over the past month.

The senator was introduced by New York Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, who praised Warren for her commitment to consumer protection and advocacy for working families.

"I am incredibly proud of being able to support Elizabeth Warren yesterday for president," Niou told Common Dreams. "I have worked on anti-poverty issues all my life and especially focused on ending red-lining and prohibiting and regulating predatory financial products that harm communities of color. I actually looked up to her work on those issues and used a lot of them to base my own legislation on the state level."

Writing for Esquire, columnist Jack Holmes noted that Warren's political message was heightened by the geographic location of its delivery.

In addition to the rally's proximity to the historic labor site and the culturally-rich Greenwich Village, Warren spoke just blocks from Wall Street. She addressed New Yorkers, wrote Holmes, "in what is now one of the world's most expensive zip codes, surrounded in the distance by towering monuments to the daunting power of the American financial machine."

The senator urged voters to view the 2020 election as a chance to go on the offensive against President Donald Trump, pushing for bold reforms instead of simply aiming for a Democrat to win—a tactic former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign has promoted.

"There's a lot at stake in this election, and I know people are scared," Warren said. "But we can't choose a candidate we don't believe in just because we're too scared to do anything else. And Democrats can't win if we're scared and looking backward."

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