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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, waves during the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention in Manchester, New Hampshire on Sep. 7, 2019. (Photo: Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

'Fight Hard and Win': In New Year's Eve Speech, Warren Calls on Voters to Imagine a Better World

"If you were no longer stretched to make ends meet, who would you be?  A coach? A volunteer? A parent?" Warren asked Americans. "And if you could make these changes, what opportunities would it open up, for you?"

Julia Conley

Marking the end of the year and the one-year anniversary of the day she began her 2020 presidential campaign, Sen. Elizabeth Warren challenged voters to imagine a country that puts the needs and priorities of working people ahead of corporate profits in an hour-long speech in Boston.

The Massachusetts Democrat offered voters a message of optimism as the country heads toward the first Democratic primaries in the coming weeks while conveying the damage done to the country by decades of corruption and by the Republican Party under the Trump administration.

At the historic Old South Meeting House, Warren asked her supporters to imagine the opportunities that could await them in a country without skyrocketing levels of wealth inequality, a $1.5 trillion student debt crisis, and a for-profit healthcare system which bankrupts hundreds of thousands of Americans per year:

If you were no longer tied to your job in order to pay off student loan debt, where would you go? Try a different job? Move back to your hometown? Start your own business?

[...]

If you were no longer stretched to make ends meet, who would you be?  A coach? A volunteer? A parent?

And if you could make these changes, what opportunities would it open up, for you? For your children? For your grandchildren?

Watch the whole speech below:

Warren lambasted congressional Republicans as "fawning, spineless defenders" of Trump's crimes, enabling the president's attempt to bribe the Ukrainian government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, which led to Trump's impeachment by the House earlier this month.

"It brought no one any joy, but the House Democrats upheld their sworn duty to the Constitution and impeached the president of the United States," Warren said. "Soon I will return to the Senate to do my sworn duty as well. But unless some Senate Republicans choose truth over politics, Donald Trump will be emboldened to try to cheat his way through yet another election."

With Trump as president, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pledging to coordinate with the White House as the Senate begins its impeachment trial, and many centrist Democrats unwilling to enact bold structural reforms to the economy and political system, the senator said, "democracy hangs in the balance."

"We fought back against a king and an empire to form a new republic. We fought back against the scourge of slavery even after it was written into our constitution," Warren said. "Those moments in American history define us. And at each one of them, if our leaders had approached the moment thinking small, we would not have made it through."

Warren's call for Americans to look beyond not only the Trump White House but also the claims by her centrist primary opponents—who have called bold policy proposals by Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unrealistic—and imagine a country in which "big, structural change" has taken hold won praise on social media.

The speech overall was "less about the fight alone, more about visualizing life after the fight," tweeted author Anand Giridharadas.

Critics of the U.S. political system in which corporate lobbyists have sway over how lawmakers legislate, corporate donors contribute huge sums of money to their preferred candidates, and working people are left struggling to support their families also applauded the speech.

Warren ended her speech with the story of Phillis Wheatley, a young poet who was kidnapped from her home in West Africa in the 18th century and enslaved in New England. Wheatley had found inspiration for her writing in the same church where Warren spoke on Tuesday.

Wheatley "imagined a world that did not yet exist, but a world she could see," Warren said. "She penned ideals of a better America. Ultimately, she inspired leaders like George Washington himself. She showed through her work the power of imagination to help fuel a revolution."

"Phillis Wheatley's spirit is the American spirit. It's the enduring spirit of imagination fortified by courage. Patriotism infused with the dreams of the great country we can be," she continued. "In the spirit of one young woman who raised her voice from these pews more than two centuries ago, let us begin tomorrow committed to dream big, fight hard, and win."


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