There Are Known Unknowns And Elizabeth Warren Knows Them
CNN has been doing candidate town halls in New Hampshire this week, not that too many people noticed with all the other madness going on. And thanks a heck of a lot, CNN, for not actually posting the full video anywhere, as far as we can tell -- just short clips on the CNN site and YouTube. At least CNN has full audio for each candidate here. Hell of a way to inform the public.
During her hour onstage (someone posted a pirate copy here, until it's DMCA'd away), Elizabeth Warren got laughs and applause for her reply to a young woman studying politics at St. Anselm College, who asked whether "the men in this race have a better chance of beating Trump solely based on their gender." Warren was ready for that one: "I believe they think so, but they'd be wrong." She went on to note that women have been at the head of much of the opposition to Trump, and the Democratic takeover of the House in 2018, so knock it off with the sexist assumptions, boys.
But the question and answer that really got our attention was this exchange posted to Twitter not by CNN, but by Matthew Cortland, an attorney and health care activist who helped write Warren's disability equality plan, because holy crap, a substantial discussion of disability rights made it to national TV.
Cortland only captured Warren's answer, but the question, from Ruth Morrissette, who has a grandchild with a developmental disability, was "What role do you see people with disabilities playing in your campaign, and even better yet [...] in the White House if you become president?" Warren said she loved the question, and that the short answer is "Equal means equal," but government needs to make that meaningful. And then she got into the part captured in the video above about how giving everyone an equal opportunity has to be more than a slogan.
Then Warren explained why being a real leader means knowing what you don't know, and bringing in people who do. She noted that as she was putting together her housing plan last year, it became painfully clear that people with disabilities have a wide range of needs when it comes to housing that will allow them the fullest options, and oh my gosh, that extends to every aspect of what government does. And to do it right, you need help from people who know stuff.
I'm a woman with plans — I need a disability plan overall, and I thought, I'm not going to write this myself. I'm going to reach out to the community, to the disability communities, and say, 'What parts do we need to be able to build that equality.' And over the past several months we've been working together and now we've come up with a disability plan.
As we've noted previously, it's a good plan! And isn't that a refreshing change from certain people who know everything and never make mistakes? Warren went on to urge people to read her plan, noting that
it really talks about the places that we have so failed as a nation, but the places where there are so many opportunities, opportunities to build, to open, to be inclusive of people -- As someone told me the other day, no matter how they walk or how they roll, to be a part of our campaign, to be part of my administration and to be a full and equal participant in this -- everything that happens in our country. That's what I want to do.
And that, as novelist Celeste Ng notes, is how leaders should do it: "She recognizes when she's not the expert on something and goes to the community to ask them to draft the plan."
We should note that throughout CNN's various town hall events, there were several other questions on disability-related issues, too. And for once, most of the major Democratic candidates have disability policies, and isn't it cool that we can now argue over who has the best plan? As disability-rights journalist David Perry points out, experts on disability policy say Bernie Sanders's plan has several points that improve on Warren's plan, although Perry is especially impressed with how effectively Warren incorporates the topic into her campaign overall.
Honestly, it's weird that going to the people who actually know things feels like such a refreshing idea. For all the Republicans' love of military adventurism in the past few decades, it's a damn shame that in both domestic and international policy, the ideologically driven war on expertise has been the most successful. George Bush ignored all the CIA and State Department experts' warnings about what would happen after Saddam Hussein was toppled. Republicans admit that when it comes to climate, they're not scientists -- and then do all they can to exclude science from making policy. Mind you, the current administration will tell you it's consulting with all the stakeholders on environmental and financial policies, but of course the only stakeholders that matter are the big donors who want to extract profits from all of us.
Gee, who'd have thought there could be a downside to the never-ending culture war on elitists who know stuff, huh? We ought to get people in government who'll make expertise great again.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.