The last presidential candidate I saw in person was Bill Clinton when he was running for re-election in 1996. I waited at Pike Place Market and, as these things go, the schedule was slipping. At one point a staffer got on the microphone and said, “The President should be here in a few minutes,” just as Air Force One glided past, headed for Boeing Field. It took longer than a few minutes. At the time, I was definitely a Democrat and supported Clinton, but I didn’t pay much attention to politics.
On Saturday, I got to see my second presidential candidate in person, Elizabeth Warren, and things have certainly changed. She was also late to the stage, but the Nevada caucus results were coming in, so she gets a pass for that. With Clinton, we were pretty far back, so he was mostly a small figure with an amplified voice. For the Warren rally, we arrived early enough to get a good spot not far from the stage.
Of the 2020 Democrats vying for the presidency, Warren has consistently been my top pick, followed early on by Buttigieg. After the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 (who I firmly supported, largely because it was obvious she’d know how to do the job, compared the equally obvious reality that Trump still doesn’t), one of the main things I wanted to see in candidates was authenticity. I believe Hillary was authentic, but she never came across as it; she felt focus-group sanded into the most theoretically pleasing shape for voters.
Buttigieg has some of that feel, though if you listen to more than sound bytes I like a lot of what he says. At debates and in interviews, he’s been one of the only candidates to really impart an appreciation for the long haul and bigger picture that faces the United States.
But Warren’s authenticity shines whenever I hear her, and seeing her in person was inspiring. She has a story that is relatable, and conviction to make the changes needed to start fixing the problems we see every day.
Coming off her great Nevada debate performance a few days prior, where she handed Bloomberg his head and also supported Klobuchar when Buttigieg (overzealously) attacked her about forgetting the name of Mexico’s president, the theme of the rally was that we’re in a fight for our lives. “Dream Big. Fight Hard” is her rallying slogan. She talked about how she had to fight to create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFP) and get it made into law. She skewered Bloomberg as the type of billionaire who should be paying more taxes and not living high on the backs of working families (and who should treat women with respect).
Also, when she’s enjoying herself, she does a little dance that’s adorable.
Most of all, though, she has the passion, experience, and the clear ability to think on her feet and come up with solutions. When I envision the candidates actually in office, performing the job of the presidency, Warren is the one I can easily envision sitting down, rolling up her sleeves, and getting to work. And it’s going to be a lot of work. All the candidates have lofty goals and promises, but let’s face it: the next president is going to spend most of their first term cleaning up the egregious messes caused by Trump.
I’m voting for Warren in the Washington State primary, and I hope more people see the future president that I witnessed in person last weekend.