Warren’s visit

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is the first A-lister to campaign in Storm Lake for the 2020 Iowa Caucus cycle, given the amount of press (much of it negative) that she received on putting her toe in the campaign waters. She has been vilified by the right wing for many years because she is a threat to the corporate stranglehold on Iowa and America. She is mocked by a President who is himself a mockery. Even baby boomer Democratic women are giving voice to their second thoughts, when they wanted her so badly in 2016.

So we can’t wait to meet her at 12:45 p.m. Saturday at Our Place to see if Warren can whisk away those misperceptions and misgivings, most of which are curious to us. Starting with banking. Bankers loathe Warren because she helped to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. It aimed to regulate big banks and Wall Street hedge funds, but the canopy spread over community banks as well. We believe that a rural community is as strong as its locally owned banks. That is one huge reason Storm Lake thrives against the odds, because of three locally-owned commercial banks. When you mention Warren’s name around many Iowa bankers they see red. They are the facilitators of economic activity in a small town — they finance the new home and car, this newspaper, the retail shops on Lake Avenue and the crops that we put in the ground on a gamble every spring. They led lake dredging and revitalizing our lakeshore. They kept Buena Vista, our little college, open through thick and thin. They feel smothered by regulations and disincentives to lending. Warren can address that, and we are eager to hear about it, because any formula for rejuvenating rural Iowa includes preservation of locally owned community banks. How can we rein in the malefactors of great wealth by giving a boost to locally owned banks? A comprehensive answer to that question will go a long way toward giving her the credibility she needs in Iowa.

As for the other stuff, it is a fabrication of the vast right-wing conspiracy that Hillary Clinton described accurately, after all. Warren noted her own indigenous heritage, small as it is, and it turns her into “Pocahontas” as opposed to a statement of solidarity with a terrorized people. White Democratic women are wondering if they want someone pumping a fist in the air dressed in a pantsuit. Berniecrats are afraid she will deny him his destiny. People appalled at Trump, like Tom Vilsack, think Democrats need someone moderate who will not blow the roof off Hilton Coliseum.

Jimmy Carter was a populist. Tom Harkin was a populist. Barack Obama was a populist. Hillary Clinton was a corporatist. The corporatist may be a more effective manager once elected, but it takes a populist to win the Midwest. And it takes the Midwest — especially Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa — for any hope of fumigating the White House of the cockroaches that have invaded.

Warren must, unfairly, perform to a herculean standard because of Hillary Clinton’s historic defeat. They say she is not popular enough in Massachusetts, although she unseated popular incumbent Scott Brown. They say she doesn’t have the right tone. That is all because she is female, and because the propaganda machine has already demonized her.

We, too, wonder whether a liberal from Massachusetts can win for the first time since 1960. A Harvard law professor, no less. And whether she should remain the liberal lion of the Senate in the absence of Ted Kennedy, Paul Wellstone and Harkin. Lord knows the nation needs that voice in the upper chamber, someone who will persist. That begins to sound like our own misogynistic misgiving — why is she any less deserving of the Presidency than Sherrod Brown or Beto O’Rourke or Joe Biden, or less electable, other than that the right-wing machine has spent millions upon millions creating this caricature of her? Perception becomes reality, and Warren must start fresh with a new narrative on Saturday. The Koch Brothers saw her coming. Can she shatter that image? John Kerry could not.

This is why Iowa and Storm Lake are so important. Elizabeth Warren is auditioning to rural America. Show up and ask her about community banks, about how the working class keeps falling behind, how rural environs get left behind and, yes, about how we continue to lock up indigenous people seeking freedom. See for yourself if you think she has the mettle to win and get America back on track.

AND WHILE WE'RE at it, we should be talking about this: China bought no soybeans from the United States in November. Sen. Warren needs to tell us where she stands on trade issues that have huge impact in export-sensitive Iowa. Maybe we should not have become addicted to foreign export markets, but that is a debate we had about 30 years ago. Now we are on the outside looking in with plenty of beans but nobody who wants them. Pork, too. All because of President Trump. Trade is inextricably linked to migration. Warren needs to complete the loop and describe how we move forward in an era of world markets, climate change and new, disruptive immigration patterns globally. Her brains are what will attract voters. We need an exposition.