Who is Elizabeth Warren?

Elizabeth Warren started studying at George Washington University at the age of 16 and received her first academic degree in 1970 from the University of Houston, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science. In 1976 she obtained the Juris Doctor. Warren then lectured at Rutgers University from 1977 to 78 before moving back to Houston, where she subsequently lectured at the University of Houston from 1978 to 1983 and at the University of Texas at Austin from 1981 to 1987. In 1987 Warren became a professor of business law at the University of Pennsylvania before Harvard Law School appointed her a visiting professor of business law in 1992. From 1995 to 2002, Warren was a professor of law at Harvard Law School, where she taught contract, bankruptcy, and business law. As a renowned scholar, Warren has published over a hundred scientific articles and ten books.

Warren was a Republican on the electoral roll until the mid-1990s. In 1994, she was appointed principal adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission set up by President Bill Clinton to develop proposals to combat the sharp rise in consumer bankruptcies. The latter paved the way for her entry into politics. In the course of the financial crisis from 2007, Warren became a powerful voice in the regulation of banks and financial markets. On November 14, 2008, the then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appointed her to chair the congressional oversight body to investigate the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Warren proposed the creation of a government agency to protect consumers from adverse financial deals. President Barack Obama had the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau based on this proposal set up on July 21, 2010, when the relevant law was signed. On September 17, 2010, Warren was appointed by Obama to be the special advisor to the President and the Treasury to set up and run the agency, which was politically unenforceable against Wall Street interests and Republican opposition in the Senate. As a result, Warren resigned as the president’s special advisor on August 1, 2011.

Since Warren’s entry into politics in 2012, there have been disputes over her claim to have Native American ancestry. Political opponents accuse her of having promoted her career based on a lie. In a 1984 Native American cookbook, Warren contributed five recipes called “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee,” some of which were copied from the New York Times. From 1986 to 1994, Warren had stated in the Association of American Law Schools’ directory of professors and in her later lecturer positions that she belonged to a minority. However, she did not claim that status from 1995 onward, when she had become a lecturer at Harvard. The local student newspaper Crimson wrote in 1996 that Warren had Indian ancestors, and in an article in the Fordham Law Review in 1997, she was referred to as the Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color.” From 1986, universities had asked their employees about their ethnic origins in order to counter the allegation of discrimination against minorities. Warren herself had previously given no minority status in academic applications but noted when she was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1986 that she was a Native American. However, no historical documents have been found that could confirm Warren’s Indian ancestors. Warren cited the family tale that her father’s family disapproved of Warren’s mother “being partly Cherokee and partly Delaware.”

In October 2018, Warren published the results of a DNA test. The latter found that there was “strong evidence” that Warren’s ancestors were “six to ten generations” of indigenous people; however, with 0.09 to 1.5 percent Indian genome, Warren has a below-average proportion within the white US population. The Cherokee nation, as well as anthropologists, criticized Warren for tokenistic motives and dishonoring the genuine tribes.

On August 18, 2011, Warren announced her candidacy for the United States Senate in Massachusetts after the Democratic Party nominated her as a candidate. In the November 2012 general election, Warren faced Republican seat holder Scott Brown. At around $70 million, the election campaign was one of the most expensive for a Senate seat. Because of the importance of maintaining a Senate majority for the Democratic Party, campaign donations of approximately $38 million flowed from outside the state. Warren was also supported by Governor Deval Patrick and the major unions. By contrast, investment banks, insurance, and real estate companies gave Brown more than $6 million. However, Warren won with 54 to 46 percent of the vote.

Warren was elected to the banking committee in December 2012 and still represents the left-wing of the Democrats with Sherrod Brown. As a senator, Warren defended Obamacare against the Republicans’ harsh attacks and campaigned for this significant change stronger and more consistently than most of her party’s members.

Warren announced her support for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in June 2016, later than most of her party counterparts in the Senate. Due to her popularity with the left-wing of the party, she was often mentioned and reportedly on a list with five other names for the vice presidency. However, in the end, Clinton decided in favor of Tim Kaine.

In November 2018, Warren said she would not vote for Trump’s United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA) as it would not increase wages or create jobs. It would also make it harder to lower drug prices because it would allow drug manufacturers to keep the prices they charge for many drugs. In 2018, Warren called for the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service (ICE). Warren ran again in the mid-terms on November 6, 2018, for her previous Senate seat. On election day, she was re-elected with around 60 percent of the vote for a second term that started on January 3, 2019.

Warren has been repeatedly mentioned as a possible challenger to President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election since 2016. On December 31, 2018, Warren announced that she was strongly considering a run and that she had set up an exploratory committee. At the center of her campaign to win the Democratic primaries was economic justice and the fight against corruption. Her proposal, introduced in January 2019, to introduce a wealth tax for the super-rich (2% annually on private wealth from $50 million, 3% from $1 billion) received the support of 61 percent of Americans (Democrats: 74 percent, Republicans: 50 percent).

On February 9, 2019, Warren announced her official entry into the presidential candidacy. During her run, Warren repeatedly campaigned for student loan debt reduction and free college tuition fees. In addition, Warren sought the increased taxation and regulation of major companies. Warren also called for the abolition of monopolies and the tightening of penalties for white-collar crime in her fight for the workers.

A crucial part of her campaign was to introduce a Medicare for All plan and a higher minimum wage. On her website, she listed a total of more than 45 plans on topics such as health care, universal childcare, ending the opioid crisis, clean energy, climate change, foreign policy, reducing corporate influence in the Pentagon, and ending Wall Street’s influence on the economy.

Meanwhile, on foreign policy issues, Warren criticized the United States’ participation in Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen to support the Yemeni government against the Houthis. In January 2019, Warren criticized President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan because such withdrawals should be part of a “coordinated” plan formed with U.S. allies.

Warren’s campaign started strongly and with much support. Warren even led the race in the last quarter of 2019 and started the new year as the favorite for her party’s nomination. In the ongoing TV debates, however, Warren failed to build her own identity alongside other favorites such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders and her popularity began to decline. The Iowa caucus solidified that impression, and the next ones were disasters for the once-promising Warren campaign. The foreseeable end occurred on Super Tuesday when Warren could not win her own state as she came third.

Two days later, on March 5, 2020, she suspended her campaign due to ongoing subpar primary results and fundraising issues. To this point, Warren has yet to endorse either one of the candidates.