Sept. 17 (UPI) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren urged Democrats on Monday for their support in her fight against corruption, as she spoke before thousands from under the Washington Square Arch in Lower Manhattan, New York.
The 70-year-old senator campaigning for the Democratic nomination to take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election said the location chosen for the speech was not for the founding father the square was named after, but for its proximity to the location of the Triangle shirtwaist factory fire of 1911 that killed 146 workers, mainly women.
Warren said the issues that had caused the fire were well known then but kept intact due to factory owners working political connections.
“They greased the state government so thoroughly that nothing changed,” she said. “Business owners got richer, politicians got more powerful and working people paid the price. Does any of this sound familiar?”
She compared the event to the present day, stating that the same system that led to that fire still exists because “giant corporations have bought off our government.”
She said this corruption has put the planet at risk while breaking the country’s economy and democracy.
“I know what’s broken,” she said. “I have got a plan to fix it, and that is why I’m running for president of the United States.”
Hours earlier, Warren outlined on her campaign website nearly 100 ways to “restore integrity” to every branch of the government. The plan follows a strategy she unveiled in July to rein in corruption on Wall Street. It aims to ensure no president is above the law. It also bans private, for-profit prisons, targets unethical activity between defense contractors and the Pentagon, and seeks to end the methods of modern lobbying by targeting fundraising activities.
“The goal of these measures is straightforward: To take power away from the wealthy and the well-connected in Washington and put it back where it belongs — in the hands of the people,” she wrote in the plan, which she calls “the most sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate.”
She also called Trump’s presidency “the most corrupt administration of our lifetime.”
From under the Arch on Monday night, she called him “corruption in the flesh” and said it has been his tactic to divide the nation so “no one will notice that he and his friends are stealing more and more of our country’s wealth and destroying the future for everyone else.”
However, while he may have made it worse, the conditions were already sowed for him to be elected.
She then challenged Democrats to back her in attacking corruption “head-on” by stating if elected president she would fundamentally change lobbying by legislating a lifetime ban on senators and congressmen from working as lobbyists once leaving the public sector while barring former lobbyists from working for the federal government. She would also ban lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.
“Let’s shut this industry down and return our government to the people,” she said.
And that was the tip of her corruption reform spear that included barring the president, cabinet members and congressmen from owning businesses and trading in individual stocks. She also said the federal court system will be reformed.
“We are going to take down the for sale signs hanging outside every federal building,” the senator said.
Her plan also includes an overhaul of the election finance system to do away with super PACs through creating a system of public election funding.
She was introduced by Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Working Families Parties, which had earlier that day endorsed Warren for president.
She said she would be a champion for Working Families, a minor political party, when in the White House as it has been fighting for racial and economic justice.
Warren said the story of the Triangle shirtwaist fire was about power. Before the fire, it was about the power of corruption, but afterward it was about the power of the people forcing change.
“Over and over throughout our history, Americans have been told that big structural change just wasn’t possible,” she said, stating that the LGBT community, the suffragettes, the members of the civil rights moment were all repeatedly told to give up their fight.
“But they didn’t give up. They didn’t give up,” Warren said. “They organized. They built a grassroots movement. They persisted. And they changed the course of American history.”