“If we fight, we win,” shouted Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) near the end of her keynote speech on the opening evening of the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention. “Real reform isn’t easy,” Warren said to loud applause.
“Uphill battles? You bet!” But when the agenda of the labor movement is the agenda of America’s working families, real reform can happen, she said. And that’s what happened when the AFL-CIO joined together with allies to hold Wall Street CEOs and the big banks responsible for the financial collapse of 2008. “Thanks to those efforts, we now have a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…and just so everyone knows, that little agency has already returned half a billion dollars to families who were cheated by big financial institutions and helped tens of thousands of consumers solve their problems with big banks.
Warren said President Barack Obama’s re-election amounted to a mandate, and she called for raising the minimum wage, comprehensive immigration reform that protects workers, she defended Social Security and called for legislation to create jobs and rebuild America’s infrastructure. “We believe the sequester is stupid, and you know what? A majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, agree with us on that, too. Washington will fight us, but the American people are on our side,” she said.
Warren turned the last line into a rousing refrain.
We know even though pundits and big corporate lobbyists in Washington might need to be dragged kicking and screaming, we know America agrees with us! We believe Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and you know what? So do more than 80% of people. Wall Street will fight us, but the American people are on our side.
“Our agenda is America’s agenda. If we fight for it, we win! We win!” she said.
And the entire place exploded in applause, as the delegates stood and gave her a long ovation.
Debate in the U.S. Senate over military action in Syria forced Warren to alter her plans to speak on Wednesday at the convention and prompted President Obama to cancel his planned speech. But Warren juggled her schedule and took the five-hour flight out on Sunday morning to make it to the convention.
She planned to turn right around after her speech. Directly after giving her remarks, Warren glowed backstage. She said, “I’ve been wanting to give that speech for years! For 30 years! Probably all my life!”
And then she got ready to head back to Washington.