Apr 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Warren on why she's "still smiling" after losing to Biden

Mike Allen
Elizabeth Warren next to her book "Persist"

Cover, photo: Metropolitan Books

A week from today, Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be out with a book, "Persist," that recounts her exit from the 2020 presidential campaign and looks ahead to "this pivotal moment in history":

For Trump’s entire tenure, crisis piled on crisis piled on crisis. Now we have a once-in-a-generation chance to build something new, to shake off who we were and decide who we want to become.
As a candidate, Joe Biden may not have looked like a progressive firebrand, but he and Kamala Harris ran a campaign promising the most aggressive economic, social, and racial changes in U.S. history. They won by more than seven million votes, receiving more votes than any presidential ticket in the history of the republic — and they accomplished this feat while running against an incumbent president. Measure their victory however you like, but there’s no question that it was a mandate for change.

"In 2012, I was new to politics. In 2020, I was new to losing," Warren writes, describing what it was like to drop out of the race on March 5:

I felt a little numb, not just because I'd lost but because for fourteen months almost every second of every day had been devoted to my campaign. Speeches. Team meetings. Airplanes. Town halls. Television interviews. Reading policy memos. Calling $3 donors. Writing plans. There was always something to do. Always. And then — click — it was over. The curtain came down and my world instantly became quieter. ...
I noticed a message on the sidewalk in front of our house [in Cambridge]. In bright pink chalk, someone had written, “Thank you!” ...
[L]ater that morning someone left a box of chalk outside, and more messages appeared on the sidewalk throughout the day. "Dream Big Fight Hard." "Pinkie Promises Are Forever." "Our Queer Family Loves You." Children drew flowers and suns and ponies and rainbows. ... The next morning, I opened our kitchen door, which leads to a small porch on the side of our house. Out on the sidewalk next to the driveway was the biggest message yet. In two-foot-high letters, each letter heavily chalked in, was a single word: PERSIST.

Another passage goes inside the famous plans from her campaign — over 14 months, "eighty-one glorious, juicy, interesting, hard, important, imperfect plans":

We had fun putting out T-shirts and coffee mugs that touted the plans, but the real power in these plans was that they showed exactly how we could dismantle an economic and political system that was working great for those at the top but leaving everyone else behind. ...
In August 2019, we held a town hall in St. Paul, Minnesota, that drew about twelve thousand people. The selfie line was hours long, but one of the best moments came when a young man shook my hand and said that he wanted to thank me for all the plans — not any plan specifically, but all the plans together. He explained that for the second time he was running for a local office. When he’d run a few years earlier, he was told, "No one gives their plans. Just say generally what you like and what you hate, then talk about the Vikings." This time he said he was talking about plans. And whenever he got criticized, he would say, "If Elizabeth Warren can do it, so can I."

On election night 2020, with Biden headed to victory and Senate control uncertain, Warren writes: "I couldn’t sleep. Change was coming — and I was making a plan."

  • The senator gives a glimpse of the future, writing that her signature plans are "now on the shelf for future campaigns and future policy makers. Plans that gave us a vital framework within which to dream big and fight hard. I lost, but I’m still smiling."

📚 Read a 2,400-word excerpt. ... Get the book.

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