Senator Elizabeth Warren solidified her leadership position of the nation’s political opposition force this week. Even the president acknowledged that in one of his insult-hurling tweets “Pocahontas is now the face of your party”. Warren, like me, says that has voted Republican for most of her life before assuming positions of Democratic party leadership. Yet she strongly opposes the current Republican administration for the reasons that are familiar to all of us.
Trump uses this nickname mocking her high cheekbones and stated connection to native American heritage; much like a third grade bully might do.
Elizabeth Warren grew up in a home with her brothers where they were all taught about their family’s Cherokee and Delaware native American heritage. This native American background is clearly a strong part of Warren’s self-identity, but there is no legal document that proves the family’s native American genealogy. The New England Historic Genealogical Society has a family newsletter that listed Elizabeth Warren’s great-great-great grandmother as a Cherokee, but the actual primary document has not been found. As a result, political opponents attack her heritage belief as false and the president calls her “Pocahontas”.
I empathize with this heritage conflict since I self-identify as Jewish but there is no legal document pointing to any Jewish ancestry. I chose the Jewish faith in a community ceremony intended to bring me closer to my family (my children are Jewish by both genealogy and expression of faith). Many do not consider me Jewish and I accept that. On the opposite side, I occasionally feel the scorn of anti-Semites in the political or business world who do scorn my Jewish identity. Above all this, I choose to believe that self-identity is a more important part of heritage than arguing the validity old legal documents. Elizabeth Warren’s highly publicized news event of this past week helped strengthen my personal resolve to stand strong and true to my beliefs of self-identity even in the face of opposition by others.
Another belief that Elizabeth Warren and I share is a conviction that Americans need to stand up against the greed of large financial institutions. I left the greed of Wall Street in 1987 to help small businesses. Elizabeth Warren spend time in the 1970s through 1990s lecturing in prominent law schools like Penn. Harvard and University of Texas about the need for consumer financial protections. She led the consumer financial recovery from the nation’s financial meltdown in 2008 as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Yet she says “”despite the progress we’ve made since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten our economy”. I couldn’t agree more.
In December 2016, Elizabeth Warren was appointed to a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Boston Globe said this is “a high-profile perch on one of the chamber’s most powerful committees” that will “fuel speculation about a possible 2020 bid for president”.”
I suspect the president will soon regret his action of further empowering Pocahontas.