Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recently published book, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class, offers a look at the policy choices that bolster economic inequality and, she argues, gave rise to Donald Trump. As the title indicates, much of her focus is on the economic instability middle class families face and the politics that foster these difficulties. She offers lessons for the Democrats and, as in the campaign, pointed takes on Donald Trump.
One of her likely challengers for the 2018 Senate seat does not like it one bit. Republican State Representative Geoff Diehl, who also served Massachusetts co-chair for the Trump campaign, launched his potential bid to face Warren with a critique of her penning the book. In front of the State House, Diehl promised that “while I am in office as a US Senator, I will not be writing any books and again profiting personally or trying to promote any agenda other than that of the people of Massachusetts.”
On the one hand, as was pointed out to me, this is a pretty empty threat – akin to me promising not to finish the Boston marathon in under three hours. But pithy 140 character responses aside, the core of Diehl’s critique of Senator Warren is downright bold. Bold for its anti-intellectualism and misogyny.
State Rep. Diehl’s core early message is that a sitting U.S. Senator should not write an intellectually coherent book on the economic condition of the American people, the policies that have undermined the middle class, or offer political solutions that might help these families. Diehl tellingly engages nothing of the substance of Warren’s argument. Rather, he promises not to write a book on these issues. One wonders what he disagrees with specifically in Warren’s diagnosis and set of solutions. These would certainly be worthwhile, welcome exchanges in a Senate contest.
But Diehl simply just does not like that our Senator used her Senate platform to put economic inequality on the agenda in book form. He implies a false assumption that writing a book on middle class economic instability promotes an “agenda other than that of the people of Massachusetts.”
Massachusetts is actually the 6th worst state for economic inequality and Suffolk country ranks 18th worst among all counties in the United States. These are not alternative facts. They are conditions that residents of the Commonwealth experience. Working harder for less and increased economic insecurity have deep material and psychological effects. Hence, Senator Warren’s topic is of central concern to Commonwealth residents.
It would seem post-partisan to want our elected officials thinking deeply on the issues of the day and being thought leaders on them. Parties and candidates may reasonably disagree on the solutions but for candidate Diehl to run on a platform of not writing a book on one of the most urgent economic issues we face combines the worst kind of representation with anti-intellectualism. He won’t write about the economic instability affecting his potential constituents? And that’s a good thing?
In so ignoring the substance of Warren’s argument, Diehl’s critique centers solely on the fact she wrote a book and is presumably making money from it. Now that’s rich. Richly misogynist.
Recall Diehl was Massachusetts co-chair for the Trump campaign. Where was his outrage that Trump published numerous books when he had responsibility to his shareholders? During the campaign and since taking office, Trump has refused to release his taxes so that Americans can determine for themselves how, if at all, his policy positions advance his own economic interests. And the amount of interconnections between Trump branded enterprises and daily governance is stunning. That’s profiteering on grand scale via the American taxpayer. But Diehl remains silent.
Where too was the outrage when Senator Scott Brown received a 700k advance for his memoir, Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, Second Chances, while in office after his 2010 surprise Senate win? Or when Republican Mitt Romney penned Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and Olympic Games while Massachusetts Governor? Or when Democratic Governor Deval Patrick inked A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life while also in office? What of the other 33 current senators – Republican and Democrat – who too have written books?
Massachusetts has been uniquely inhospitable to women running and, especially, women winning. In this context, Senator Warren has the audacity to be smart, the audacity to be an expert, the audacity to be a vocal advocate, and the audacity to win. Geoff Diehl counters that Senator Warren’s writing a book is reason to vote against her and for him. Diehl picked this line of critique as he knew it would land for many Massachusetts voters.
And the accuracy of that calculation reveals that anti-intellectualism and misogyny are alive and well in the Bay State.