Columns, Opinion

Burke’s Bully Pulpit: Elizabeth Warren should focus on policy, not heritage

For months, there has been a war of words between President Donald Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her Native American heritage. Warren has recently proved through a DNA test that somewhere down the line, someone in her family was Native American. Warren and her supporters incorrectly assumed that she had won the argument, while Trump and his supporters continue to use an outdated racial slur to make fun of the current Massachusetts senator. For Warren, one has to ask: why continue to play into Trump’s hands?

Before diving into why Warren would continue to poke such a controversial bear, one must realize what she’s up against. Trump, before taking office, was touted as a successful billionaire who built his riches off of “a small loan of a million dollars” from his father, as he once said at a 2015 New Hampshire town hall. He has also filed for bankruptcy six times in his career.

While we may know these things, it is a lesser-known fact that from 1995 to 2005, Warren worked to block a bill that would increase a consumer’s ability to file for bankruptcy with less repercussions. It is logical to assume that Warren does not look favorably at Trump’s ability to file for bankruptcy so many times, something she worked for over 10 years to prevent from happening. Trump has stated that he was just taking advantage of the current laws in place, which is a fair and smart business move. However, these moves are something that Warren worked so hard to prevent, but she ultimately failed when the bill was passed in 2005. It becomes clear why she does not agree with the president and his financial situation.

Warren can be seen as someone who is against the deregulation of big banks because she knows where this may lead us. Warren was appointed to lead the Congressional oversight panel that checked and balanced how $700 billion in bank bailout money was being used in the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Instead of taking aim at Trump with these victories, she chose to make him look stupid by taking a DNA test. Anyone who has been alive and conscious for the past few years knows that trying to make Trump look stupid is a waste of time. This is someone who has mocked a disabled person and a person who was a victim of sexual assault with little to no repercussions.

With that being said, this is not the first time that Warren has been accused of lying about her Native American heritage. After she won her Senate seat in 2012 over incumbent Scott Brown, The Boston Globe and their reporters asserted that there was no tangible evidence to back that Warren has any trace of Native American ancestry. She responded, saying, “I never sought nor gained personal benefit in school or job applications based on my heritage.” The statement is clear and concise — she and the campaign team should have apologized for the confusion long ago.

It would have been much easier for Warren to say that what she heard as a child may have been something that was now being blown way out of proportion. There is no point to claiming Native American heritage when you are not an active part of that community which has long been oppressed. Instead, Warren and her team have led a six-year train of keeping this tale alive, and it has ultimately gone off the tracks.

A few weeks ago, the Cherokee Nation, the group that Warren claimed her family said she was from, issued a statement on the ordeal. Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said, “A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship … Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

For Warren, who many suspect is mulling a 2020 presidential race against Trump, this is a massive loss. Not only does she have the President of the United States against her, she now has the tribe that she claimed her family was once a part of against her. For whatever reason, it is much easier for Trump to move on from scandals than it is for his opponents. Warren is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She may have proved that someone in her family was Native American, but as Hoskin Jr. points out, “Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America.”

While Hillary Clinton ran on a platform of, “When they go low, we go high,” Warren is in the mud trying to battle it out with Trump in the trenches. We have seen this time and time again, with virtually every opponent failing. This is not to say that Warren should not address when the president does or says something racist or misogynist, it is to say that this is not the platform to run on to become the next president.

Elizabeth Warren: please move on from this ridiculously distasteful stance, and try to offer the American people your resume from the past 25 or 30 years. The results will be more positive than this for you and for the people of our country.

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