The NY Times does a piece tracing her history of being pro-business until she got to see the under belly of people broke and trying to get out under huge debt they would never be able to repay…
That something, as Ms. Warren often tells the story, was her deepening academic research into consumer bankruptcy, its causes, and lenders’ efforts to restrict it. Through the 1980s, the work took her to courthouses across the country. There, she said in a recent interview, she found not only the dusty bankruptcy files she had gone looking for but heart-wrenching scenes she hadn’t imagined — average working Americans, tearful and humiliated, admitting they were failures:
“People dressed in their Sunday best, hands shaking, women clutching a handful of tissues, trying to stay under control. Big beefy men whose faces were red and kept wiping their eyes, who showed up in court to declare themselves losers in the great American game of life.”
Nearly 40 years after she began her bankruptcy research, Ms. Warren is among the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Along with Bernie Sanders, her fellow senator, she represents a progressive wing whose profound ideological division from their moderate rivals have turned this primary into a contest over the future of the party.
Ms. Warren’s political awakening didn’t simply happen all at once. Her road to Damascus was a long one. But over several decades, she transformed from a largely pro-business and politically disengaged academic — a sort of default Republican — to a fierce consumer advocate and bankruptcy expert whose advice was sought on Capitol Hill, and then, finally, to a Democratic force on the Hill herself.
Her bankruptcy work with two Texas colleagues, Jay L. Westbrook and Teresa A. Sullivan, resulted in a 1989 book, “As We Forgive Our Debtors,” regarded as a landmark among many bankruptcy lawyers and academics for its depth and conclusions. One central finding — that bankrupt debtors represented a social cross-section of society — dispelled the popular narrative at the time. Even more controversial was the book’s uncompromising criticism of the credit card industry for enticing consumers to take on ever more high-interest debt.
Ms. Warren, who said she began the study on the lookout for “cheaters and deadbeats,” quickly realized that the people she was studying seemed familiar. Her own family in Oklahoma had teetered on the brink of financial ruin. It is a part of the biography she discusses in folksy speeches across the country — her father’s unemployment, her mother’s effort to save the family home with a minimum-wage job, and how that wouldn’t be possible today, with minimum wage paying below the poverty rate.
The revelations from her bankruptcy research, by her account, became the seeds of her worldview, laid out in her campaign plans for everything from a new tax on the wealthiest Americans to a breakup of the big technology companies….