A Fighting Chance
is Elizabeth Warren’s 2014 memoir. As a child growing up in Oklahoma, Warren’s biggest ambition was to become an elementary school teacher. Fifteen years later, she was working as a distinguished law professor when she received a call asking her to come to Washington, DC to advise Congress on rewriting bankruptcy laws. The next several years, Warren fought big battles in an attempt to change the financial system. Finally, at age sixty-two, she ran for Senate in one of the most competitive and watched races in the country. Describing Warren’s life journey, A Fighting Chance
also tells why she believes so strongly in fighting for middle-class working families.
Warren started life in a middle-class home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 22, 1949. She came late into her family after her three older brothers were almost fully-grown. When Warren was twelve years old, her father had a heart attack and lost his job. The sales job he then took paid only on commission, and as a shy man, he was not able to bring in enough income for the family. They lost the family car and were on the verge of losing the house, so Warren’s mother was forced to get a job to support the family. She became a phone operator for Sears.
When it came time for Warren to go to college, her mother attempted to talk her out of it because she believed she would be better off finding a husband and becoming a mother. However, Warren decided to attend George Washington University and stayed there for two years before reuniting with an old high school boyfriend whom she married. Jim Warren was employed by IBM in Houston. Warren followed him, transferring to the University of Houston to finish her degree. Warren’s husband then received a job transfer, and they moved to New Jersey.
Warren was working as a speech therapist when she became pregnant, and she was let go the following year. Although she was bored staying at home with her child, Warren had a feeling her husband would not like it if she got another job. Instead, she decided she would go to law school and was accepted into Rutgers. Pregnant with her second child, Warren graduated from Rutgers but had a challenging time finding a job at a law firm. She decided to take a teaching job at Rutgers. One year later, Warren’s husband was once again transferred, and Warren took a teaching position at the University of Houston.
Warren struggled to balance her work and home life and, eventually, her marriage ended. Her aunt agreed to come to Houston to take care of the children while Warren worked, and she soon convinced her parents to move there as well. Warren then fell in love again and married Bruce Mann, a law professor. The two had a challenging time finding employment at the same university, and for several years, Mann commuted to St. Louis while Warren taught at the University of Texas in Austin.
Eventually, both moved to the University of Pennsylvania. After several years, Warren was offered a position at Harvard. Although she was at first reluctant to take this position because it would mean once again separating her family, she decided to take it due to the prestige and the opportunity it would give her to expand upon her theories on bankruptcy.
At Harvard, Warren was asked to take part in a commission to review current bankruptcy laws and make recommendations. There, Warren fought against the big banks attempting to change bankruptcy laws in their favor. However, Warren and her colleagues were only able to delay the inevitable, ultimately unable to make a difference.
After the 2008 mortgage crisis, Warren returned to Washington to take part on a committee designed to oversee the bank bailout. There, she fought to ensure big banks would not be able to take even more from the American people; she was successful in getting back most of what was owed to them. However, she was once again unable to create real change.
In 2009, Warren came up with the idea that an agency should exist with a single director selected independently and without any influence from big banks to manage all consumer financial products. After a long and hard battle, the agency was signed into law. However, a huge amount of resistance sprang up against appointing Warren as the agency director. Although she did establish the agency, another person was eventually appointed to run it.
In 2011, people began telling Warren that she should run for Senate. She was hesitant, however, because she was unsure about taking on such a huge commitment at that time in her life. However, after meeting several constituents who needed a champion like her to fight for them, Warren decided to run for Senate, winning by a large margin.