"I do." That was Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's two-word answer during Wednesday's Democratic debate when she was asked whether she had a plan for dealing with Mitch McConnell.
Warren's response was an appeal to the kind of grassroots pressure that lies at the heart of democracy itself. "The will of the people matters," she said, adding that "the fight" would go on if she became president and Republicans maintained control of the Senate. "It starts in the White House—we have to push from the outside, have leadership from the inside and make this Congress reflect the will of the people."
Warren, the highest polling Democrat on Night 1 of the debates, made clear that she is betting on the strength of a mass of Americans and their collective activism to resuscitate our democracy. She vowed to fight for people repeatedly, over the corporations, over the health insurance industry, and over the mega wealthy.
"There's been way to too much consolidation in giant industries in this country," she said. The nation has had the laws to fight back against them, Warren added, "What's been missing is courage—courage in Washington to take on the giants" that have been funding campaigns and Super PACs and corrupting the essence of the federal government.
"I want to return government to the people," Warren pledged, "and that means calling out the monopolists and saying, I have the courage to go after them."
When it came to Medicare For All, Warren and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio were the only two candidates of the ten on stage to raise their hands affirmatively. Most Democrats made pitches for either improving on the Affordable Care Act and/or keeping private health insurance while adding a public option. Warren used the moment to explain why that wasn't good enough in her eyes.
"I've spent a good chunk of my life studying why families go broke, and one of the No. 1 reasons is the cost health care, medical bills," she said. Then Warren drew a line between herself and the candidates who weren't willing to go all in on Medicare For All.
"There are a lot of politicians today who say, Oh, it's just not possible, we just can't do it," Warren noted. "What they're really telling you is that they just won't fight for it. Well, healthcare is a basic human right, and I will fight for basic human rights."
Warren's message on domestic politics was consistent from front to back—she's fighting to make government work again on behalf of the vast majority of Americans. She used her closing statement to drive home why she's so committed to the cause. Telling the audience that her big dream as a kid was to become a public school teacher, she said her family simply couldn't afford the money for a college application when it came time.
"But I got my chance," she said, relaying that she was eventually able to attend a $50 per semester commuter college. "It was a little slice of government that created some opportunity for a girl, and it opened up my life," Warren explained.
Warren wants every person in America to have that same chance to unlock their potential, and she fundamentally believes America can still provide it if a movement of people rises up and invests in that dream.
"And I promise you this, I will fight for you as hard as I fight for my own family," she said, closing out the night as the last debater to deliver their final pitch.