Saturday, January 23, 2016

Unrigging The System-- Meet Pramila Jayapal


In his NY Times column yesterday, Nick Kristof talked about the feeling of fundamental unfairness that has been sweeping the country and roiling the election season. The feeling is devastating to the campaigns of establishment hacks like Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders don’t agree on much. Nor do the Black Lives Matter movement, the Occupy Wall Street protests and the armed ranchers who seized public lands in Oregon. But in the insurgent presidential campaigns and in social activism across the spectrum, a common thread is people angry at the way this country is no longer working for many ordinary citizens.

And they’re right: The system is often fundamentally unfair, and ordinary voices are often unheard.

It’s easy (and appropriate!) to roll one’s eyes at Trump, for a demagogic tycoon is not the natural leader of a revolution of the disenfranchised. But the populist frustration is understandable.
Has this feeling of frustration trickled down into congressional races yet? The stalwart progressives backing Bernie's campaign while running for Congress themselves all hope so. And every day we are getting more and more candidates coming forward. This week Wendy Reed, a Bernie organizer in Bakersfield announced she is taking on GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who the DCCC traditionally gives a free pass to reelection. We knew Garden Grove mayor Bao Nguyen, one of the Blue America candidates in Orange County agreed with Bernie on all the issues, but a couple of days ago he endorsed him. West Virginia's most progressive former state legislator, Mike Manpenny, is campaigning as much for Bernie as he is for a congressional seat for himself. Tim Canova (FL-23), Diana Hird (NY-18) and Alex Law (NJ-01) are taking on corrupt conservative Democrats who are as much a part of the problem as any Republican. But I want to turn to one race in particular today, the race to replace retiring progressive icon Jim McDermott in Seattle (WA-07). There are several excellent progressives saying they will run but the progressive dream candidate, state Senator Pramila Jayapal, jumped in Thursday. She's best known as an effective advocate for increasing the minimum wage, strengthening voting rights and providing all Washingtonians with the opportunity to go to community college free of charge.

She wrote an OpEd in The Stranger explaining why she decided to run for Congress. Many of her points are the same ones that Kristof made in his column.
I chose to run for elected office after a career of organizing and advocating on the outside for change because I saw that, now more than ever, we need people of principle in power.

We need effective leaders who know both how to get things done as well as how to stand up for their constituents, rather than for corporate lobbyists.

We need movement builders who understand that our role as elected officials is not only to pass good policy or stop bad policy, but to be the bridge between government and the people, to remind people that we represent THEM, and to help inspire hope, trust, and a new generation of activism.

I’m running for Congress because our system is rigged for corporations and the wealthy, but we can fight back. The time has come to tackle this inequality: we need to raise the minimum wage, expand Social Security and Medicare, and ensure debt-free college for young people across America.

I’ll be a bold progressive fighter, someone who will not just represent you but will stand up for you and your values. If you elect me, you can be sure that I will stand up for working people, not the one percent. All the time, I’m going to continue my work on keeping our families together, not deporting them; and for criminal justice reform, not private prisons.

I come to you today tested in some of our nation’s most challenging times, having fought for some of our nation’s most challenging federal issues from immigration reform to women’s rights. I’ve built a highly effective organization, won real policy changes at the local, state, and national levels, and worked to inspire new generations of diverse leadership in everything I do.

...I went to Olympia to fight for those who don't have a voice. Last year, I passed two bills, helped fund a new Southeast Economic Opportunity Center that will bring higher education to the Rainier Valley for the first time, put $5.25 million in pre-apprenticeship support for women and people of color, and fought against payday lending. I fought to reform our gun laws, this year sponsoring one of two gun reform bills in Olympia, and to increase the minimum wage and increase equity in education. And I organized Democrats and one Republican to send a letter to Congress demanding the overturn of Citizens United.

This year, I’ve worked hard on crafting bills on automatic voter registration, tuition-free community college with Senator Frockt, and lifting the statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault and ensuring rape kits are tested. We have Republican co-sponsorship on all of them and believe we have a real shot of getting them done.

What I fought for in the legislature is what I've been fighting for, the people I've been fighting for, in and around this district for the last 25 years. That's the kind of not just experience, but perspective and persistence that I'll bring to Washington.

...I’m not afraid of big dreams, of achieving things that others say are not possible. I’m not afraid of laying out a real vision that speaks truth to power and inspires people to join us. Even disbelievers and those who may not always agree see in me an honest and effective broker who’s willing to put aside partisan politics when there are people of good faith on both sides who want to work towards real change. But if it turns to playing games with people’s lives or grandstanding, I’m unafraid to challenge the status quo.

I will fight to win things that we all deserve, because I know that we’re doing this together. It’s not enough to just believe the right things-- we need someone who has ACTED for the right things, hand in hand with every day people, and with an eye always on the future of effecting real change.

I said this during my state senate campaign and I’ll say it again now: this campaign is not about electing me, it’s about electing “WE”-- the “we” that works together for building the movement we need. We are going to need each and every one of you to have ownership in this campaign and this seat. So, I plan to build a campaign that is built on you-- powered by the grassroots, and the energy of working people. We ARE the ones we’ve been waiting for.

In the end, the powerful have their voice-- I humbly ask that I may be yours. I will be bold, I will be honest and I will demand justice. I will be your fighter in Congress for YOUR future, OUR future.
You can contribute to Pramila Jayapal's campaign here, as well as to Bernie and the other congressional candidates running on his progressive platform.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home