Monday, June 04, 2018

Does Congress Need More Corporate Lawyers? Or More Working Class Heroes?


Inspiring post by Aida Chavez at The Intercept over the weekend, Out Of Poverty And Onto The Ballot: The New Wave Of Woking-Class Candidates Trying To Take Congress. I loved the comparison she started with between David Trone, who spent $13,414,225 of his own money trying-- unsuccessfully-- to buy a House seat in Maryland. He would have been a pathetic waste of a seat-- and how lucky are Maryland and America that he was beaten bt Jamie Raskin, one of the best members of Congress! This cycle Trone has turned his efforts to another district-- abandoned by another crappy self-funding rich person, John Delaney-- and has already spent $5,281,939 of his own loot-- not counting massive bribes to the DCCC-- in a crowded 8 person primary. Chavez contrasts him with state Senator Roger Manno, who she describes as as someone who has gone "through extended bouts of homelessness, unemployment, and other economic depredations rarely found in the biographies of members of Congress."

She offers to introduce readers to candidates who, like Manno, have had "to overcome big money to get where they’re trying to go. When political parties and outside groups begin to estimate the chances that a congressional candidate has of winning a race, the first thing they look at is fundraising-- particularly money raised within the district. Those cash contributions from wealthy donors in the area serve as a proxy for support from the local elite and translate, in the party’s mind, into a high chance of victory. The process has a culling effect on the field, which has left Congress with a total net worth of at least $2.43 billion, according to the political news outlet Roll Call’s conservative estimates, with nearly 40 percent of all members being millionaires. That doesn’t mean there aren’t Democrats from poor and working-class backgrounds who run for Congress. It means that they’re often beaten back by wealthier, establishment-backed candidates who’ve been able to forge better connections. A new wave of candidates this cycle is hoping to change that." Some of the candidates she talks about are real contenders-- like James Thompson (KS), Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA), Amy Vilela (NV) and others are... long shots, if that. And some are typical conservative Democrap candidates, who, if they wind up in Congress, will make it worse, like multimillionaire, Vegas mobster-backed wave-rider, Susie Lee, supported by all the band guys-- from Harry Reid and EMILY's List to the DCCC and their phony-baloney offshoot, End Citizens United.

But she left off many of the strongest working class candidates with the best chances of winning and the best chances to help remake Congress and a badly mis-shaped Democratic Party. Besides James Thompson, I'm thinking of Mainer Jared Golden, Hawaii working class powerhouse Kaniela Ing, Oklahoma orphan Tom Guild, Alexandria Ocasio, the woman who could bring a much-needed earthquake to the Democratic Party, and, of course iron worker and union activist Randy "@IronStache" Bryce.

Why talk about Wall Street-owned New Dems Susie Lee and Angie Craig as working class heroes and leave out Ocasio, Ing and Bryce? Knock, knock, anyone home? Historically, plenty of people are born into poor families and have joined the oppressors asap-- pulling the ladder up behind them. A young Paul Ryan existed on government subsidies and then devoted his life to destroying those exact subsidies. What will Susie Lee do? Why take the chance on her or others like her who the DCCC has embraced because of their wealth, a Gil Cisneros, for example, who was born poor, won the lottery, joined the GOP, switched to the Democrats to run for office and started spreading his money around until the DCCC endorsed his conservative ass? Tomorrow is his primary and hopefully voters in CA-39 will show him and the DCCC the exit, electing a working class kid from the district, Sam Jammal, the son of two immigrant parents, instead.

Chavez understood what it means to be a New Dem when she described the conservative running against Ammar Campa-Najjar, "the 29-year-old progressive also easily won the pre-endorsement over his challenger, Josh Butner [an "ex"-Republican], who has the backing of the New Democrat Coalition PAC, which represents the pro-Wall Street camp." But when it came to Angie Craig... no mention of the New Dems-- "the New Democrat Coalition PAC, which represents the pro-Wall Street camp." And by the time Chavez got to Susie Lee, she seemed to be lauding the New Dems as a legitimate part of a coalition that saw Lee's "working-class background coupled with current wealth that inspires national support: The DCCC, EMILY’s List, the New Democrat Coalition PAC, End Citizens United, and other top Democrats..."

Some of her descriptions are valid and worthwhile. You can read them here. When it comes to solidarity, which I don't think I recall Chavez mentioning, watch this instead; watch it twice in fact--and then send it to everyone you know, especially if any of them live in Queens and the Bronx:

Or read this from Randy Bryce's campaign website:
Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker. He joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District because he knows first hand how working people have struggled, and he wants to ensure that the middle class is represented in D.C. again. Currently, over half of our Representatives in Congress are millionaires.

Randy was raised in southeastern Wisconsin, and went to public schools. Randy’s father was a police officer, and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. Both currently suffer from serious health issues-- his mother from multiple sclerosis, and his father from Alzheimer's. Seeing their health struggles in the face of Paul Ryan’s attempts to repeal Obamacare and attack Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, helped Randy decide to enter the race.

After high school graduation, Randy enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was posted to Honduras, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal. When he came home, he got a job working with homeless veterans, until the government stopped funding the program. After that, like a lot of veterans, Randy struggled to find work and ultimately took two full time jobs just to get by. Many years later, that experience led Randy to help found the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce.

In his late 20s, Randy was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Despite working two jobs, he didn’t have health insurance. So, the bills bankrupted him. The doctors also told him it was unlikely he could ever have children. While he was in recovery, Randy found his way to an apprenticeship as an ironworker, which he describes as his ticket to the middle class. His career as an ironworker allowed him to exit bankruptcy and provide health insurance for his son Ben, who now attends public school like his Dad did.

Grateful for all the union had given him, Randy became an active member, and helped organize the resistance to Governor Scott Walker’s Act 10, which worked to destroy teachers and other public sector unions in the state. After that loss, Randy realized he couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and he’s been fighting for working families ever since.
Kaniela Ing has been one of the effective tribunes for the working class, not just in Hawaii's legislature but in any legislature in America. His campaign website says he's "an unlikely politician. He doesn't come from money or power. Kaniela is a first-generation college graduate." Watch this video and listen to how he describes himself. It's downright inspiring:

Similarly, Jared Golden returned to Maine from the Marines where he fought on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was elected to the state legislature where he's risen to be Majority Whip. His record shows he's done the opposite of what Paul Ryan has done-- not hauling up the ladder of opportunity but expanding it. A working class kid made good, he's built a record of success fighting for middle- and working-class people. As his campaign website explains, "He has fought passionately for expanded access to healthcare, stronger unions, fairer wages, cleaner energy, better environmental standards, equal rights for women and minorities, and lower prescription medication costs for Maine’s seniors. Jared continues to stand up for his community and his beliefs, and he has been able to deliver real results to the people he was elected to serve." His opponents are a Wall Street Republican, Blue Poliquin, and a well-connected Democrat, Lucas St. Clair, who inherited a fortune from a craven mother who stole it from Burt's Bees.

Tom Guild's life story is heart-wrenching and it's what turned him into a devoted progressive. This video explains it and where he's coming from and what he's offering to Oklahoma voters:

And obviously, this is prone to happen even more in statewide races, which are much more expensive than congressional races. Today Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene s officially entered the Democratic primary race for Florida governor, a race filled with multimillionaires and billionaires. There's one exception. Andrew Gillum is the son of a bus driver and construction worker. Do Florida Democrats want to be inspired-- or are they happy being bought by millionaires and billionaires. If ideas and records of accomplishment and public service mean anything, Gillum will win. If Florida Democrats keep nominating centrist, uninspiring candidates for Governor and expect to break the GOP’s 20-year winning streak they're in for another rude awakening on the evening of August 28.

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At 5:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your rhetorical question atop this is intentionally misleading.

Of course congress needs more who represent the working class. But a few more of those will never change the party of which they are members. And it isn't just corporate lawyers who are the problem.

It's the goddamn corruption stupid. Adding a couple working class "heroes" won't do shit about the PARTY'S corruption now will it?

At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many progressives featured on DWT do appeal to me. But I second 5:57's conclusion. The PARTY is the problem. Whether Pelosi remains or goes, there is a long line of corrupt corporatists waiting for their turn to hand out the graft.


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