Brand New Congress is a new organization that is working to elect progressive candidates to the House of Representatives and the Senate starting with the 2018 election cycle. The organizers come from the remnants of the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Last night I attended an organizational meeting for the group at the Chattanooga Public Library. It was an interesting group, consisting of former volunteers and staffers for the Sanders campaign along with a few interested individuals and a few candidates for local offices. The organizers had some interesting ideas on tactics they could use to parley some of the Sanders campaign’s successes into longer-term government power and influence.
Listening to the people at the meeting, their concerns with government seemed to center on five main issues:
- Transparency in government
- Campaign finance reform (Overturning Citizens United)
- Legalization of marijuana
- Fighting climate change
- Improving access to opportunity
All of these are issues I support, so I would have no problem working with them in the future. Despite the group’s beginnings, they are looking for people to run as Republicans, Democrats, and independents, because they want a diverse group able to get support across much of the political spectrum. They do want people who support much of the Sanders agenda, but they aren’t looking for people who are 100% in lockstep with it. They want ordinary citizens with integrity to run for public office, not the usual lawyers.
My only concern with the group is that they are a bit schizophrenic over whether or not they are Democrats, but I think much of that has to do with the uncertainty leading to this year’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. If the DNC marginalizes Sanders supporters and Clinton picks a moderate, mainstream Democrat as her running mate, then I think Brand New Congress may end up treating the Democrats similarly to the Republicans–use their primary processes but act independently. If the DNC and Clinton acknowledge that the party needs to change and takes real steps in that direction, then Brand New Congress will align more closely with the Democrats. If nothing else, it should be interesting to watch.
I enjoyed meeting everyone, and I look forward to seeing them shake things up.
Yesterday I was interviewed by Kim Bellware, Associate Chicago Editor for the Huffington Post, for an article on Rick Tyler’s racist billboards in Polk County. The best thing about having Tyler running for Congress is that I can sleep soundly knowing that whatever else happens in my campaign I will not be the worst person on the ballot.
Tonight I will be at the United Community Action Alliance campaign forum. See my Events page for details and directions.
I have very mixed feelings about the House of Representatives sit-in. I like the idea of a protest. I hate that they have tied so much of it to the awful idea of tying things to the no-fly list that ignores due process–especially after Senate Democrats voted down the Cornyn Amendment that added due process. I am cynical enough to believe that the main reason for this protest, for many House members, is to provide campaign material for November. There is middle ground between the Democratic and Republican proposals, but, like I said yesterday, people seem to be more interested in yelling and blaming than actually solving anything. Congress, prove me wrong. Please.