BY MARIE NEWMAN
JULY 17, 2019
In 2018, Americans elected the most diverse Congress in our country’s history. What this tells me is that not only are more people running for office, but more people are engaging in politics, volunteering on campaigns, talking about the issues that matter to them, and voting. The causes for this are many, but the effects are pretty clear. More of us are paying attention, pushing for legislation that helps people over corporations, and voting for candidates who do the same. More of us are calling out political patronage and challenging legislators who sell out their constituents for campaign contributions from corporate PACs and special interest lobbyists.
The 2010 Citizens United decision from the Supreme Court affirmed that the U.S. government considers corporations people, and as a result corporations have more influence in government now than they ever have before. Big, institutional change is hard to shepherd under any circumstances, and there will always be those who drag their feet, but the cozy relationship between our elected officials and corporate special interests tips the scale heavily in favor of the status quo. When lawmakers from both parties are so beholden to corporate backers, how can we expect to pass legislation that puts workers first, that puts our climate first, that puts the health of our people ahead of everything else?
The answer is we can’t and that to make the change we want to see, we need to elect representatives who actually represent us. We need to elect people who understand that there is a growing income divide in this country, a looming climate crisis, and that the solution to these problems lies in legislation that puts people first. I worked three jobs to put myself through college, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck, and I’ve known the struggle of deciding which bills to pay and which to kick down the road. I have been fortunate enough to work my way out of this struggle, but what was clear then and is even more so clear now is that not everyone has the same luck that I did. Everyone should have access to the support systems that I did. It shouldn’t come down to luck. We need leaders who understand this, who will champion policies like paid leave, Medicare for All, and universal childcare; who will be partners and advocates for organized labor; and who will work to build a green economy that promotes environmental justice.
In all of the 120-plus meet and greets we’ve held since January, and the hundreds of others since initially exploring a run in early 2017, I have asked the same question: What issues matter to you? In all of these rooms, I heard from people who felt like their congressman wasn’t representing them. Whether it was his opposition to Obamacare and his refusal to consider Medicare for All, or his votes to build a wall on our border and against DACA, many told me they felt that not only is Dan Lipinski not giving voice to their concerns in Washington, but that he is openly working against them. This is why I am running for Congress in Illinois’s Third District. Because the most important piece of this job is to understand your district, to be in alignment with your community’s values, to know their concerns and to tirelessly put them above your own.
Our movement in IL-3 has been met with some pushback from the Democratic establishment in Washington, D.C., namely the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who have pledged their support to protecting Dan Lipinski. I don’t agree with how they are making their argument. I think the blacklist they are enforcing against firms that work with primary challengers disproportionately affects female candidates and candidates of color, but I can understand their premise. They are doing what they think they need to do to protect our new Democratic majority in Congress and to expand upon it. Their hard work flipped 41 Republican seats in 2018, which is something that we should all cheer. We need to recognize, though, that what makes our new Democratic majority in Congress so great is the golden opportunity it gives us to pursue big, progressive policies that will improve everyday life for everyone. Congressmen like Dan Lipinski stand in the way of the change that my community and our country are asking for. I look forward to winning this election in March, as a real Democrat with a real plan, and working with members of my party to build an economy that works for everyone.