Home Politics Brand New Congress (BNC) Presents a Post-partisan Progressive Congress

Brand New Congress (BNC) Presents a Post-partisan Progressive Congress

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Candidate stump speeches from (L-R) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Chardo Richardson (FL-07), Paula Jean Swearingen (WV Senate), Marc Whitmire (TN-02), and David Benac (MI-06).

The 2018 elections will hold a strategic significance for the DNC, Democratic voters, and those who affiliate themselves with resistance to the Trump Administration. Conversations assigning blame for the last presidential election continue and the left is divided on the path forward. Brand New Congress (BNC) chose to resist by filling Congress with a new breed of Democrats and Republicans pledged to a Progressive platform. At the Brand New Summit in Washington, DC on Monday, November 5, BNC showcased 20 of their candidates set to run in Federal races for the House and Senate next year.

BNC are one of the groups that splintered off of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Democratic Primary Campaign. They intend to run, and fundraise for 400 candidates in 2018. Candidates must all pledge themselves to a Progressive platform which includes medicare for all, criminal justice reform, and the protection of voting rights. In return they will receive $5000 from the organization, which will allow the candidates to focus on voter engagement over fundraising.

More than 30 candidates have already been chosen to run on their platform. On Monday, these candidates and speakers from other political organization met on the American University campus for a series of stump speeches and panels on current issues.

A panel on post-partisan politics with (L-R) BNC Press Director Zeynab Day, Jenny Marshall (NC-05), Robb Ryerse (AR-03), Roza Calderon (CA-04), and John Heenan (MT-At Large).

The majority of the candidates are running House races with six coming from Texas. There are also two candidates each from California, Illionois, Florida, and Washington on the website. Republican Robb Ryerse from Arkansas’ District 3 has also pledged himself to the Progressive platform. He told me that BNC will announce more Republicans soon.

Two months ago,  progressive third parties met for the People’s Convergence Conference in the exact same building as the Summit. The Draft Bernie organization and BNC were founded by former staffers from Sanders’s campaign. In a simplified sense, the Draft Bernie campaign represents the #DemExit strategy, where BNC represents #DemEnter, or technically #EnterDuopoly considering Robb Ryerse and the other Republicans to be announced.  

The slate on their website only includes one Senatorial candidate. Paula Jean Swearingen is running for a Senate seat in West Virginia against the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Joe Manchin. “The coal industry is his top donor,” said Swearingen about her opponent, “his second top donor is Mylan Pharmaceutical and his daughter is the CEO.”

The Manchin family was wrapped in controversy last year when Mylan raised the price of the EpiPen. In 2012, before the price-increase, Gayle Manchin, the Senator’s wife, had enacted policy that made schools buy more epinephrine pens while she was President of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Swearingen announced her candidacy in May. In conversation, she often returned to the health ailments common among her neighbors in coal country. The characters that brought her to announce a senatorial campaign were surrounded by poor health and death in their communities. She told me about the young daugher of her neighbor in Lester, WV with cancer; the WV Democratic governor and coal baron, Jim Justice, who poisons the lungs of her children, “with silica dust every day;” and her father, her grandfather, and her stepfather who were all besieged by a mixture of black lung, heart disease, and cancer.    

“I’ve been a social and economic justice activist for years here in West Virginia, the reason I started that path was I’m a coal miner’s daughter and granddaughter, and most of my family worked in coal mining,” she said.

When Swearingen moved to Lester around 2001 her neighbor’s eight-year-old daughter got cancer. She said, “They were closing her school several times for a funny smell and the Board of Education wouldn’t offer any answers.” This lead Swearingen to the connection between MTR and public health in her community.

She found out that the local MTR mine was pumping a “toxic soup” of chemicals into the ground, and that no studies had been done to find out if there was a connection between mining practices and the high incidence of cancer in Lester and other communities with MTR mining sites. “I could go around two blocks and pick out eight houses where people have cancer,” she said, “And these are not isolated incidences, like a community called Prenter Hollow, very small community, people have alarming rates of brain cancer, their gall bladders were removed, respiratory issues, and their water supply was polluted by a slurry impoundment over their head and they still today deal with water issues.”

Swearingen responded to these tragedies proactively. She said, “I got mad and so I decided to become an activist.” This decision eventually brought her together with the organizers at Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats.

Ryerse defined BNC as post-partisan. He told me that he is on board with a progressive platform because, “The Republican party used to be the progressive party in the United States, if you look at the Republican platform of 1956 it called for equal pay for women, it called for increasing healthcare, a number of things.” In 1956 the Republicans chose Dwight D. Eisenhower as their candidate and Nat King Cole spoke at the convention. This platform and convention showed a different GOP to the obstinate group we are used to today.

The keynote speaker at the conference was the Honorable Arthur L. Burnett Sr., the first African American Superior Court Judge. In his remarks he praised the paths of the candidates by saying, “It’s not enough just to be demonstrating and protesting. I tell my law school classes and my teachers and professors, get your feet on the ground, get a little experience and at 30, 35 years, like the candidates here, get inside your mayor’s office, city council, change things from within. Be action oriented. Put money on the table.”

Throughout the panels and speeches, the candidates referred to their group as a family. They used the language of, “Having each other’s backs.” As the 2018 elections approaches, the organization intends to add hundreds more candidates to the family. Follow them here or on their website at brandnewcongress.org.

 

Watch interviews, panels, and speakers from the summit below:

 

Raheela Ahmed: Prince George’s County School Board, New Leadership Project

This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from Brand New Summit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. Raaheela Ahmed of the Prince George's County School Board and the New American Leaders Project. Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

Robb Ryerse (AR-03)

This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from Brand New Summit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. Robb Ryerse is running against Rep Steve Womack in Arkansas' 3rd district.Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

Paula Jean Swearingen (WV. Senate)

This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from Brand New Summit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. Paula Jean Swearingen is running for a West Virginia Senate seat.Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14)  

This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from Brand New Summit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. We are talking to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She's running in the 14th district of NYC against Joseph Crowley.Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

Amy Vilela (NV-04) & her staff

This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from Brand New Summit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. We are talking to Amy Vilela. She's running in the 4th district of Nevada against Ruben Kihuen.Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

Holly Lynch, attendant, considering running in NYC

This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from Brand New Summit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. We are talking to Holly Lynch who's attending #brandnewsummit and considering running in NYC.Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

Social justice panel w/ Vanessa Adia (TX-12), Cori Bush (MO-01), Anthony Clark (IL-07), and TATM’s own Paula Martinez-Benge; followed by remarks from Ronald Stubblefield, a Baltimore Corps Fellow

LIVE NOW—The Fight for Social Justice: Protecting the Rights of Marginalized People in the Age of Trump. Featuring Issy Allison (BNC President), TATM Journalist Paula Martinez-Benge, Anthony Clark (candidate IL-07), Cori Bush (candidate MO-01), and Vanessa Asia Candidate (TX-12)This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from #BrandNewSummit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. Swatch the Fighting for Social Justice panel with Antony Clark from IL-07 and Cori Bush from MO-01.Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

Keynote from the Honorable Arthur L. Burnett Sr. and closing remarks from BNC President Isra Allison

This is Rhys Baker reporting for TATM News from Brand New Summit in Washington D.C. The conference is a showcase of 20 candidates selected by Brand New Congress to run for Federal Office. Join us for panels on current political issues, interviews with the candidates and organizers, and conversations on the 2018 election. Skip the overpricedcoffee and support TATM and our independent journalists! Visit http://truthagainstthemachine.com/index.php/donate-2/to donate $3

Posted by Truth Against The Machine on Monday, November 6, 2017

 

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Rhys Baker
Rhys is a Washington D.C. reporter. He is mad as hell that humanity is not responding to climate change, or racial and gender injustices in a meaningful way. He reports from the capital because he wants to bring attention to the people, organizations, and movements who are overturning historical oppressions one action, march, rally or campaign at a time.

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