Most leadership battles are playing out in Congress outside of the purview of regular Americans. A couple weeks ago, we mentioned that the Republican wing of the Democratic Party– the New Dems– was in the process of electing new officers. Jared Polis, the wealthiest Democrat in the House, is running for the chairmanship, although people tell me that Wall Street crook and ex-New Dem chieftain Joe Crowley still calls the shots there. Polis is sending his election literature to non-members who forward them on to me for a laugh. He followed that up with one called Thanksgiving Note (personal). Don't you just love getting spam marked personal?
As we rejoice in the blessings of family and friends this Thanksgiving, in appreciation of our small private worlds which are so important to giving us the strength to serve, I am particularly thankful for our New Dem Family.
…The New Dems are a future-oriented caucus. We don't want to go back; we want to make the future work. The America of the 1950’s, while it may have had opportunities for white working-class men, was not kind to the rest of us, including women, people of color, and the LGBT community, among others. That's not a past we desire to return to, but it should serve as inspiration for us to create a better future for everybody, including white working-class men. A future in which rather than retreating into isolationism and nationalism, we work with the rest of the world to create a better and more prosperous future. One in which we stamp out bigotry and discrimination and rise to the challenge of ensuring that our economy can work for all Americans.
New Dems want to make trends like automation and trade work for Americans, rather than against them. We want lifesaving drugs and medical technology to be available; we want smart cybersecurity policies to deal with today's and tomorrow's threats; and we want a compassionate and growth-oriented approach to legal immigration. We peddle in the truth that today's America, for all of its faults, is the very best and most inclusive America we've ever had and WE HAVE IDEAS TO MAKE IT EVEN BETTER.
We've all seen the ugly forces that Trump's election has unleashed, a part of America that may have been underground and forgotten but has always been there. In a way perhaps the visibility is good, as it can serve as a reminder that the forces of hate, division, and bigotry are not yet banished from our land just as they reside in the darkest recesses of the human spirit.
I look forward to working with the New Dem Coalition, the Democratic Caucus, and the institution of Congress to reflect our values and create an even better future. This Thanksgiving I am thankful, grateful, and honored beyond my wildest dreams that you and I have a seat at the table to help get things right for our country and the world.
With the exception of Jim McDermott, the progressive icon retiring as the Seattle congressman and being replaced by Pramila Jayapal, every Democratic member of the Washington state congressional delegation is a New Dem. The infection spread and this blue state is dominated by Democrats from the Republican wing of the party. Derek Kilmer– who represents the northwest part of the state west of Seattle all the way to the Pacific, including the Olympic Peninsula, Kitsap, Bremerton and about a third of Tacoma. It's safely Democratic (D+5) and voted for Obama 57-41% in 2008 and 56-41% in 2012. Hillary beat Trump there this year and Kilmer was reelected with 62% of the vote. He won all 6 counties, including the 3 small rural counties– Clallam, Grays Harbor and Mason– won, narrowly, by Trump. Kilmer, a white collar professional who voted against unions and working families in the state legislature, was first elected in 2012. He's a Chamber of Commerce darling and is generally considered pro-business and anti-labor and sells himself as a bi-partisan problem-solver, always happy to find an excuse to vote with the GOP. He has an “F” crucial vote lifetime score from ProgressivePunch, the most conservative Democrat in the delegation. He's running for New Dem vice-chairman. He sent his crap to a vehemently anti-New Dem congressmember who think Kilmer is a jackass and was happy to send me his letter.
When folks back home ask me how it’s going in Congress, I usually respond by telling them it’s a “fixer-upper.” Between the partisanship, the focus on message over substance, and the sense that we are missing opportunities to keep up with the global competition, there’s a lot about the House of Representatives that can be frustrating. I love being a New Dem because we don’t get frustrated. Instead we channel our energy into doing things that are positive and solutions-oriented.
Being able to set aside a few hours every week to meet with my New Dem colleagues and engage in substantive conversations about the policies that will move our nation forward and the strategies needed to get them enacted gives me energy and motivation. More importantly, it gives me hope that we really can make this economy work for everyone, and get our Congress working again too.
I'm committed to the New Dems and am writing to ask your support to become one of the Vice-Chairs of our coalition.
As New Dem PAC Chair for the last two years, not only did I actively work to increase the amount of money raised by New Dems, I also helped increase the amount of money turned over directly to candidates. During the 2016 cycle, the NewDemPAC raised nearly $4 million, an increase of over $1 million from the previous cycle. NewDemPAC was able to triple the number of individual campaigns supported this cycle, and amass the resources necessary to provide the maximum contribution to every active New Dem Member and endorsed candidate who requested it.
I also worked to expand our national travel schedule to include new cities like Boston and Los Angeles. I strongly believe that the best ideas for how to grow our economy and create jobs come from outside Washington, and empowering more members to highlight innovation in their hometowns will strengthen our coalition going forward.
I didn’t just do what was asked of me. I stepped up and took on new responsibilities. For example, I organized events at the beginning of the 114th Congress to introduce newly elected members to some of the New Dems’ biggest supporters in key industries. It has generally been my approach to try to look for new opportunities to contribute, lift up other members, and build a stronger team.
Because I believe we need to do more to leverage the talents of our membership I championed the idea of changing our bylaws to give each of the Vice-Chairs a specific set of responsibilities. Not only will this give each Vice-Chair more opportunity to contribute, it will also create more transparency and accountability on the part of our leadership team. We need to do more to tap into the talents of our members. Among our ranks are moms and dads, grandparents, entrepreneurs, veterans, law enforcement officers, and local elected officials who served in every capacity from City Council to Governor. Given all the work we have ahead of us we will need every one of our members to bring their experiences and backgrounds to bear to help move us forward.
I am running with the hope that I can fill the role of Vice-Chair for Policy Coordination. I believe that more can be done to utilize our Task Force system, and to coordinate with outside stakeholders to develop innovative policy ideas for our coalition to champion. I also hope to be able to reach out to like-minded Republicans, and work with them from the outset in the hopes of developing bipartisan legislation with a real possibility to be approved by Congress and signed by the President.
Our party is clearly at a low point. Since the election, the loudest and most prominent voices are those arguing for populist policies and making highly partisan appeals to voters. If Democrats are going to regain the majority we need to recapture the center, and show the American people that we have ideas to build an economy that works for everyone and put an end to partisan bickering. New Dems have an important role to play in this process, and I would be honored to be chosen by my colleagues to help lead this effort.
Once Ryan and Trump start rolling out their ugly anti-family agenda we'll be keeping track of which Democrats collaborate the most with them. I can tell you in advance that we can all bet on Derek Kilmer to be on the wrong side far more than most Democrats.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis