Brand New Congress
The grassroots organization, Brand New Congress, might just be the thing to help the working-class people realize their power. (Illustration by Alexa Finkelstein, Pratt Institute)
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Brand New Congress
The grassroots organization, Brand New Congress, might just be the thing to help the working-class people realize their power. (Illustration by Alexa Finkelstein, Pratt Institute)

So, take up some space and make some noise.

On November 6, 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) became a trailblazer for the future leaders of this country when she was elected to the United States House of Representatives to serve New York’s 14th Congressional District, covering parts of the Bronx and Queens. Initially, this might seem a mundane feat, but what makes her remarkable is how courageously she won the loyalty of so many over her incumbent opponent. Her history-making can be attributed to the working-class Americans volunteering for the young, grassroots organization Brand New Congress.

Brand New Congress is a political action committee seeking to support candidates for the United States House of Representatives. However, what sets them apart from other PACs is who they represent.

According to their webpage, Brand New Congress wants representatives who reflect what the common American is: working-class. By having typical working-class Americans, who hunger for the changes so desperately needed, this country is guaranteed to see results.

Brand New Congress’s distinct mission is to endorse the people’s choice to nominate those who can best represent their concerns. Defined by an entirely grassroots-driven system, Brand New Congress exclusively represents the candidates who we, the people, want to see in Congress. The nomination process is astonishingly simple, requiring supporters to fill out a virtual form with information regarding a prospective nominee.

The nominee qualifications are simple as well. Brand New Congress supports individuals who truly care to enact change in their communities, thus prioritizing the qualitative characteristics of a candidate rather than the quantitative ones.

They pursue those who have not compromised their values, have a record of public service, put the needs of their constituents over corporate profits and commit to a people-funded campaign. Nominees can be anyone from nurses to teachers to college students, so long as their ethics remain firm and directed toward the people’s prosperity.

For those pining to be a congressional leader, it merely requires the promise to be loud and the demand to be heard. Nevertheless, for those pursuing a more behind-the-scenes role of putting real people in office, Brand New Congress invites volunteers to program websites and apps, design public-facing materials, hunt for great candidates, moderate social media or write.

Working-class Americans make up a majority of the nation — the wealthy being noticeably scarcer. Brand New Congress is proud of its mission in supporting future leaders who are representative of the real American landscape, not the wealthy donors who alter it.

The general philosophy for an incumbent’s reelection is as follows: Incumbents are able to remain in office because of their willingness to accept donations from large corporations. The large sums of money (typically derived from the top 1 percent and other politicians with aligned policies) contribute to a candidate’s campaign, and the campaign’s grandeur virtually locks their position in office. Indiscreetly, the money from donors is an incentive for incumbents to advocate policy working in favor of their donors’ needs.

Not those of the American people.

Incumbents undermine the power of the people. They fail to acknowledge the ever-evolving demographics of this country and how in need its people are for reform and dedicated attention. Donors, who skew the actions of incumbent candidates, are untouched by issues facing the country today.

The lack of experience in societal hardship warps their perception of reality, making them either assume everything is running perfectly or ignore the adversity those lesser than them face. They believe nothing needs to be fixed.

Though, to the working-class Americans and underrepresented demographics in the United States, there could be a Lord of the Rings-length list of what exactly needs to be fixed. And I don’t mean the books. I mean the movies.

Firstly, the disabling strain of student loans. For students, to be in college is to subject oneself to poverty. And for what? The alleged benefits of a higher income supposedly warranted to those with a bachelor’s degree? Frankly, pay for new college graduates is barely sufficient enough for a semblance of financial security, and that doesn’t even consider the mountainous student loans lingering on the doorstep.

Secondly, the dwindling condition of the only known habitable planet. Environmental scientists, who spend lifetimes monitoring the health of Earth, have been screaming into a void about the inevitable dangers to be encountered with continued carelessness.

Thirdly (though definitely not finally), the still pertinent epidemic of racial injustice. No matter how vigorously some politicians try to downplay the racial injustice tormenting communities of color, it is still devastatingly present. Racial prejudice is growing, and representatives have done little to mitigate it.

Verbatim per Brand New Congress, “Our elected officials are more concerned with denying racism than actually addressing the rampant inequality plaguing communities of color.” To be a person of color in America is to always be aware of it. This should not be the case. Instead, to be a person of color in America should be to feel safe, valued and understood.

This is what all Americans deserve. This is the obligation to which our representatives are indebted.

Education is not a privilege. A thriving, green Earth to inhabit is not a comfort. Racial justice is not just a convenience. All of these are necessities. Necessities every human should be granted, just as with food and water. And they need more.

The American people are more powerful than realized. Fortunately, the paradigm of this country is built on the people’s integrity; that is, they have the authority to demand who represents them. If Americans are discontent with their government’s decisions, they can exert their own power through organizations such as Brand New Congress.

Naysayers might think, “Oh, Brand New Congress is simply another leftist organization grasping at straws for an unlikely change. What kind of power can that get us?”

But the reality is that they already have created change. AOC will undoubtedly go down in the books for her milestone. Not only was she a woman running against a 10-term, white male incumbent, she is an Afro-Latina waitress from the Bronx with a vision for true change, becoming the youngest woman to ever serve in the United States Congress.

That is exactly the power of Brand New Congress.

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