I don’t know about you, but the new Democratic Congress has actually encouraged me. And I say that has someone who has a serious side-eye for the Democratic Party – they habitually overpromise and underdeliver. But I am particularly excited about some of courageous new voices in the House right now. Right away I am thinking of course of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Ro Khanna, Rashida Tlaib, and others. They are different. First and foremost, they were each voted in to Congress because the voters in their districts expected them to be different, to be bold, to speak truth to power. And they’ve each done that right out of the gate. Alexandria, Ilhan, Ayanna, Ro, and Rashida speak truth to power every single day. They challenge injustice. They don’t hold their tongues. They propose brilliant, bold, substantive solutions to problems. They all have two feet on the ground, and are fully connected to everyday people, but also are imaginative dreamers who refuse to accept the status quo. They have big ideas, big visions, but also explain how they’ll be paid for and what implementation looks like.
And what we have seen is that instead of fully embracing them, instead of fully celebrating them, the Democratic Party, for the first time in the history of the party, has just announced a very troubling new policy. And I have to shine a light on this policy because its potential impact is stifling. And what I really you to understand is something that I just didn’t know until I started advising and managing political campaigns myself. Over the past two years I’ve advised or even helped to directly manage nearly 15 different political campaigns across the country. And what I’ve learned is that cities, counties, states, and political parties can create policies that either make grassroots campaigns enormously difficult – I mean nearly impossible – or they can create policies and systems that genuinely create a fair playing field for any citizen in our nation to run.
And today I need to tell you about the DCCC – sometimes it’s called the D – Triple C – and that stands for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. I need to tell you about the D-Triple C and a destructive new policy they just announced. They tried to slip it into a larger document, and in a different time, that might’ve worked, but people caught on to this real quick.
In 2018 two particularly badass women decided that they weren’t going to wait their turn to run for Congress. They weren’t going to wait for permission. They weren’t going to wait for a golden ticket or a special invitation – and when they stepped up, each of them, to challenge older white men who had been in office for a generation – the establishment was pissed from the very beginning.
I’m talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who challenged Congressman Joe Crowley in New York and Ayanna Pressley – who challenged Congressman Mike Capuano (Cap-yoo-ON-oh) in Boston. At first, Joe and Mike seemed to dismiss Alexandria and Ayanaa. Both men had grown so comfortable that they weren’t even used to having challengers.
But Alexandria and Ayanna were as serious as a heart attack from Day 1. And they each out-organized and out-hustled their opponents. They knocked on more doors. They held more town halls. They won the debates. And they offered better visions that resonated with more voters. Alexandria literally walked and campaigned until her shoes had holes in them. And she won.
And when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won, defeating Joe Crowley, she defeated the 4th highest ranking Democrat in the House. And let me tell you – it shook up Washington, it shook up the establishment, and it shook up the Democratic Party. When Ayanna Pressley won, she defeated a Democratic congressman that had held that seat since he was elected in 1998. He was the ranking member on several committees. And when she beat him, again, the establishment was pissed. And in an instant, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress and Ayanna Pressley became the first Black woman ever elected to Congress from the entire state of Massachusetts.
You’ll hear me say this a lot, but it’s hard to know a moment in history when you are in it, but the elections of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley were historic. They were ground-breaking.
And then, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just announced a new policy meant to penalize anyone who even works with candidates like Alexandria & Ayanna.
Here’s the policy. To work with the D-Triple C, as a contractor, as a service provider, as a consultant, as a fundraiser, as a strategist, you have to agree to their brand new terms of service, and guess what the terms say:
The terms say this: If you want to do any business with the D Triple C, you must agree that you will not work with or advise any candidates who may be challenging incumbents. And if you do work with those candidates, you will be blacklisted and will no longer be able to work with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
And let’s be clear – The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the United States. It’s 227 years old. And for 227 years, they never had this policy banning contractors or partners or strategists from working with people who challenge incumbents. Then, after 227 years, two women of color defeat two well established white men, and NOW, after all of these years, you need this policy?
This policy is a direct response to the elections of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley. Period. And they’ve both spoken out about it.
In fact, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez took it a step further, she just tweeted to all of her nearly 4 million followers on Twitter that she wanted them to pull their donations from the D-Triple C and instead give them directly to the candidates who needed the donations the most. That was a bold power move from her. And it was warranted.
It’s fundamentally and categorically wrong for the primary gatekeeper of the Democrats in the House to create such a list. What is ultimately going to happen is this: The overwhelming majority of contractors and consultants and strategists who need to sign this D Triple C contractor agreement are now going to be barred from working with candidates like Alexandria and Ayanna.
The policy is not just racist and sexist – it’s a naked power grab designed to keep new people out of Congress and keep the old established members in. We must all reject it.