In light of the massive attention currently being directed toward the Democrats’ so-called “Green New Deal,” it is worth examining one particular organization that has played a vital role in promoting not only that Deal, but its staunchest advocates as well. That organization is Justice Democrats (JD), a federal political action committee which was launched in Los Angeles on January 23, 2017. The group was co-founded by several individuals who had been either supporters or staffers of Senator Bernie Sanders’ failed presidential campaign of 2016. These included: Cenk Uygur of the online news program The Young Turks; longtime Democrat operative Zack Exley, who has had close ties to MoveOn.org and George Soros‘s Open Society Foundations; Saikat Chakrabarti, who later went on to become the campaign manager and chief-of-staff to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Alexandra Rojas (national digital field director of Sanders’ campaign); Corbin Trent (founder of “Tennessee for Bernie Sanders”); and Kyle Kulinski, the host and producer of the YouTube show Secular Talk. All except Kulinski had also been co-founders (in 2016) of the pro-Democrat organization Brand New Congress (BNC).
In contrast to BNC’s unusually ambitious goal of replacing all 435 U.S. House Members with political novices, JD deemed it wiser to support some incumbent Democrats and to direct its efforts chiefly toward unseating: (a) only those Democrats whose politics were unacceptably centrist, and (b) as many Republicans as possible. Over time, JD reasoned, this approach would help “change the Democratic Party from the inside out” by moving it ever farther to the political left. Boasting a membership of some 200,000 people, JD formally established an alliance with BNC in March 2017.
JD condemns the “racism and xenophobia [that] have always been part of our country’s history,” throughout which “African Americans and Latinos in particular, and people of color generally, have been targets in our nation’s continued assault against their rights, liberties, and humanity.” To address these injustices, the organization calls for the creation of “a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the generational harms caused by slavery and Jim Crow and [to] propose remedies.”
In the 2018 election season, JD endorsed 67 Democratic congressional candidates, 23 of whom won their party primary races, and 7 of whom were ultimately elected to the U.S House. Those were: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ro Khanna, Raul Grijalva, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Pramila Jayapal. Among the more noteworthy candidates who received JD’s support but failed to win their respective elections were Ben Jealous and Abdul El-Sayed.
To secure JD’s endorsement and support, candidates are required to pledge that they will not accept any money from corporate PACs or corporate lobbyists, and to openly embrace the organization’s political platform. Key planks of that platform include the following:
- Enact a Green New Deal, environmental legislation whose mission is to rapidly eliminate all fossil-fuel use from the U.S. economy; create a basic income program and a federal jobs guarantee that would provide a “living wage” to every person who wants one; implement a government-run, single-payer health care system called “Medicare For All”; and replace free-market capitalism with a socialist framework.
- Invest “trillions” of dollars in “rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, schools, levees, airports, etc.”
- “Mak[e] the top 1% [of earners] and multinational corporations pay their fair share” of taxes.
- Provide free education for everyone attending public colleges and trade schools.
- Increase expenditures for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which already consume, in aggregate, 62% of the federal budget.
- Ensure paid vacation time, sick time, family leave, and childcare services for all American workers.
- “Protect women’s rights” by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act, repealing the Hyde Amendment (which bars the use of public money to fund abortions), and “oppos[ing] Republican cuts to Planned Parenthood.”
- Enact “sweeping and comprehensive policy changes” to a criminal-justice system that “currently targets Black and Brown people” with “inappropriate policing practices” and “unjust mass incarceration.”
- “Invest more in jobs and education, less in jails and incarceration.”
- End “the racist War on Drugs” that “has torn families apart all across our country” and disproportionately harms the black community.
- Abolish capital punishment, an “indefensible” practice that too often “puts innocent people to death.
- Place “a ban on assault weapons” (semi-automatic weapons) and “high-capacity magazines.”
- Secure the “voting rights” of “every American citizen” by eliminating Voter ID laws allegedly designed “to disenfranchise [poor and nonwhite] voting blocks who have traditionally supported Democrats.”
- Abolish the federal Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, which “has turned into a state-funded terror group that regularly violates basic human rights.”
- Implement “comprehensive immigration reform” that ensures a “path to citizenship” for millions of illegal aliens.
- “Support the movement to provide statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico” – places whose residents overwhelmingly support Democrats over Republicans – “in order to bring balance to the increasingly skewed Senate.”
- “Support public financing of elections and the removal of the corrupting influence of corporate and big money in our democracy.”
In 2018, JD played a key role in promoting the congressional campaign of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. By February 2018, Ocasio-Cortez had become a member of of JD’s board of directors. JD’s socialist, open-borders, transformative agenda is hers as well.
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