By Quentin Choy
July 27, 2021
If you’ve paid any attention to American politics over the last five years, you’ve noticed several upstarts on the political left.
An unknown Senator from Vermont almost defeated Hillary Clinton and the Democratic machine in the 2016 primaries.
A young bartender in the Bronx defeated a 10-term Congressman. Over in the north Bronx, a high school principal defeated the chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee just two years later.
The political left has slowly but steadily accumulated power in Congress but has often been too afraid to utilize it. Politicians like Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez (AOC) and Bernie Sanders have become synonymous with “the left.”
In Ohio, a special election could see the victory of Nina Turner, a successor of Bernie Sanders.
The Left in the Wilderness
Following Bernie Sanders failure to win the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, the American left wandered in the wilderness until 2018.
Donald Trump’s first two years in office forced many leftists out of their daily lives and onto the campaign trail. Trump’s victory fueled the campaign of many left-wing candidates wanting to counter Republican power in government.
These leftists viewed Hillary Clinton’s loss on her campaign and the type of hollow politics she represented. Believing the modern Democratic Party failed to sufficiently represent workers and issues of the working-class, organizers created groups like Our Revolution and Justice Democrats.
These groups were meant to carry on the policy goals of the Bernie Sanders left and to push the Democratic Party from the left by defeating establishment Democrats in primary elections. The organizations focused on policies like Medicare For All and a $15 minimum wage.
They also sought to win on small-dollar donations from supporters rather than behind beholden to corporations and PACs.
A Rise to Power, But a Hesitation to Act
Some of the first representatives elected from these organizations were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.
Wanting to coexist with the mainstream Democratic Party, newly-elected leftists hesitated to utilize their power and to openly engage against establishment Democrats in the House.
They described the new feeling of being in Washington D.C., and the right pounced on them as political bogeymen.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described the struggle in making rent for her apartment that representatives lived in. The right attacked her as a simple bartender who ended up in Congress.
Rashida Tlaib was criticized by conservatives for saying that she would “impeach the motherfucker” once she was in Congress. The right has also criticized her support for Palestinian rights.
Ilhan Omar received criticism for wearing a headscarf and for being a Somali refugee who seemed “ungrateful” for criticizing the United States, fueling racist remarks and death threats toward her. In 2019, Trump targeted Omar specifically, with the crow chanting “send her back,” referring to her past in Somalia.
After receiving attacks from the right and feeling small and out of place, the first wave of leftists were hesitant to use their power, especially against their own party who had just elected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
The Leftist Block Expands
In 2020, the leftist block in Congress grew with the election of Jamaal Bowman in New York and of Cori Bush in Missouri.
Bowman was a former middle school principal and fought hard to defeat an incumbent amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He ran against Eliot Engel, the chair of the Foreign Affairs committee.
Engel received endorsements from Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton, the most high-profile symbols of the Democratic establishment.
“From the very beginning, we anchored our campaign in the fight for racial and economic justice. We spoke the truth – about the police, about systemic racism, about inequality – and it resonated in every part of the district. We brought people together across race, across class, across religion, across gender, to fight for justice, to fight for equality, and to fight to create a country that works for all of us. We didn’t let them divide us. And we did it all without accepting a dime from corporate Pacs or lobbyists”Jamaal Bowman during his victory
His win, like AOC’s sparked new life into the political left. A political upset like this hadn’t occurred since AOC’s win. In the same election year, Cori Bush won in Missouri.
She marched the streets of Missouri in Black Lives Matter protests and was even homeless during her life before her electoral win.
She believed that her experiences with poverty and police brutality made her more relatable to her voters.
The “Squad” in unison with other leftists in Congress held power, but were still afraid to use it, especially following Joe Biden’s win.
How could they sink the legislative goals of a Democratic president? Would their opposition to Biden and his party end up helping Republicans? What issues were worth fighting for?
The left held a loaded gun, but were terribly afraid to shoot.
Enter Nina Turner
Nina Turner served as an Ohio State Senator until 2014. In 2016, she supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton and was even offered the vice presidential position by Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
She worked with Our Revolution to continue pushing Bernie Sanders’ policy goals.
In 2020, she was the co-chair of the Bernie Sanders campaign, representing the campaign across the country and on cable news. She was fierce, unapologetic, and committed to the left and its goals for working-class people.
To understand Nina Turner’s fierceness, take a look at this video of her explanation of Bernie Sanders’ history.
In 2020, Turner came under fire for her comparison of Joe Biden to Donald Trump and picking the lesser of two evils, neither of which would represent working-class people.
“It’s like saying to somebody, ‘You have a bowl of shit in front of you, and all you’ve got to do is eat half of it instead of the whole thing.'”Nina Turner on the 2020 election
Many voters viewed her statement as common sense, but much of cable news on the political world melted down over such a vulgar comparison. Perhaps the hated the truth in it even more than the vulgarity.
In 2021, following Biden’s pick of Representative Marcia Fudge (D-OH) to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ohio’s 11th district was now open for a special election to succeed her.
Nina Turner announced her candidacy, and her challenger is Shontel Brown, the Chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
What Makes Nina Turner Different?
By now, you might be wondering what Nina Turner possesses that elected leftists do not. While she likely shares similar views on social issues like currently-elected leftists, Turner doesn’t focus on them.
Some representatives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became entrenched in culture war issues, losing sight of the working-class goals.
Nina Turner is a fighter, while many elected-leftists are not. Turner would unite the left into a solid coalition and would inspire those already elected to represent the working-class goals they ran on.
She would help them use their power as a block to fight for their goals, especially against fellow Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden.
Her fighter personality is what the left needs at this critical stage of their political existence. If the left coalition fails to deliver, they might not be trusted by voters again.
The left has power, and they hold a loaded gun. They tremble, and they shake, terrified to fire the shot which leads to all-out warfare.
Nina Turner would help them pull the trigger.Follow WeTheCommoners Blog on WordPress.com