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Congressional Candidate From Missouri On Racial Justice And Policing


This evening Democrats hold the second night of their virtual convention. Last night Americans heard from different corners of the party, but they all tried to speak with one voice and deliver a message of unity - no small task for a diverse party that has seen progressive candidates challenging and beating incumbents with history and power. One of those progressive challengers is Cori Bush. She's a candidate for Missouri's 1st Congressional District, which encompasses all of St. Louis. Cori Bush joins me now. Thanks for being on the program.

CORI BUSH: Hi. Thanks for having me.

FADEL: So let's begin with your reaction to what you heard last night. It was a message of unity, as we said. But did it feel inclusive to members of the progressive wing of the party like yourself?

BUSH: You know, we have work to do. But, you know, I am excited to hopefully be able to be a part of that - you know, of opening things up and making them more inclusive. I definitely believe that, you know, things were said, you know, that's showing that there is some unity there, absolutely. But, you know, I bring a different - you know, I bring something different, you know? And that is coming from the heart of the ground, out of the activist community, out of the Ferguson uprising, you know, being unhoused, being, you know, just a whole different - just a different outlook. And so I'm just really hoping to be able to talk with people once I get there to help make sure those messages are heard.

FADEL: Now, that message of unity, which was headlined by former first lady Michelle Obama, is very much centered on defeating Donald Trump, making the case against him.

BUSH: Yes.

FADEL: Are progressives united with more centrist Democrats in that cause?

BUSH: We have to get Donald Trump out of office. So I believe that, you know, while - we are not a monolith, you know, but I do believe that there are progressives who, you know, are just looking at the fact that so many of the issues that we are fighting right now - that we know that those things will be amplified or that hatred may be amplified. The people that are the most vulnerable will - we - you know, do I think that the attacks will increase with Donald Trump - four more years, you know, having him in that seat with his administration? Absolutely. You know, the decisions that he's been making where it just seems like he's on his own island and he just gets to dictate everything - you know, that, I don't believe, is going to stop. I believe it'll get worse.

And so looking at that, looking at our unhoused population, what'll happen to our Latinx population, our disabled population, our LGBT, women, you know, our Black community, our brown community - what's going to happen to all of us? What's going to happen to our Asian community? What's going to happen to our Muslim community? You know, that's what I'm looking at, and so that's why I'm pushing so hard to make sure that we get Trump out of office.

FADEL: Now, do you worry, though, that in this effort to defeat the current president that progressive policy priorities like "Medicare for All," which Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have come out against, or a universal living income might get lost?

BUSH: No, absolutely not because we've been saying these same things. At least I know I've been saying the same things. I've listened to Sen. Sanders say these same things since 2015. And so we're going to keep pushing them. You know, we can't look at, you know, where we've been, you know, how hard it has been, you know? But I look at where we are now, you know? And now the conversation is about Medicare for All. The conversation is about UBI. And so we'll keep pushing that, and we won't stop.

You know, I'm not one to turn back, you know? I'm not one to allow just, you know, people wanting me to think a certain way - allow that to sway me, you know? I'm coming with experiences and the experiences that the people in this district have to walk through. And so no, it won't. We're going to keep fighting and pushing forward.

FADEL: In the 30 seconds or so that we have left, if you win in November, you'll be following in the footsteps of other progressive women candidates who won House seats in 2018. There's been a lot of coverage that New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is only being given 60 seconds. Do you draw any conclusions about what that means about the voices they value?

BUSH: You know what? She's on the stage, so I'm just glad that she's at least on the stage.

FADEL: Right.

BUSH: And she can knock it out in 60 seconds.

FADEL: Cori Bush, Democratic candidate for Congress in Missouri's 1st Congressional District, thank you so much for speaking with us.

BUSH: Thank you. Have a great one. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.