Next year could signal a changing phase in American politics. As evidenced by Adam Smith, a Congressman from Washington State’s 9th district on his congressional website, “Over the last few years, and especially in the past several months, I have seen an extraordinary level of engagement from the American people. In fact, in all my years as a legislator, I have never seen this level of involvement from constituents.”
New political involvement outlined by Adam Smith above includes a new kind of primary challenge for him – Sarah Smith, backed by a brand new organization, Brand New Congress. She is looking to surprise the political world next year riding a new wave of political activism and involvement.
Yet, for Sarah Smith, being involved in politics isn’t new. She tells Progressive Army that she’s “been politically active ever since I was in High School and the Iraq War started.” She helped “with voter drives, held unofficial debate groups” with friends during lunch, and made sure to stay aware of what was going on politically.
Beyond politics, Smith was also committed to helping her community:
I was on the board of community outreach for my company, have established food drives, co-organized an impromptu charity drive with my sister, served as an Assistant Treasurer to the India Society of Southern Arizona when I was in college, volunteered with the Iskashitaa Refugee Network with my husband, and occasionally helped out with the local food bank. In November, I realized that wasn’t enough anymore. I was bettering the symptoms within my community, not the disease.
To treat the disease, Smith realized she needed to get more involved. She called her house representatives and senators, attended meetings in her district, was elected precinct committee officer, and joined a local Neighborhood Action Coalition. Smith explains, “I stopped being passive about politics and started taking responsibility for a circumstance I felt like I had helped create. Getting into politics helped me feel like I was taking responsibility.”
My First March
Every time we reach out to a candidate/activist we always try to ask about a transformative moment that occurred along their political journey. Sarah Smith tells us that her apex moment occurred during her first protest march.
A feeling of frustration mounted heavily on Smith shortly after the presidential election. On a whim, Smith and her husband descended upon downtown Seattle to attend an impromptu rally:
I remember when we were starting to march and I started moving. It was a real moment to be vocal with other people who were experiencing the frustration I was. It made me feel like I was catapulting forwards, truly doing something.
I had never in my life thought I would be the face of a protest march, but there I was in the middle of a sea of people just like me who were angry and needed to show their anger to the world. Protesting is about vulnerability, really. Opening yourself up to criticism for your participation […] It was the kind of person I decided in that moment to be. The energy of protesting, the shared declaration of our intention to resist, all of that put fuel behind my decision to stop being a bystander.
The Case for Sarah Smith
When discussing why she is the right person to represent her district in Congress, Smith explains: “Congress isn’t a business and it’s been run like one for too long. We have enough lawyers and enough CEOs in Congress. It isn’t about making money or managing a workforce, it’s about representing people.”
Why Smith believes she would be a better representative for the people is simple. She has gone through many of the same struggles they have faced. She’s been poor, a student, and a victim of sexual assault. “My experience doesn’t come from business, it comes from waking up every day, facing my struggles, and conquering them. That’s what makes me a strong representative for the people; being able to have gone through so many things in my time on this planet and take that experience to fight for the people in my district facing the same struggles.”
Smith is also uniquely prepared to stand up to the lawyers that fill Congress. As a mortgage foreclosure specialist, she fought for people to stay in their homes. She has also worked as a bankruptcy paralegal and “spent five years as a claims negotiator arguing with attorneys about settlements and liability.” Smith continues, “Most of my working life has been spent debating, compromising, and dealing with attorneys. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in that time, it’s how to handle myself with attorneys.”
As with any Brand New Congress-backed candidate, Sarah Smith must adhere to a specific platform to include specific policy positions, such as:
- Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy
- Get Money Out of Politics
- Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for Families
- End Police Militarization
- End the ‘War’ on Drugs
- End the School to Prison Pipeline
- Provide all Americans Healthcare through Medicare
Personally, Sarah Smith, within her first year, would like to introduce or cosponsor legislation “to start the ball rolling on investment in revitalizing America’s infrastructure, Medicare for all (in the event HR676 does not pass), student loan reform, and investment in alternative energy.” Beyond these specifics, Smith would like to focus her efforts on creating a green energy economy within her district.
Smith has her sights set beyond the short term, hoping that in five years an infrastructure overhaul will be nearing completion and Citizen’s United will be overturned. These two issues, as they lay the bedrock for her long term goals, seem to be the focus of Smith’s political agenda. She hopes that in the future her constituents will not longer feel afraid, but instead, energized.
If, as Smith hopes, Brand New Congress makes a real impact and can win a number of seats come 2018, she believes there is a “real opportunity to make a tangible change in how our country operates.” If this is to come to fruition, Smith believes her district will have started to, “invest in our roads and downtowns, begun establishing contracts for alternative energy manufacturers to create plants in Washington, and started building up the middle class.”
Sarah Smith has an uphill battle ahead of her, going against 20-year incumbent Democrat Adam Smith in Washington’s 9th District. She will be running as a Democrat and will be on the ballot in Washington’s top two primaries in August of 2018. If Sarah Smith finishes in the top two of the primary, regardless of party affiliation, she will move on the general election.
You can keep up with Sarah Smith:
On her website: https://brandnewcongress.org/Candidates/sarah-smith
Or, on Twitter: @SarahSmith2018
If you would like to hear more from Sarah Smith, check her out in this recent interview with Jimmy Dore.