Randy Bryce for Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin congressional seat

Is it possible that everything we thought we knew about politics in America is wrong, that the Democratic Party should stop hiding behind the supposed need to promote a slightly left of centre agenda because that’s where, they say, the votes are? Is it possible a newly constituted understanding of the party, under the right leadership, could convince a growing majority of Americans that the best kind of populism is guided by a progressive notion, one that promotes inclusion, generosity, and mutual respect?

After the shock of November 2016 I’m willing to entertain a lot ideas I might otherwise have considered fanciful. This could be one of them.

I started thinking about this in earnest after seeing a new political ad for Democrat Randy Bryce, a Bernie Sanders supporter who has decided to do what is likely impossible, unseat Republican house speaker Paul Ryan.

Mr. Bryce has an interesting resume. He is a veteran, an ironworker, and a union organizer. He supports single-payer healthcare. He possesses a folksy charm that could work very well on the campaign trail. In other words, he comes across as what some people might call a mensch.

The district to be contested is the Wisconsin first congressional and despite being led by a high profile Republican in the House, it can be a hard district to read. George W. Bush won it in 2004, Romney in 2012, and Trump in 2016, but Obama took it in 2008.

I seriously doubt Ryan will break a sweat keeping this seat, but Randy Bryce-ness, the idea of someone like this, should be compelling for Democrats. Whatever else Trump’s victory signals, it surely suggests the usual crew is at a disadvantage. Something different is called for. This is that.

I also don’t know how someone with an organized labour background will play in American politics, but as a union organizer this guy is not new to politics, as labour politics are some of the toughest in the land, and a great school for the political big leagues.

Anyway, this is not really about whether a guy like this can beat Ryan, but more about whether a guy like this can show the Democratic Party a new way to relate to a constituency they need to woo.

Again, a veteran, an iron worker, a union organizer, progressive, and pro-single-payer. More like this please.

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