- What is Brand New Congress?
- Who’s behind this?
- What is the Brand New Congress platform?
- Who makes the decisions for Brand New Congress? For example, who chooses the candidates?
- Is there a legal organization behind this?
- Does Brand New Congress have staff? Are you hiring?
About the Candidates
- Who will the candidates be?
- Why don’t you want candidates who’ve served in office before?
- Don’t people need experience as legislators to work in Congress?
- What about good candidates already in Congress? Are you going to run against them?
- Are you really talking about running Republicans in conservative congressional districts?
- How is Brand New Congress funded?
- Your donation page looks the same as other Democrats'. Do my donations go to the Democratic Party?
- Isn’t it impossible to defeat 400 incumbents in Congress in one cycle?
- Are you forming a third party?
- What about "social" issues like abortion and LGBTQIA rights that sharply divide the parties?
- So is this a bi-partisan alliance around some kind of centrist platform?
What is Brand New Congress?
It’s a plan to accomplish sweeping political and criminal justice reform while rebuilding the American economy and getting to 100% renewable energy in ten years. We’re recruiting working people with track records of integrity and service in their communities, workplaces and families to run for Congress—and we’re going to run them in one unified, national campaign to replace almost all of Congress in one fell swoop.
Who’s behind this?
Read more about who is behind this on our about page.
What is the Brand New Congress platform?
Check out the details of what we want to enact when we're in office on our Plan page.
Who makes the decisions for Brand New Congress? For example, who chooses the candidates?
As soon as we get our first batch of candidates, then they will be the ones ultimately in charge, and a leadership structure will have to come together among them. Right now, strategic decision-making and decisions on candidate selection is done by the BNC Board.
Is there a legal organization behind this?
An independent political action committee called Brand New Congress is accepting contributions to fund travel, operating, and staff costs for a handful of organizers. Brand New Congress is led by a group of eight staff and volunteers called the working group. The treasurer of the PAC is Mary Nishimuta. We are required to have a PAC to accept funds and spend money toward electing federal candidates. PACs have a maximum contribution limit of $5,000 and must report all donations and expenditures. Once we have our candidates, formal decision making and fund raising will flow through them, with the PAC probably being dissolved. This is not a SuperPAC, but a plain old PAC. You can learn more about PACs at http://fec.gov.
Our candidates are going to run in a single, unified campaign. The logistics, staffing, bookkeeping, media buys and so on will be handled by an entity called Brand New Campaign, which will act as the campaign for all 400+ candidates. The law does not allow tax exempt non-profits like 501c3s, c4s or PACs to exist primarily to provide services to campaigns. Therefore, Brand New Campaign is an LLC partnership whose operating agreement states that it exists not to make a profit, but solely to support a new generation of leaders running for office.
Saikat Chakrabarti is the owner of Brand New Campaign and works as a volunteer and is taking no compensation from Brand New Campaign (or Brand New Congress). We are already developing Brand New Campaign’s capacities. Brand New Congress contracts with Brand New Campaign to provide staff, research and recruitment of candidates, travel support and more. In the future, Brand New Campaign will grow its in-house capacities and subcontract with outside firms to handle everything from research and field organization to ad production and social media. Brand New Campaign spending reports can be viewed here.
Does Brand New Congress have staff? Are you hiring?
Nearly all of the work on this campaign is done by volunteers, though we do have some paid staff and as we raise more money, we will be hiring more. We will prefer to hire existing volunteers (if they are able to join us!).
About the Candidates
Who will the candidates be?
Please check out the detailed description of who we are looking for at the top of our candidate nomination form. To help us find these people we need you to submit nominations of candidates in your district! Right now, we’re making a list of potential candidates for each district, and then we’re going to run a draft campaign to convince them to run.
Why don’t you want candidates who’ve served in office before?
We’re not banning them, we’re just saying that “in general” we want people who’ve never held or sought office before. There are a lot of great people in office and seeking office. But we mainly want those people who would never think of running for office. We want people who live for others. Those people do not usually seek out the limelight of political office. We are going to need to drag them kicking and screaming into public office. The longer our list of awesome potential candidates gets, the more they will inspire each other to run. It'll take a lot of work, but that's how it should be.
Don’t people need experience as legislators to work in Congress?
No. Members of Congress should have experience staying true in the face of adversity, and members of Congress should have experience working in the industries and living like the people they will affect with the legislation they create. Our candidates will have that, whereas almost everyone in Congress now does not. Moreover, if we get enough seats, then we'll be rendering obsolete the game that's currently played in Congress. But seriously, this is not a valid concern. No one objects when a governor or big city mayor runs for Congress even though those jobs have nothing in common with legislating in Congress. And lots of “successful” Congress people have jumped in with no experience in public office at all, from jobs in banking, real estate and law for example.
What about good candidates already in Congress? Are you going to run against them?
We won’t run against candidates that fully support the Brand New Congress platform. We believe many current members of Congress will support this plan, and we expect that as the campaign becomes stronger, more and more members of Congress will endorse our platform. In those cases, our candidates may drop out -- we’ll have to decide on a case by case basis.
Are you really talking about running Republicans in conservative congressional districts?
Yes, we will challenge incumbents in their party primaries, running Republicans in districts where only Republicans can win, and Democrats where only Democrats win. Wherever we lose the primary, we will run an independent for a second chance at winning the seat. But we will work out this strategy on a case by case basis. In some districts we might skip the primary and only run an independent in the general election.
Brand New Congress is not bi-partisan or non-partisan -- we're "post-partisan." The two major parties in America have disintegrated into weak, sprawling sets of local and state organizations that don't know what they stand for. They are still relevant in one important way: they represent vague cultural brands that are important to something like two thirds of American voters—with Democrats representing a "secular liberal" culture for some and Republicans representing a "conservative Christian" culture for others.
The irony is that the core of liberal and Christian values are the same—at least in their ideals: Both cultures believe that they value human life, equality, freedom, peace, justice and progress. Those are not liberal or conservative values, they are American values. The problem is that each of the two of these cultures believes the other stands for the opposite of those stated values.
And here's another thing we believe - Republicans, Democrats, and Independents are all angry about the long-term decline of the American economy and are dying to do something about it. The BNC platform is not about passing some regulations or taxes, but about taking action over a limited period of time to hit the reset button on America's economy. That is something everyone can get behind.
We also just saw from the election in 2016 that conservatives and liberals alike are just as fed up with corruption as everyone else and ready to do something about it. Our goal in deep red and deep blue districts is the same - find candidates from among those who have had enough and are ready to fight back.
The fact is that both Republican and Democratic establishments are equally as opposed to taking big steps to fix our economy and right the wrongs of our out of control criminal justice system. And among Republican, Democratic and Independent voters, there is an invisible majority waiting to be united around radical and practical solutions.
How is Brand New Congress funded?
We simply ask supporters on our website to pitch in if they can. So far we’ve been amazed to raise more than $200,000 in small donations.
Your donation page looks the same as other Democrats'. Do my donations go to the Democratic Party?
No, we just use the same payment processor as many other Democratic candidates. ActBlue is a private entity with no connection to any party. It’s a great service for accepting donations. That’s why we use them.
Isn’t it impossible to defeat 400 incumbents in Congress in one cycle?
We know this will be difficult, but it will be easier to replace nearly all of Congress than to replace a single incumbent, and here's why: Few voters pay attention to their local congressional elections, especially in midterms. One big campaign for a Brand New Congress will attract enough media attention, volunteers and grassroots donations to overwhelm those no-name, sold-out, unpopular incumbents. Skeptical? Try walking your block and asking people who their Congressperson is. Ask them if they'd like a Brand New Congress made up of non-politicians. Send your results to [email protected].
Are you forming a third party?
No, we’re not forming a third party. America seems to be sick and tired of parties, so we don't believe the solution is to start by creating a new one. Instead, we’re starting off by running candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries, and then running independents where we lose. There are some similarities and differences between this idea and starting a third party. The big difference is that we are not trying to create a big bureaucracy behind our candidates. It’s just them.
What about "social" issues like abortion and LGBTQIA rights that sharply divide the parties?
America is in the middle of some radical social transitions on several important issues. On the whole, members of Congress are trailing behind their constituents in this transition. Brand New Congress candidates will be far ahead of the Democratic and Republican incumbents they are challenging. They will work with their constituents starting from where they are at, and talk through the issues with respect and compassion for those affected by them, as well as for those who are confused or scared by them. We need to affirm that the most important concerns in both liberal and conservative areas -- the value of human life and safety for all of our families -- are important to us all.
* All Brand New Congress candidates oppose any attempt to legislate what women can do with their bodies and will instead be in consensus to pledge to fight to reduce the number of abortions -- for example by championing sex education and access to contraception.
* They support people's right to live like everyone else, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, including the right to get married, and to access public facilities.
* They support American's right to own guns, and also support common sense gun control laws and pledge to support violence prevention programs in afflicted communities.
* They will be absolutely opposed to any kind of targeting of any groups such as Muslims or immigrants, and will instead work to protect all marginalized groups.
* Their position on illegal immigration is that it has almost entirely been driven by American businesses who encourage it by actively driving illegal immigration and by hiring undocumented workers at sub-minimum wages. They are not worried about immigration because we now have net negative immigration from Mexico and once we start rebuilding the economy, we're going to need so much labor that immigration will no longer be thought of as a problem.
We believe that America is heading fast toward a consensus around these social issues, and much of the supposed disagreement is amplified by the politicians and media who seek to gain from this division.
So is this a bi-partisan alliance around some kind of centrist platform?
No! A bi-partisan alliance is what we have right now: one that works on behalf of special interests to extract trillions of dollars of wealth from the American people. We want to throw that alliance out of Congress and replace it with a slate of leaders committed to rebuilding America.
If your question wasn't answered here, please ask it in an email to [email protected]. Thanks for reading!