Politicians are elected to represent the people who put them into office and to construct legislation to improve their lives. Yet somehow in a country where citizens elect their own representatives, the United States Congress only holds an approval rating of around 20%. This is because Washington D.C. is plagued with officials who put the interests of their largest campaign donors ahead of the people who voted for them. As a result, many politicians have turned their backs on their constituents and have lost sight of the issues that the people care about. In essence, the United States government is replete with politicians who are simply not doing their jobs. This makes it important for the limited number of principled officials in Congress to receive the proper prestige and acclamation they deserve.
Since the election, the Democratic Party has concentrated primarily on the speculated collusion between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign. At the same time, the Democrats have exhibited a minimal amount of attention on the everyday issues that affect average citizens apart from obstructing every piece of grotesque Republican legislation. The perpetual focus on Russia in conjunction with the failure to propose solutions to the policy issues facing the country is largely why the Democratic Party, despite the controversy surrounding the Trump Administration, is viewed as less in touch with people’s concerns than Trump and the Republican Party.
Amidst the Russia hysteria, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California has quietly been doing outstanding work for the country. Khanna was elected to Congress for the first time in November and has already established a better voting record than many longstanding Democrats. His confidence in his policies has caused him to be unapologetic in the promotion of his progressive platform.
Khanna has been one of the leading proponents of a Medicare for all health care system. He has co-sponsored Bernie Sanders’ College for All Act to make Public colleges and universities in the United States tuition-free. On the issue of net neutrality, which has not garnered nearly as much attention as it should from the Democratic Party, Khanna has been one of the only Democrats to persistently speak out against FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the Trump Administration for their assault on internet freedom. He has even introduced a bill called the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer protection Act, which has also received virtually no coverage in the media due to the outrageous amount of time spent on Russia. The bill would make large corporations, not the taxpayer, pay for the costs of federal assistance programs should they decide to not pay their employees a livable wage.
For his entire career, without regard for the consequences, Khanna has bucked political trends that he believes go against his core policy beliefs. In 2004, when Khanna lost in the race for Califorinia’s 12th congressional district, he ran one of the country’s first anti-Iraq war campaigns. At a time when many politicians were afraid to speak out against the war for fear of negative perception, Khanna did not stray from his position in order to score political points.
Khanna is the first member of Congress to declare himself a “Justice Democrat”. Justice Democrats is a political action committee that aims to take over the Democratic Party from the corporate wing of the party. All Justice Democrats stand by the progressive agenda and vow to take zero corporate campaign donations. By declaring himself a Justice Democrat, Khanna has effectively ostracized himself from many of his Democratic colleagues, yet another example of his lack of regard for political trends and his focus on policy substance.
Khanna has already accomplished a great deal in his first of hopefully many congressional terms. While the establishment and the media may be willfully marginalizing him and his policies, he is undoubtedly one of the few principled politicians in Washington D.C. and deserves a lot more recognition than he is being given. For the Democrats to win future elections, people like Khanna need to lead the fight.