“The Republican Party used to be a party known for who it was for. Now it’s a party known for who it’s against.”
Those are the words of Robb Ryerse, an independent-minded Republican running to change that in Arkansas’s 3rd congressional district. He is running with Brand New Congress, a post-partisan organization fielding congressional candidates “to restore the promise of democracy.”
Go down the list of items on the Brand New Congress platform, and you would be hard-pressed to find incumbent Republicans that would agree. That’s not because the BNC’s plans are inherently un-republican — it’s because the whole political structure of America has been corrupted beyond recognition of its former self by special interests. Ryerse looks to instances throughout history where Republicans and their policy genuinely benefitted the country.
Ronald Reagan provided a path to citizenship that is needed desperately today. He talked about our country being a shining city on a hill, not about walling the country off…you can go back to Nixon starting the EPA and genuinely caring about the environment, or Eisenhower about equal pay and the military industrial complex.
This is not to say that Ryerse agrees on everything with old Republicans. Much has changed in the 40 plus years since then while the Party has run in the opposite direction, away from American workers, families, and the racial and social minorities which are a part of them.
A lot has changed for Ryerse as well. He grew up in a deeply conservative Christian family, and began his career as a pastor with those values. While pastoring at a church in rural Michigan, though, he had a spiritual crisis.
“If I was going to keep doing what I’d been doing, it was going to need to be completely different.” That led him and his wife to move to Arkansas 12 years ago and to establish the Vintage Fellowship Church in Fayetteville. “It’s a church where questions aren’t a threat to faith and…where everybody is welcomed. Every church says that but we actually mean it.
Many of those universal values which he brings to the Vintage Fellowship are translated into his campaign message of caring for the people and community. “This is a campaign about putting people ahead of party because our representatives haven’t.”
Ryerse makes it clear that in his view a lot of issues made out to be partisan ones are not so. Reinvigorating American industry, small business, and raising the minimum wage is good for all workers. Having quality Medicare-for-all benefits both people and businesses. Everyone has the right to a quality education. Money has waterlogged American politics and benefits none but the rich and powerful. The list goes on.
Author’s Note: The Progressive Army is an outlet of the left. But above all, it is a platform for regular people that find themselves discontented with the rampant abuse dealt to them at the hands of a corrupt oligarchy. In my view, the goal is to make 2018 the year that politicians representing the people make a reappearance on the scene, but that can’t be achieved by merely replacing establishment Democrats. Many districts like that of Robb Ryerse are so deeply red that elections are won with the Republican primary. We should consider the benefits of electing both new Republicans and Democrats if we are to change the face of Congress.
Conservative economist Friedrich A. Hayek wrote in The Road to Serfdom that:
“Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy.”
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