Justice Democrats is a progressive political action committee founded on January 23, 2017 by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk and former leadership from the 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The organization formed as a result of the 2016 United States presidential election and has a stated goal of reforming the Democratic Party by running “a unified campaign to replace every corporate-backed member of Congress and rebuild the Democratic Party from scratch” starting in the 2018 congressional midterm elections.
Justice Democrats describes its views as being held by most Americans, but deemed “politically impossible” by the current political establishment because of systemic political corruption. They comment that as all campaigns need donations and that candidates who hold policies viewed as unfavorable by corporate interests and wealthy individuals will be denied funding by corporations. Therefore the system actually ends up forcing politicians to change their policies to suit the current business environment.
After the 2016 presidential election resulted in a victory for Donald Trump, many critics of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party on the political left, including but not limited to The Young Turks and Secular Talk, pointed to the perceived loyalty of politicians to large donors as a major contributing factor to Clinton’s loss to Trump. These critics contend that a campaign model more similar to Bernie Sanders, whose 2016 presidential campaign was funded by small individual donations, will increase public trust in politicians and accountability to constituents.
On January 23, 2017, Cenk Uygur and Kyle Kulinski founded Justice Democrats with ten others, including former staffers from the Sanders campaign such as its Director of Organizing Technology, Saikat Chakrabarti, and MoveOn.org fundraiser Zack Exley. According to the organization, they seek to create a left-wing populist movement to support alternative Democratic candidates beginning with the 2018 mid-term elections, in order to either defeat the incumbent Democrats or cause them to become accountable to their constituents. They require their candidates to take a pledge to refuse financial contributions from billionaires and corporations. In addition, they hope to rebuild the Democratic Party on a national level and to defeat President Trump if he runs for re-election in 2020.
As of March 20, 2017, Justice Democrats have reported they have received 8,300 nominations and raised $1 million.
Representative Ro Khanna of California’s 17th congressional district announced on May 9, 2017, that he had become a Justice Democrat, and the first sitting member of Congress to join the organization. On November 1, 2017, Justice Democrats announced on social media that fellow progressive group AllOfUs had merged with the group.
On December 22, 2017, it was announced that Uygur had resigned from his position at the organization, following the revelation of previously deleted but archived controversial blog posts he had written almost two decades earlier that were featured in a report by TheWrap that were reported to have been posted in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Uygur apologized the day prior and revealed that he deleted the “ugly” posts over a decade ago because he no longer stood by those principles. The following day, Kulinski announced that he had stepped down from the organization as he disagreed with the opinions of the Justice Democrats staff members that pressed for Uygur’s dismissal over the blog posts. He said his decision came as a result of a personal dilemma as he saw the posts in question upon re-reading them as being satirical due to them dealing with Uygur complaining about his inability to attract women. Kulinski noted that the decision to ask for Uygur’s resignation came from the Justice Democrats staff, not the candidates, and as such he asked his supporters to continue backing the organization’s candidates.
According to Justice Democrats, their highest priority is to effectively eliminate the role of money and conflicts of interests in politics. They wish to pass a constitutional amendment to “put an end to Washington corruption and bring about election reform”. They support the idea of publicly funded elections, banning Super PACs as well as banning private donations to politicians and campaigns. In addition, they advocate the reinstatement of provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and a ban on gerrymandering for partisan gain. As a core policy, any candidate running with Justice Democrats must pledge to refuse any donations from billionaires or corporations. They plan to call a constitutional convention.
- Making the minimum wage a living wage and tying it to inflation.
- Ensuring universal healthcare as a right.
- Ensuring universal education as a right, including free public college and university education.
- Ending the practice of unilaterally waging war, except as a last resort to defend U.S. territory.
- Ending the War on Drugs in favor of legalization, regulation, and taxation of drugs, and pardoning all non-violent drug offenders and treating all drug addicts.
- Creating a new infrastructure program called the “New New Deal“.
- Stopping climate change through an ecological revolution and upholding the United States’ participation in the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Ending the death penalty.
- Implementing electoral reform and publicly financed elections nationwide to make irrelevant and obsolete fundraising from large corporations and the wealthy.
- Implementing instant-runoff voting nationwide in an effort to make Third-party and Independent candidates more viable.
- Expanding background checks on firearms and banning high capacity magazines and assault weapons.
- Uncompromisingly rejecting President Trump’s immigration proposals and policies, particularly the Executive Order 13769 and deportation of illegal immigrants, and implementing comprehensive immigration reform which will give non-criminal illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.
- Funding Planned Parenthood and other contraceptive and abortion services, and recognizing reproductive rights.
- Renegotiating other free trade deals CAFTA-DR, and NAFTA and opposing the Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China and the World Trade Organization.
- Pardoning Edward Snowden, prosecuting CIA torturers and DoD war criminals, shutting down the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and all other extrajudicial prisons, and ending warrantless spying and bulk data collection by the National Security Agency.
- Discontinuing arms sales to countries that violate human rights such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
- Passing the Paycheck Fairness Act.
- Establishing paid maternity leave, paid vacation leave, and free childcare.
- Stopping any reductions to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and establishing single-payer universal healthcare.
- Reforming police by mandating body cameras, establishing community oversight boards, eliminating broken windows policing, ending stop and frisk, and appointing special prosecutors to hold police accountable in courts.
- Expanding anti-discrimination laws to apply to homosexual and transgender people.
- Ensuring free speech on college campuses and supporting net neutrality.
- Implementing the Buffett Rule, ending offshore financial centres, “chain[ing]” the capital gains and income taxes, and increasing the estate tax.
VIEW THEIR WEBSITE HERE: https://www.justicedemocrats.com