Rep. Barbara Lee, the Progressive Powerhouse and Longtime Lawmaker, on the Election, the Coronavirus, and Racial Justice

Nearly four full years after the 2016 presidential election, US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) still can’t bring herself to call Donald Trump her president. Instead, she prefers the phrase “the 45th occupant of the White House,” which she considers to be more factually accurate. It’s also, she argues, a testament to leadership ability, the lack of which has become more pronounced as the country slogs its way through a devastating pandemic that’s halted the economy and put into focus glaring racial disparities in health and everyday life.

On August 6, I chatted with Rep. Lee as she hunkered down on Capitol Hill. Our discussion was part of an ongoing summer series of livestreamed events hosted by Mother Jones with changemakers including Stacey Abrams and Diane Guerrero. When Lee and I spoke, she was gridlocked with Republicans. Congress was trying—and mostly failing—to broker a bailout deal that could provide at least temporary relief to the millions of people in America who’ve lost their jobs and face the imminent threat of being evicted from their homes. In our wide-ranging conversation, Lee reflected on her decades of experience in public service and the life of her dear colleague Rep. John Lewis to paint a picture of real leadership that’s informed, empathetic, and steadfast.

Check out our conversation on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, and if you’re able to, consider supporting Mother Jones with a donation to keep our reader-supported conversations and investigative reporting going strong as the elections near.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate