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Blue America: Memphis, Tennessee’s Congressman Steve Cohen


(Rep. Steve Cohen and Rep. John Conyers.)

[Please join me in welcoming Rep. Steve Cohen to our Blue America chat.  As always, with all Blue America discussions, please stay on topic in the comments and be polite.  Any off-topic discussions should be taken to the prior thread.  And with that, welcome, Steve!  — CHS]

In the last election cycle we concentrated on progressive Democrats challenging Republican rubber stamp incumbents. We missed meeting some excellent candidates who were seeking to replace retiring Democrats, like Keith Ellison in Minneapolis and Yvette Clarke in Brooklyn. Today Blue America is very proud to welcome the newly elected congressman from Memphis to our community, Steve Cohen.

I don't have to explain to anyone how important it was to replace reactionary Republicans like Dick Pombo and Curt Weldon with progressive Democrats like Jerry McNerney and Joe Sestak. And it isn't too much of a stretch to realize how equally crucial it is to replace reactionary and corrupt Liebermanlike "Money Party" Democrats with progressive "People Party" Democrats. That's what happened in Memphis. Harold Ford, Jr., a DLC hack, the scion of the uber-corrupt Ford Machine, decided the next step in his smarmy career was to run for the U.S. Senate. There was a 15-way primary for the seat and then a 3-man race in the general (including Harold's brother Jake) and Steve Cohen, who had served much of the district as an outspoken progressive in the State Senate, won overwhelmingly with 60% of the vote.

The district is 60% African American– something that the Ford brothers' daddy, Harold Senior, boss of the Memphis Machine, tried to turn into an issue– but Cohen, a white Jewish liberal, won decisively among both Blacks and whites. Where Ford was always a very conservative Democrat, eager to showboat on TV as a so-called "moderate," while stuffing corporate money into his coffers, Steve Cohen campaigned on crucial real life issues important to the constituents of the 9th CD, Tennessee's most Democratic district (where Bush barely managed to get 30% of the vote against Kerry).

When many of the freshmen we supported were scurrying to join the Blue Dogs and New Democratic Coalition after the election, Congressman Cohen immediately joined the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And while many Democrats who campaigned on an anti-war platform have been satisfied to just go along with Hoyer and Emanuel on the symbolic non-binding nonsense, Cohen has co-sponsored genuine end-the-war legislation (the binding kind) that would not just stop Bush's escalation but would actually start bringing our troops home. He is a co-sponsor of bills by Representatives Murtha, Farr, Woolsey, McGovern, Kucinich and Nadler, all of which go much further towards ending the war than the Democratic Bush-enablers feel comfortable with.

"In November, Americans clearly voiced their opposition to the President's course in Iraq," explains Steve. "As freshmen members of Congress who campaigned on the need to reconsider the course our country is taking in Iraq, we thought it was appropriate to deliver that message again to the President. The President's State of the Union Speech indicated that he has turned a deaf ear to the American people. We are urging him to abandon his plan to escalate the war and begin to bring our troops home."

As a state senator, Steve fought for 20 years to establish the state lottery which has funded college scholarships for thousands of needy students. He was beloved and respected by his constituents for his leadership abilities and for the proven results he has always brought. He campaigned to end the war and to divert Bush's ass-backwards priorities into the needs of his working and middle class constituents. Today he's a congressman who is a picture perfect example of someone who is living up to all of his campaign promises, not just in terms of Iraq but also in terms of trying innovative and positive solutions to the crime problems that are plaguing the citizens of Memphis. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, he's working with Charlie Rangel on a first offenders' bill that focuses on recovery instead of revenge and he's a strong and effective advocate for civil liberties and civil rights, as well as an outspoken enthusiast for the fairness doctrine and net neutrality.

Please join me in showing some netroots appreciation for Congressman Cohen living up to his campaign promises and in helping him arm himself without having to depend of corporate contributors. (You don't have to go further than today's Washington Post to see the danger Democratic representatives are in when they find themselves… Inside-the-Beltway.) Steve's a big music fan– as you'd expect someone representing Memphis to be– and the first dozen contributors today will get ESSENTIAL DONOVAN cds.

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Howie Klein

Howie Klein

Howie Klein spent much of his life wandering around the world living in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Holland and Morocco. He moved backed to America when Richard Nixon resigned and promptly helped start the first punk rock radio show in the country and then a DIY punk rock record label. His adventures in the music business ended a couple of years ago when he retired as president of Reprise Records. He began blogging almost immediately, starting Down With Tyranny. Jane taught him html while he held one of her dogs at a party. He is a raw foodist, lives in L.A., swims and hikes every day, thinks Howard Dean could be a president as great as FDR and will never be completely happy until Bush and Cheney are behind bars.