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.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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