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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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