Cori Bush: Missouri Representative Could Become Newest 'Squad' Member

Cori Bush poses for a portrait in St. Louis, Mo., August 5, 2020. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

The ‘Squad’ could soon be joined by a new member: Cori Bush of Missouri’s 1st district.

The first black woman to represent Missouri in a national elected office, Bush will be one of the most left-wing members of Congress this coming term, with political positions that dovetail with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and other Squad members.

As election results became clearer on Tuesday night, Bush declared victory over her Republican challenger in front of a Black Lives Matter banner and flanked by members of her family.

“I’ve got to start by thanking God, because without the Lord I would not be here…I have to give God all the glory, and all the honor, and all the praise first” said Bush, who is an ordained pastor. Bush started her political activism during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo., that birthed the Black Lives Matter movement, and thanked the “Ferguson front line activists” in her victory speech.

“Mike Brown was murdered 2,278 days ago. We took to the streets for more than 400 days in protest,” Bush wrote on Twitter following her victory. “Today, we take this fight for Black Lives from the streets of Ferguson to the halls of Congress. We will get justice.”

The representative-elect was a regular presence at ongoing protests in Ferguson, where demonstrators clashed with police after a white officer shot and killed black resident Michael Brown. A profile of Bush in The Guardian described the new lawmaker as participating in a “long battle against police, which featured teargas, armoured vehicles and violent clashes.”

After the demonstrations ended, Bush ran for Senate in 2016 and then for Congress in 2018, campaigning to unseat longtime Democratic representative William Lacy Clay. Netflix covered Bush’s 2018 campaign as part of its documentary Knock Down the House, which followed four female Democratic politicians, including Ocasio-Cortez. The superstar New York congresswoman traveled to St. Louis to campaign for Bush, who ultimately lost the 2018 primary.

However, Bush defeated Clay in an upset primary in August 2020, ending decades of control of the 1st district by the Clay family. William Lacy Clay had assumed the 1st district House seat in 2001, after being elected to replace his father Bill Clay, who in turn represented the district from 1969 until his retirement. 

The race garnered controversy among Jewish observers after Bush’s campaign put up a webpage, since deleted, supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which advocates boycotts of Israel and Israeli citizens. Clay sent out a campaign mailer featuring a picture of Bush with former Women’s March activist Linda Sarsour, whose staunch anti-Zionist views and support of anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan have angered American Jews.

“Cori Bush has always been sympathetic to the BDS movement, and she stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people just as they have stood in solidarity with Black Americans fighting for their own lives,” the Bush campaign said in a statement following the mailer.

In addition to the endorsement of Justice Democrats, Bush also received the backing of Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) for her 2020 campaign. Bush’s political platform echoes the positions of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez: on her campaign website, she calls for a Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and housing for all. Bush promises to work towards enacting a $15 minimum wage as well as a universal basic income, and has called on Twitter to “defund the police” as well as the Pentagon.

However, despite Bush’s win and the reelection of every other Squad member, it is unclear if these representatives will be able to influence Democratic policy in a meaningful way. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), who has repeatedly clashed with her party’s progressive wing, reportedly intends to run for speaker once more. Some progressives also made clear their disapproval of Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for president, and some including Representative Rashida Tlaib (R., Mich.) refused to openly endorse Biden. Bush hedged on the issue. 

“Medicare for All – I know that is really not one of Joe Biden’s priorities…but I am going to continue to fight for it,” Bush told The Guardian. Regarding Biden himself, Bush said, “we have what we have, and we have to get Trump out of the seat.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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