When registered nurse, Black Lives Matter activist, and person you do not want to mess with Cori Bush narrowly won the Democratic primary for the Missouri 1st congressional district, many people termed it an upset. And, indeed, Bush defeated William Lacy Clay, a 10-term Congressman and son of a 16-term Congressman, earning her the right to trounce whatever Republican bothers to try and win a district that’s voted overwhelmingly Democratic for as long as anyone can recall. Appearing on Sunday’s Desus & Mero, the presumptive next U.S. Representative from the district that contains St. Louis and Ferguson explained that not even an absurdly early announcement of her Election Night defeat shook her faith that what the U.S. Congress was going to get was some serious change, in the form of a progressive, battle-hardened single mom.
“I didn’t lay down before the tanks, I didn’t lay down before—you know, they put their guns in front of my face—I wasn’t about to lay down for one percent,” Bush told Desus and Mero of her mindset on a night when, with the polls still open and that tiny percentage of results counted, her insurgent candidacy was declared over. And armored police vehicles and armed riot cops are just the beginning for the nothing-if-not-resilient Bush. Going over her rise from Ferguson activist in the wake of Michael Brown’s police killing (where she was as organizer and triage medic), Bush laid out a life that would have straight-up killed a lesser person. (Certainly your average sitting politician.) Apart from being a single mother to two kids (at one time while homeless), being a survivor of both domestic abuse and sexual assault, and working in child care and nursing, facing down a fifty-year political dynasty was just the next thing in her way.
And that’s not even mentioning how her car has been shot up three times since she became known for her Black Lives Matter activism. Or that time in 2016 (where she initially lost to Clay), when she was hit by a car while campaigning and spent precious doorbell-ringing time flat on her back. Or the two months she spent similarly laid up during her 2020 race, when she contracted a particularly nasty case of the coronavirus, a malady the experienced healthcare professional described as the most pernicious illness she’s ever encountered. “This thing played with me,” Bush told her hosts, explaining that those claiming COVID is just like the flu can sit the hell back down on their know-nothing asses. (Paraphrasing.) And don’t get former childcare worker Bush started on the rush to send kids back to overcrowded, underfunded schools.
Asked by about what she’s learned being the next progressive, working class activist to storm the halls of power, Bush offered up some hard-won advice. Being prepared to “put your whole self out there,” coupled with the necessary “stick and stay” to surmount any and all eventual losses and disappointments led the pack, with Bush explaining that her win stemmed less from traditional political ambition than from emerging from the community she planned to serve with a clear idea of what the people there actually need. (One plan: $2000/month in retroactive relief for everybody.) “Go where you’re actually needed,” was Bush’s parting counsel for other perspective grassroots candidates who want to join the likes of Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and other citizen candidates destined to join the Fox News “scary non-whites” enemies list. Note to Fox News whiter-than-white supremacists Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and the rest—if you’re coming for future Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO), you’d better bring some damned kryptonite.