Beating President Donald Trump in 2020 has been the focus of numerous presidential hopefuls seeking the Democratic Party nomination. Trump’s agenda is destroying the environment, devastating the U.S.’s place in global relations and negatively impacting everyday Americans.
Rather than just returning the U.S. back to its status before Trump was elected, one Eugene resident running for Congress says the 2020 election should be about putting forward a progressive agenda that addresses the problems everyday people experience.
“This election is about the future of our district, of our country and the Democratic Party,” says Doyle Canning, a congressional candidate for the 4th District. “We need leadership that is willing to take a stand against the Trump administration and the influence of corporate money in politics and has the grit to fight for bold solutions instead of politics as usual.”
Canning, 39, has lived in Eugene for four years. She’s running in the Democratic primary election against 32-year congressman Peter DeFazio. She says she’s running to address corporate accountability and take on environmental and economic justice. She says she has the courage and leadership to fight for solutions like a national housing plan, Medicare for All and Green New Deal.
She says she’s not new to fighting corporate power in politics — she’s been a leader in progressive movements for 20 years.
As a community organizer, Canning says she’s worked with immigrant farmworkers to fight for fair wages and working conditions. She’s collaborated with veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to oppose the occupation and bring service members back home. She’s worked with people to combat corporations that are extracting resources and destroying communities.
Canning’s campaign says she’s worked with local organizations such as OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, Civil Liberties Defense Center and Sunrise Eugene. She’s also worked with progressive grassroots organizations like Homes for all, Indigenous Environmental Network. She co-founded Center for Story-based Strategy (formerly smartMeme) “a national movement-building organization dedicated to harnessing the power of narrative for social change.”
Canning channels that grassroots experience into her campaign-funding model. She says she’s refusing money from corporate political action committees, lobbyists and the fossil fuel industry. A grassroots-funded political campaign frees her from being beholden to special interests and allows her to represent everyday Oregonians, she adds.
“I’m running a campaign that’s building a coalition of a different kind of base of the Democratic Party that is made up people who’ve been traditionally left out and overlooked,” she says.
By June 2019 Canning had raised $37,000 for her campaign according to the Federal Elections Commission.
The 4th Congressional District is evenly divided by party, according to The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter that analyses U.S. political trends.
DeFazio has said in the past that it’s a tough district to win as a Democrat, but Canning says people in the area are wrestling with similar issues: child care, access to education, addiction and poverty.
One of the most urgent solutions she wants to fight for is Medicare for All. She’s advocating the program because she says she knows what it’s like to lose a loved one in the current insurance model system. Her mother had a chronic illness, and when she lost her job, she lost her health insurance. Her mother’s lack of access to health care resulted in her death, she adds.
“That happened in the United States of America, the richest country in the world,” she says. “That’s a crime. It’s not necessary, and we can fix it — only if we’re willing to fight.”
To pay for Medicare for All, Canning says it’s time to end corporate welfare and make companies like Amazon, Delta Airlines and General Electric accountable which have paid nearly zero dollars in taxes.
“I will work to pass tax plans that cut corporate welfare and make sure the wealthiest corporations and the extremely wealthy pay their fair share so that we can build a life in this country,” she says.
Taking on corporate welfare would do more than fund health care for all in the U.S. It would also allow people to access child care and education, as well as address the extreme wealth inequality that has grown over time.
“To rein in corporate power is something that Oregonians look for in our representatives,” she says. “We want people who have grit, courage and will tell it like it is.”
Taking on corporate power is also necessary to tackle climate change. While studying climate law as a law student at the University of Oregon, Canning says she knows that the U.S. must transition off fossil fuels as soon as possible and needs more laws to transition the economy in a way that is just and equitable for all.
Canning says she supports the Green New Deal, which is about creating a just transition for workers who rely on the fossil fuel industry today and making those companies pay their fair share to make the shift.
Canning has a long road ahead before the May 2020 primary election, as well as the general election if she wins the nomination.
But she says her life’s work has been building grassroots movements, so she knows what it’s like to beat the odds. She says she was told it would be impossible to attend law school as a mother of two young children, but she finished third in her class.
She was also told that she and others couldn’t take on the World Trade Organization in Seattle during the 1999 protests. While participating in the protests, she says she experienced firsthand the power of a global coalition of labor unions and environmental groups taking on one of the most powerful organizations in the world.
“That experience really shaped my life and that style of coalition: working people and people fighting for the planet,” she says. “This coalition is the future, and this is the coalition that we need to continue to build to make the changes that are so urgent. I’ve been part of building this movement since I was a teenager in the streets of Seattle.”
Doyle Canning’s campaign kick off rally is noon to 2 pm Saturday, Sept. 21, at Skinner Butte Park, located at 248 Cheshire Avenue. Free.