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We Should Be Excited About the Bottom-Up Wins in Virginia’s Primaries


A certain handshake in Singapore dominated the news June 12, so you might have missed Virginia’s Democratic primaries.

In keeping with this year’s trend, women fared well in Virginia. They won five out of ten contests, and another is running in Virginia’s 5th District, which held a convention earlier this spring. Leslie Cockburn—who happens to be my aunt—is an award-winning reporter, long-time feminist, and tireless campaigner who is running corporate-free for all the right reasons and is bursting with stellar endorsements.

Cockburn is against fracking, and she’s for universal healthcare, free choice, and free contraception. She’s also for free community college and free pre-k.

And Cockburn’s not the only candidate in Virginia I’m excited about. On Tuesday, Democrats in Virginia’s 9th District selected Anthony Flaccavento. This district includes Virginia’s most Appalachian parts, and he breezily won all of them.

While his ideas about coal, corporations, healthcare, and guns aren’t simple, he’s good at putting them in plain and simple terms. The economy is for people, not for Wall Street, he says. He’s all about bottom-up economics, bottom-up development, and national policy that supports real bottom-up democracy.

I’ve interviewed Flaccavento a few times. A farmer, entrepreneur and Bernie Sanders supporter, Flaccavento didn’t just wake up to the crisis facing rural America. He points out that, where he lives, people have been grappling with abandonment and crisis for half a century.

In a region where the median income for an entire household is about $40,000 a year and the poverty rate can top 20 percent, people have had to find ingenious ways to meet their needs for years. Ignored for too long, these progressive rural innovators—as Flaccavento calls them—deserve national representation. He’s running for the second time and he knows what he’s up against: entrenched big money, power, and a four-term Republican incumbent.

Still, I’m excited. Call me crazy, but I put more faith in Anthony Flaccavento and Leslie Cockburn than in any part of that Singapore handshake.

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