Nina Turner in Ohio

Former state senator Nina Turner, a Democrat running for U.S. Congress in Ohio's 11th District, speaking at a recent community event in Cleveland hosted by Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice. (Photo: Anton Albert/EYEJ-Cleveland)

More Progressive Fighters Like Nina Turner Are the Missing Piece in Congress

Turner can electrify a room because it's clear whose side she is on.

"We need more people who will lose their minds if they're missing pieces."

I've had these words stuck in my head since I first heard them on an episode of The Breakfast Club. On that podcast, the progressive Democrat Nina Turner, a lifelong advocate for Cleveland and current candidate for Congress in Ohio's 11th District, recounted a story about spending time-solving jigsaw puzzles with her grandchildren.

"Everything that I need to know about politics and life I'm learning from a toddler," she explained. Just as a puzzle is incomplete until every piece is filled in, we need to find the missing piece to solve the injustices that plague our country.

Let me be frank: Nina Turner is our missing piece. She's the kind of person who won't be able to rest while others struggle--not many people are like that. People, especially young people, are disaffected with politics, and reasonably so. We see the struggles that people face every day, even on campus for students like me. Cleveland is one of the poorest big cities in the entire country. That's an issue that will not and cannot be solved without a real champion for working people on our side.

Some politicians like to say that they aren't in it for the sound-bites or the headlines--that they just care about the policy. But when Turner says it, you know it's true. She recognizes that nearly 90 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured; that's why she's a fierce proponent of Medicare for All. She recognizes that climate change poses an existential threat to humanity; that's why she supports the Green New Deal. She recognizes that students and families are struggling to even just survive; that's why she wants to cancel student loan debt and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to earn a real living wage.

Some politicians will say that they support certain things but do nothing about them even when they have the chance. The only reason that Turner isn't an original co-sponsor of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal is that she hasn't gotten to Congress--not yet anyway. Even so, she's been fighting for these policies since day one, using every ounce of her fight for good.

This past weekend, "Empowering Youth; Exploring Justice" hosted a town hall with Nina Turner and the incumbent, Congresswoman Shontel Brown. Rep. Brown spoke first, answering questions with carefully curated answers (her typed answers fell off the podium twice). When she received an audience question about how many words she wrote in the recently-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, she said plainly: "Zero, it's not my job to write the laws." The only noise outside of Rep. Brown's speaking was the microphone feedback.

In stark comparison, the moment that Turner walked into the building, the atmosphere changed. Every word she spoke was electric. She arrived with a blank notebook, and carefully wrote down the questions from each student. She had no prepared answers written by consultants, yet spoke eloquently and thoughtfully to actually address the problems that we face.

Although there are two candidates in this race, in my mind there's really only one clear choice. Senator Turner is the fighter we need in Congress--she's that missing piece. She doesn't take any money from big corporations because she knows that your donors say a lot about who you are. She's running a people-powered campaign because the people are who she's going to represent. On the contrary, Rep. Brown takes campaign contributions from super PACs with ties to the fossil fuel industry, Republicans, and countless other sources of Dark Money.

Until Nina Turner wins and becomes Congresswoman Turner, I promise you that I'm still going to be losing my mind to locate all the missing pieces. Election day is on May 3rd, but you can vote early now.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.