Up against incumbent Cedric Richmond, Belden Batiste runs a campaign that is truly left of center. As a progressive candidate, Batiste believes in the power of action and advocacy in order to help the poor and less fortunate members of the community.
Belden Batiste on Bipartisanship
When asked what progressivism means to him, Batiste speaks of challenging the political machine. Behaviors rampant throughout the current system such as “…cronyism, nepotism, classism, and sexism,” he says, “threaten citizens’ economic participation in our government.”
Batiste faces a tough challenge running against the current incumbent, Democrat Cedric Richmond. Richmond is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and has garnered a reputation for bipartisanship. He’s often spoken in defense of Republican colleagues, even in times of scandal. According to Batiste, that’s one of the main reasons he’s running.
“My voting record will show that I am a habitual Democratic voter. However, joining in partnership with leaders who seek collaboration on issues that harm my community is not the only way nor is the best way to seek the support of opponents to my community. In other words, the ‘you do this and I’ll do that mentality’ should not be only method to reach conclusions to benefit our constituency.”
That doesn’t mean that he is completely against working together, however. According to Batiste, having to shake hands and work with those who hold different views – even those who are openly racist – won’t stop him from working for the good of his constituents or to the benefit of those in need. “I will bring my experience with working within the grassroots arena. When we have common issues, we work together to resolve them.”
Batiste on his platform
Batiste’s platform centers around championing economic opportunities. He would like to see an increase in business and competition throughout District 2. “Affordability for all citizens, especially the poor,” Batiste says, “has to be included in the platform for all leaders.” Government needs to be inclusive. To that end, he plans on encouraging his colleagues in Congress (including those across the aisle) to work for the same.
Championing Earth-friendly growth is also important. According to Batiste, this could be accomplished by partnering with other progressive communities across the country and the world who are already. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” he says. Batiste plans to promote citizen engagement on environmental issues, believing that those who are most adversely oppressed will be more likely to present sustainable solutions.
When it comes to issues like term limits, Batiste isn’t shy about expressing his views. He recently signed a term limits pledge and he believes that a law enforcing term limits would benefit everyone.
“We currently have an enormous amount of cronyism and nepotism in our political arena. Just because someone has friends and/or family that are politically connected, does not mean that that person is willing to be of service to the citizens that elect them. I believe that having a fresh approach is a great way to for change to begin. Stagnant leadership will always be stagnant if not forced to change guards with fresh eyes and hearts. Grassroots people who are in the communities and in the streets with the citizens need to have a chance to compete in order to evoke change.”
Would Batiste work to impeach President Trump? “If given the opportunity, yes.”
Batiste on racism
As a member of Take ‘Em Down NOLA, Batiste continues to advocate for the removal of Confederate monuments in the U.S. He has seen a dramatic difference in his local community, saying that monument removal in New Orleans has led to more open conversations about history. He views each removal as a step towards healing the racial divide in the country.
According to Batiste, the New Orleans monument removal has also had an effect internationally.
“Citizens across the globe have admired our work to remove monuments of men who were murderers, rapists and slave owners that were held in positions of high authority before they were removed. Because of the work here in New Orleans, a world-wide initiative has begun to give people were the courage to begin removing intolerable monuments across the globe.”
Batiste on voter suppression in Louisiana
When asked whether he believed that voter suppression in Louisiana is a problem, Batiste was definitely concerned. “Voter suppression is ridiculous when comparing from pre-Katrina to post-Katrina. We still have not gotten our polls back since Hurricane Katrina.” He encourages voters to be pro-active. “Please bring your identification, check before the election with your local Registrar of Voters to see if you are registered in your own precinct.” If you have problems, Batiste encourages citizens to vote provisionally if necessary.
It’s clear that Batiste is a big dreamer, with big ideals. When asked for a quote that consistently inspires him, Batiste gave us two:
“To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it.” Dr. M.L. King
“If we elect the same corrupt politicians every time, that’s a very clear message that we don’t want a change.” Sukant Ratnaker