Movers and Shakers: The United Progressive Coalition of Utah
By Nick Kuzmack
Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders fiery rhetoric has captivated the hearts and minds of movers and shakers nationwide. He has inspired a sort of “political revolution” within the United States democratic process. Across the nation grassroots efforts have mobilized to enact the progressive ideals invoked by Sander’s example. Their goals are diverse and include electing candidates who will represent the people instead of the whims of the wealthy, a demand for a livable minimum wage and action on the impending threat of Global Warming. The United Progressive Coalition of Utah is one such group. Since their formation after Sanders’ victory in the Utah Democratic Caucus on March 22nd, they have begun shaking things up within the Utah Democratic Party by supporting progressive candidates to run for local office. To find out more about The United Progressive Coalition of Utah, I spoke with Co-founders Sarah Baytop Scott and Darin Mann.
NixBeat: United Progressive Coalition of Utah formed shortly after the Utah, Democratic Caucus on March 2nd. How has the participation been for the Coalition in comparison to the Caucus?
Mann: The Participation has been phenomenal. The amount of people we have ready and willing to contribute their time and efforts to the cause of getting new people elected in local politics is truly humbling.
NixBeat: Described as a coalition, what groups make up the body of the United Progressive Coalition?
Scott: The Coalition is a group of progressive members who are tired of the continuous traditional mentality that the Democratic Party holds and the level of entitlement that things need to happen their way or no way. We care about corporate finances, because we want the people to run our politicians, not corporations.
Mann: We are a coalition, because we are a group of people from all demographics, religions, and financial backgrounds. We are people fed up with the current political process and want a truly representative democracy. We have waiters, nurses, laborers, and many more who live out their lives without being heard by those who govern them, we aim to fix that.
NixBeat: What do you think of when the term political revolution is used to describe the current political climate? How is it a revolution?
Scott: The biggest mistake we make, is reliving history, they say you cannot learn from your mistakes if you are unaware of what happened previously. Our nation’s middle class continues to diminish, while the 1% control continues to increase. The lack of diversity within our politicians, both economically and culturally, is frightening. This revolution isn’t new, but it’s new to our generation. This revolution is about bringing back a diverse government, one that represents the people and not the corporations. I want politicians to be fighting for myself, and the community I live in, and I’m not seeing that.
NixBeat: How does one get involved with United Progressive Coalition of Utah?
Scott: The best way to get involved is to check out our Facebook for events, signup for our newsletter, and e-mail us that you want to be a part of our group. We welcome all newcomers, regardless of how knowledgeable you are in the political world. The first step to being involved is having passion!
NixBeat: Is the United Progressive Coalition of Utah coordinating with other Bernie Sander affiliated groups?
Mann: Well many of us are originally from the Utah for Bernie Sanders group, but other than that we are currently talking to groups from many places; including Alaska, Wyoming, and Nevada.
NixBeat: What other events locally is the United Progressive Coalition of Utah involved in?
Mann: We will be attending as many events as possible; one of our main focuses is Building Man. We want to spread awareness of how we can really create a system that thrives on sustainability.
NixBeat: What has the relationship been like between United Progressive Coalition of Utah and the Utah State Democratic Party?
Mann: It was a little contentious at first, but now that those in the Democratic Party see how passionate we are and are truly here to stay, they are warming up a bit
NixBeat: How did the Democratic State Convention go on April 22nd?
Mann: It went really well! We had people repping our shirts all over the place, showing that they stand in solidarity with us and the purpose of our organization. If we stand together we can truly rid our political system of corporate money and fight for truly progressive legislation.
NixBeat: Referencing the “Boat Rockers” article published by City Weekly on April 13, 2016, it is said that the United Progressive Coalition supports 8 candidates who represent the ideals of Vermont Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. What criteria do you look for in a candidate who wants coalition support?
Mann: We look for a person who is dedicated to ridding our system of corporate financing of campaigns, joining the fight against climate change, education and health care reform, and addressing wealth inequality. We ensure their commitment by having each candidate sign a pledge to uphold those values.
NixBeat: Some candidates that are running under United Progressive Coalition are Rachel Nelson (Utah House Representative District 59), Brooke Swallow-Fenton (Candidate for Utah House seat 60) and Edgar Harwood (House District 43). What can you tell me about these candidates?
Mann: Rachel Nelson is a mother from Provo who is standing up for those around her. A huge cause for her personally is to address the crumbling state of education in our state to ensure a better future for our posterity.
Brooke Swallow-Fenton is a graduate in Behavioral Studies and has long been a community organizer and activist for many years. See is most known for her recent work with LGBT groups and will definitely be a staunch warrior opposing injustices of our state.
Edgar Harwood is a really sharp person who will really bring some much needed vigor to the house floor. His Latino roots will also be a welcome addition to the floor, for he will be yet another voice to speak on behalf of so many who are silenced.
NixBeat: What’s next for United Progressive Coalition of Utah?
Mann: We will be attending events as well as hosting our own to keep spreading awareness of the local revolution that is happening, and of course work towards the victory of all our candidates currently running.
For more on the United Progressive Coalition of Utah, check out their website http://upcutah.com and their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/upcutah/