About the Candidate
Name: Chris Butler
DOB: Oct. 6, 1984
Occupation: Pastor, author, community organizer
Political Experience: Deputy Campaign Manager for A+ Illinois; Advocacy Director for New Schools for Chicago; Co-founded the Chicago Peace Campaign and has worked to reimagine policing; former Rock the Vote coordinator and Mikva Challenge Board Member; Served on President Barack Obama’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
Facebook: Chris Butler for Congress
Hi, I’m Chris Butler. I’m a husband, a father, the pastor of a mid-sized family church, and a 25 year veteran of community organizing.
The 1st Congressional District is nowhere near its maximum potential. And some people want us to think that this is because our leaders haven't been committed enough to social justice, or because they lack the skills or clout to make things happen.
But, I know that our community has a proud legacy of justice and we have the power of everyday working people to make progress. What we need is a leader who will make our families the absolute first priority.
I’m running for Congress because we need a Democrat with the willingness to challenge our Party leadership when they want to stop fighting for the resources our communities need. We need a leader who will work across the aisle with other communities and other people to get things done.
Now, I grew up in the evangelical church that I now Pastor, and I’ve been involved in community organizing since I was 12-years old. I’ve been an advocate for universal healthcare and I have stood up for preborn children. I went to Washington, DC to fight for legislation that protects the rights of our LGBTQ+ citizens while preserving the sacred right of religious liberty.
I have the background and the experience to challenge our party’s leaders when we must, and to work across the aisle when we can to get support and resources to our communities.
So, on June 28th, don’t just choose another Democrat, let’s elect a new kind of Democrat because we can’t afford to let the politics of fear and division block limited opportunities that we have in the next Congress to make everyday life a little easier for everyday people.
I’m Chris Butler and I look forward to your vote.
Why are you running?
I’m running for the U.S. Congress because I believe that every person from every walk of life deserves an active, engaged advocate. I’m focused on working class families and individuals, and on fighting for the hope, safety, and opportunity we all desire.
What does this office do well, and what needs fixing?
Nobody in this race knows more about being a Congressperson than outgoing Congressman Bobby Rush, especially after 30 years in Congress. Nobody in this race knows more about social justice than Bobby Rush, after decades of service to the people of this district before his time in elected office and over the last 30 years.
What made Bobby Rush ineffective in Congress was that he didn’t stand up to party leadership and he didn’t reach across the aisle to get things done.
The next congressman will be a freshman Democrat, in a closely divided Congress that may be under the control of the Republican Party. The next Congressperson won’t be able to get anything done unless they’re able to do two things:
Stand up to party leadership to advocate for change
Reach across the aisle and work with Republicans to achieve change
Anyone who tells you they’re going to bring resources or change to our communities in Congress without these two skills is at best misinformed and at worst lying.
I pastor a church in a very conservative denomination, and I also have decades of experience working for social justice. So, I have points of agreement with people across a wide spectrum of political backgrounds and I know how to bring them together to make transformative change.
I have the skills to do what needs to be done to challenge party leadership when their policies will harm people in our district. I also have the ability to work across party and ideological differences to heal divides. I’ve done that in this campaign and I’ve done that in my civic activist work.
For example, as Deputy Campaign Manager at A+ Illinois, I helped organize a statewide coalition to transform school funding that included both major teachers unions, AFSCME, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Chicago Chamber of Commerce and the Urban League. I did this even when many people said it couldn’t be done. And in the midst of a tumultuous Trump administration, I helped launch a movement called the AND Campaign to help Christians engage in civic discussions that are less polarized and partisan in order to fight for justice, equity, and order.
What is the most pressing issue facing your constituents and how do you plan on addressing it?
The most pressing issue in the district is the most pressing issue in the nation: economic inequality and lack of economic opportunity.
Our economy has changed, and globalization is here to stay. That does not mean all aspects of globalization have been positive. The offshoring of production and just-in-time delivery schemes are just a couple of the changes that we must reverse.
Meanwhile, our economy has become corporatized. Small, independent businesses have declined sharply in both numbers and market share across many sectors of the economy. Between 1997 and 2012, the number of small manufacturers fell by more than 70,000; local retailers saw their ranks diminish by about 108,000, and the number of community banks and credit unions dropped by half, from about 26,000 to 13,000.
Policies like the carried interest loophole and “step-up basis” loophole build a double standard into our taxation system. We must rebalance the economic scales.
Matt Stoller, the director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, estimates that 45 to 60 percent of today’s inflation is caused by corporations raising the price of goods beyond what is needed to offset the increased cost of production
To add to all these problems working families face in the market, our economy has become ever more automated. In 2020, MIT published research showing that for every robot added per 1,000 workers in the U.S., wages decline by 0.42 percent and the employment-to-population ratio goes down by 0.2 percent — to date, this means the loss of about 400,000 jobs. This will only accelerate in the coming years.
The impact of all these changes on working families has been devastating. Many people are not forming families at all. The most frequently cited reasons for having an abortion were socioeconomic concerns. Marriage rates have fallen during periods of higher income inequality, such as we have now, as poorer workers tend to get married less often and divorce more frequently. Economic factors also drive increased delays in first births, and economically-stressed families often reduce family size even if couples would rather have more children. People in the workforce spend less time with their children and their aging parents. Some 46 percent of full-time employees in the United States have a side gig.
Meanwhile, our economic system has undervalued those who make the hard choice of staying home. My wife, like millions of mothers across our country, does incredibly valuable work with our children and in her community, work that is currently valued at zero dollars, even as that work contributes in countless, tangible ways to our economy.
The solution to these myriad, connected problems must be family-centered work policies. We need to develop a system of paid parental and family leave to support pregnant women, new parents, and family caregivers. We must reduce workplace risks and health disparities for pregnant women and improve maternal and child health research. We have to ensure that every family has access to affordable, quality childcare and early education.
We must also rebalance the economy. Among the needed solutions to do so is a basic income guarantee for individuals and families. We must also strengthen organized labor and give workers the ability to form unions without fear of often illegal and certainly immoral efforts by corporations to stifle this basic need for workplace solidarity. Once workers form unions, we must ensure they can act in their own best interests. Finally, we must support grassroots entrepreneurship and local economic development.
What specific steps would you take to ensure your office is accessible and responsive to your constituents?
In an age of shady, dark money contributions to political campaigns and a complete lack of trust in our institutions, in politicians and in politics more generally by people of all political stripes, we can’t move forward without transparency. We’ve strived throughout this campaign to be up close and personal with everyone we can physically meet here in this district, and we’ve always been up front about where we stand on issues.
We’re also working with cutting edge political and social science researchers to implement plans to get the real views of all the people in this district. The innovation is called deliberative polling, which allows for a more robust conversation with the most representative cross-section possible of the people we’re seeking to represent. We have actually done one of these polls during the campaign. Not only were the results incredibly informative, but we also afforded people in the district the chance to hear from other people in the district they otherwise would not have met. These connections and conversations help to heal the public discourse.
So many well-connected politicians make promises to represent people, then head to Washington and actually work for the narrow interests of a handful of major donors, lobbyists and party leadership beholden to the same. What we’ll do instead is have a deliberative process, open and visible to the public, where everyone can see the democratic process at work.