Noga Sachs is a candidate for Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District in the upcoming Republican primary. She’s running against long-time incumbent Ann Wagner. Recently, I was part of a group that interviewed Sachs about her views. [The interview was part of an internship project sponsored by Civitas, a St. Louis non-profit that encourages young people to become civically engaged.] While we definitely did background research (including watching her jogging to a gym video discussing birth control), we didn’t expect our conversations to be as full as they were. From her past to her purpose as a politician, Sachs is full of heart.
Many Republicans are hostile to Sachs and worry her red politics may be more blue than they thought. Some refer to her candidacy as a “trojan horse, ” and she says that that label has contributed to her limited media coverage, The GOP even attempted to kick her out of events, and, she said, one leader said to her face that “there is no other candidate here [other than Ann Wagner]”. Plus, she claims that her rivals are trying to mix up her name to make her lose.They substitute “Noah” for Noga, and all of a sudden voters can’t find her name in the media. Clearly, this candidate faces a lot of obstacles in the upcoming primary.
Parkland was a pivotal moment for Sachs, who was working in South America when it happened. Although she had never before been civically involved, the shootings motivated her to return to the U.S. to join other people working for political change. Realizing that Ann Wagner was up for re-election, uncontested, Sachs saw an opportunity.
Sachs calls her brother her “moral guiding light” for her political involvement He is a Democrat, and at first, she listened blindly to his opinions. After a while, though, Sachs says, “I realized that both sides are guilty of a lot of really not nice things.” However, when asked about why she is running as a Republican, she did not offer an immediate answer. [Editor’s note: In a post-interview phone call, Sachs said that she was running as a Republican because she sees Republicans as more organized in their approach to policies and legislation.] Her claim to “no labels” is somewhat misleading, since she, is in fact, running under the very red Republican label.
Red doesn’t mean, however, that Sachs couldn’t vote for Hillary, oppose Ann Wagner, and criticize Trump. She’s done all of those things, actually, and she’s proud of it. To her, Democrats protect freedom of choice, but “it ends up sort of this capitalistic sort of orientation, whereas the Republicans say…they’re protecting morals,” she says.
One of her strongest opinions centers around Israel, from which her parents emigrated. Her eyes were filled with passion as she discussed the topic without even being prompted. To her, Jerusalem is the obvious choice for the U.S. embassy. “It’s a completely laughable thing that anybody talked about putting the embassy outside the capital,” she says. “That’s just impractical, it just doesn’t make any sense. The capital of Israel is Jerusalem.”
Sachs’ pro-Israel stance coincides with some of her other more conservative leanings, and her passions (red or blue) don’t stop there.
On campaign financing, Sachs says, “You shouldn’t be extravagant during your campaign if you’d like to indicate that you’re going to be responsible with tax dollars.” That commitment to financial responsibility would work well for her, she says, because “I’m seeing a lot of people who are looking for a fresh face, looking for an honest person, an authentic person.” And, when asked about avoiding corruption, Sachs notes that she is self-employed, making her financially independent.
Some of Sachs’ stances are a little more vague. She calls pro-choice and pro-life “too late,” stating that she thinks intervention should happen before a pregnancy ever occurs.
“Insemination education” is the best solution, she says, because it avoids uncomfortable feelings around sex-education while still teaching about safe-sex practices. When asked about how to implement those plans when in Washington, though, Sachs did not offer specific solutions.
Sachs emphasized the need to have open lines of communication with her district at all times. “How can I bring home groceries if I don’t know you needed bacon?” she says.
On gun control, she says that taking away one gun would lead you to find another. To her, the answer is not gun control but, instead, culture change. [Editor’s note: After the interview, Sachs stated that she is an expert on culture change, giving her special perspective and know-how.]
With all of these policy issues, it’s hard to imagine anything happening without bipartisan action. Sachs’s solution: “Talk to people on both sides. Figure out what matters to them, and figure out where those two intersect. And then bring the two together. And actually what I’ve been doing…is exactly that. So I talked to Democrats, they love me. They’re willing to pick up the red ticket and vote for me. I’m flattered. I talk to Republicans and they’re also willing to do the same. We’re all on same page, we all want to get Ann out.”
Sachs reaches across party lines, listens to her voters, attends events, and blurs the blue and red lines into a nice, even purple. Sachs’ views are optimistic and hopeful. She wants to push for a change of culture. “’We need to re-establish a culture which is pro-social. One which enables us to live together, thrive together, work together,” she says.
While she admits to a lack of political experience, she makes up for it with gusto and heart. She said, in closing, “The number one thing is we need to be working together, and I love that you guys are working together on making this country a better place, and it’s not just a better place for me or for you, but it’s a better for place for us.”
Sachs clearly has the best intentions for her constituents and for democracy. Her work across party lines is a clear model for how politics should be able to function. With Trump in the White House, and a never-ending stream of polarized media coverage, it is easy to see how America could be leaving behind the moderates in a storm of extremist opinions. What hope do we have left for people who are (like the majority of America) moderate? In Sachs, we may have found a candidate who can navigate that predicament in a polarized world, where she claims her only labels are the four on her birth certificate: “Noga Chana Louis Sachs.”