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Reply to Michael Swartz

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Michael Swartz, a writer for the Baltimore Examiner, recently wrote up a response to my offer to drop out the race if Hoyer pushes H.R. 1826 (Fair Elections Now) through the House of Representatives, in which he argued that money in politics isn't a problem and that I'm not a principled voter. I strongly disagree with Mr. Swartz first assertion and take exception to his second one.

Money & Politics: In his article, Mr. Swartz stated that "Money in politics is not the problem." Well Mr. Swartz, I reckon we have stumbled upon a fundamental philosophical divide. You see, there's an old saying around these parts that goes something like this: follow the money. The reasoning behind this is rather elementary. I think we can both agree that politicians want to be re-elected. The rarity of political courage and the incredibly high rates of re-election speak to this truth. So how do politicians get re-elected? Through political campaigns of course. And how are political campaigns won and lost? Well political campaigns can be lost many ways- from a speaking gaff (à la George Allen) to a poorly designed strategy (e.g., Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign), but they are generally won by creating a good organization, effective advertising and voter outreach -- all of which take money. Consequently, politicians do as much as they can to boost their campaign treasuries. Because we have a system of privately financed elections, this means politicians must appeal to deep-pocketed political donors. Who are big political donors? Well, generally they fall into two categories: rich people and vested interests. The result of this is that rich people have more sway in our democracy than poor people. This goes against the fundamental purpose of democracy -- every person is possessing an equal say in governance. This skewing of power is also replicated in the second category of vested interests. Because large corporations and industrial alliances have more money than small businesses and emerging industries, the balance of political power is tilted toward the former. This bias is then translated into a skewing of the free market system towards large entrenched interests and away from small businesses and start-up companies. In other words, our economy gets tilted toward propping up existing (and in some cases dying) industries and away from nurturing new businesses that drive economic growth and job creation.

Mr. Swartz is a self-professed right-winger, and right-wingers generally pay homage to the rhetoric of free-markets. If he truly believes in a free market economy, where we don't have special tax loopholes and giveaways from politicians to their corporate interest donors, then he would support Fair Elections Now. However, perhaps Mr. Swartz, like many Republicans, is more concerned with propping up and serving the rich than he is with actual economic growth and truly free markets.

Principled Voter: Mr. Swartz, I take no offence at your analogy of going all in with a "trey- deuce" (in fact I found it rather amusing). After all, I am told I can't win on a daily basis. But I'm not running because I think the odds are in my favor. I'm running because my principles and values tell me that it important to stand up and try my best to hold Hoyer accountable for his immoral vote to invade Iraq, to stand up and hold Hoyer accountable for his writing into law that telecommunications companies can skip going to trial for breaking the law (a decision which goes against the fundamental American principle of equal justice), and to try and push forward the idea of free and fair elections so that our politics aren't dominated by a small wealthy elite, but rather are governed by we the people.

It is my principles and my values that guide everything I do professionally, so I do take umbrage with this statement:

Blind ideology will come before principle, so I'm betting Andrew will get with the program and do as he's told like a good liberal Democrat by voting the party line.

Mr. Swartz, if I do vote for Hoyer this fall, it will because I believe our country will be better off with him in the House than with one his opponents there. Mr. Swartz, it is my principles that guide my decisions -- not blind ideology. If you looked at what I have done and thought about what I am doing, I am confident you would see that.

It was my principled belief of serving the poor -- to make life a little bit better for those that need the most help -- that led me to serve our country in AmeriCorps VISTA. This principle can also be seen in my guiding philosophy of governance: every child, no matter the circumstances they are born into, should have as close to an equal opportunity in life to succeed as possible. It was my principled belief that Barack Obama would make the best president that caused me to give up a year of my life to work for his campaign. While I'm confident you would disagree with this assessment, you should be able to see that it was not blind ideology, but a principled and deliberative decision. After all, if I were an ideologue, I would have signed up with the Democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton. Most clearly of all, it is principles and values that lead me to my current state as underdog challenger to Majority Leader Hoyer. My principles and values say not to support someone that will vote to send our military off to die without just cause, that will turn his back to the fundamental American principle of equal justice and that won't work to reign in the power of special interests in our government. It is my principles and values that push me not wait for someone to fill the void, but to rather take action myself and stand up for that which I believe.

So Mr. Swartz, am I "young and idealistic"? Yes, you are correct about that. Am I ever going to put "blind ideology" before principle? No, you are absolutely wrong about that. Mr. Swartz, challenge my experience, challenge my intelligence, but don't challenge my principles because I am as principled a candidate for office as you will ever see.