A few days ago I interviewed Florida Democratic candidate Heather Beaven on behalf of Blue America. She was sharp and savvy, outspoken and principled. But something that stuck with me was how she responded to the question about campaign finance reform. She peeled back the onion by another layer.
We have crap (and by crap I mean ill-thought out, ineffective and expensive) policy spewing from legislators at every level because we have no diversity in the membership of those bodies. Diversity? You ask. Yes, diversity of life perspective.
Interesting, smart working people can't get the job of legislator because they can't afford to be a candidate. We already established that being a candidate is a full time job. And it doesn't pay. Working dads-- can't do it. They can't take the pay cut. Mid career professionals-- can't do it. They have too much seniority at stake. Single moms-- can't do it. They don't have the rolodex. Teachers, cops, firefighters, military members, park rangers... are generally forbidden by a law, a policy, a statute or a regulation.
No, the vast majority of our legislators don't fight for the middle class because they don't know what it is to fight to get into-- much less stay in-- that class.
As long as we have campaigns that rely on raising an embarrassment of riches. As long as only about 2% of America's contribute to candidates that they believe in. As long as we continue to have a huge divide between registered and unregistered citizens. As long as we continue to equate the ability to raise money with the ability to govern, we will continue to live under policy that assumes we are all the same.
Today's Blue America candidate-- live blogging session at Crooksandliars.com at 11am, PT-- is Riverside County progressive Bill Hedrick. Bill and his wife are public school teachers. Bill's been a public school teacher in Riverside County for 35 years. They're "ordinary Americans" in terms of what Heather was talking about. But Bill is an extraordinary American in terms of the quality of his mind and the courage of his convictions. CA-44 is a Republicans district but it would never occur to him to run as a Blue Dog and run a Republican lite campaign. He promises to help change the direction the country is going in by joining the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Does that sound like political suicide? Last cycle, Bill came closer to winning a seat from an entrenched GOP incumbent than any other Democrat anywhere-- and with virtually no money and with ZERO help from the DCCC.
Bill Hedrick is one of us, not one of "them." The DCCC watched him go down to defeat by a tiny handful of votes without helping right the five to one financial advantage Ken Calvert, a Wall Street patsy and the quintessential GOP rubber stamp, had over him. I want to ask you to come by Crooks and Liars today for the live blog session and meet Bill yourself. Ask him about the issues that interest you most. He's a single payer advocate. He's against the Insider corporate trade policies (like NAFTA) that have shipped American jobs overseas. He's a powerful advocate for ending the occupation of Afghanistan, not surging and not escalating. He in an unabashed supporter of women's choice and marriage equality. It's why he was added to the tiny list of Blue America endorsees for 2010.
Of course I hope you'll click on that link and contribute to Bill's campaign. But I also want to point out that Calvert is outstanding in his own way too. Ken Calvert, who has built his career on a false-but-very-loud foundation of moral rectitude, was arrested in a parked car in a public park with a young prostitute and tried running away from the police. Take a look at the official police record (click on it to blow it up so you can read all the details). And if you have time, there's also a mainstream media TV special on outrageous congressional corruption that singled out Ken Calvert as someone who went to Congress to line his pockets from sweetheart real estate deals. He was a rich developer when he entered Congress. He's a far richer real estate developer today. And Republicans can hardly complain that the TV show is biased. It was made and broadcast by... Fox News: