Americans spoke out loudly this past Tuesday. In two of the nation's most anticipated primaries, the Sestak vs. Specter Democratic primary in Pennsylvania and the Paul vs. Greyson Republican primary in Kentucky, the party underlings defeated their party leaders' choices and demolished the status quo. On the Democratic side, despite the full throttle barrage for Specter by Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and Governor Ed Rendell, Congressional upstart Joe Sestak beat three decade incumbent Arlen Specter by 54 to 46 percent.
In Kentucky, political neophyte, libertarian extremist, and tea party enthusiast, Rand Paul, clobbered the hand picked candidate of Senator Mitch McConnell, the most powerful Republican in D.C. The results of both elections send an earsplitting message to the leadership of America's two dominant parties, that warns: 'Your choices, endorsements and power don't matter. We're electing who WE want.'
In today's failing economy, afflicted with joblessness, homelessness, educational decline, exorbitant health costs, corporate cronyism and unending wars, status quo politicians have not achieved solutions. Instead they've enabled the problems with no relief in sight. But now, finally, after years of unbridled power, they're being held to account. People in America want change. They want leaders who'll circumvent problems; who'll thwart them before they start. And if problems do happen, who'll have the knowledge to find their solution, quickly and effectively, absent blame games and lies.
Endless grandstanding on CSPAN, bogarting mics to advance party spin, hyperbole, rote talking points and obstructionism don't save people's homes and create needed jobs. What they do create is exasperation, anger and the rightful defeat of long time incumbents for not making this nation better.
This morning on CNN's weekend show, Your Money, national political correspondent Jessica Yellen described the mood of the electorate she witnessed while covering the midterm campaigns: (my apology for the poor video quality)
Yellen's ominous critique of the disdain for incumbents was greeted by this spot-on observance from Christine Romans, cohost of Your Money (a second apology for the poor video quality). The text of Roman's response follows below:
"What a lot of people see when they look at Wall Street reform for example - they see the very same people who over the past 30 years have been sitting on committees in Congress overseeing the banking system and lending who are now saying we must do this today to help prevent this from happening again. And now they say, huh, so now you're telling us this is what we have to do but you've been sitting there with oversight for all these years. I think that the average American people get that, right?"
Yes, Christine, 'we-the-average-American-people' get it. In fact, many of us got it a long time ago, but we didn't show it with our votes. Instead we voted the status quo -- partly out of fear, partly out of habit, and partly because there weren't enough opponents who echoed our views and to whom we could give our support.
Hopefully those old behaviors have changed, and in these midterm elections, and the national elections to follow, we'll prove that we-the-average-American-people are willing to vote our best interests and elect the candidates who warrant our support. Sestak's defeat of Specter gives me hope that other non-status quo, non-corporate beholden candidates, will similarly prevail over corporate crony, mega-millions backed incumbents.
In California, nationally respected Progressive Democrat, Marcy Winograd, a highly regarded community leader, educator, co-founder of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles and L.A. Jews For Peace, is challenging multi-millionaire blue-dog Democrat Jane Harman for Harman's long-held seat in the 36th Congressional District. According to Michael Jay, Winograd's campaign manager, internal polling by Merriman River Group has Harman at 43%, far below the comfort zone for a long-time incumbent.
Harman, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, who frequently sided with George W. Bush, has been mired in controversies for years on issues ranging from supporting Bush's warrantless wiretapping, which she urged the New York Times not to report, to colluding with foreign agents (no, I'm not kidding) to pressure Speaker Pelosi to appoint her House Intelligence Committee Chair -- which the Speaker refused to do.
A Winograd win over Harman, akin to Sestak's win over Specter, would further advance the push for change and an end to entitled incumbents.
In contrast to Harman, who relies on her wealth, power and name to secure reelection, Winograd is waging an energized grassroots campaign. She travels her district to meet with constituents and engage them in conversation. Her in depth platform, detailed on her website, reveals a preponderance of solutions that address the needs of constituents and the nation as a whole. Through all this, Winograd has taken no corporate donations. Her financial support, though a minuscule fraction of Harman's, comes from donors in her district and throughout the nation who've tired of the incompetence, self-aggrandizement and hubris of those who've remained in power -- under whose stewardship this nation has declined.
I make no bones about my personal support for Marcy Winograd. I'm one of the millions of Americans who know how desperately our nation needs change. The days of mega-millionaires buying elections must end. Our government should not be for sale to the wealthiest buyers to hold office for perpetuity -- often passing them on to their scions.
We need advocates for regular folks in our government. We need to refocus our collective power on green jobs, rebuilding our decaying infrastructure, educating our children and adults, and protecting our citizens from our government's complicity in the corporate greed that bankrupts us financially, ethically and spiritually. We need representatives who understand that America is capable of more than military solutions; that war is not the answer -- nor ignorant slogans like drill baby drill.
For those of you who don't know Marcy Winograd as I do -- as a woman of integrity, intellect and valor -- who has spent her entire life fighting for regular people like me, here's a glimpse of Marcy at an impromptu panel discussion with Jane Harman, Jane Hamsher, Norman Solomon, Jim Hightower and California State Senator Loni Hancock.
Jane Harman has consistently refused to debate Marcy Winograd, but at the recent California Democratic Convention they appeared together on a panel. Harman, as you can tell, wasn't pleased to appear with Winograd, but those in the audience were thrilled to witness democracy in action. The videos are in two parts and well worth the watch:
CDC Harman/Winograd Panel Part I:
CDC Harman/Winograd Panel Part II:
I hope on this June 8th, that the good people of California's 36th Congressional District vote their own best interest, and send corporate darling Harman back to her house in Los Angeles, and the people's advocate Winograd to the People's House in D.C.