02/07/2012 05:05 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2012

A Member of the "Professional Left"

On Aug. 9, 2010, less than three months before the Democrats suffered their worst defeat in the House of Representatives in more than a century, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs tried to blame it all on what he called “the professional left.” In an interview with the D.C. newspaper The Hill, Gibbs was quoted as follows:

“I hear these people saying [that Obama’s] like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. . . . I mean, it’s crazy. . . .  They will be satisfied when we have Canadian healthcare and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality. . . . They wouldn’t be satisfied if Dennis Kucinich was [sic] President.”

Not satisfied if Dennis Kucinich were president? Oh, I don’t know about that.

Gibbs’s attack led Keith Olbermann to observe, tartly, that White House staff like Gibbs seemed to represent the “amateur left.”

It also led me to wonder just what Gibbs meant by the “professional left.” Who belongs to the “professional left”?

Maybe someone who, as a student, was so disturbed by the War in Iraq that he organized a “teach-in” against the war for 1,000 other students. And then organized a seven-mile-long march against the war.

Ilya Sheyman did that.

Someone who got a note from one of his college professors who wrote, “If you like Iraq so much, you should move there.” And then kept right on organizing against the war.

Ilya Sheyman did that.

Someone who never gave a thought to using his college degree to make money, but instead went to work as a Field Director at Gov. Howard Dean’s Democracy for America, training progressive activists all over America.

Ilya Sheyman did that.

Someone who then went to work as National Mobilization Director at, mobilizing MoveOn’s millions of supporters in favor of healthcare for every American.

Ilya Sheyman did that, too. And, with all due respect to Robert Gibbs, Ilya is not satisfied by any half-measures and baby-steps toward the goals of Justice, Equality and Peace.

In short, Ilya Sheyman probably is exactly the kind of person that Robert Gibbs had in mind. And that means that Ilya Sheyman would make a great Member of Congress.

Fortunately, Ilya Sheyman is running for Congress. He is running in Illinois, and he faces a tough primary election next month.

If elected, he will be the youngest Member of Congress. The first member of a new generation of progressive leaders.

I’d like to see that happen. So we should try to help.

If we are going to see better Democrats in Congress, then we’re going to have to do it ourselves. The billionaires and the multinational corporations are not going to do it for us.

Let’s elect to Congress someone who has spent his entire life promoting progressive ideals. I’m up for that.

So, if you feel the way that I do, then please click here to help Ilya.

It’s a long road from where we are now to having 218 progressive Members of the House. But every journey begins with a single step. Let’s take that step today.


Alan Grayson

P.S. If you think that the people of Illinois would never vote for someone named “Ilya Sheyman,” then consider the name of another person whom they elected to Congress -- “Barack Hussein Obama.”