Speaker Boehner has a job, and that's to create more jobs. But when he's not keeping the House from voting on the American Jobs Act, he likes to go golfing and raise money. Unfortunately for him, we at the Courage Campaign aren't about to let that stand as an excuse to not do his job, which is what we did today.
Today, Speaker Boehner joined Orange County Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and Ed Royce at the swanky Pelican Hill Resort for a round or two of golf with the 1% who can easily afford to contribute thousands of dollars to use metal poles to chase after small white balls on their enormous lawn. Even though he was here among his base, he seemed a bit confused and then angry when I told him I was there on behalf of the over 27,000 members of the Courage Campaign who signed a petition demanding that he and the 19 Republican members of the California House delegation hold a vote on President Obama's American Jobs Act.
Here's how it went. About 60 of us met at 7:00 a.m. at a shopping center here in Newport Beach. Our numbers included friends and allies from among the Courage Campaign membership, California Federation of Teachers, (CFT) United Domestic Workers of America (AFSCME), SEIU 1877 (Justice for Janitors), IBEW, the Orange County Central Labor Council, UNITE HERE 11, MoveOn.org members, and folks from Occupy Irvine. We shuttled folks over to the entrance of the resort, where four or five security guards stood watch to check for, well, us. Several police vehicles were nearby and kept driving around, including a paddy wagon; I guess they felt sorry for us not having golf carts.
The energy was terrific. Ana, Eddie, Anthony and Arisha from Courage Campaign's staff stayed up most of the previous night making signs. The Labor Council brought more. AFL-CIO jobs signs turned up as did some MoveOn and #Occupy signs. Happily, our friends brought a couple of bullhorns, chants and two drums with drummers. What a raucous racket we raised starting at 7:30 a.m.!
We knew we'd never get inside to meet the Speaker if we took the direct approach, so we rented a room (thanks to our members making that possible) in which four staff spent the night. Three of us -- Eddie, Ana and me -- dressed as if we were golfers. Eddie even rented two sets of clubs!
We took the hotel shuttle to the front gate where the protests were going on in fine form. After a few hesitations, we were admitted to the inner sanctum. And sure enough, there was the Speaker, wearing shorts, a red jacket and huffing away on a cigarette. After a few discussions with the amply present staff, we caught him walking back from a smoking break. Here's what happened:
His taxpayer-funded federal security, present for this very expensive fundraiser, blocked the camera. But we made our point. When I called out, "Mr. Speaker," he seemed happy to see me. After all, I'm white, middle-aged and dressed like the rest of those lobbyists. But when I said, "I'm here on behalf of 30,000 members of the Courage Campaign asking you to vote on the president's jobs bill," he turned his back on me, much as he has on the rest of America, and stormed off. Our taxpayer-funded security shielded him further from us. After all, confronting the truth can be very dangerous.
We made our way back out to the boisterous protests, the real America who had to get back to work by 9:00 a.m. ... or needed Speaker Boehner to do his job and help create jobs for them and their families. When we saw the golfers riding in their carts on a bridge way up high over the road on which we were protesting, we shouted at them. Some waved back, no doubt muttering, "let them eat cake."
But we weren't done with Speaker Boehner yet. Speaker Boehner didn't exactly play his round of golf in the peace and quiet to which he's accustomed. Instead, he played it to the tune of a faint buzzing overhead. That would be the airplane we rented above, flying a banner reading "GOP JOBS PLAN = OCCUPY GOLF COURSE? ~COURAGE CAMPAIGN". Hope we didn't mess up a birdie for ya, Mr. Speaker.
Back at the hotel, security tried to throw us out of the room we had paid good money for so that we could sneak onto the golf course. Chad and Manuel said that we were not allowed to have any guests in the room. The front desk apologized to us, saying that was not the case. I had a long conversation with Chad -- one of those buzz-cut guys who takes his job of protecting the Republicans very seriously -- but we had to go. I guess the Republicans can get to you anywhere, even when you pay your hotel bill.
All of us felt empowered. We all made clear to the Speaker, CNN, the three local TV news stations and the newspaper that came by that we are the 99%. Will the Speaker change his ways? I doubt it, but the 19 Republican members of the California House delegation are certainly paying more attention. At least one, David Dreier, is about to lose his seat due to the citizen's redistricting commission. Others have to fight for theirs.
These members of Congress are out of step with our state and our nation. The times and the voters are catching up with them. And if Speaker Boehner doesn't do his job, he'll have to answer for it come November 2012.