*(NOTE: In the speech above, in regards to 2012 campaign spending, the correct figure is $6 billion)
Brent Roske Campaign Announcement Speech
I'm Brent Roske and I'm running for Congress. Today is all about community -- our community of the entertainment industry, the community of this beautiful district, the community of Southern California, and what it means to have representation in our government.
Let's talk about the job I'm trying to get. The title of the job is 'Representative'. There are 435 Members of the House of Representatives. The Founders of this Country wanted people - normal folks from around the country like shopkeepers, farmers, business people - to come to Washington, D.C. to be the voice of America. In this District, that means people like you and me. They wanted a high turnover rate, which is why they built the job with short, 2 year terms. I've worked in the entertainment industry for 15 years - I Represent this District and I'm running for Congress.
I love this country. I've always been an unabashed Patriot, but there are things going on that I'm not pleased with and maybe you agree with some of them.
First, let's talk about the complete lack of cooperation between the two parties in Congress. I think it has to stop and I think I can get in there and do something about it. Senator Harry Reid, a couple weeks ago, on Meet the Press said that the current approval rate for US Congress is worse than North Korea's. His words. I think we can change that. They're not cooperating - it's the adversarial nature of our current Congress. We all work in the entertainment industry and that is a collaborative art. On set everybody has to show up and do their best work - the actors, the director, the writer, the DP, the grip, the gaff, the marketers - they've all got to do their best job to have a good product but it doesn't seem like that's the way our government works. They push budgets - they push deadlines. For 15 yeras I've worked with real budgets and real deadlines Our Congress pushes deadlines - if we did that in our real jobs in the real world we would be out of work. A recent Rasmussen poll actually shows that 68% of Americans think that our current Congress should be replaced and we should start from scratch.
A couple other things I'm not so happy about: the wars. We're still in Afghanistan. Who here knows how long we've been in Afghanistan? We've been fighting in Afghanistan for almost 12 years now, which makes it the longest involvement of US military in history. It's now called the 'Overseas Contingency Operation' - they don't even call it a war anymore - but sadly our soldiers are still dying. Does anyone here know how much the war has cost us right now? Harvard just put out a study that shows the current cost of the war is around $2 Trillion dollars and they say that by the time all the expenses are paid for: the medical, the repairs, the interest of the debt to pay for it - that the eventual cost of the war will be between $4 and $6 trillion dollars. Who knows our current US debt? Current debt - anybody? Right now it's just under $17 Trillion dollars. For the second time in US history our debt outweighs our GDP. $17 trillion is 103% of our gross domestic product. The last time that happens was right after World War 2 but it didn't last very long - we got back on track. But projections now say we're going to be in this debt for some time to come. So, I want to ask you guys, in regards to the lack of bi-partisan cooperation in Congress, in regards to the debt, in regards to the war, if I get elected to Congress how much worse of a job do you think I could I really do?
I understand that my running as an independent makes people think twice a little bit. That's a new excercise for a lot of people to vote independent. I'm going to quickly walk thru the political parties and give you compelling reasons why you can vote for me. This is called a universal pander.
Let's start with Democrats. Democrats - you can vote for me - it's ok - and here's why: first of all, I worked on Obama's first campaign. I started wearing Obama t-shirts to my job at NBC Universal before he had even announced his campaign for President. People would ask me, 'Who's that on your shirt' and I would say 'It's our next President' and they thought I was crazy. And then I went to work on his campaign. I was in the campaign office celebrating when he won the Iowa Caucus and I stood next to Jesse Jackson during Obama's speech after the he won the Illinois primary and I have exactly one tattoo - the American flag - and I got it the night he was elected. For those Democrats worried about voting for me because I'm not a Democrat - I understand that. Advisers to my small insurgent campaign have advised me that I need to go negative on Henry Waxman. Well, that won't be happening. Regardless of whether or not you like his politics, the current Representative Henry Waxman has devoted his whole adult life to the service of this district (NOTE: The word 'district' is used here to mean 'area'. The 33rd District as it now exists was created recently, before the 2012 election cycle) and to this nation and that is to be respected. So, to counter that, I came up with the '2 for 1' campaign. The '2 for 1' campaign means that if I get elected I'm going to job-share it with Henry Waxman for the first 6 months to a year. Now, just to be clear, he has not agreed to this. (Laughter) But if I win I would want to job-share with him. Now, why is that? When I came to Los Angeles 15 years ago from Minnesota where I was born and raised, I didn't have any money and I didn't have any friends. I found mentors - people that could show me how to do things like work with budgets, work with crews, work with studios. I didn't know how to do that - I had to learn it. If I go to Congress I'm going to want all the tools I can get and the guy who's been there in office for almost 40 years, well, there's no better resource. And Democrats, pragmatically speaking, in California we now have the Top 2 Rule, which means in the Primary, the top 2 vote-getters go on to the General. We all know that Waxman will make the General, so Democrats vote for Henry Waxman in the General. But make a statement for bi-partisanship in the Primary and vote for me. So, Democrats - you can vote for me - it's ok.
Republicans - Republicans you can vote for me, too - it's ok - and here's why. If I get elected to Congress I'm going to bring more responsibility to our spending. I think we spend more than we make. But just as important, just like Republican Senator John McCain, I want to bring responsibility to campaign spending. Campaign spending is out of control. The last presidential cycle spent over $6 billion dollars (NOTE: In the speech above I misspoke and said '600' the first two times. The correct figure is '$6 Billion') - evaporated into radio and tv ads and events. When I got that number I picked a non-profit to hold up numbers to numbers, so I went on the internet. Meals On Wheels is a non-profit with a good mission - they bring food to people who can't get out. What's their annual operating budget? It's $4 million bucks. Divide 6 billion by 4 million and you get 1,500. So, in fact, the money that was spent on the last presidential election could have funded Meals On Wheels for 1,500 years. Seems ridiculous. That's why I want to stop it. which is why I'm running the $4k campaign. Some people say running a campaign on $4,000 means that it's not a real campaign. But for me, it's exactly the opposite. I believe in the message, that we have to stop campaign spending, that I'm putting my name on it. Senator Margaret Chase Smyth was the first woman elected to the Senate. She didn't believe in accepting campaign donations. This sounds impossible today. She didn't accept campaign donations. Every 5 dollar check, every donation, she mailed it back. She didn't feel you could campaign fairly with other people's money in your pocket. If you agree with that, then vote for me. Republicans - it's ok - you can vote for me.
Libertarians - you can vote for me, too. Your Vice-Presidential candidate in the last race was Judge Jim Gray and Judge is a friend of mine - I've stayed at his place in Lake Arrowhead. I got to know him when I directed his commercials for his Senate bid and I even spoke California Libertarian Convention about tv's power in political campaigns. Libertarians - it-s ok - you can vote for me and the difference between myself and your candidate, Steve Collett, who I know, he's a very nice man, he just sent me an email - the difference is that I'm bringing the middle so I can win.
Greens - Environmentalists - Greenies you can totally vote for me. Here's a question for my Environmentalist friends: When did the environment become a 'Left' issue? There's nothing more American than America. A tree is not a Democrat! (Laughter). A Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, created the Bureau of Forestry The environment has been exploited by the left to get votes - here's a fact - our environment isn't a left or right issue - it is an American issue! A tree isn't a member of a political party. Republican President Teddy Roosevelt created the Bureau of Forestry! He spent his entire adult life fighting for the environment and while he was President he created 18 National Monuments including the protection of the Grand Canyon. He was a Republican president. The Environment isn't Red versus Blue - it's an American issue and it needs to be treated as such. I'm on the Producer's Guild Green committee. I created and directed the special Eco-Hollywood on CBS, I won an Environmental Media Award for directing the series '4 Your Planet' on NBC. I wrote and directed a tv commercial for Heal The Bay and I led the creative pitch to get Subaru to pay for it. Habitat for Humanity, who advocates for and practices environmental sustainability, received from my show 'Chasing The Hill' the largest show-donation for a walk-on role in their history, which paid for 2 separate sponsorships of Producer's Guild Green Habitat build days. So, Greenies - you can vote for me - it's cool.
And finally, Independents. Independent voters - or as I like to call us 'the reasonable people in the middle' - you better vote for me. In fact, you better vote for me. One thing people don't know is that we've already had an Independent President - his name was George Washington. He and another founder of our country, John Adams, they both hated political parties. John Adams wrote that the partisan divide was the greatest 'political evil' under our Constitution. Those are strong words. CNN calls Independent voters 'non-ideological problem-solvers' and 'the largest and fastest-growing portion of the electorate'. That's a bold statement so let's back it up with some numbers. ABC News and the Washington Post ran a poll and asked people what political party they aligned themselves with. In that poll, 32 percent said 'Democrat', 22 percent said 'Republican' and a staggering 41 percent said that they didn't affiliate themselves with a party, and they considered themselves Independent. Being Independent to me means being a Patriot first, and putting party politcs second. I'm a Patriot and I think that America is great. America shows up and we get the job done. When Hitler rose up we took him out. We've been through the fire. We stormed the beaches. We liberated the camps. America ended slavery because it was the right thing to do and it cost us 600,000 dead soldiers. That's more dead US soldiers than every other war of ours combined. We did it because it was the right thing to do. America is great and I'm running to represent this district and this country in Congress. People have asked me if I'm serious about this, and I answer 'You're damned right I'm serious about this' - it's my name on the shirts. (Laughter). And if you agree with what I've had to say today, when you're in that voting booth, and you close the curtain behind you, and there's between you and desire for a real change in government right now, then vote for me. I'm Brent Roske and I'm running for Congress. Thank you.
Brent Roske is an Independent Congressional candidate for California's 33rd District. Learn more at RoskeForCongress.com