Tuesday, May 09, 2006

How to be politically active 101

On several occasions I've called for the public to vote a different Congress into office. I imagine that many readers will assume this means I'm advocating that people vote for Democrats instead of Republicans. They would be wrong, however.

What I am advocating is that Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Independents, et all vote against politicians that are not doing their job. For an example of what I'm talking about, see the amusing chronicles of Patrick, a commenter at Unclaimed Territory:

Jane Harman is my congressperson, here in ultra-liberal Venice (CA-36). Her pro-war, pro-unfettered-surveillance positions would be perfectly fine were she a Republican representing Ogden, UT. But she's a Democrat, representing Venice, CA! Venice, for heck's sakes!

The last time I called her office to bitch about a position of Jane's (in that case, it was Harman's decision to co-author a constitutional amendment to ban flag-buring), I told her phone answerer much the same as the above: Jane's supposed to be representing Venice, for crap's sakes! Her phone answerer responded, "Well, she also represents El Segundo" (a sleepy military-contractor community with about 1/3rd the population of Venice).

That was when I finally understood Jane Harman about as well as I ever will: she's much more comfortable representing the quasi-conservative suburban pockets of her precinct than she is in representing the very-liberal, highly-populated urban centers. She loves her some military contractors, and they love her back (6 of her 7 top campaign donors are military contractors). The rest of us (you know, the actual voters she's supposed to be representing) can go jump in the bay.

It pisses me off.

I've lately decided I had to do something about it. Though I, personally, don't happen to belong to the Democratic Party (I'm a registered Green), I've jumped with both feet into volunteering for the campaign of Jane's Democratic Primary challenger: Marcy Winograd. Additionally, I sent Marcy the biggest check I could afford, after first photocopying it and sending that copy to Jane's office, along with a note explaining why I'm donating to her opponent (a little strategy I heard Daniel Ellsberg suggest at a peace march back in '03).

If Marcy Winograd is elected to Jane's current seat, Marcy would vote to recall our troops from Iraq. She'd vote to restore the civil liberties that have been taken from us via the Patriot Act. And she'd vote to impeach the president. These are all things Jane Harman would never do, but they're all things that the citizens of CA-36 avidly support. Not that that matters or anything.
I can imagine another scenario where a secular Republican or Independent would feel inclined to vote for a Republican candidate not tied to the Religious Right, like say for example, in Georgia where Ralph Reed is running for Lt. Gov.

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