I have decided to run for an open seat on the Democratic National Committee and would be honored to receive your endorsement and feedback.
Why am I doing this?
First, the crisis of 2016 in politics. I see great opportunities in the rise of social movements for living wages, climate justice, marriage equality, diplomacy towards Cuba and Iran, and the continued election of great progressives like Mayor De Blasio in New York City, Senator Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, and real progressives from San Francisco to Seattle.
However we cannot afford to lose another close election. The Republicans now dominate the US Supreme Court, Congress, and constantly obstruct the White House. Losing the presidency this year to the Republicans will doom the progressive agenda for another generation. Public employees and their unions are under court and political attack in many states. Budgets for public schools, universities, and Obamacare are threatened by privatization, while affirmative action is under siege. Planned Parenthood faces permanent attack and threats of violence. The wanton shooting of unarmed black men is a plague returning from the past to impose a nightmare on our present and future. Immigration reform and the cause of the Dreamers are threatened by wholesale deportation and no way forward. Jobs with decent wages are disappearing, not recovering. Where the minimum wage is rising, it's only because labor and community coalitions are fighting for $15 an hour. The big banks and corporations, with their monopoly of secret money, are trying to end democracy in America. The threats of terrorism and the likelihood of an expanding war are shadows over today and tomorrow.
The Republicans have to be stopped in their tracks this year! We must elect a Democratic president no matter our individual preferences. We can win at least four new Senate seats, and pick up some House seats where the Tea Party has gone too far.
There's plenty of evidence that we are coming back from the brink. President Obama has managed to hold the line on Obamacare, achieve historic diplomatic victories, and intensify his pressure for gun safety and police reform. 125 new "smart" gun laws have passed in 41 states. 32 municipalities have raised their minimum wage.
The lesson is this: Whether it's wages, carbon emissions, Medicaid expansion, marriage equality, gun safety or diplomatic relations, progress is being achieved either politically or from the bottom up, bringing benefits to millions of people despite absolute, dogmatic, and often-venomous Republican opposition.
What a different time it will be with a voter rejection of the Republican agenda, a new Democrat in the White House, and a significant increase of progressive Democrats like Elizabeth Warren or Senator Sherrod Brown in Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has shown bravery and strategic smarts in thwarting the Republicans despite her loss of the Speaker's gavel. We have learned much from the Democrats fighting back, in unity, under siege.
Senator Bernie Sanders already is taking a place in our political history by his serious and principled quarrels with Wall Street and, perhaps most importantly, his unprecedented volunteer army and fund-raising success. Hillary Clinton can be a historic president as well, one whose experience is unmatched.
This leads me to stress three priorities:
- First, we must minimize the damage that may be inflicted by one of these front-runners in the course of the primary. We badly need a conflict-resolution process to bind our party together to win in November. That means fence mending and bridge building through a conversation that starts now. Many will be disaffected during the Democratic primary contest. The rift can heal with the tending of problem solvers on both sides. We will need unity, and unity won't come to us by fear of Trump alone. I have experienced many of these intra-party antagonisms before, contributed to some of them myself, and want nothing to do with their flaring up during a close election.
- Second, I pledge to travel the state and country this year for the Democratic ticket and platform, trying to reach disaffected and divided voters by listening to their opinions and helping reach consensus about the imperative of avoiding the brink.
- Next, a major priority is to convince a new generation of idealists to become involved in electoral politics, including Democratic Party politics. The argument has to be made to Sanders' voters, independents, young workers, and students all over the country. In 2008, young voters were decisive in providing Obama with 80 electoral votes. I promise to do everything I can to expand their role this year.
For example, I listened to students last year about demanding divestment of pension funds from fossil fuels, took the idea first to Sen. De Leon and later Tom Steyer, and the result was the first law to divest California's pension investments in King Coal. Like our earlier divestment campaigns against Apartheid and Big Tobacco, this campaign is spreading to other cities and states.
Currently I am working on a "post-Paris" agenda that will accelerate California's rapid progress to a clean energy economy, which phases out fracking. After decades of pragmatic work, California now has 200,000 clean energy jobs and is a pioneering force in the world. Next, we must move forward against black carbon, methane, and the dirty pollutants, which affect the lungs and lives of working people and the Central Valley. I call this a Green New Deal, blending the battles against poverty and pollution.
I am ready to do the hard nuts-and bolts strategizing and work to move us forward. I believe I can help mobilize our grassroots base around a vision that can win in November at all levels, from the White House to local elections.
- I ask you to personally endorse me as a candidate for the DNC or send a statement of your support.
- I ask you to invite me to meet, speak, or join the conversation.
- Please share with me your priorities and send feedback about what the DNC can do on the road ahead.
I have learned two organizing principles: first, "Outside-Inside", which means great movements usually begin among outsiders, who eventually become more effective insiders; and second, the principle of "Bottom up" which means we rely on the rank-and-file to power our way to ultimate recognition and victory. From these principles we've seen a flowering of our greatest political campaigns and reforms from the past to the present.
I've always had faith in a seed.
California State Senator (Ret.)