Today, something truly amazing is happening. A blogger is announcing that he's running for Congress. And oh yes, his campaign is growing organically from the world of blogs. This is something that we've never seen before, but hopefully something that we won't ever see again.
And on this note, I'd like for you to see this announcement from a good friend of mine named Ron Shepston. He's a long-time blogger, brave military veteran, and trusted Orange County Democrat who's challenging ethically challenged Republican incumbent Rep. Gary Miller in the 42nd District. And today, he's come here to The Liberal OC to share with you why he's making this announcement today that he's running.
So without further adieu, here's Ron Shepston:
Caution is preferable to rash bravery - Sir John Falstaff, King Henry the Fourth, Part I
Falstaff may be beloved, but he was not who you wanted leading you into battle. Political challengers today need to be brave, brash, maybe even a little rash.
In World War II, when the gates came down in LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel), exposing the marines and soldiers inside to uncounted barrages of fire, they didn't sit around discussing whether it was prudent to charge ahead with the goal of defeating a formidable enemy. No one had to order them to go to give their lives; they just did it. They had a world to save and they gave their lives for a cause they believed in.
Today, those of us who would defend the Constitution have a new fight. Today, as a Democrat, a veteran, and a longtime member of the internet grassroots (or netroots) community, I’m marching off to that fight.
I’m running for Congress.
My campaign manager, Greg Diamond says that he likes this photo of me that he took at the Huntington Beach Fourth of July Parade, where I marched with the Democratic Party of Orange County, and that it has to appear near the top of the diary so people know who’s talking to them. Here you go.
Now let’s talk about my campaign.
I'm running because Congress has let the President stomp on the Constitution, balloon the deficit, and get us stuck in a misbegotten war. Gary Miller seems to see his position in Congress mostly as a way to make money for his friends. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution when I was in the Air Force during Viet Nam (1966-1970), and that's why I'm going to run. I'm going to swear another oath to defend the Constitution as a Congressman. I didn't see combat then, but that doesn't stop me from fighting now and when I get to Congress.
No one has elected me to “represent the netroots” in a run for Congress, but I think my opinions on issues reflect those of the broad community. I want us out of Iraq and back to making the alliances with other countries that we /need/ to fight terrorism. I want single-payer health insurance that is available to all. I want a government that respects scientific facts – in global warming and otherwise – rather than fantasies that give them some political advantage – in making policy decisions. But if there is one issue that motivates me above all others, it’s this:
I want to defend the Constitution and the rule of law – while we can.
There are forces in and out of our elected government who think that they have the right to ignore our laws and the fundamental basis for American values. We see it with signing statements, defying subpoenas, ignoring constitutional amendments, evading Congressional oversight, and flouting federal law. While this President and Vice-President have stomped on the Constitution, my opponent, Gary Miller, has held their coats.
I’ve been around for a long time and I have never before seen such a concerted effort on the part of a political party to subvert our precious and beloved form of government. Not even Nixon. At least Nixon had the honor to leave after even Republicans told him that it was that or be impeached and removed from office. As I've written here, in effect Bush and his associates have been instituting something like a slow coup against our very system of government. Their monarchical vision of our government is not how our system is supposed to work; we must restore our system to its proper form.
Democrats have control of the House – and control of the Senate when Joe Lieberman is thinking straight – which gives them a lot of power. It’s not total power, but it’s more than they use. Our party has the power to inform and rally and lead Americans. But too many members of our party convince themselves that it’s best to play it safe and wait until 2008, when they hope that things will all get better.
I think that's wrong. I think that we need to take the fight to the enemies of our Constitution.
Think back again to the Marines and Army storming the beaches of Normandy. Imagine where we'd be if they stayed in their LSIs and waited for the enemy to leave! It's time that we metaphorically storm the beaches of government and take our country back from the enemy who would destroy it for their own purposes.
If we storm all fronts, from the Water Board to every single Congressional District, we will overwhelm the enemies of the rule of law. We will make America a better place and restore our values, honor and dignity in the world – and thus our public safety as well.
I want to part of the second landing wave. The first wave consisted of Jon Tester and Jim Webb, of John Hall, Paul Hodes, Nancy Boyda, Jeremy Kalin, California's own Jerry McNerney and others who were encouraged – some say in part put into office – by the blogosphere. It consisted too of people like Daily Kos blogger Brian Keeler, who fired a shot across the bow of those who cling to power without serving the public good. We were part of the solution in 2006. I believe that we’re helping to foster a fundamental change in America.
I've been part of the netroots community for 2-1/2 years. I'm not a candidate coming to the netroots for support; I’m a candidate coming from the netroots. I believe that I’m the first “homegrown” netroots candidate to run a viable campaign for the United States Congress. I won't be the last.
This is not a vanity or protest campaign. California’s 42nd district is Republican-dominated, but increasingly independent – which means that it’s full of people who think like Democrats whom we have to convince to vote the way they think. It’s a district I can win. The local party establishment supports me. My opponent, Gary Miller, has been swimming so long in the ethical cesspool of Congressional privilege that he’s grown gills. He’s vulnerable – but no one was on the ballot against him in 2006. No local elected politician in the district – which has too few elected Democrats – is running against him next year. So I’ve rashly stepped up and strapped up; now I’m going to show up and make people sit up and pay attention.
Part of why my campaign will be noticed – one reason that it has captured the interest of people outside of the blogosphere – is that I am from the netroots and they’ve seen what it can accomplish. There has been a group of longtime netroots activists, dare I say "blog celebrities", who have been part of an incredible brain trust so far, and there are many others who've been part of this by means of offering their support and good wishes and still keeping it a "secret". Long-time "Kossack" (as Daily Kos members are often referred to as) Major Danby (aka Greg Diamond) will be managing my campaign full-time. You’ll be reading a lot of stories about the campaign from them in the days to come on places like Daily Kos, Calitics, The Liberal OC, and right here.
My aim in this campaign is to bring the netroots to the many wonderful people I’ve been meeting in the grassroots, and to bring back to the netroots some of what they have to offer. With the spirit and broad expertise of the netroots and the local knowledge and drive of the grassroots, I think we can create something different and new.
I will come here looking for money like other candidates do; for the netroots to come out strongly for my campaign will get attention throughout the political world. But today, having just announced, is not the day for a hard sell. I’ll just say this: if you’d like to be among the first to contribute to my campaign, please go to my ActBlue page. The amount of money that people donate, and the number of people donating, will for better or worse dictate much of the reaction that the world beyond the netroots will have towards my campaign. To show them that we have a chance, we need to show them that we have a base.
This is not just about one candidate or one campaign, but about building a movement. It's about the netroots making connections with the grassroots, and with the voting public. The future of our movement is everywhere in the country, in whatever races we choose to focus our efforts. It's about re-establishing the rule of law. It's about defending America and American ideals. Are we ready to do that together?