Posts Tagged ‘bipartisan’

On Congressman Scott Peters

August 12, 2014 Leave a comment

The views expressed in this blog entry are solely my own and are not representative of any official campaign stance

Today is my last day as an unpaid intern on the campaign to reelect Scott Peters. Tomorrow, I will become a paid staff member. That makes this my last chance to tell everyone why I support Peters without facing accusations that I am “just doing my job,” or am “saying what I’ve been paid to say.” This is my chance to make it clear that I don’t say these things because I work for Peters. I work for Peters because I believe these things.

But first, background:

I am a politically independent Army veteran and graduate student with a couple of bachelors degrees. I’m so fed up with Congress’ inability to do its job that I once attempted to establish a new nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of independent candidates and voters–to put evidence and results above ideology. I recently moved to San Diego “for the summer” because I wanted to see if it was a place I might want to settle after my eventual graduation. Upon my arrival, I could have done just about anything–sought a “real” job, waited tables, mowed lawns, whatever. I wanted to get involved in the political scene out here, so I began looking into the local races and candidates. I could have picked anyone from any surrounding district to support and to volunteer my time. After researching the races and candidates in the area, I chose to dedicate about 30 hours a week, unpaid, to Scott Peters’ reelection campaign for the past five to six weeks.

In short, by most standards, I’d consider myself credibly objective in this matter. I’m not just going to shill for anyone in my party or district, since I have neither of those here. And I’m probably a lot like you: I love this country (so much that I painted American flag racing stripes on my car), but can recognize it’s flaws and shortcomings. And I want my government to get back to actually working for its people. I generally pride myself in being able to see multiple sides of an issue. But there’s one thing I just cannot wrap my head around: I honestly can’t see a single good reason not to vote for Scott Peters over Carl DeMaio. I honestly believe that if I were to sit down and have a real, honest, open-minded discussion with every member of California’s 52nd District, Peters would win 70-30, at least.

Here’s why:

If you think Congress shouldn’t get paid unless they do their job and pass a budget, vote for Scott Peters, who ran on a platform for such a law, cosponsored it, voted for it, and it passed into law.

If you wanted a sensible debt reduction/shutdown avoidance plan that appeals to both parties, vote for Scott Peters, whose pre-shutdown plan was endorsed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles–you know, the guys that created the Simpson-Bowles report that everyone wished were enacted but Congress mostly ignored.

If you want someone who puts policy and people above party, vote for Scott Peters, who was ranked the 4th most independent Democrat in 2013 by the National Journal, which noted that Peters is “part of the bipartisan freshmen United Solutions Caucus, which meets to try and translate the dissatisfaction their voters voiced during the campaign into bipartisan action. He said many of the new members feel emboldened to buck their parties”.

If you want to take care of our veterans and military, vote for Scott Peters, who played a role in the recent VA compromise bill, and who has also supported legislation aiding homeless veterans (introduced), increasing access to mental health services (cosponsored), and increasing economic opportunities (voted–across party lines).

If you support women’s economic and/or reproductive rights, then vote for Scott Peters, who has a 100% rating and an endorsement from Planned Parenthood; and who also has cosponsored multiple measures focusing on equal pay and workplace treatment. (And if you can’t vote for a pro-choice candidate, then you also can’t vote for Peters’ opponent).

If you want to protect the environment, vote for Scott Peters, who chairs the Climate Task Force for the Sustainable Energy & Environment Coalition and has the support of the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club.

If you want to support small businesses, vote Scott Peters, who wants to cut/reform taxes on small businesses and who has the endorsement of FOUR former chairs of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, such as in this letter to the editor.

If you’re tired of the corporate influence on politics and don’t believe that corporations are people, then vote Scott Peters, who cosponsored a resolution for a Constitutional Amendment to undo the Citizens United decision and has supported other efforts to improve the impact of small, individual donors.

If you want a candidate with strong family values, vote for Scott Peters, the family man that is the son of a minister.

If you’re a geek, vote for Scott Peters, who played a major role in keeping ComiCon (and its economic impact) in San Diego… and also put a Game of Thrones shout-out into his video for ComiCon 2014.

If you think the IRS has lacked accountability, vote for Scott Peters, who voted for the STOP IRS Act, which calls for the termination of those found to take certain official actions for political purposes.

If you think bipartisanship starts by building relationships outside the halls of Congress, vote for Scott Peters, who participates in bipartisan workouts to build bonds with fellow representatives.

If you’re tired of an obstructionist Congress that openly mocks working together to find a solution, vote against Carl DeMaio, who was the lone no vote on a divided City Council over 100 times and openly mocked “bringing everyone to the table” to find a solution in a recently-released video (1:10) from a 2011 speech to the local Tea Party.


Basically, you have a first-term incumbent who is doing all the right things to be a part of the solution in Congress; aiming to balance the budget, getting the support of wide-ranging groups from environmental to business to military to women’s groups. You have a guy who didn’t let being a freshman hold him back from introducing and cosponsoring legislation, balancing achievable (and achieved) goals with lofty legislative long-shots. If you’re tired of the same old crap from Congress, Scott Peters is what we need more of in D.C..

Carl DeMaio is trying to run his campaign against Washington and everything that is wrong with Congress. That makes sense for him because there’s a lot of anti-government and anti-Washington sentiment out there on which he can capitalize. Unfortunately for him, Carl DeMaio isn’t running against everything wrong with Washington. He happens to be running against one of Washington’s few bright spots. It only takes a little bit of research (and/or a few conversations with those who have worked/interacted with both men) to realize that. And as soon as people figure it out, I would hope and expect that Scott Peters would receive the victory he so rightly deserves.


On the Word “Fair,” and Speaking the Right Language

July 19, 2012 1 comment

We often hear people talk all the time about “bringing people together” or working “across the aisle,” but it rarely seems to come to fruition. I’m sure that part of the reason why this talk has failed is because many of the people who say such things don’t actually mean it. But I think a significant reason for the failure of such rhetoric is because of the rhetoric itself. Specifically, I think that most people spend so much time in their own ideological boxes that they fail to understand how to talk to their opponents in ways that will resonate or at the least be listened to and understood.

To illustrate this point, I can use the example of “common sense.” Prior to reading Mike Huckabee’s “A Simple Government” and Frederick M. Hess’s “Common Sense School Reform,” I didn’t know that “common sense” was a sort of code word for “conservative.” I should have, though. Having watched a fair amount of Bill O’Reilly, I often marveled at his ability, usually through his “talking points,” to make any point of view sound a lot like common sense. I mean this as no slight whatsoever, but conservatives have a way of boiling down their policy ideas to simple talking points and sound bites. This does not necessarily indicate a simpler policy, but merely a different way of communicating those policies to the public. It’s actually quite an impressive skill. As Mark Twain once said, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Another failure to speak the same language occurred when there was a push (especially on social media) for policies to drug test welfare recipients. Many conservatives were in favor of this, while many liberals opposed it. While many liberal complaints talked about morality, racial biases, drug legalization, false positives, and other similar arguments, I felt there was a great opportunity being missed to speak in the same language about this policy proposal.

When I spoke to conservatives about this issue, I talked about the need it created to expand the welfare bureaucracy, expand government powers and controls, and most importantly the fact that it has been shown to be economically inefficient. If there’s anything conservatives hate, it’s government-expanding, wasteful spending that does not accomplish its idealistic goal, right? If the debate had been waged on these terms, perhaps Florida would not have passed the law and eventually lost money, as expected.

However, by far the biggest communication disconnect between the contrasting American ideologies takes place over the word “fair,” especially when in reference to taxes. Here are some definitions of the word fair:

1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision.

2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules

It sounds simple enough, but in practice creating a system that is fair–that is free of bias and injustice–is a very subjective exercise. For instance, if you ask a liberal what a fair system of taxation should be, they might say that the rich should pay more; their “fair share,” as it’s often said. If you ask a conservative what a fair system of taxation should be, you might hear that every dollar should be taxed equally under a flat income tax rate or they could mention the consumption-based, aptly titled “fair tax.” And yet, from both the left and the right, you continue to hear calls for a more fair tax system, echoed by calls that “fairness” isn’t a realistic goal.

I think we should all decide here and now to stop with that charade. Let’s all stop discussing taxes and other policies in terms of fairness. Fairness is a construct–it is shaped by the environment and ideology of the person using the word. And when a word has different meanings to each person, that word ceases to have a useful meaning. If liberals or conservatives ever hope to change the minds of people that oppose or are skeptical of their views, appealing to a sense of fairness will never gain that new support. So ditch the useless buzz words and learn to see things from an opposing point of view. Only then can anyone ever truly work across the aisle or bring people together. Of course, doing so would require listening to an opposing viewpoint closely enough to understand the language that they use and the priorities that they espouse. I guess I’m asking for too much.