After being thrust into the center of the national debate on health care reform at the beginning of 2012 while going through life saving cancer treatment, thanks to Obamacare, I came to the bitter conclusion that the only way I could really effect policy on health care and public education was if I climbed inside the box, donned the traditional dress of a politician, reined myself in a bit, and took on the status quo on where it breeds, in Sacramento.
While I convalesced, I acquired a rogue political science degree by checking out every book possible from the public library on the history of health care reform in America, the Affordable Care Act, FDR and Social Security, Johnson and Medicare, and the history of the Democratic Party. I became a lay expert on Obamacare and started my own blog, “Health Hazards”, to document my discoveries. I did a lot of interviews and public speaking – using my personal experience as a grateful citizen whose life was being saved by the Affordable Care Act and my leadership skills as a nonprofit leader. I vowed to pay it forward by doing my part to help educate people about the truth about this historical piece of legislation.
My family supported me through this process and endured the insults from the Tea Partiers and idiots who went out of their way to condemn us for being freeloading losers, socialists, and opportunists. As I struggled to understand this mentality, my politically astute 18 year old son suggested I try and go the traditional route to effect change. He said, “Mom, the time of influence is over. You need to run for office so you can make laws.” He was right. I had accomplished an awful lot in the nonprofit world, influencing all sorts of positive changes from outside of the box, outwitting the status quo, but the time had come for me to join the status quo so I could try to effect change from within.
I went to a few seminars for women on how to run for public office. I read books on women who have done it. I applied to Emerge California, an organization that mentors women to run for Democratic office. I was raring to go.
I had two concerns. The first was I had to be myself. I was not going to pretend to be anybody I wasn’t. That may be naïve, but there is no way in hell I could do it without being true to myself first. I don’t roll that way. The second concern was my daughter. She was nine at the time and I didn’t want to spend too much time away from her, especially after all we went through with me having cancer.
I passed the audition but Emerge encouraged me to wait a year and apply again. They wanted me to take care of myself and recover from cancer treatment before undertaking all of the pressures and obligations that come with their training. I was so revved up about running that I had forgotten myself. Leave it to women to consider wellness before political power. One more reason why more women should be running for office and making laws. People first.
They were right. I needed time to recover from cancer treatment and regain my health.
Now that I have my health and energy back, I don’t know if I want to do this anymore. Crawling inside that box, after spending my entire life rebelling against it? I don’t think so. I’ve been given a new shot at life. I don’t want to waste any of my time with THEM in THERE. There’s got to be a better way.
The seat that I would run for is the 45th district seat in California, vacated by Bob Blumenfield who was elected to the Los Angeles City Council. A special election is set for this Tuesday, September 17. Eleven candidates are in the race. I have endorsed, and fully support, Damian Carroll. He is running on almost the same platform that I would run on. He is running an excellent campaign, has plenty of experience, is a true blue liberal, and is handling himself really well in the debates and in public. Every time I turn around, there he is, talking to people about things that really matter. I think he really has a shot at this, and I want him to win.
I’m worried, though. After candidates blew through millions of dollars in the mayoral race in Los Angeles, the voter turn-out was only 15%. That’s pathetic. They say voter turn-out for this race will be even worse.
That’s how the tea party came to power in 2010. While most of America wasn’t paying attention, the nut jobs, while small in numbers, were bullying members of congress and getting way too much media attention.
We have our fair share of nut jobs in the 45th district. Los Angeles has pockets of areas that vote hard right, one of those pockets is in the Forty Five. My congressman, Brad Sherman, a Democrat, is really good about making himself available to his constituents, which means he has to contend with a lot of insults and threats from extremists. He holds regular town halls and the nut jobs always turn out for them. They ranted about Benghazi and Obamacare at the last one.
I’m worried. I’m worried that liberals in my district aren’t paying attention, or that the ones who are partially paying attention will vote for Matt Dababneh, district director for Congressman Brad Sherman. He has the most money (some from big outside contributions), has the name recognition, sends out a lot of junk mail with pictures of himself with the Congressman (raising questions about who is paying for these mailers) and uses every opportunity to campaign without really campaigning – like going to neighborhood council meetings to talk about his work as district director and then passing out new business cards with just his name in large print and his title, in lieu of his regular staff business cards.
The other candidates? If voters were paying attention, they’d know that the majority of those running aren’t qualified or are pro big business and anti-government, two things that the nut jobs and NIMBYs in the 45th district really value. They don’t care about anybody but themselves and they always vote. That worries me. While the 45th District typically leans left in elections, I worry that this time, it could go right, like so many congressional districts did in 2010.
After watching this race, and seeing how well Damian Carroll is campaigning, I don’t know if I have what it takes. I wouldn’t have any tolerance for the NIMBYs and the nut job and they wouldn’t have any tolerance for me.
Why would I have a hard time with the hard right of the Forty Five? Because I’d challenge Prop 13, work to legalize pot and tax it for education, and fight for single payer health care.
My motto? “Shut up and pay your taxes.”
I wouldn’t stand a chance. My own husband wouldn’t vote for me. He’s a liberal, but he hates paying taxes.
Vote for Damian Carroll.
There will be an info session tonight for women interested in running for Democratic office in Los Angeles. Sign up here.
For more information on the Obamacare story, visit Spike Speaks