Published on Sunday, March 26, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
"An Open Letter to Senator Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Barbara Lee: "Don't Muscle Elections. Let Fairness Prevail"
by Linda Milazzo
Dear Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Lee,
I write to you as a concerned Progressive American, one of millions who desperately seek change in the current leadership in Washington. It is no secret our Democracy is in peril. Most of that peril is attributed to the derelict and incompetent Executive Branch. But your own Legislative Branch contributes much to that peril, too.
As elected representatives, you are heroic independent leaders. Congresswoman Lee, your lone vote against George W. Bush's War Powers Act stands as a prescient act of defiance against unjust legislation. Had your 420 Congressional colleagues voted with you on September 15, 2001, they would have foiled the abuse of power that endangers our nation today. Bravo, Congresswoman Lee.
Senator Boxer, you raise the bar for sincerity in your words and in your deeds. On January 6, 2005, you were the lone Senator who championed Democracy and fair elections by objecting to counting Ohio's electoral votes. What a valiant statement you made!!
Just three weeks later, you held to your convictions and voted "no" to confirming Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State. I responded gratefully in the Los Angeles Daily News: ".... Unlike fellow Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama who waxed eloquently about Rice's deplorable record, and then in an act of hypocrisy confirmed her, Boxer's vote was the true representation of the words she spoke. I'm proud to be a member of the Barbara Boxer wing of the Democratic Party." I meant every word I said.
Now that I've acknowledged my high regard for you both, I have a serious "democracy and fairness" disagreement with you I must share....
For the overwhelming majority of Americans, the current Administration and Congress are the objects of historic disdain. While the Executive Branch runs amuck, devaluing America's credibility, undermining America's moral standing, robbing America's coffers, enriching America's rich, pimping America's resources, sacrificing America's young, bolstering pharmaceutical giants, coddling mega-conglomerates, and outsourcing America's jobs, both parties in Congress have been unable, or reluctant, to force it to stop.
We Americans have not benignly paid notice. We Americans have vociferously put you on notice. Changes in the leadership of this nation must occur. But neither you, Senator Boxer, nor you Congresswoman Lee, seem eager to concur.
In the past few days, I've read individual letters authored by you both. Senator Boxer's letter addressed the delegates of the Democratic Party's Pre-Endorsement Convention, asking them to vote for California's 36th District Congressional incumbent, Jane Harman. Congresswoman Lee's letter was more generically addressed. It went out to "Democratic Activists," whom she also asked to vote for Jane Harman.
As you know all too well, Congresswoman Harman is in a hotly contested race with popular candidate, Marcy Winograd (http://www.winogradforcongress.com/index.htm) , President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles. Though neither of your letters mention Winograd by name, your purpose in writing the letters is clear. Keep Harman in office. Maintain the Congressional status quo.
What you fail to acknowledge is that the American people DON'T WANT THE STATUS QUO. And neither should you!!
The fact is, Progressive Marcy Winograd is more aligned with your own Progressive values than Conservative incumbent Harman. Winograd is a tireless activist. She helped create the California Election Protection Network and successfully lobbied for a paper trail to recount electronic votes. She's an environmentalist who traveled to Mississippi to research the effects of toxic pesticides on families, workers and water. She is pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-election reform, pro-campaign finance reform, pro-single payer healthcare, and pro-peace/anti-war. In Winograd's own words, "This is a campaign to recapture the soul of the Democratic Party; the Party of Bobby Kennedy and the movement for Civil Rights."
Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Lee... in both of your letters you reference your policy disagreements with Harman, in particular the War on Iraq. Had Winograd been serving rather than Harman, those disagreements would have never occurred. Marcy Winograd shares more of your political values than Conservative Harman, to whom you automatically give your support.
Congresswoman Lee... you say in your letter that 'Jane was one of the first Members of Congress to commend you for your lone vote in opposition to granting the President a blank check in the war on terror.' Had Winograd been serving rather than Harman, Winograd would not have shown up to commend you. She would have voted on the Floor right beside you! Proudly and resolutely! You two are very alike. You are a social work expert. Marcy is an education expert. Two fields dedicated to building and strengthening community. As your social skills enhance the 9th District, Marcy's literacy skills enhance the 36th. Imagine the magic when you're working together!!
Senator Boxer... had Marcy Winograd been in the Senate when you objected to counting Ohio's electoral votes, you would never have voted alone. Marcy would have voted right alongside you. She has your guts, your chutzpah, your conviction, and your eloquence. She's a powerful champion for justice, much like you.
In all honesty, American voters are savvy to the 'tit for t-t' arrangements that foment insider endorsements... the same old "you scratch my back I'll scratch yours" that keeps our ill-managed nation in a state of perpetual turmoil. But please understand, WE DON'T WANT IT ANYMORE. And neither should you!
If you're concerned that the 36th District without candidate Harman will fall back to a Republican... as my New York Sicilian family would say, "FUGGEDABOUDIT." It ain't gonna happen!! The 36th District is overwhelmingly Democratic and Winograd reflects its social and political views. She's a powerful, viable, dynamic candidate. But you knew that already or you wouldn't have written your letters!!
Bottom line... if you are compelled to endorse Jane Harman, please do. But for the sake of fairness, which you publicly applaud, why not flex your muscle in a more productive way? Take on the Administration. Don't interfere with the efforts of an important Progressive ally. It is divisive and counterproductive for you.
Remain above the fray. Allow the 36th District to have its say.
Linda Milazzo is a Los Angeles based writer and educator.