I like Will.i.am and admire the work he's done as a musician and as an activist. But the title of this post doesn't derive from him or any of the galaxy of celebrities who were at the People For the America Way 30th anniversary celebration here in LA last week. It derives from three young elected officials you probably never heard of-- state Rep. Alisha Morgan (D-GA), state Senator Angie Buhl (D-SD) and Tallahassee vice-Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-FL). will.i.am introduced the audience-- an audience waiting to hear from Alec Baldwin and Norman Lear, J.J. Abrams, Jane Lynch, Jon Stewart, Mary Kay Place, Ed Begley, Jr., Rob and Carl Reiner-- to these young elected officials and they took over the spotlight so intensely that I actually forgot it was will who introduced them!
Andrew is the leader of a People For the American Way project called Young Elected Officials. Angie and Alisha are two of the young officials. Their stories of overcoming political adversity that always haunts young people are absolutely awesome-- and that's why I have the video embedded above.
I brought a 33-year-old first time candidate with me to the event, Dr. Lee Rogers, the Democratic opponent of right-wing carbuncle Buck McKeon. A few days before I asked him to come I had suggested his campaign to a DC mover-and-shaker... who laughed in my face. He vomited back a liturgy of statistics proving, in his limited mind, that McKeon was untouchable and that no Democrat, let alone a first time novice like Rogers, could possibly beat him. It didn't matter to him that Obama, albeit narrowly, won the district in 2008 and that the demographics are shifting precipitously away from the old white base that McKeon has used to prop up a long out-of-touch career. All that mattered were the Cook PVI (R+7) and that McKeon had beaten (unknown, hopelessly underfinanced) Democrats in 2010 (62-38 percent), 2008 (58-42 percent), 2006 (60-36 percent), etc... back into pre-history.
I imagine Lee hears a lot of this nay-saying. In fact, one of the things I admire about him is his positive spirit in the face of this kind of Insider negativity. The DCCC hasn't rushed to help him, despite McKeon, being one of the most heinous Republicans in the country, who, for example, has declared that there will be no defense budget next year unless Obama backs off implementing Don't Ask Don't Tell. He's the incredibly corrupt chairman of the House Defense Committee but in this case he's letting his Mormonism get in the way of protecting America and the hefty legalistic bribes he rakes in from defense contractors and arms manufacturers.
As I suspected he would be, Lee, a steel-nerved surgeon, seemed really moved by the presentation from the Young Elected Officials. I had introduced him to Alisha, an old friend, before the event and he had spent some time talking with her about how she-- the first African-American elected in Newt Gingrich's old Cobb County stomping ground, at 23 years of age-- had managed to overcome the heavy odds against her. "I was inspired," he told me yesterday "meeting Alisha and hearing how she and Angie overcame adversity, like age, to defy the political pundits and pollsters going on to win those races. It proves two things-- working harder than the other candidate makes a difference, and the voters can sense when an incumbent is arrogant with power. These two attributes are advantages to challengers, especially young ones with fresh ideas in this climate of gridlock partisanship. The basic definition of American democracy is liberty and justice for all, and this PFAW event helped me to realize that we still have many fights ahead of us." We sure do-- and if you'd like to help Lee overcome some of the obstacles he's have to overcome to succeed in replacing McKeon, you can do that on this Blue America ActBlue page.
Cross-posted from DownWithTyranny!