Saturday, August 9, 2014

The "Telling the Right They're Wrong!" Speech for the Meadview Candidate Forum

After two years of telling people I believed in "Telling the Right They're Wrong!" I realized that despite all the sound and fury and the many scenes I have caused trying to do exactly that, that I had never actually written a speech for a mixed or Republican audience. In twelve hours I will be at a GOP dominated candidate forum in extreme rural AZ: Meadview. Here is the speech I hope to give:



Hello,
My name is Mikel Weisser.
I am the Democratic candidate for US House in AZ’s 4th Congressional District. I’m a native Texan, a former teen runaway. Grew up in a small town near the border of Mexico,  about 15 yrs ago I moved to AZ from Illinois por que yo hablo poquito espanol. I share my humble beginnings because I believe the beauty of the American Dream is that a man can remake himself and make a better world if he tries.


I grew up a working man, 3rd generation construction worker. I didn’t learn to type till I was 27, didn’t really go to college till I was 30, worked as a plumber till I was 35, put myself through college and then grad school working as a carnie, then a homeless shelter administrator. I did freelance journalism part-time and had a political column going for about 25 years. I retired as a social studies teacher a year ago to do this full time. I have two masters degrees, one in English from the University of Illinois and one in secondary Ed from NAU.
Currently, I serve as the executive director and legislative liaison of Safer AZ, the state’s cannabis reform PAC and as a vice chair in the progressive caucus of the Democratic Party. I also sing, play guitar & perform poetry around the southwest.  I love my wife and kids and grandkids and dogs and cats and the beauty and the challenge of living in rural Arizona.
Now that’s a whole lot of biography for a little bitty speech like this, and I want you to understand I understand for many of you, nothing else mattered after I said Democrat. But I been a Democrat since I was en utero and I am especially proud to be a Democrat here in Western AZ.
Some of you may know my campaign slogan is, “Tell the Right They’re Wrong!” I mean that. You don’t have to take that personally, but if you just blindly hate anything Dem, then none of the rest of this will matter anyway.
But yes, that is my belief: I run as a Democrat because I believe the Republican Party has dominated our society, our laws and government since the 60s and their rule has come at a terrible price. The conservative values agenda has wrecked our social life, imperiled us globally and gutted our economy to serve the rich. I don’t care which hometown patriotic values the Right claim to care about, bottom line, they are only serving the corporate interests of their campaign donors. Like the way their economic plans first dismantled Wall Street’s security system, stole everybody’s piggybank and six million people’s homes, stuck you w the bill and then blamed the poor and the struggling to hide their tracks. That’s the GOP, that’s your Republicans.


This is just one example. I could rant all day and not cover all the highlights and I could also not convince you. Just like folks didn’t want to believe that Nixon was a crook, or that Reagan let Iran-Contra happen, or that Bush lied to us about weapons of mass destruction, and millions were killed, and billions squandered and trillions more stolen and much of the world has now turned against us in your name. I know no one wants to believe it; but when it comes to domestic policy, foreign policy and especially economic policy the conservative values agenda have been wrong, dead wrong.
And many those folks will tell you I am the enemy, even call me an enemy to America just for thinking such things. Of course they are the same people who will tell you that I am an enemy because I let my hair grow out sometimes, because I wear jeans and Chuck Taylors, instead of pin stripes and wing tips. Because I don’t think that gays or immigrants are subhuman, because I like to smoke and drink and occasionally cuss.
And so I know that they’re wrong about that, because those things just make me a lot like a lot of the rest of you. So, I would like to talk about the things we could agree on. I know some of you would like to hear some new ideas beyond the same old same old GOP BS.
Like, I believe in educating our children, in roads and solar power. I tell you people, this is Arizona in August, you step outside and you cannot help but believe in the power of solar, just saying.
I believe that my government is NOT supposed to treat me like an enemy, or stick its nose into people’s personal lives. I want the government to stay off of my back and out of my bedroom and as long as I am not trampling on the rights of my fellow man, I want to be free to pursue my own life, my own happiness.
I believe we need to be conservative w our precious natural resources and protect the lives of innocent children, especially after they’re born. I believe in Arizona’s dream of rugged independence, carving out your own vision and honoring your land and your country. I believe in encouraging innovation, I believe we owe something to our children.
 And I very much believe that we live in an extremely dangerous time. Yet with all the problems we face on a global scale, the GOP want to be sure we spend most of our time fighting each other. I believe that America is worth fighting and, when necessary, dying for. But I also believe that it is worth living for. I wish everybody believed that way, then, we really could have a country of, for, and by the people.
Now here are some things many of you will disagree on. Like first that a lot of the messes we face were made by Republicans and they lie and wave a flag in front of us expecting everyone to go along. Look at the last 40yrs of American history, especially in this state. Who’s been in power? So who’re the folks to blame?
Look at the way Carter, Clinton and Obama were treated, even though greatly different presidents, they all get attacked the same way, relentlessly, insanely. I think they waste our time w this nonsense, I think they squander our money, I think they don’t solve the problems we hired them to fix because they’re too busy slinging mud and begging for money. When Obama got elected, Mitch McConnell, famously said his goal for the next four yrs was to obstruct Obama’s efforts and tell me what else have they really done lately, except become very good at wasting our time and money?
I also don’t believe that the immigrants are the cause of America’s problems anymore than they were when my grandparents were immigrants 100 yrs ago. They were also poor, uneducated and didn’t speak English.
I don’t believe that someone’s right to be a religious fundamentalist extremist trumps women’s right to make their own reproductive choices.
I don’t believe that government services make us weaker; that tax cuts create jobs; that every Democrat is after your guns; or, that the 80 yr prohibition on marijuana has ever been anything but a fraud and a crime against the American people, people like yourself and your children.
And I tell you what I do believe in: I believe in jobs: in education, in construction, in innovation, and in tourism and rural development. I believe we need to address the refugee crisis on our border, but we have to treat immigrants as people and children as children. I believe corporations are not people and their rights are not superior to the rights of actually humans and that we need a Constitutional Amendment to solve that problem once and for all.
 I also have proposals on issues like rural solar electrification and water reclamation. I am one of the shapers of the state’s marijuana laws and have proposals to stop the federal prohibition the same way we are dismantling AZ’s private prison pipeline.
There are so many things we could agree on. There are so many issues the right will never work on for you and there is only so little time to act before they drive the country over the cliff again. I know that many of you have been true believers in the GOP for a long time. But am I asking the honorable people in the audience to think about what they’re doing, the way they act, who the Republican Party has become and ask yourself, does the GOP really represent you these days?

I hope you’ll say, “No!” I hope you’ll join my fight.  
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of az.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yavapai Democratic Women's Club Speech on Gender Issues


How I Learned About Gender Issues


So, I asked Toni if I could speak about gender issues when I came here. I say gender issues because to me, sexual inequality, for women, for the LGBT community, has forever been a central issue in humanity and in the past 150 yrs or so has finally gotten some air time on the political stage. You know it took women 72 yrs to get the right to vote back in 1920. Seventy-two yrs! It was that difficult for the minds of men to comprehend treating women as equal, treating everyone as equal, was a reasonable idea. But you know men. There was a lot at stake. When you are the dominant force in society, treating others as equal means giving up power.
 In communication theory, they talk about the concept of “the other.” The Other is someone outside the approved group, someone it is OK to pick on, to marginalize, to ignore, to exploit. The other is always mysterious and not part of the community of the “understood.” Being mysterious, the Other always provokes distrust and suspicion. Essentially unknowable, or supposedly so, the Other’s methods are concerning, their intentions suspect, and their hidden savagery and selfish intention always a given. Because of this,the Other is forever being attacked. They’re ripe for subjugation, they must be controlled, kept away for the switches of power. It is for everybody’s own good if we define them and keep them in their place.
Now I tried to write this to make you think of the way the mainstream looks at, say Muslims, or marijuana users, the poor, the pagan, sundry brown-skinned people of varying ethnicity or, most recently, Guatemalan teen-age immigrants, but you know I am talking about the way society, meaning our male-dominated society, treats women and the LGBT community.
Now I know I do not have to tell you about what it is like to be marginalized in your own society. If we are dealing w stereotypes here then I am the stereotype oppressor: a hetero old white guy. I only know stories of women’s lives, you guys live them.  I don’t need to tell you about the grand or the everyday struggles of being a woman, a mother, or a daughter in a society that presents women as a commodity to be consumed and a social force needing to be corralled, nearly 100 yrs after women got the vote and the idea of equality, but it’s not reality yet. Though I myself have never been a woman, I can plainly see that. Though I have been a man, a father and a son and intimately and socially involved w women my whole life. Heck, I like women so much I used to live in one.
But seriously. Women’s issues in specific are not something I will ever know from the inside out as it were. But I can tell you about some of the women I’ve known, the things I’ve seen them face. My mom, Patsy Ann Perrodin, was a nightclub singer. She never quite liked being thought of as a  “Patsy” and changed her stage name to Pattie Weisser when she married my step-dad, a rough and tumble hard drinking electrical contractor literally named Bud Weisser. But before they met I was raised by a single mom, who shaped my life more than she lived to know
She kept a professional music career going for nearly 20 yrs despite being in and out of the hospital repeatedly for umpteen surgeries, even as the world of live music was leaving her style behind. She made sure I understood that politics was important, that the world operated in ways we must pay attention to or else the powers that be will take care of their own wants at our expense. We championed Martin Luther King. We cried when Bobby died, opposed the war in a part of the US where it was not safe to do so, and watched the Watergate hearing together intently in the summer of ’73.
She quietly overcame a mountain of medical complications that repeatedly halted her momentum as a performer, constantly reinventing herself, a writer, a painter, a small-town, small-time business woman. When I returned from being a teen runaway, we went to college together. My dad fought against it. He needed a ditch-digger; but she persisted and we went to school, 40 miles each way for my first semester back into quote real world after living on the road. Her health dropped off and dropped her out of school at some point in our second semester; and my early taste for misadventure derailed me before too long. But that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell you about her.
When I was very little, she spent some time in a mental hospital. As you can guess, when she returned, to my little baby’s mind, she seemed a superhero to me and I really never changed in my mind after that. In my childhood, in her youth, she lived her life a star. But my mom’s ancient local celebrity isn’t the point here. The point of the story here is I remember her being afraid … and taking on the world anyway. I mean she literally sang for our supper in a time when working in a nightclub made her a marked woman. She focused on her gifts. She focused on her hope and never stopped; and those are skills that men do not teach each other.
So, I honor women’s issues because I honor my mom. I also fight for women’s issues at least as intently to honor my surrogate mom during my teens, Susanne Nicholson, a take-no-nonsense Viet vet nurse who was way more butch than most drill sergeants. She fought for every activist issue you could imagine in the early 70s and for about five yrs lived w us while she worked as a social worker and put herself through college at Pan American University in Edinburg, TX same nearby college my mom and I would go to. Later when she went onto grad school,  in the booming city of Houston where she got her doctorate in gerontology, I got to spend summers w her and see what the world outside my tiny town of five thousand was like.
Later, Suzanne returned to Edinburg to create nutritional programs for nursing home in South Texas, I got to live w her and actually be a student on the campus where’d I’d spent my teenage summers. It was a dream come true … for a couple of semesters then I moved on and that is a whole other story but, it was Suzanne who introduced me to the politics of gender equality in a way my mom never could. Suzanne was a buzz-cut butch. This was back in the 70s, back in the day when the straight culture, especially the rural straight culture, had no qualms about being openly hostile to gay culture. This was in a time when stories like Matthew Sheppard were routine.
Once she moved away from Raymondville, TX, Suzanne immersed herself in the suddenly emerging LGBT culture and she showed me that being LGBT, though a rich culture, was more than a whim. Much more than the ridiculous messages my pop culture was telling me at the time. In some cases it is a biological imperative, in all cases it was a battle against a society that has no qualms about marginalizing and even killing the LGBT, the queer, the weirdo. I know about that first hand as well, remind me to tell you sometime about surviving my very own gay-bashing, but that is a different story.
Yes, Suzanne gave me so much and taught more than me about acceptance of gay culture. After I moved on, she continued to help and house other awkward youth. Later on when she died , she and her partner were together at home. They had to be. Lesbian couples were not allowed together in hospitals back then. No wonder she taught me to fight. She was the person who taught me that feminism wasn’t just a lesbians’ issue or a woman’s issue. Gender equality frees straight males from sexual stereotypes just as well. Making sure all children are wanted, get health care, get educated, get loved, these aren’t just women’s issues, female stereotypes, these are the values that make life worth living. These are the values we want from good government. Feminism or no, these values matter more than who has the biggest army, or has accumulated the most wealth.
So, when Suzanne told me about the development of the battle for the ERA and the development of NOW, I had no hesitation wearing a NOW pin to college and that is why I met the 3rd person I work to honor, my late wife Lisa Weisser. In that redneck time in South Texas a young man who would go to college w his mom and wear a NOW pin was pretty rare.  Let’s see, on that campus there was probably … me.
A 20yr Montessori teacher till mental health issues took her life, Lisa Weisser was also a life-long liberal, a feminist, peace activist, secularist, environmentalist, and educator; but she was always troubled. In and out of mental hospitals her whole life, at one point she chose to have an abortion rather than bring a 2nd child into her unstable world. It wasn’t a decision I loved, but she was the woman I loved and it was entirely her body. It was a hard choice, but we never doubted it was hers to make. And I still believe that, as Roe v Wade declared, until a fetus is viable, the life of the mother is the primary concern. I certainly believe that standard safe medical abortion is not murder, and neither is birth control. Birth control is the essence of responsibility. Even more importantly access to safe birth control is the best way to curb abortion and men who try to limit it, are trying to use your own ovaries as chains.
And I have to wonder, being a man and knowing how men think, I have to wonder if the religious rush to illegalize abortion and even prohibit access to birth control is about controlling your ovaries, or controlling your vaginas. I wonder, the way some male dominated cultures, some religiously dominated cultures veil women and shame them for the lustful thoughts men don’t want to take responsibility for having, for hateful actions they explain away as lust. And that’s actually the story I want to tell you about Lisa Weisser and what happened when she was raped once in a mental hospital. I don’t want to tell you about the rape. That is an awful story.
I want to tell you what happened afterward. I want to tell you how, when we discovered the state of Illinois’ budget cut for mental health operations led directly to dissolving the sexual predator ward at the state mental hospital and sending a serial rapist to a unit full of the easy victims, the depressed and the medicated, she fought back against the stupidity in a way she could not fight back against her attacker. When she discovered a bureaucratic decision to save a dime and cut the quality of a government service led directly to her rape and others we found, she filed a landmark lawsuit for placing budget above human concerns. She fought that lawsuit for the rest of her life. And in the end, the State of Illinois was found liable for negligence and endangerment. And the state hospital system changed back to a system that put patient safety first and not nickels and dimes. The case only took 14 yrs. Lisa only lived 11 of them.
I don’t have to tell you the details of this story. You can actually read them in a series of articles in Springfield, Illinois’ Illinois Times.  And it is somewhat unfair that I am not telling you stories of Beth Weisser, my wife for the past 8 yrs, the woman who inspired me every bit as much as any of my other great heroes, who is every bit the activist I am and fighting her own campaign in Mohave County for the LD5 House race. But I don’t have to tell you stories of the women face. You live them. I only have the ones I share.
But I can tell you this: while I may never be a congressman, as a candidate, as a man, as a human, I can tell you I will never be OK w an America that does not respect gender equality. I owe it to the women who taught me what it means to be an American, what it means to be human.I promise you I will never be OK w treating any group of Americans as “the others.” I will fight for the single moms out there singing for their suppers. I will fight to make sure they get every dime they are worth and every dime equal to a man. I will work for laws to protect women and children from domestic violence, from violence against women in the military and from the violence of bullying in our schools. I will work to make sure every child get a chance to experience the way education changed my life, whether it be keeping college in reach of the average American, fully funding full day kindergarten and keeping child care within reach of working moms; so when parents dream of their child’s future, there is a way to make those dreams come true.
I pledge to work for that ERA Constitutional amendment, especially now that it is being revived. I pledge to work for equality for the LGBT community; because if you can’t marry who you want and you can’t adopt when you want and when you can’t be w the one you love at their time of life or death crisis, well, that not even like being a citizen is it? I promise I will never say a woman is not allowed to control her own reproductive rights. I promise as a male, I will NEVER be OK w any kind of restrictions on access to birth control. (& Hobby Lobby, you have not convinced me your right to be greedy heartless bastards trumps the rest of America’s commitment to protecting a woman’s right to have access.
I will never put budget cuts ahead of public safety and most of all I promise to fight for gender issues with all the strengths these women have given me. That I can promise, that I can tell you. But I don’t have to tell you stories of the lives women face. You live them. I only have the ones I share. Thank you for letting me do that.
Thank you.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

21st Century Rules of Political Science (The Ugly Truth of the Actual Physics of Moving Modern People)


Highlights from a Twitter Series:
21st Century Rules of Political Science
(The Ugly Truth of the Actual Physics of Moving Modern People)

Now, if you have been following my Twitter feed (Don’t laugh some folks do), then you’ll recognize I have been putting out a series of little corny koans on the way the political process looks from the ground level of being a very public liberal in a pugnaciously angry red state.

&, of course, from the perspective of being a smart-ass.



Though my work predates the Internet and my now suspended blog probably contains more typos than true wisdom, for about 25 years I claimed to be a humor writer before becoming a candidate in 2012 and published a couple hundred political humor columns in a series I called "Current Comedy that started before the 90s. And every one of them was simply preparation for the challenge of communicating the world of politics in 140 characters. Yes I'm squawking about Twitter.

Now when I first learned of the world of the little blue bird and hyper-communication in telegraph length prose I railed against it. I dug a little just now and found my first mention of Twitter back in my “4/20” column from April of 2009. At the time, I was apparently ready to dismiss it as as vile internet fad as “two girls and a cup.” I railed against the way it creates a short hand of spelling and meaning that would ultimately distort English as we know it.

Four thousand one hundred and seventy-three Tweets later, I am now, quite obviously, a total Twit-aholic and truly do believe that in the world of 21st century politics, the activist, the candidate, even the observer are continuingly the stars of our own show on the internet. We have a responsibility to entertain as well as enlighten and enlighten means more than just beat into mind-numbed submission w an encyclopedic, though depressing, array of facts and figures.

The people already know the world sucks, we owe them more than merely reminding them. As leaders, lovers, parents teachers and statesmen, we owe our kinsman more than that. This challenge has always been the challenge for the candidate but in the age of technology we inhabit, we can do so much more than ever before to create, promote and honor the pageants the people use to erect their own frames for thinking about politics. We create a being for others to interact w and thus “become,” in a world that is little more that blinking lights, comments and likes. More and more, our society is an internet society. Having seen the revolution our cyber-space community has made on the way politicians operate w each  other and w the larger public I believe that like in Egypt, a revolution can be fomented in 140 characters and a teenager in Meadview can make a meme to change the minds of millions in the course of one evening.

So, in preparing to make a speech to the Tempe gathering of an organization called Drinking Liberally, rather the bring out the sober sounding policy statements or the impassioned prose of pathos that turns out to simply be pathetic pleas for money, I thought I would spring these ditties on the unsuspecting public. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am about to attempt to be the first politician to ever spit out a speech devised entirely from stringing tweets together. I will probably be the last one to attempt this parlor trick as well.
Bloviation from twitter-bation? It could work.

Now since this blog post serves as notes for a speech and is not the speech itself. I am presenting the entire list of twitter posted rules, starring the ones I intend to share and highlighting a few topics I intend to expand on. When you read the list, like my presumed readers in the world wide inter-webs of the twitter-verse, please keep in mind I do actually know how to spell and have consciously chosen to embrace the shorthand possibilities of saying as much as 1 can as briefly as possible.

NSFW! GL!


1.      21st century politics #1 If a tree falls in the forest and no one tweets an Instagram of it to their Facebook, who gives a f***?
2.      21st century politics # 2 You can’t know where the line is, if you don’t cross it sometimes.
3.      21st century politics #3 Don't act like you're above gossip or it'll be about YOU instead. Remember EVERYONE n politics is still 13yrs old.
4.      21st century politics #4 EVER into the Public. When faced w a choice, talk to the most people, the more potentially embarrassing the better.
5.      21st century politics #5 Call them on their Bullshit, but don’t bullshit about your own calling or folks’ll want the scoop on u2.
6.      21st century politics #6 Don’t forget the power of your oppression. The public can’t share your glory, but you must share their pain 2 end it.
7.      21st century politics #7 Thou Shalt Not Be a Train Wreck in Public.
8.      21st century politics #8 Be the biggest person in the room.
9.      21st century politics #9 Your supporters want to believe in you … let them.
10.  21st century politics #10 Tell the Right, they’re wrong … not your volunteers, not your allies.
11.  21st century politics #11 Let your opponents create your no’s, not your doubt.
12.  21st century politics #12 We can't expect 2 bring the world together 2 change 4 good when you can't even stop snipping at your allies.
13.  21st century politics #13 If clicking on a link is too much trouble, you can’t change the world .*
14.  21st century politics #14 Fn cuss or not cuss, speak the language of the people, if your words HAVE to condescend then just shut up.
15.  21st century politics #15 Give up on average or ordinary, only extra-ordinary will get this done.*
16.  21st century politics #16: No one listens, no one reads and they don’t return phone calls. You still have to get it done.
17.  21st century politics #17: Your resume won’t matter if you act like a jerk.*
18.  21st century politics #18 Campaigning is not a full-time job, you only really have to work 8AM-12AM; but sometimes there’s some overtime. (A nod to Mark Twain.)
19.  21st century politics #19 The more complex the process, the more chaotic progress appears. Don’t let the quest for simplification kill the impulse for answers. Many valuable, essential things cannot be reduced to simple terms. Don’t disrespect your topics by expecting to reduce them. Life is SUPPOSED to be complicated.
20.  21st century politics #20 Don’t confuse the beauty of your suffering w the beauty of achieving your goal.*
21.  21st century politics #21 If you can’t persuade your enemies, you must defeat them.
22.  21st century politics #22: when facing the impossible, don't give up, give it more time. What's actually "possible" is shifting all the time.*
23.  21st century politics #23: sure, sometimes think: "u haven't figured out how 2 do u yet & u wanna tell me how 2 do me?" But just keep quiet.*
24.  21st century politics #24: Embrace your ordeals. It's ok to break a sweat sometimes. Stressing your strengths is the only way to build them.*
25.  21st century politics #25: when it comes 2 having 2 fake it, when you just can't be real, your best bet is still trying 2 imitate yourself.
26.  21st century politics #26: while it's cool 2b able 2 explain precisely why you made a mistake, that's not the same as learning from it.*
27.  21st century politics #27: Reject "easy." Don't seek it, don't tell others any task, including your election, will be "easy." Failing is easy. Work!*
28.  21st century politics #28: A leader who only looks out for himself and/or his circle isn't much of a leader.
29.  21st Century politics #29: Ya know how nobody returns calls? Don't be a Nobody. Respect those respectful enough to contact you.
30.  21st century politics #30: The phrase "I never heard of him," reveals a lot more about your ignorance than the other person's accomplishments.*
31.  21st century politics #31: Avoid saying "never" or "always." Except 4 exceptions. The correct response 2 crises is virtually NEVER "do less."*
32.  21st century politics #32: If it’s really about the poetry, you can sleep on the floor sometimes.
33.  21st century politics #33: Real men need to be able to cry. That way we know they can still feel their own hearts and others' pain.
34.  21st century politics #34: when facing the impossible, don't give up, give it more time. What's actually "possible" is shifting all the time.
35.  21st century politics #35: even more important than being generous, b generative. The people look 2 u 2 make stuff happen. Not later, now.
36.  21st century politics #36: Guard ur attention: in general if u pay attention to the news stream for 15 minutes, u'll b pissed off 14 of them.
37.  21st century politics #37: people who talk about their past, things they own or others they "know," instead of the task, aren't helping.
38.  21st century politics #38: if u let others define u then the limits of their imagination is all you will become. Most likely their pawn.
39.  21st century politics #39 : If we all wait for someone else to do it, then we’ll never get it done .

--mikel weisser writes from the Left Coast of AZ 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Democracy for America Questionnaire, Answers 3-5

DFA holds elected officials accountable. If elected, what are your top three policy goals while in office? How will you achieve them? How have you worked to achieve them in the past, both in and out of office? (500 word limit)
My top 3 goals are improved education, improved immigration and reform of existing marijuana laws. While I have many ideas of things I would passionately like to advance (including desalinization projects, rural solar electrification, community arts support, prisoner rights, a Constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood, and so on), these 3 are the areas I have the most experience in and have already been making progress on. In education, as a former lead teacher w a Master in Secondary Ed Instruction, I am profoundly aware of the mess politics has made of our educational system in the last 20 yrs. Class sizes are exploding, course variety and richness has been sacrificed for test driven monotony, amenities are sacrificed, student culture is decidedly anti-educational and declining faster than ever before.
I propose scrapping test driven education and returning to creating whole humans, strong citizens. We can start by at last fully funding federal mandates that cripple school district budgets. Restore electives and vocational ed classes, provide increased nutritional and counseling assistance and stop trying to run education as a for-profit industry. Education is for the good of the public.   America is on a crash course w chaos if we don’t turn the future of education around.
America is a land of immigrants and in the wake of 20th century disastrous military, environmental and business practices, the 21st century world is awash in refugees. The upswing in international refugees is global condition that is just beginning to trend. America is going to have to have a sensible policy for dealing w refugees. We need modern sensible border checkpoints to be able to process refugees the way Ellis Island once did and the professional class who currently are allowed to immigrate also need increased efficiency. Our history of exploiting undocumented immigrants and workers in general is a continuing record of unspoken slavery. Lincoln was right, a country cannot exist half slave and half free. Our 14 Amendment guarantees the rights of “any person,” citizen or no, to equal protection and due process. Immigrants create jobs as consumers, and workers take on the unpleasant work many laborers avoid. I call for a new vision on immigration: if you want to stop illegal immigration, make immigration legal.
Lastly on the issue of cannabis reform, as executive director of my state’s cannabis reform PAC, I am already working day and night to end the horrific cannabis prohibition that has created so much social havoc over the past 80 yrs. The laws were the hatemongering product of crony capitalism at its worst, the preponderance of evidence of the therapeutic use of cannabis is irrefutable and thoroughly researched no matter what the Right will tell you. The social misery caused at home and abroad over America’s War on Drugs is incalculable. It’s time to bring 10s of millions of Americans out of the shadows, embrace “Green Rush” innovation and revenue it promises and halt the momentum of America’s prison-industrial complex, before our government becomes everyone’s jailers.

DFA believes that we have to unite people behind our shared values of community, security and liberty (see Our Values). We must rally behind candidates and causes that share these values and work together to create a more fair and equal society. How will your campaign embody the values of community, security and liberty? (500 word limit)

As an artist, activist and educator, my entire adult life has been about community. Well, the past 25 years of it, anyway. Just before turning 30, after years of dead-end jobs as a construction worker, I joined a food co-op, King Harvest Food Co-op in Springfield, IL and my life was profoundly changed. I had felt a kinship w the activists I had seen on TV, but, having grown up in a rural conservative community, I had not personally met many. As a member of a food co-op, a retail whole foods/health food/new age fashion/activist meeting space, I was exposed to a host of great ideas and exciting lifestyles. Before long I became so involved in the co-op that, during a time when it fell into crisis, I stepped up and took the helm as the co-op store manager. For two years, every member was my boss and each month the will of the board of directors shaped the direction of the storefront and the organization’s activism. This job was the most completely community focused career one could imagine. Our idealism shaped our purpose, we purchased the things we value and took actions on the causes we supported. After two years in this heady milieu, at 30, I left the manager position to return to college to learn how to accomplish even more for the greater good. Later I worked as the volunteer coordinator for a homeless shelter that provided overnight services to 30 people a night and was in part staffed by a cadre of 100+ volunteers. Again the focus was on the community both as a resource and as a need. Then for the past dozen years in Arizona I have again built my life around serving a community’s needs as a teacher and as an arts organizer, I have spent my life imagining what advances the greater good and then focusing on the ground-level nuts and bolts mechanics of turning ideas into action. I wanted to preface my remarks in that context.
The famed anecdote of Franklin aside, security and liberty are not mutually exclusive.  They are both among the promised goals of our American government, insuring domestic tranquility and providing for the common defense are the explicit definitions of national defense and social services. Securing our liberty for now and for the ages is only possible in a world that promotes the general welfare and ensures domestic tranquility. For all people. The truth we see of our current crisis of income inequality is that stripping the masses of their wealth to further enrich the plutocrats does not advance either our security or liberty. Turning our nation into a failed state for off-shored corporate profit does not make America safer.
But calling out the robber barons and rallying the opposition will, just as Americans once rebuffed England’s economically based oppressions. We will all be more secure when we start advancing the good of the public over the profits of predators.
How do you plan to engage the progressive grassroots? Please provide two examples of outreach to the progressive community that your campaign has conducted thus far and elaborate on how you plan to build from there. (500 word limit)
When I filled out this application in 2012 I got to present a couple of rather profound examples of the grassroots enthusiasm we’d built in that cycle.  I’m not sure I can top the disabled guy hitchhiking 35 miles to joining a campaign trip, but one clear way to show the magnitude that our campaign has now reached when it comes to grassroots organizing is to look at my campaign website’s year end blog for 2013. The acknowledgments section includes over 300 names all over the state and the nation. Even my fundraising shows the grassroots nature of my campaign. Though I have admittedly raised under $10,000 last quarter, I have dozens of small dollar donors.
But my favorite example of the grassroots impact I have had in Arizona politics happened just last week. While in Phoenix on other business, I decided to drop in on the monthly DFA meeting. A different congressional candidate was the feature and yet another was already on hand when I arrived. But still when I entered someone called my name and a sustained applause and cheer went up. I have never felt so validated.

Understand, I live 200 miles from PHX and, since moving to AZ in 200, I have always been the little country mouse trying to keep in touch w the politics of the big city, the folks in the know. I have felt like the ambassador from the rural venturing to the city to bring back ideas and resources. I had felt like the small guy at the table trying to watch how the big boys do it. But that applause and cheering showed me that my work on the state level inspires the people who inspire me as well. I want my campaign to be the nexus where rural and urban interests meet for our state. I travel 3-5 days out of every week connecting the local activists to each other and to the state wide Democratic party as well PDA and DFA. Last quarter alone I drove well over ten thousand miles, with only one out of state trip. In May, my district wide final canvass of the petition gathering season lasted 8 days, covered 1224 miles and collected signatures in 22 cities for myself as well as 7 statewide candidates, 8 legislative district candidates and 13 PCs in seven different counties. And we are continuing to work w these candidates and local parties to make the whole movement bigger. AZ can turn blue if we join forces to fix it. Every day we are expanding the circle of activists that attract to our efforts and join our cause by advancing their own personal campaigns for change. That’s about as grassroots as you can get. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

One Minute Chalk Talk on Net Neutrality

My special thx to Serah Blain & JP Martin from the James Woods for Congress campaign for producing this video. Filmed at the Woods campaign offices in Gilbert, AZ


If YOU would like to help protect Net Neutrality,
http://www.change.org/petitions/fcc-protect-net-neutrality-and-accessibility-for-all

How Far Will I Go to Stop the GOP Menace? (A Second Quarter Travel Log)

Till It is Done, till the wheels fall off, or till I run out of road ...
& then I'll STILL keep walking. 

When I show up at places around the state and start telling people about the miles I spend on the road, I am not always sure they understand just what was involved in attempting to be everywhere at once. Last quarter I again spent more than half of my time traveling and building a community of communities, groups around the state that are working on their own local challenges and ready to join in a Democratic movement to change AZ’s current political universe to build a more progressive future.


The list below is an approximation of how we spent the past 3 months. THX for being part of the experience. Thank you for helping us make AZ change--

1.       4/2-4/3--Golden Valley-Flagstaff-Golden Valley:  323 miles
2.       4/8-4/13--Golden Valley-Apache Junction-PHX-San Tan Valley-Apache Junction-Gilbert-San Tan Valley-Gilbert-Queen Creek-PHX-Mesa-PHX-Apache Junction-Golden Valley: 638 miles
3.       4/14--GV- Kingman-GV: 25 miles
4.       4/15--GV-LHC-GV: 142 miles
5.       4/16--GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
6.       4/17-4/21--GV-PHX-Gilbert-Prescott-Tucson-PHX-GV: 889 miles
7.       4/22—GV-BHC-GV: 73 miles
8.       4/23-4/26--GV-Prescott-PHX-Litchfield Park-PHX-Litchfield Park-PHX-Litchfield Park-GV: 546 miles
9.       4/27--GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
10.   4/28--GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
11.   4/29--GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
April Total: 2,746 miles
MAY
12.   5/1-5/2—GV-PHX-Mesa-Gilbert-GV-Kingman-GV: 485 miles
13.   5/3-GV-Gilbert-Apache Junction: 231 miles
14.   5/4-Apache Junction-Chandler-San Tan Valley-Gilbert: 88 miles
15.   5/5—Gilbert-San Tan Valley-Queen Creek-Gilbert-San Tan Valley-Gilbert: 73 miles
16.   5/6—Gilbert-Chandler-Queen Creek-San Tan Valley-Gilbert: 77 miles
17.   5/7-5/9—Gilbert-PHX-Mesa-PHX-Buckeye-Yuma-Parker-GV: 535 miles
18.   5/10—GV-Kingman-GV-Kingman-GV: 48 miles
19.   5/11—GV-Kingman-GV: 35 miles
20.   5/13-5/16—GV-NPHX-PHX-Casa Grande-Arizona City-San Tan Valley-PHX-NPHX-PHX-Black Canyon City-Prescott-GV: 683 miles
21.   5/16-5/18--GV-Kingman-PHX-NPHX-Payson-Flagstaff-Kingman-GV: 562 miles
22.   5/19—GV-Kingman-GV-Kingman-GV: 48 miles
23.   5/20 –GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
24.   5/21-5/29—GV-Dolan Springs-GV-BHC-Mohave Valley-LHC-Parker-Quartzsite-Yuma-Fortuna Foothills-Verrado-Sun City West-Wittmann-Wickenburg-Congress-Peeples Valley-Yarnell-Ponderosa Park-Prescott-Prescott Valley-Jerome-Clarkdale-Cottonwood-Payson-Apache Junction-Scottsdale-PHX—Apache Junction-PHX-Gilbert-PHX-Kingman-GV: 1224 miles
25.   5/30—GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
26.   5/31—GV-Kingman-GV-Kingman-GV: 48 miles

May Total: 4187 miles
May Gas Receipts: $973.29

27.   6/1—GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
28.   6/3—GV-BHC-GV: 75 miles
29.   6/6—GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
30.   6/8-6/10—GV-Beverly Hills-Hollywood-Orange-Hollywood-BHC-GV: 745 miles
31.   6/11-6/13—GV-PHX-NPHX-Tempe-NPHX-Yuma-Kingman-GV: 868 miles
32.   6/14—GV-Kingman-GV-Kingman: 48 miles
33.   6/15—GV-Kingman-GV: 25 miles
34.   6/18-6/21—GV-Prescott-Prescott Valley-Payson-NPHX-PHX-Mesa-Apache Junction-Prescott-Kingman-GV: 764 miles
35.   6/24-GV-Chloride-LHC-GV: 168 miles
36.   6/26-6/27—GV-NPHX-Scottsdale-Buckeye-PHX-NPHX-GV: 538 miles
June Total: 3281 miles
Quarter Total: 10,214 miles  X .44 per mile = 4,491.16 in travel mileage



Political Signage = Freedom, a Guest Column by W. John Williamson

Recently, Rep. David Schweikert--the guy I'm running against--
was interviewed on KJZZ, our local NPR station, and I agreed with what he
said.

He was talking about campaign signs and how he loves to put the signs up
and participate in that aspect of a political campaign.

I, too, share Rep. Schweikert's passion for campaign signs and the whole
process of putting them up and making them an important part of one's
campaign.

David Schweikert talked about how one's hands get cut by the baling wire
used to attach the signs to the support posts. Been there, suffered that.
He talked enthusiastically about going out and putting up signs at all
hours of the day and night. Been there, done that.

One thing that I get concerned about for myself is when I'm checking out
my signs at an intersection. I have to make sure I pay attention to my
driving and don't get in an accident.

Unfortunately, not everyone in our society understands the importance of
political campaign signs. They are a reflection of our First Amendment
rights, for one thing. People that want to put the kibosh on campaign
signs don't understand their significance. While some sign-grinches may
see political campaign signs as blight, they really show that we have
freedom in our country. That we have elections where people can vote and
choose their own leaders. We have choice in our country; we are not
dictated to. This doesn't happen in Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, or
China. We have something unique in our country that a lot of our citizens,
I believe, don't really appreciate.

Some people may laugh at this, but it's getting harder to be a political
candidate in our country. Political candidates are much more limited, for
one thing, about where they can stand to get their nomination petition
signatures. Some cities, such as Paradise Valley and now Fountain Hills,
do not allow political signs to be put up. Some property and business
owners, if a sign is on their property, do not have the decency to call up
the candidate to give him, or her, a chance to remove their sign, even
though a contact phone number must be on all the candidates' signs. These
arrogant individuals simply confiscate the signs and throw them away.

On the positive side, I'd like to share this story. A manager of a Bank of
America called me up about two weeks ago. Evidently, one of her customers
had told her that if all the political signs were not removed from her
bank branch's property, that customer was going to close their account and
take their business elsewhere. I told this manager, a courteous lady, that
I had put a sign on their property in the last election, and all had been
well. She told me that she has managed that branch for 19 years, and never
had this problem before. She told me she knows signs are expensive and
wanted to give me a chance to take my sign down myself so that I wouldn't
lose it. I went up within 30 minutes to the bank and took my sign down.

I commend this bank manager for her civility, but she is the exception.

There are candidates running with whom I disagree markedly on the
issues--David Schweikert and John Kavanagh, for example. But I would never
want them, or any other candidate, to have their freedom to put up signs
impinged upon. Rep. Schweikert has great signs; I commend him for it.

And what he said in the KJZZ NPR interview was great, too. Signs are
important in political campaigns, and I hope that they never disappear. I
share his enthusiasm for them. Some people and municipalities, however,
seem to want to sanitize their communities by eliminating all evidence of
healthy political life. These people do not understand American democracy,
nor are they helping it to thrive and be well.

If you would like to contribute to my campaign, please check out my
website at 
www.williamsonforuscongress.com. Click on "Make a Donation"
and, by means of safe and secure PayPal, dare to support your Democratic
candidate who believes in campaign signs as an expression of our First
Amendment rights, critical to the vitality of freedom and democracy in our
land.

The Future Can Be Ours if we recognize and respect the importance of
political campaign signs as an indication of our freedom of choice in
America to choose our own leaders. Democracy can be, as you've no doubt
heard before, messy; and freedom is often only achieved through a tortuous
process. Some political campaign signs are tacky; some are works of art.
Political campaigns may be raucous and uncivil; or mannerly and
respectful. Yet if we show tolerance for what some may consider this
political "circus," we may in the end see that our democracy is the
stronger for it, and that indeed, because we have put up with the signs
and the sound and fury of elections, we have saved, as Rep. Schweikert
might put it, "the Republic."

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
John





W John Williamson is the Democratic nominee for US House in AZ's 6th Congeressional District, He is also a high school English teacher and father.