Enough of the robocalls, mailings, poll results, endorsements, fund raising totals, accusations, and denials. Enough of inside baseball. A congressional campaign is not a sport; it is serious business. Voters want to know what the candidates stand for and what they will do. They want to be able to judge the candidates' characters, commitment, and abilities.
Very early in this campaign, I endorsed Ilya Sheyman. Since then, candidates have entered and left the race. I have listened to them all, and read all of their websites, mailings, and everything I could find that has been reported in the media and discussed in the blogs. I have talked with supporters of all of the candidates and with all of the candidates themselves. I have gotten to know many of Ilya's volunteers and campaign staff, and I have watched him at numerous debates and other events.
I am just as enthusiastic now as I was 12 months ago to have Ilya representing me in Congress. For me, the real question is who do I want, not who do I think can win. The truth is that with the district we now have, even though some of the candidates are saying they are the only ones who can win, there is no one candidate in the primary who is the only one who can win.
But the election isn't about who I want. It is about who the majority of voters want, and some of them undoubtedly want the country to take a different course than I do. I want everyone to have health care.
Not everyone agrees with me. A lot of people still think that whether you get to see a doctor should depend upon how much money you inherited, or where you work, or what pre-existing conditions you were blessed with.
I don't want us to attack Iran. Plenty of people do. They want us to control Iran's oil, or they hate Muslims, or they just want us to attack because that is what they think Israel wants and for them Israel is more important than anything else, even innocent people's lives.
I want rich people to support our government and our society by paying their share of taxes. Lots of rich people don't want to pay. Some of them are Democrats, and some of them pretend to be Democrats. But their wealth overrides everything else.
I want Social Security and Medicare to be preserved intact. There aren't a lot of absolutes in politics, but for me, whether to protect the source of security for elderly and disabled people is not open for discussion.
I want us to stop imprisoning people without trials, assassinating political opponents, spying on everyone, and generally denying people their rights. The President has disappointed me on these things, and I want someone who will stand up to the President.
I don't know for sure that Ilya and I agree on all of these things and on all other issues, but I know that for the most part, he and I see eye to eye. Only a certain kind of person goes to work as an organizer for progressive, grass-roots organizations like MoveOn and Democracy for America, as Ilya did. Only a certain type of person stands on the picket line with teachers when his job wasn't in jeopardy and he didn't have kids in the school, as Ilya has.
Only a certain type of person insists on making marriage equality a central issue in his campaign as a matter of principal, when it isn't an issue that people were asking about and it doesn't affect him personally. Ilya did. Only a certain kind of person volunteers to help people who have been released from prison, when most politicians are terrified of being called soft on crime. Ilya wasn't afraid to stand by people in need, even if they had made mistakes in the past. Only a certain kind of person champions the rights of immigrants at a time when they are being blamed for taking away American jobs. Ilya, an immigrant himself, took a stand.
Ilya is a man of principal. He is tough. He is smart. He is determined. He has shown in his campaign that he will stand up to political bosses and powerful special interest groups. He has chosen the path of public service at the outset of his career, and not just as something to do after spending a lifetime trying to accumulate wealth. He is an idealist and a realist and is remarkably capable.
This election, I get to vote for someone who really has the potential and the drive to make a difference. I know how difficult a task he will have if he is elected. He knows, too. And yet, he is eager to try.
I'm still for Ilya.