Tagline: Confessions of a Reluctant Congressional Candidate
Every morning I wake up wondering if any Democrat is going to run for Congress in my home district (Florida 4th). So far, according to BALLOTPEDIA.ORG, there are three announced candidates:
- Incumbent Republican Aaron Bean
- Republican Challenger Robert Alvero
- Unaffiliated Write-in Candidate Todd Schaefer
BALLOTPEDIA asks each candidate to answer a series of questions including, “What do you perceive to be the United States’ greatest challenges as a nation over the next decade?” Alvero, who appears to have relied too heavily on SpellCheck, responded:
I perceive that (sic) Unites (sic) States greatest challenge as a nation over the next decade is going to be unite the country in one common cause and keeping the young generation focused on getting the country back up to the (sic) former glory.
Schaefer provides an equally generic but more populous response.
We are at a very divisive time in our country. Both parties are trying to convince us that our neighbor is our enemy to distract from the core rot of the system. If we don’t wake up and realize that we have more in common than they’d have us argue about, more people will be disenfranchised from participating in the system consolidating even more power at the top. The world is watching as this is happening. We’re already losing our influence on the world stage and US foreign policy will lead to our isolation if not worse.
Every announced candidate, including Bean, is eager to tell you what is wrong with America but has offered no solutions. As the late, great Baltimore Sun journalist and essayist H. L. Mencken once wrote:
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
Maybe it is time for someone to practice “impractical politics.” That is why my day begins thinking about what that might look like. The following imaginary announcement of my entry into the race for Representative from the 4th District of Florida presents what I believe is a constructive and compelling argument.
Today, I am announcing my candidacy for Congress from the 4th District of Florida. To be clear, I am not running against the incumbent Aaron Bean. The Bean family has a long record of service and commitment to our community. Aaron is a good and decent person who I consider a friend. I simply believe he is in the wrong job and that the citizens of the 4th district deserve better.
Like many of you, I get Aaron’s newsletters and press releases. And every time I end up with the same conclusion. I know what Aaron is against. But what is he for and what has he done about it. This was most clear from his end of year message when he listed his accomplishments from his first year in office. 60,000 responses to constituent letters. 432 constituent meetings and town halls. Telephone Town Halls with more than 40,000 constituents. And through constituent services, he helped taxpayers recover over a million dollars in benefits, something every Congressman is expected to do.
You immediately realize what is NOT on his list of accomplishments. A single piece of enacted legislation. According to Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution that is the main purpose of Congress. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
Think about that. Aaron Bean is one of 435 individuals empowered to do the Nation’s business. To solve problems and create opportunities for the American people. He and his Republican colleagues have been quick to identify problems and blame the opposition, but have nothing to show for solving them. Let me give you a few examples.
How many of you are concerned about what Aaron refers to as unprotected borders on his website? Guess what? So am I. And a bipartisan coalition of Senators has proposed the strongest response to that concern. And what has been Aaron’s response. Rather than jump on this opportunity, he has sided with Speaker Mike Johnson to block House consideration of the Senate bill because they would prefer to make the border a campaign issue for Donald Trump rather than address the problem.
How many of you are concerned about the safety of your children when they go to school or a movie or a concert or to their church, synagogue or mosque? So am I. Aaron wants you to believe mental health, not guns, is the issue. Let’s assume he is correct. What has he done to ensure that a mentally ill individual who cannot pass a background check to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer can immediately go on the internet or find a private seller who will make that transaction. I know the overwhelming majority of 4th District residents, including gun owners and NRA members, support universal background checks. I will vote to make that the law.
How many of you think gas prices, groceries and other consumer goods are too high? So do I. And what has Aaron and his GOP colleagues done to solve this. Nothing. Instead they claim they will drill, drill, drill even though energy production last year was the highest in U.S. history. You know what else is the highest in U.S. history. Oil company profits. And yet Congress continues to subsidize the oil and gas industry to the tune of $440 billion. You know what has not increased. Health care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price of health care in the U.S. increased by just 0.5 percent in 2023. And what is the response from the GOP House. Repeal the Affordable Care Act. As your congressman I will ensure the future of ACA and challenge subsidies to industries that do not need them.
How many of you are concerned that a pregnant woman has to bleed out in a hospital parking lot until she is close enough to dying before her doctor will risk his license or prosecution to save her? I am too. And what is Aaron’s response. On his website, he decries, and I quote, “federal overreach by a government attempting to tell us that they know what is best.” But that seems not to apply to a woman’s reproductive health. Or a 10 year child who has been raped by her stepfather. I will work with members of both parties to ensure that health decisions remain between a woman, her family and her physician, not a state legislature or court.
How many of you are concerned about a loss of respect for law and order? Again, so I am. Aaron Bean says he is on his website. Yet, on January 21, he endorsed Donald Trump for President. A man who says he is willing to suspend the U.S. Constitution if necessary. A man who suggested the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be executed because he did his job, easing concerns by his Chinese counterpart on January 6. A man found liable by a jury of his peers for sexual assault and defamation. A man who admits he withheld classified documents and waved them in front of individuals who have no security clearance. A man who thinks the President of the United States should have complete immunity from prosecution even when he “crosses the line.” And cross the line he has. Ignoring the 60 state and federal courts which told him he lost the 2020 election. Pressuring state election officials to falsify vote counts. Supporting a plot to substitute fake electors for those duly elected by the voters in six states. Inciting a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol during the constitution process of counting the electoral votes. And most egregious, watching and re-watching his supporters attack and injure over 150 law enforcement officers on January 6.
How many of you are concerned about a decline in global respect for the United States? I wish I knew where my Congressman stands on this issue but he seldom talks about it. Does he believe after two years of holding off and weakening Vladimir Putin’s army, we should abandon Ukraine? Does he think Israel can ever have peace while Benjamin Netanyahu is prime minister? Is he concerned that China will see America’s inaction on these fronts as a license to take over Taiwan? Does he believe the outcomes in each of these regions has no effect on national security? There are no easy answers, but silence is not an option. I look forward to discussing America’s role in a complex geopolitical environment and seeking solutions which make the world a more peaceful place for all people of good will.
During this campaign and as your congressman, I too will answer your letters, I will hold town halls and when needed I will advocate for each of you when you do not get the government benefits you are entitled to. But more importantly, I will press for solutions through legislation and oversight to the issues that affect every one of the 800,000 residents of the 4th District. Why? Because Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution and the voters will have given me the legislative power to do exactly that.
Why then, rather than say “If I Did It,” JUST DO IT. Because no one should jump into a campaign unless he or she is prepared to fully commit to the effort. You owe that to your supporters, especially donors, and to yourself. I am not sure I can make that promise.
I am more than willing to defer to a younger, more energetic Democratic candidate who I hope would pick up on these themes, yet no one to date has stepped forward. And when one does, I will be there to help in any way I can. You know where to find me.
For what it’s worth.