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Urban Democracy- The Progressive Culture War
Monday, April 04, 2005
Honey, There's a Senate Candidate in our Shower...I can't say that I was always a Democratic activist. In fact, I don't think of myself as one now. I worked with non-profit organizations for the past eight years. I adopted highways. I dished out meals. I built houses. I donated to the United Way. In general, I felt like I made a difference in my world. I didn't, however, vote. The road of my life has drifted over the past eight years, but where I stood yesterday was no where I ever envisioned I'd be. That journey was important, and I think it's one many of you are taking as well. In several ways, my journey ended Saturday morning with a Senate candidate sleeping on my couch, but a new one is about to begin. I'd like to share with you
In 2000 I met the man of my dreams, Colin. He was passionate and committed, and he believed in politics. Thanks to him, I voted in my first Presidential election. Colin showed me something in late 2002- a blog, DailyKos. That day- that instant- I fell in love with politics as well.
Since that time I read ravenously. I looked for blogs, I read about blogs, I wrote in blogs, I even started my own. I started watching CNN. I started watching CSPAN. I joined DFA. I joined MoveOn. I volunteered for ACT. I subscribed to Mother Jones. I subscribed to the New York Times. I knew the names of all the Senators. I knew who my Representative was. I came to believe in Howard Dean. I became informed. I became infected.
I never questioned being a Democrat. I just believed that they were right. I believed that people need other people, and that we were all connected and reliant upon each other. I wanted to live in a world where my mother, a single woman supporting three children and a grandchild while working 40 hours a week for $25,000 a year (after working at the same company for 13 years) and putting herself through college at the age of 47, could rely on her government for help. I wanted to believe that in the United States- the land of opportunity- I could get sick and see a doctor. Instead, as a college student, I can't afford my own health care coverage. I wanted to believe that the government wanted me to be in school and to get a college education. I was devastated when they scaled back my Pell grants and Stafford loans. I couldn't understand why education shouldn't be accessible to everyone. I still don't.
I became involved in YearlyKos. I met an incredible person with an incredible vision, Tim Tagaris. I admired him, and when he posted his first diary on his new employer, Dr. Chuck Pennacchio, I paid attention.
Something about Chuck caught my eye. He believed in the things that I did. He believed that everyone should have health care. He believed that a woman's body was her own, and caring for that body was a personal issue, not a political one. He believed that the way to lower the number of abortions was through education, job opportunities, and training. He believed that farm support should support small farmers, not agribusiness. He believed that education is a means to the opportunity of America, and denying it to anyone hurts our democracy.
Dr. Pennacchio has two young children. He knew, just like my mother does, that Head Start is an amazing program that needs to be funded to involve as many children as possible. Chuck believes that those children should be able to drink clean water and breathe fresh air and not be born into generational debt. He believes that AIDS is a global issue, not one we can ignore. He believes my gay friends are just friends and have the same right to be happy that I have. He believes that equality means just that- equal rights- to EVERYONE. I believe that too.
So I got involved. I wrote about Chuck in my blog. No one ever asked me to. I volunteered my help. I thought that maybe I could stuff envelopes or write letters to the editor. They asked me to plan an event. I had never planned a political event. I was terrified- until Friday night.
I worked with Progress Pittsburgh and we put together a reception for Dr. Pennacchio. Here I was, a 24 year old grad student, planning an event for a candidate I had never met for an election that is 20 months away- and the room was filled with dozens of people, none of which I knew. I was so nervous! Then Chuck arrived. He didn't greet me with a handshake, he gave me a hug. He talked to everyone in the room, personally. He wrote their ideas down on every scrap of paper he could find. He responded directly to their concerns, and he invited them to be a part of our own revolution. He talked with so much conviction and passion that I had chills running down my spine.
After the event he asked if he could crash on our floor for the night before heading to Erie the next day. He came to dinner with Colin, Ben (my friend), and I. We had pasta and talked about politics, life, and Mexican towns. Here was a Senate candidate having dinner with three college students, listening to their views. He didn't talk down to us or patronize us. He showed us pictures of his wife and children. That took awhile, because he had a ton! He wanted to know what we thought of Pittsburgh and of Pennsylvania. He looked for our views on the job market here and on what would make us stay. He didn't stay at a hotel. He slept on our roll-out IKEA couch.
The next morning as we woke up, Colin said to me, "Honey, there's a United States Senate Candidate in our shower and he wanted OUR opinions."
And, he really did.
We had coffee and tried not to listen in as he spoke with his wife and kids on the phone. Afterwards, he proudly told us how his daughter lost a tooth the night before- her sixth so far. He told us of his fundraising goals, and how it's been difficult for him as he doesn't come from rich roots. He told us how his parents were hit in the stock market and how they're relying on their pensions and social security. He told us how they're dealing with the prescription drug costs. All I could think was how hard this must be. You don't decide to just run for the United States Senate. It takes you away from your family; it puts your life on display. It takes absolutely all of you.
Dr. Pennacchio needs to make it to a milestone. He needs to raise $75,000. You can help him. Donate here. I'm committed to the Pennacchio for Pennsylvania campaign. I'll do everything I can, because I really believe. It's not because I'm an idealist, though I am. I believe in Chuck Pennacchio because he's got a vision, and its one that all Democrats and Independents can stand behind. He's right on the issues, and he's not waiting for consultants to come along and test his message. *I* am his message. So are you. Chuck empowered me. I have nothing against Bob Casey, Jr. I don't agree with his views and I don't see his goals. We need politicians that are going to fight for local issues as well as national ones. Chuck's a fresh face who's ready to walk into the arena. Sometimes you just gotta believe.
Chuck, I believe.
Update: I'll be cross posting this diary a few places around town today. So leave some comments or recommend it!
Well jeez, that one blew mine away! Great post.
Thanks. :-) I spent a lot of time on it, trying to get the right tone. I hope I got what I aimed for. I'm going to cross post on MyDD, Kos, and Unbossed later this afternoon. I hope you can stop by and recommend!
Wow geez that is a really good post. Most people just post their two cents about whatever candidate/issue, but that post really added a personal aspect to it. Good stuff
Thanks Nick. :-) I just posted it on Kos, so if you read it there, please recommend it!
Great post! And, Kudos for getting a recommended diary cross-posting this at KOS!
It's about time, the democrats had a real candidate.
I couldn't agree more. If you would like to be more involved, email me at shea.christilaw at gmail.com. We need everyone we can get!
great post. i just met chuck at the philly meeting this weekend. it was pretty amazing to meet with a senate canidate in a room with just 15 or 20 other people. he stood right in front of me/us and talked about who he is and what he's about and he answered our questions directly and expanded further, building on our questions.
glad to hear your enthusiasm! keep up the great work! I hope everybody you know becomes similarly "infected"!