The political world was atwitter January 30 over the retirement of Congressman Henry Waxman, who announced he will not run for reelection. Mr. Waxman has had a long and illustrious career as a Congressman, and I join with others in my sincere best wishes for the next phase of his life and career.
Almost as soon as Mr. Waxman’s announcement was made, a great wave of speculation began as to who else will run for his seat. New candidacies have already emerged. And all that is good. Democracy is at its best when a lot of us want to play.
I wish to make very clear where I stand politically in relation to Mr. Waxman’s surprising announcement.
What I spoke of two weeks before his announcement, and what I will speak of two weeks after it, will be the same. I wasn’t running against Henry Waxman, any more than I’m running against any of the specific candidates who will be joining the race now. I’m running against the system that produced them.
We will hear some say, “Oh, now the race has burst wide open!” – but do not be fooled. America’s traditional two-party system is not wide open. It is fundamentally narrow and constricted, at the effect of economic intimidation by forces that will only tolerate a little tweaking here and there.
No one should confuse the rash of new candidacies emerging over the next few days as representing a fundamental contest over the future of America. Rather, a very narrow vision of possibilities remains at the heart of our political system: given that huge moneyed forces are going to continue to have their way with us -- grabbing whatever resources they wish, then leaving crumbs to fall on the floor for everyone else to fight over -- here’s how this or that candidate will help build a bigger and better pile of crumbs. We need to do more than fight over crumbs; we need to put the American people back in control of our country’s destiny.
I am running for Congress because I feel in my heart that the political status quo today, instead of protecting the American people from encroachment by an unholy alliance of money and power, has become too often the handmaiden and advocate for that alliance. And at a time like this, there’s only one thing to protect us: ourselves. It’s time for a new American Spring, a pro-democracy movement here in our own country, by which we rid the US government of the undue influence of money, probably through a Constitutional Amendment forbidding it.
A majority of the American people, both on the Left and Right, feel money wields too much influence on our politics. We need to break the chokehold of a system that represents a narrowing of the democratic franchise for the majority of our citizens, by calling the system on what is really wrong. From income inequality to climate change to child poverty to GMO’s to our high mass incarceration rate, the most important issues will not be addressed until we deal with the issue that underlies them all. As long as Wall Street owns America, the American people will not.