Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Arizona’s Congressional delegation includes nine members of the House of Representatives: five Democrats Ann Kirkpatrick (CD1), Ron Barber (CD2), Raul Grijalva (CD3), Ed Pastor (CD7, retiring this year), and Kyrsten Sinema (CC9) and four Republicans Paul Gosar (CD4), Matt Salmon (CD5), David Schweikert (CD6), and Trent Franks (CD8).
At Blog for Arizona, we complain often and loudly about Blue Dog Democrats and their votes, but our country’s real enemy in the fight for freedom, democracy, and self determination is the Tea Party. They pontificate poetically about family values, but they vote for laws that deny food security, basic healthcare, quality education, and a living wage to millions of Americans. They talk about freedom, but they support for-profit mass incarceration and widespread surveillance of Americans– not to mention forcing us to live in fear due to lax gun laws. They wave the flag and promote patriotism, but they send soldiers to fight in useless wars and cut their benefits and ridicule them when they come home. And, above all, they spout folksy, vacuous platitudes, while they dutifully serve their corporate benefactors and ignore “the little guy”.
Arizona’s Republican Representatives in the House are full-fledged Tea Partiers. (In fact, Franks is one of the most conservative members of Congress, according to GovTrackUS.) In the 2014 elections, the “Gale Force Progressives”, Mikel Weisser, James Woods, and W. John Williamson, are challenging Arizona Teapublicans Gosar, Salmon, and Schweikert, respectively, for their Congressional seats. “I knew it was an uphill battle when I started,” laughs Weisser. “It is about bringing a fight to GOP ideas I know are wrong for America. About stopping Republican terrorism and backwards thinking and working for a 21st century America.”
This Friday, June 20, in Mesa, the “Gale Force Progressives,” who are challenging GOP incumbents in Arizona’s three east valley Congressional districts, 4, 5, and 6, will be holding a candidate forum that advances cutting-edge progressive ideas.
In Congressional District 4, educator/activist/entertainer Weisser is challenging Tea Party favorite Gosar. In Congressional District 5, the “blind visionary” Woods is challenging established AZ GOP leader Salmon. And, in Congressional District 6, high school English teacher Williamson is taking on the equally entrenched Schweikert. In each of the races the Democrat challenger is at a stark disadvantage. In each District, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats nearly 2 to 1. Yet the three Democratic challengers each somehow found their own inspirations to take on the kind of race more traditional politicians steer avoid.
Like Williamson, who still teaches 11th grade English in Scottsdale and is also in his 2nd Congressional campaign, Weisser’s decision to take on the quixotic battle of being an average man running for Congress came from teaching his students civic responsibility. “Teach a class of 8th graders how to a bill becomes law by showing them how to analyze ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ five times a day for five years straight and there’s no way I would not stand up for what I believe in.”
Woods, one of the few blind people to ever run for Congress, has an even more compelling reason to fight, The fact that he is alive today is a miracle of modern medicine—a living breathing success story of socialized medicine saving lives, the same kind of socialized medicine Republican Reps. Gosar, Salmon, and Schweikert have consistently worked against. Hospitalized for a rampant infection, Woods spent more than six years in hospitals, often in intensive care, surviving amputations, multiple multiple-organ failure crises, a kidney transplant and the loss of his eyesight. Woods announced his candidacy while still in his hospital bed in February. A proud secular humanist, Woods is using his unique candidacy to promote progressive ideas.
“There is an extraordinarily damaging disparity between the decision-makers in Washington and the rest of us, who have to live with the decisions they make,” Woods says. “Arizonans deserve representatives who know what it’s like to face hard times, and what’s needed to overcome them.”
Weisser wants Arizonans to hear some progressive ideas.
“Usually the Right dominates the conversation with their latest hooey with their purity tests of what constitutes a ‘real American’, with their gun rights boondoggles and border threat hysteria and all the real issues facing the country go unspoken.” Among the issues among the candidates agenda are educational and immigration reform; income and social inequality; the rights of the disabled and other marginalized communities; cannabis legalization; the religious right’s attack on science; banking regulations and the so-called “Robin Hood” electric transaction tax; alternative energy and water policy; campaign finance and, of course, health care.
“Some of these ideas are just not discussed in political forums in this state,” Weisser laughs, “but it’s time for Arizona to move forward with the rest of America into the 21st century.”
If you are ready for a change and want to hear fresh ideas, the Gale Force Progressives’ candidate forum begins at 5:30 pm at the Red Mountain Multigenerational Center 7550 E. Adobe Mesa, AZ.
No one ever thought House Majority Leader Eric Cantor would lose his seat, but he did. Maybe it’s a year for miracles.