First I would like to thank Pete Aleshire for writing an article about our Democratic primary for U.S. House and spending a line or two establishing who I am as a person and a candidate, instead of taking the all too common approach papers take of merely mentioning how much money we’ve raised as if that were a reflection of our character. I for one am quite sick of politicians whose relationship with the public is solely about the money. If we stop caring about working of, by, and for the people and only chase their dollars, then the republic is no more and our country’s fate awaits the auction block.
Next I would also like to thank Mr. Aleshire for referring to me as “quixotic.” Famed photojournalist, Jerry Nelson, from the Web site Journey America also uses that term while writing about my efforts and I take it as a compliment. “Don Quixote” is the nickname of my favorite political character of all time, Jefferson Smith, from the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (Frank Capra, 1939), a film about someone who, like me, has been thrust into politics and takes on seemingly impossible odds to battle a corrupt system. I have watched it dozens of times and use it in classes when teaching legislative process. Smith is brave, devoted, fearless, tireless, and wishes the best for everyone. He works to make the America he’d learned about as a boy and even more, believes it is our life’s most important work to make the America we’re always told to dream of. This is the way I have lived my life every day since I climbed out of a plumber’s ditch at age 30 and started back to college.
I must say, it is a sad, sad time in our country, when a person who works to make an America that cares for all its citizens and respects all humanity is dismissed as dreaming an impossible dream. As Smith rails at the film’s climax, “If you want me to tell these kids that all this America stuff I’ve been filling your heads with is just a bunch of hooey because some rich guys need some graft, then you’ve got another thing coming!”
America is not supposed to be a country that casually cuts schools and social services so we can be sure the plutocrats get their tax cuts. America is not supposed to be a country that shoves 36 kids in a classroom designed for 18 to save money. America is not supposed to be a country where we shame, demonize, marginalize and imprison our poorest people, or one that looks at each immigrant as a terrorist because of the color of their skin or the words they choose to pray to their idea of God. America is supposed to work for all Americans. America is supposed to care. I do care. I would hate to have to believe that makes me a hopeless dreamer.
Lastly, I would like to correct a small factual error in the article concerning my educational background. I earned a BA in English from Sangamon State University in 1992 and an MA in English (literary criticism to be precise) from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 1999 and then moved to Arizona and earned a Masters in Secondary Education from NAU in 2005. Speaking of which, revitalizing and fully funding education is also a priority. As for private prisons, I work to reverse the entire trend of privatization of government services, which increases our costs and diminishes quality of essential services when unscrupulous businessmen cut corners and defraud the public to increase their profits. As I say it is a sad time in America when the goal of working to improve the lives of Americans is considered as hopeless as tilting windmills.