By now, most political junkies know that Jane Harman, the congresswoman representing the 36th Congressional District, has resigned. They also know that Marcy Winograd, Janice Hahn, and Debra Bowen have announced their intentions to fill the vacant seat.
Yesterday, I was approached by someone who wanted to talk to me about Marcy Winograd's campaign. This person was concerned that by entering the race, Winograd would split the vote and almost assure Janice Hahn of a victory. I told this person that I understand the concerns some have regarding the possible Winograd/Bowen split, particularly of the Westside vote. And that I admire Bowen, especially when she, as Secretary of State, took a stand on the issue of electronic voting machines. That showed courage, especially for a career politician.
But I believe that Marcy Winograd has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to stand for, do and say what's in the best interest of the people regardless of the personal cost to her. Winograd, who is a teacher at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles, decided to stand up and run against one of the most powerful and richest congressional incumbents in the country. She ran a grassroots campaign and garnered 41% of the vote because the people she was able to reach (with her limited campaign funds) believed that she wasn't in the race simply for personal gain.
Jane Harman was one of -- if not the -- wealthiest representative in Congress. Her position on warrantless wiretapping (see video insert of Rachel Maddow), support of the war in Iraq, and other stances led me to conclude that she was losing her connection with the people. Marcy Winograd, a long-time progressive community organizer and public school teacher, also took issue with some of Harman's positions and decided to challenge her.
To my friend who expressed concern over Marcy entering the race, I asked, "Where was Bowen or Hahn when Jane Harman proudly proclaimed herself to be "the best Republican in the Democratic Party? Where was Hahn or Bowen during the years that Harman aligned herself with the war machine?" If Bowen thinks the 36 CD needs her leadership now, why didn't she think the district needed her leadership just 4 months ago - this past November? Why didn't she challenge Harman for that seat in November or the race before? Bowen's and Hahn's silence on Harman's performance speaks volumes.
It sends the message that they, Bowen and Hahn, two candidates who are now vying to fill Harman's vacated seat, made strategic decisions about their own political careers. Janice Hahn recently sent a letter to Debra Bowen asking her to join forces in support of Israel. The contents of the letter are shown in the insert below. But I mention it because the issuance of the letter was itself a snarky strategic political move.
Making strategic decisions in politics is the name of the game. I don't fault either of them for that. That is what politicians do to stay in the game. But the people have a role in this game too. And we have to do our part.
At the top of this article is a photo of people carrying signs that say "jobs not wars". I put this photo in this article because it sends a message to the average person who may or may not be a political junkie. While it is easy to get overwhelmed trying to see through the fog of politics, this photo speaks to what this race is about -- jobs!! Jane Harman represented this district twice from 1993 to 2011. She was a consummate politician who did well for herself. Today, this district is suffering from job loss and major foreclosure rates. For average people, professional politicians are not the solution for today's problems. We see what professional politicians have gotten for the people. Now it's time for the people to do their part and demand that they get what they need, JOBS!!
I believe the people want a representative who has demonstrated that she will not buckle to powerful interests at the expense of the people. We can't afford to elect a career politician who will jump ship in search of better opportunities. I told the person who I met yesterday that Marcy Winograd has already shown that she is electable, and unwavering in her commitment to take a stand for the people, I believe she is the best person for the job. And I'll stand behind that belief unless someone can convince me I'm wrong.
Here's a copy of the contents of the letter Janice Hahn wrote to Debra Bowen:
In this week’s Jewish Journal, Raphael Sonenshein authored a very insightful piece entitled, “Harman’s departure: what does it mean for Jews?” As we are both aware, Congresswoman Harman has been an incredible leader on National Security issues. In particular, when she departs, Congress will lose a staunch advocate for the State of Israel. Congresswoman Harman understands the special and historic friendship our two countries have enjoyed since 1948.
I visited Israel in 2008 and spent time with numerous government officials, soldiers and ordinary citizens who live in fear of terrorist attacks and the growing threat of Iran’s nuclear program. When I traveled to the town of Sderot, I saw, first hand, how Israeli citizens live in fear of Qassam rocket attacks by Hamas.
I am absolutely committed to protecting this beacon for freedom and democracy. Today, I am asking you to join me in signing a pledge of support for Israel:
Support the Peace Process
I strongly support Israel’s quest for peace. It is in the interest of the United States to support a two-state solution, with an independent, demilitarized Palestinian state, living side-by-side in peace with a Jewish State of Israel within secure borders. It is also vital for the Palestinian state to recognize Israel’s right to exist as Jewish State, a fact the United Nations recognized in 1948 and which the United States has affirmed on many occasions. In addition, Israel should have the absolute right to choose the location of its capital and Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel.
Oppose Unilateral Declaration of a Palestinian State
I join Congressman Howard Berman in support of HR 1765 that opposes any effort by the Palestinian Authority to unilaterally declare statehood or seek recognition of a state outside of talks with Israel. I support a two-state solution that protects the civil liberties, rights and security of the citizens of both states.
Support of President Osama’s $3 billion in security assistance to Israel
I fully support the 2007 MOU between the U.S. and Israel - which calls for the U.S. to provide $30 billion in security assistance to Israel for ten years. This aid is critical for Israel in maintaining it’s military advantage , protecting her people, and prevailing over those that threaten her security.
I commit to maintaining the current level of aid, as well as supporting proposed increases, for the Israeli people.
Implementing and Enforcing Iran Sanctions
Iran is the leading state sponsor of international terrorism. A nuclear-armed Iran is unthinkable and unacceptable. I support the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (H.R. 2194), which aims to stifle Iran’s energy sector, restrict Tehran’s ability to conduct international financial transactions, and hamper its ability to obtain components for its nuclear and missile programs. Simply put, we cannot and must not permit a nuclear-armed Iran.
Condemning anti-Israel Political Rhetoric
One possible candidate for Congress, Marcy Winograd, recently slammed Israel by stating the following:
“I think it is too late for a two-state solution. Israel has made it all but impossible for two states to exist.”
“Not only do I think a two-state solution is unrealistic, but also fundamentally wrong…”
“As a citizen of the United States, I do not want my tax dollars to support institutionalized racism. As a Jew, I do not want my name or country associated with occupation or extermination.”
“Let us declare a one- state solution.”
These remarks prompted Congressman Henry Waxman to resond by saying that, “in Marcy Winograd’s foreign policy, Israel would cease to exist. In Marcy Winograd’s vision, Jews would be at the mercy of those who do not respect democracy or human rights.”
I agree with Congress Waxman and his belief that these views are alarming, and far outside the bipartisan mainstream of views that have long insisted that US Policy be based upon rock-solid support for our only democratic ally in the Middle East.
Debra, since declaring independence in 1948, Israel has been in a constant state of war---repeatedly forced to defend itself from enemies. Israel has every right to defend its borders, protect its citizens and be treated fairly in the United Nations.
I hope you will sign this pledge and join me in carrying on the strong legacy of Congresswoman Harman’s passionate support for Israel and standing up for our National Security.
Here is one of the responses Marcy Winograd issued in response to this letter:
"Instead of trying to silence debate on the middle east, why don't we join the international call for greater democracy. I will support any solution that promises to bring peace with justice to the region. Now is the time for the United States to become an impartial broker for peace between Israel and Palestine, thereby elevating our standing in the world and strengthening our national security."