With national anxiety at an all time high, Americans dare not question the importance of this year 's midterm elections. The War in Iraq is more dastardly than ever. The national debt has soared beyond an egregious eight trillion dollars (http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdpdodt.htm). Millions of Americans remain without health care, and the incompetence of the Bush Administration is painfully conceded to by Democrats and Republicans alike.
Anger at Congress is palpable as resentments build toward the enablers of this increasingly unpopular "War. " Regardless of one's political party, across the entire nation, Pro-war legislators are finally being taken to task.
But nowhere in America is the Pro-war/Anti-war battle being more fiercely fought than in Southern California, where Progressive Anti-war Democrat Marcy Winograd is uncompromisingly challenging Pro-War Democrat incumbent, Jane Harman.
Much has been written about the Winograd/Harman tussle due to its salacious Democrat on Democrat angle and surprisingly formidable showing by political "newcomer " Winograd. But based on my in-depth interview with Marcy Winograd, she may be a newcomer candidate, but she 's irrefutably NO newcomer to the machinations of government and the needs of the constituents in California's "District 36."
A longtime grassroots activist, Winograd has well-honed expertise on issues ranging far beyond war and peace. Although intently focused on her campaign against Harman, she has a clearly devised plan for post election leadership, beginning the instant she lands in D.C. She's extraordinarily confident and decidedly poised to assume her Congressional role... as you will learn when you read 'My Conversation With Marcy':
LM: Marcy, you 're a longtime grassroots activist. How will you reconcile your "activist " role when you take on your new role in Congress?
MW: Once an activist, always an activist at heart -- that's my belief. As a legislator, I will continue my relationship with the grassroots and seek to solve problems and mount new campaigns by engaging members of the community. One model for this is "Health Care for All ", a grassroots campaign to educate the public and mobilize support for CA State Senator Sheila Kuehl's universal single-payer health care bill. I am not interested in sequestering myself in an office in Washington or becoming a member of an exclusive club or inner circle of power. The thrill of going to Congress is going to Washington to advocate for the people in the 36th District and beyond -- to protect our youth from senseless war and preserve constitutional freedoms for all Americans.
LM: As President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles and an integral member of the grassroots community, what are the factors that helped you the most to collaborate successfully with others?
MW: I managed a coalition of grassroots Democratic Clubs that helped re-elect Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, a strong environmentalist, during the 2004 campaign. We registered 7,000 voters and had over 1,000 volunteers. Our headquarters became a hub of activism that involved swing state trips, phone banking, precinct walking, film seminars and post-Presidential debate sessions analyzing the candidates' positions on the war, nuclear proliferation, homeland security and constitutional rights.
Additionally, as President of Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, I worked with a dozen grassroots Democratic Clubs to craft an anti-war resolution passed by the California Democratic Party convention in 2004. On the heels of this resolution's passage, I brought representatives from a dozen peace groups together with Congresswoman Maxine Waters to organize an Out of Iraq Forum a thousand attendees strong.
As a teacher I developed a conflict-resolution curriculum that helped bring dozens of community leaders together to found the Coalition Against Militarism in our Schools. This organization has been instrumental in informing parents and students of their rights regarding military recruiters ' access to student data.
LM: How will you use your organizational and interpersonal skills to work with your colleagues in Congress? And what are some of the principal issues you 'll immediately take on?
MW: I will immediately join the Out of Iraq Caucus, headed by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and work with the Caucus on ending the US occupation of Iraq. At the same time, I plan to meet with veterans groups from around the country to work together to lobby for increased veterans' benefits. The Bush Administration sends our youth to war, then ignores their needs when they return. This is not right and we must secure both retirement and disability benefits for veterans.
Working with Congressman Dennis Kucinich, I hope to see his proposed Department of Peace become a reality. Under this proposal, 2% of the military budget would be set aside to support community-based programs focused on non-violence, gang prevention, and assistance for battered wives, etc.
I 'm extremely concerned about the erosion of our Constitution and the danger facing independent media. Journalists are coming under increasing attack by those who want to limit our First Amendment rights and freedoms. I plan to work with a large coalition of groups, conservatives and progressives alike, who share my interest in safeguarding our Bill of Rights and ensuring that independent voices are heard in the media. I support Net Neutrality and will fight hard to preserve our free access to the Internet.