Tuesday, October 31, 2006

we all live in Richard Pombo's district

You can drive the twisting, labyrinthine shape of California's 11th Congressional district in less than a day but there are very few people who have ever done so.

Regardless of that gerrymandered reality, on November 7th the residents of locales as far flung and disparate as Morgan Hill, Stockton, Danville, Discovery Bay, Manteca, Tracy, Lodi and San Ramon are going to collectively decide who will best represent their district in the 110th Congress of the United States: Democrat Jerry McNerney or incumbent GOP Congressman Richard Pombo.

CA-11, make no mistake, belongs to neither of these two candidates. CA-11 belongs to its voters and residents, and, on November 7th, those voters alone will decide their district's political direction.

In the meantime, I would like to reiterate a point I made exactly one year ago. Regardless of where you live: We all live in Richard Pombo's District.


I would like to invite you to pull back for a moment from the contorted map of CA-11's gerrymandered district boundaries to the broader map of the United States.

Currently, of 435 Congressional districts, the Republican Party holds 232 seats. That slim majority, which the GOP has enforced with ruthless party discipline and strong-arm partisan tactics, gives Congressman Richard Pombo the chairmanship of the United States House Committee on Resources, a position from which he has overseen the roll back, degradation and gutting of this nation's environmental regulations.

To put it simply and in terms everyone can understand, Congressman Richard Pombo has proposed selling off the nation's national park system: naming rights and whole parks at one time.

He's that bad.  

Now, the current GOP majority in Congress has given Pombo his perch atop the House Resources Committee. (Heckuva choice, Congress!) Hence when it comes to land use and our nation's public resources, more often than not, what Richard Pombo says goes. Every progressive environmental reform, every action taken by every citizen concerned about our water, air and natural resources is outweighed by the power and vote of this one man: Richard Pombo.

To which I have one thing to say: not for long.

Richard Pombo may or may not win reelection in 2006, but taking the bird's eye view I know this much is true: a political party that acts like it owns the Congress of the United States, that treats our government like no more than its private property and partisan fiefdom does not deserve to and can not long lead this great nation.

Simply put, a party that entrusts Richard Pombo to oversee our natural resources, Michael Brown to protect us from natural disasters, and Mark Foley with the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, in no uncertain terms, does not deserve to govern.

We have elections every two years to correct exactly the kind of hubris that has infected the Halls of Congress in 2006. The GOP is not simply feloniously corrupt, they are, in October 2006, morally bankrupt and out of ideas. They can rig gas prices all they want, but we all know that the GOP gas tank is empty.

Whether it's the war in Iraq, Hurricane Katrina or their warped view on "fixing" Social Security, the GOP is so far from having a credible plan to lead this nation forward that all they can do spew fear and spin the facts.

As Tim Walz, veteran and Democratic candidate in MN-01 put it,

"When you wake up Nov. 8, it can be a brand new world," Walz told supporters last week in Owatonna. "It's not vindictiveness. It's not us saying all our Republican neighbors are wrong. It's us saying this Congress is broken. This rubber-stamp Congress is not giving this country the ability to move forward and compromise."

{from the WSJ, h/t A Bluestem Prairie.}

Now, we all live in Richard Pombo's district because the GOP majority that gave him power and pretends that it owns our Congress said so.

This November, we all have a say in whether that majority continues to govern our nation.  Across the country, whether you live in New Hampshire, or Indiana, or Colorado, or Texas, or Florida, or Connecticut, or Virginia, or New Jersey, or Tennessee...when you participate in this upcoming election you are sending a message to the nation and the world. You are a part of something much larger in scope that your local race and efforts.

Richard Pombo and the GOP majority don't cut it. It's our job this November to cut the GOP majority in Congress down to size.

There are heroes among us...all over this country...who have worked diligently and hopefully for this moment. Win or lose, on November 8th we will owe every last one of them a debt of gratitude and thanks. In the process, win or lose, we will have won so many new friends.

It takes courage to stand up to bullies like Richard Pombo and Tom DeLay. Those Americans who've stood up and fought, against long odds, in races where no one gave them any hope 12 months ago deserve our lasting credit and thanks. Their story, in my view, is the story of this election. We are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. When we opppose corrupt politicians like Richard Pombo, that's the point.

In closing, I would like to invite you to pull back one more time and think of Planet Earth.  It's our home; it's also a finite resource dependent on responsible and diligent stewardship from every last one of us. In so many ways, if you live on this planet, you live in Richard Pombo's district. If you breathe. If you drink water. If your children play in the sun...you live in Richard Pombo's district, too.

As citizens of this planet, we have a choice over the next decades, we can work together, or we will drown apart. We've tried Richard Pombo's way. It's a dead end. It leads nowhere.

In Tracy and Lodi and Manteca and Morgan Hill...one by one...citizen to citizen...door after door...the voters of CA-11 are realizing that too. Richard Pombo does not own the seat representing CA-11 any more than the GOP owns the halls of the United States Congress.

We may all live in Richard Pombo's district, friends, but not for long.  

Nope, not for long.

{This essay also appeared on the website Dailykos.com.}


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