I’m taking up my duties as a public-spirited citizen next week on Tuesday evening, by hosting a fun little fundraiser for my local Congressman – and if you’re going to be in Washington DC the evening of 10/27 I hope you’ll join me (click here for the invitation and details). It’ll be a fun evening; we’ll be at the ultra-cool Johnny’s Half-Shell on Capitol Hill after all.
I’m looking forward to introducing friends to someone who I think stands head and shoulders above the current claptrap-echo-chamber that passes for informed political discourse in Our Nation’s Capital :) I could put on the hard-sell for my friends in DoD or the national security community, since this fellow is increasingly influential on the Armed Services Committee, but that’s not why I’m supporting him.
My congressional district is Virginia’s historic First District, which is pretty darn big and important for the nation – it stretches all the way from DC’s Northern Virginia suburbs down along the Chesapeake Bay to the shipyards at Hampton Roads. I love it because of the natural protected beauty and because of the history; it’s home to Jamestown and the birthplace of George Washington, and really has been the cradle of American democracy.
People here still take popular representation seriously – and we’ve got a new young member of Congress, my onetime-neighbor from Montross, Rob Wittman. He was the mayor of Montross (pop. 315) for a while, and is exactly the kind of elected official I’ve always liked: he avoids rhetoric or labels, focusing instead on good solid public policy. As his Wikipedia entry points out, Rob “worked for 20 years with the Virginia Department of Health,” and quoting from his bio:
Rob worked for many years as an environmental health specialist for local health departments in Virginia’s Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula regions. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University, a Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy and Administration from the University of North Carolina, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Virginia Tech.
Rob’s service in Congress is important, I think, so I’ve decided to help him win re-election. In Congress, he serves on the House Armed Services Committee, already as ranking member on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee – he’s a tough Pentagon watchdog but a strong supporter of a robust Navy fleet. He also sits on the House Committee on Natural Resources, where he is a champion of the Chesapeake Bay for its environmental and economic attributes, using his professional expertise in water quality and fisheries for the environmental clean-up of the Bay. That’s what he ran on, that’s what he’s doing already in his first full term.
If you like the sound of that and would like to support Rob, click here to send an email RSVP’ing for the reception/dinner, or even if you live elsewhere or can’t make it in person I would appreciate your donation. I vouch for this guy.
Does it matter where you place yourself on the political spectrum? There is no single slot that would hold me – or many of my friends, frankly, who range from fuzzy centrists to Maoists to Goldwater Girls (remember them?). My political leanings have always puzzled folks; I’ve worked for Democratic elected officials in the nation’s most liberal city, San Francisco (like my friend Mayor Frank Jordan), and yet I’m also supporting Wittman, who’s a moderate Republican. I tend to vote for someone I believe is the best possible choice.
Some people (and news channels) like to portray the nation as bifurcated along a politico-philosophical axis of Left and Right – as in this new visually creative effort from the great “Information is Beautiful” site to capture the spectrum in a single info-graphic (click the thumbnail on the left to see it in full detail).
But I’ve been politically aware – and active – since I was a kid. I told the story once (in an online interview about my “path to Gov 2.0”) of how I got started:
As a kid in the ‘60s I was a political junkie, and I made candy money at the age of 6 by swarming parking lots for my local congressman in North Carolina and putting his bumperstickers on cars. A nickel a car for me, and no permission sought; people would at some point discover they had been driving around advertising their Member of Congress. Imagine if politicians today were remotely adding a banner ad to constituents’ personal websites and blogs!”
Things are different now; I’m actually asking people upfront to support the candidate I like :) If you can make it Tuesday night, let me know ($100 gets you in the door!). Even if you can’t make it but you like the idea of having a sane, responsible person like Rob Wittman among the lunatics in Congress, you can still contribute and I’ll thank you profusely!
By the way, I like the fact that the First District produced three of the first five presidents (Washington, Monroe, Madison). Just my little thought, but maybe we’re overdue….
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