I cannot believe that I am writing this, but I cannot hold back, I cannot help myself:
"Thank you, Congressman Henry Waxman!" If it weren't for his attempt to take in another term, this time taking in the South Bay along with the rest of the Santa Monica constituents, I would not have gotten involved in campaigning in a Congressional election this year. If I had not know what a partisan and unparalled bully he was in Congress, I would have chalked everything up to the fate of the district and not worry one bit about the outcomes for my district.
From Open Primaries to Redistricting Reform, it seems I was fated to get involved and get in his face. I met with many Republicans and Democrats who supported his challenger, Bill Bloomfield. I was part of something big, but what I got out of getting the word out on Waxman was greater than I could have anticipated.
But first, I must provide a little background. I never really liked my previous Congresswoman Jane Harman. Yet for her staunch support for Israel and her frequent appearances on Sunday talk shows, I felt good enough not to feel really bad about her being in office. She was pragmatic, moderate enough that I did not really care how the election ended every two years in the 36th Congressional District, even though I voted for the Republican.
Then came the Open Primaries, then came the Citizens Redistricting Commission, both of which Waxman opposed. The local media gushed at the thought of the LA Congressman representing the new 33rd Congressional District, including the Beach Cities and West Torrance, where I live, along with the Palos Verdes Peninsula. I got engaged.Following a reference from a Beach City resident, I saw Congressman Waxman's laughable performance on "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" - this guy did not know the drinking age in this country, and he did not even know the basic steroids laws, yet there he was running oversight hearings on a subject, one which never belonged as a subject of federal oversight in the first place. Aside from hearty laughs at Waxman's exploits on YouTube, I then got serious and knew that everyone needed to know Waxman's record.
Thus "WaxmanWatch" was born, with slips that read "End the Reign of Waxman the Taxman!" I had never followed the past and present follies of a Congressman before, but many people shared a growing interest in what I was doing. Whether they liked it or not, people would know what the long-time Congressman had been up to in office.
For the first time, I went into Santa Monica and Venice, left-wing hotbeds, and met with independents and Democrats who were open to change. Some Democrats surprised me by their willingness to learn more about their Congressman. I will never forget the Independent from Venice, a nurse with a son in Texas, who had joined the "Occupy" Movement out of frustration with this nation's political paralysis.
I met Republicans in Venice, many (even if there are not very many) who chafed with joy to know that for the first time they would have a chance to remove Waxman the Taxman. One Republican was a Jewish voter, ripped off by Bernie Madoff, who welcomed the chance to get rid of Waxman.I had never made phone calls for a campaign before, but there I was in a rented office off of Aviation Blvd. in Manhattan Beach getting the word out on Bloomfield for Congress.
Many of the people whom I called shared their gratitude and support, along with a number of words which I can't repeat to describe their acrimonious disgust with Waxman. I had never worked with Democrats and Republicans to get an Independent elected into Congress before, either. Normally a touchy guy, I grew a thicker skin and stronger skills for reaching out to others and getting the other view of things in politics.
I started getting out of my shell and getting out the word on the race and who was running. Surprised yet undeterred, I learned that many South Bay voters had not yet learned which district they resided in, nor who was running. One look at Waxman'sflared-up face, and they assured me: "I'm voting for the other guy!"
Before this race, I had never known about the "Patch.com" Network, nor how extensive the ideas and outreach could be on this Internet platform. The editors of this online community provided me a platform to proclaim, and readers with disgust or pleasure responded. I even found a way to make a plea for Craig Huey, running for the Assembly Seat in my district.
I contacted Congressmen in other states. I wrote to voters throughout the country. I get to write and engage others, and I have received more praise for doing something that I like to do. This campaign afforded me a welcome transition from an old life and a deadened career, one in which I felt that I could never escape.
Then the Hesse Park debates arrived, and I met Congressman Henry Waxman. What a little man he is, not the imposing figure who towered over cowering witnesses before the House Oversight and Energy Committees. Two of the attendees, strong Obama supporters, were willing to talk with me about this election. I learned that I could be cordial without caving in. They were even open-minded enough to check out Waxman's record in its entirety. I wish I had taken a phote when I showed the Congressman "Waxman Watch".
At the Venice Neighborhood Council, Waxman shook my hand and said: "My Blogger" -- or "flogger", I can't quite remember. At the time, I had no idea how jittery he was. Bloomfield was coalescing attention and support for the plight of our LA Veterans, a scandalous neglect which I knew so little about, until now.
Never before had I been shut down in an open forum, held at the Jewish Community Center in Redondo Beach, never before had I realized how traumatic the truth can be for an incumbent so accustomed to getting elected without having to fight for his seat. Never before had I felt a sense of purpose in the public sector, regardless of how I felt or what anyone else thought. I scared a Congressman, and I liked it!
Then I met Ari Noonan of "Front Page Online", a publication which I had keenly hoped to contribute to. When I shared with Noonan about the "High Noon" shut down in the Beach Cities, he signed me on as a "Timeless and Timely" contributor. Later on, the two of us teamed up at the Bloomfield campaign party, where we still hoped that the Manhattan Beach native could take over, not just take on, Waxman's powerhold. He encouraged me to keep writing. "You're really good. Don't get discouraged. Keep writing!"
None of this good fortune would have transpired without you, Mr. Waxman. Now that you have been reelected, by the slimmest margin of victory in your career, the "Watch" is still out on you.
Thank you again, Congressman Henry Waxman! Till we meet again in 2014!