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The First Duty of a Patriot: Reaching Out to Conservatives for Support Against Plutocrat Obenshain


( – promoted by lowkell)

In March, I posted here the video and text of my press conference in which I announced that I was running against Mark Obenshain for the state senate seat in the 26th District. I said there that Mr. Obenshain was on the wrong side of the two big (and related) issues that will do most to determine what kind of Virginia, and what kind of America, our children and grandchildren will live in: climate change, and the theft of our democracy by big money.

This past week — now as the official Democratic nominee– I made my second major statement, focusing on that latter issue. This statement — with the title “The First Duty of a Patriot” — represents my effort to reach out to the conservatives in this district, which generally votes about 70 percent Republican.

Here are the video and the text of that speech.

I have a lot I want to share, from my heart as a patriot.

Our founders made it very clear what they wanted American patriots to protect, above all. What they required is a solemn pledge to defend the system of government they bequeathed to us. Not the homeland, not the flag, but this government of, for, and by the people.

That system is threatened now in a way we’ve never seen. And that’s why the choice between Mark Obenshain and me is important. That’s why even conservatives should consider me – the Democrat in this race – as the choice of real patriots.

When I announced my campaign, I spoke of how Big Money is getting too many of our legislators – including Mr. Obenshain – to serve its interests at the expense of ordinary Virginians.

One response I got was, “Corruption has always been around. What’s the big deal?”

It’s true; corruption is nothing new. But in America today, we’ve got a new kind of corruption that is a much greater danger.  And the need to stop it is a big deal.

The old kind of corruption is like a parasite, living off the body of America. Those with more money buy more clout and use it to take more than their fair share. But they aren’t trying to fundamentally change America.

Not so this New Corruption.  If we look closely, we can see a Big Money power working to subvert our very democracy in order to grab ever more money and power.

We can see it in our Supreme Court, where five justices, in the Citizens United decision, opened wide the floodgates to let the money pour into our elections, as never before, putting our government up for auction.

The result is that increasingly, a whole lot gets decided before the people even vote-decided by who gathers the millions of dollars or even, at the presidential level, hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to compete.  The role of that kind of money gives billionaires and giant corporations more and more say in who will rule us, and therefore what path America will take.

Our elections here in Virginia are 10 times more saturated in money than they were just 20 years ago.

This flood of money is terrible for our democracy.

The presidential hopefuls of one of our major parties recently went to kiss the ring of one billionaire whose endorsement is worth the votes of countless regular American citizens.

In this new corruption, the money power is destroying our democracy, turning our country into a place where the few rule the many. We can see this transformation happening with a shadowy organization — one that has escaped most people’s awareness — called ALEC.

Growing up in America, we’re taught that our laws are written by the legislators we elect. That is becoming less and less true. In state after state – including Virginia – laws are being passed that are written by this organization – ALEC – that advance the interests of Big Money, often at the expense of average citizens. Sure, the laws get passed by the legislators, but those laws have been written by the Big Money people who can bankroll our legislators’ re-election campaigns.

Over 50 bills, essentially written by ALEC, have been introduced in the Virginia legislature- our legislature.

And no one better represents this democracy-destroying new corruption than two men whose private wealth of almost $100 billion has been funding not only ALEC but many other efforts that are quietly but effectively using their money to get what they want, at our expense. I’m talking about the Koch Brothers.

The Koch Brothers have worked with untiring zeal and an absolutely brilliant strategy to transform the America our founders gave us into one where the few call the shots and the many are forced or conned into going along.

Because the Koch Brothers are so good at using their money to buy political power, you don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes to understand the meaning of the following fact:  when Mark Obenshain ran for statewide office here in Virginia in 2013, he was given a big chunk of money by the Koch Brothers. We can assume they had good reason to believe that Mr. Obenshain could be relied on to advance their anti-democracy agenda.  (And advance it he already has-sponsoring multiple bills written not by lawmakers but by corporations, through ALEC).

This anti-democracy agenda takes advantage of divisive issues to cancel out the will of the people, leaving the field clear for Big Money to call the shots and for ordinary citizens to get the shaft.

It’s an agenda at work on a national scale, and right here in Virginia.  Do you suppose the rising power of this New Corruption has anything to do with the fact that the proportion of our national income going into corporate profits is at an all-time high, and the proportion going into the wages of average American workers is the lowest it has been in living memory?

It would be a big enough deal if Mr. Obenshain were only bought into the Old Corruption, doing the bidding of Dominion Power, giving it more than its fair share at the expense of 37,000 households right here in the district our senator is supposed to be serving.

But in addition to his being an accomplice to this Old Corruption, Mark Obenshain has been chosen by the leaders of this New Corruption.  

I’m running against Mark Obenshain because, in our times, stopping the advance of this subversive force is the first duty of any real American patriot.

If we are not willing to fight to protect the great gift our founders gave us, what would we fight for?

That’s what America needs now from its patriots.

A recent poll shows that 96% of Americans believe that money plays too big a role in our politics.  People are aware of the problem. But the same poll shows 91% believe there’s nothing we can do about it.  

Think of the feeling of helplessness that reveals!

But we have a chance — here in the 26th district — to show those 91% of our fellow Americans that We the People are not helpless!  

We have a chance to show that we are the worthy heirs of our founders.

Because that’s what this contest between Mark Obenshain and me is about. Not between conservative vs. liberal, as he would have you believe. But between Government by Big Money… and government by the People, as our founders intended!

So let’s set aside our differences and fight together to take back the gift our Founders gave us.  

United We Stand!


My campaign website — which will shortly become much spiffier — can be found here.

You can donate to my campaign here.  

  • kindler

    It’s not an easy, comfortable thing to take on the establishment as you are today.  We all know how nasty and underhanded the Republicans can be.  

    But it is so necessary — one person speaks up, then another, and suddenly the people realize that their emperors have no clothes.  Keep speaking out and challenging this defender of the plutocrats and who knows — perhaps he’ll end up being the next Eric Cantor…