by Edwin Santana
The Blue Wave is coming – we’ve seen it time and again, from right here in Virginia last fall, to Alabama and Pennsylvania. The only question is how high the tide will crest; how many embattled Republican incumbents, who surrendered their honor and the needs of their constituents at the altar of Donald Trump.
My name’s Edwin Santana. I’m a second generation Puerto Rican, a father, husband, son, engineer, USMC Officer and Logistics Consultant with a commitment to service and to the progressive ideals needed to secure a better future for all Virginians. As a candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 1st District, I’m continuing my public service by fighting for a single-payer healthcare system, strengthening of our public school system, securing economic opportunities and broadband internet access for all Americans, protecting the local environment, and bringing an end to our culture of sexual violence.
I announced my candidacy last year- and then hit the ground running, because if there’s anything we’ve seen in the age of Donald Trump, it’s that unapologetic progressives can win with a people-powered, back-to-basics strategy of going out where people live. Talking to them. Listening to them. Being unapologetic about the progressive values we hold and fight for. And then organizing street by street; precinct by precinct. Village and town and county.
People have warned me about that, it’s the same advice being given to candidates across the country. Don’t talk about policy! You’ll never win as a progressive in this district!
That’s just nuts. People want politicians with a spine. Who’ll stand up for something, rather than fall for anything. And that is destroying the idea of a traditional left and right, in large part because we’re fighting for the new American center. It’s what the GOP is starting to realize with dawning horror; Medicare for all? Universal Pre-K? Even a Green New Deal, and creating millions of clean-energy jobs?! Large majorities of Americans, including majorities of 2016 Trump voters, support them.
No, running as an unapologetic progressive is the easy part. The hard part is going out and proving you’re going to work for the people of your district, instead of corporate interests, or lobbyists, or party politics.
And that’s what I’m ready to do. It’s why I took on Rob Wittman here in VA-01. Other than a refusal to stand up to party operatives and Donald Trump, and “gleefully” kneecapping Obamacare (and yes, the man celebrated that vote), he doesn’t stand for a single thing. Sure, he tries to bill himself as a “tireless champion” of the military, which makes sense politically; the 1st CD has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in the country. But it’s not veterans he’s been fighting for. Get him behind closed doors, and you might even hear him brag about his unofficial nickname behind closed doors- “Lockheed’s Favorite Congressman”.
To be fair to Rob, though, it’s true! If you’re a defense contractor? Rob Wittman’s your guy! The trillions we’re heading towards spending on making the F-35 a hangar queen that can’t operate in extreme climates? Don’t worry, everyone, it’s a mere “hiccup”. Good thing our military isn’t engaged anywhere the temperature regularly exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Or how about the $6.8 billion spent on making the USS America a purpose-built carrier of the F-35, only to find out it needed another forty weeks in drydock and three quarters of a billion dollars to make it actually capable of doing so? Rob couldn’t “be more pleased” about its launch, studiously ignoring and refusing to hold accountable the cost overruns that are costing American taxpayers billions in wasted money. It’s no wonder four of his top five donors are defense contractors, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars during his time in office.
Listen, I’m a veteran. I served our country as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. My wife did, too – she’s still active duty, in fact – I met her on the first day of ROTC at Maine Maritime Academy. We’ve seen first hand the struggles faced by our military personnel; active duty Marines who needed food stamps for their families to get by. We’ve seen the actual human cost of the VA sitting underfunded. Of vets who are homeless, suffering from PTSD at record levels, and can’t access the help they need.
Meanwhile, our president ignores even the hollow promises he made to veterans, and instead just promoted a neo-con with a long record of advocating for open war with Iran and North Korea, to the Secretary of State.
And Rob Wittman stands behind him unequivocally.
That ends this year. This is the year we show them that people come before party. That unapologetic progressives can win in every corner of our country as long as we go out and fight for our values. That folks like us have a powerful voice and can raise enough money through people and not corporations. That we stand up for working families, and advocate for policies that will make people’s lives better. We know what the winning formula is, now all we need to do is work, which is what we’ve been doing for the last fourteen months.
This is a people-powered campaign driven by folks just like you. In order to defeat Rob Wittman in November we’re going to need your support, your votes, your boots on the ground and your donations. We’re not accepting money from corporations and special interests –so we need your help today! We have a winning progressive message and we need to be able to get it out. Every dollar will help do that – put feet on the street with back to basics grassroots campaigning.