Campaign for the Woolsey legacy

We have to hold the North Bay congressional seat for the values that Lynn Woolsey has represented

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Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Marin, Sonoma counties) is a rarity on Capitol Hill. She's a lawmaker with guts who speaks from the heart.

Whether focusing on children and seniors at home or the victims of war far away, Woolsey insists on advocating for humane priorities. Several hundred times, she has gone to the House floor to speak out against war. She stands for peace, social justice, human rights, a green future, and so much more.

Last week, after more than 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, Woolsey announced that she will not run for reelection next year.

She has set a high bar for representing the region in Congress. It's a high bar that I intend to clear.

Back in January, I wrote in the Guardian that "if Rep. Woolsey doesn't run in 2012, I will" ("Why I may run for Congress," 1/25/2011).

At the time I noted that "alarm is rising as corporate power escalates at the intersection of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue." I cited such realities as "endless war, massive giveaways to Wall Street, widening gaps between the rich and the rest of us, erosion of civil liberties, outrageous inaction on global warming ... "

Six months later — with war even more endless, giveaways to Wall Street even more massive, and overall conditions even worse — my grassroots campaign for Congress is well underway.

Redistricting lines are in flux this month, but the political lines are clear as corporate Democrats salivate for this congressional seat. They want it bad.

This is a grassroots vs. Astroturf campaign. I'm facing opposition with a long history of big corporate funding. But we have something much better going for us: a genuine progressive campaign that's growing from the ground up.

Already, more than 750 people have made donations to my campaign (we topped $100,000 weeks ago) and nearly 300 have signed up as volunteers. You're invited to join in at www.SolomonForCongress.com.

We have to hold the North Bay congressional seat for the values that Lynn Woolsey has represented. That means directly challenging the undue corporate power that stands in the way of real change.

As a member of Congress, I want to work on building coalitions to fight for a wide-ranging progressive agenda — including guaranteed health care, full employment, workers' rights, green sustainability, full funding for public education, fundamental changes in federal spending priorities, and an end to perennial war.

On Capitol Hill, I will insist that we need to bring our troops and tax dollars home — and that caving in to Wall Street and polluters and enemies of civil liberties is unacceptable.

Every day, the ideals we cherish are up against what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism," running amok in tandem with corporate greed.

Nuclear power is emerging as one of the big issues in this campaign. I reject the claim that we need to wait for more "studies" from nuclear-friendly federal agencies before closing down the likes of California's Diablo Canyon and San Onofre reactors. We need to fight for serious public investment in renewable energy, conservation, and a nuclear-free future.

Overall, the obstacles to gaining electoral power for progressives may seem daunting. But the narrow definition of politics as "the art of the possible" has led to disaster. What we need is the art of the imperative. 

Norman Solomon is national co-chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign, launched by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. For more information go to www.SolomonForCongress.com.