June 2, Thank you
THANK YOU to everyone who supported my Progressive Democratic Campaign for US Congress.
~ I sincerely appreciate the great efforts of volunteers, like Eric Sera, Emiliano A., Brian T., Zach K., Maria B., Daniel F., and many others who were able to volunteer support and encouragement.
~ This was my first campaign, and like other first-time candidates, the pandemic greatly interfered with my ability to get out and meet people around the district and make my case for why I was the best candidate to represent our district.
~ During the stay-at-home order, I continued to work full-time, but I also tried my best to run a campaign online; I was the first to hold a virtual town hall. I also started a Covid-19 information FB page. I did this because I have a strong background in science reporting, access to primary sources of scientific data, and seeking the truth and uncovering lies are my greatest passions, even if I sometimes fall short myself, I am a skeptic at heart. I also started gifting purple hearts to nurses who contracted Covid19 at work, and a fundraiser for the NW Indiana Food Bank. I was happy to see quite a few people participate in these, like Eric Sera, Linda A., and others.
~ NW Indiana does not seem much different from what we hear about other local political traditions – the entrenched status quo, self-dealing, discrimination, and so on. One thing that came as no surprise is how money is the only metric to winning next to name recognition – neither of which are inherently sound ways to choose a candidate. I was frustrated with the precinct committee endorsement process which seems terribly inadequate at choosing candidates and charged a large sum of money to receive the endorsement. They seem to favor people they know and seem to shun outsiders at the same time – in short, rubber stamps for status-quo candidates with an attempt at appearing impartial.
~ There were some especially important and well-organized forums, such as with NWI Medicare for All, Chesterton High School seniors, and the Hammond FOP. I’m sure others would have been well done, but over a dozen events were cancelled, including the LWV’s forum which I was looking forward to the most.
~ The importance of taking money out of politics cannot be overstated. Citizens United is the apex of the problem, but excessive amounts of campaign donations by big donors skews the ability of the rich and powerful in our political system, trading democracy for plutocracy. About 70% of the bills that pass Congress benefit the 1% at the expense of everyone else.
~ In the end, it is going to be up to voters to take money out of politics. One effort of my campaign was to see how well I could do on the smallest budget possible – no fundraisers, no big donors, no corporate pacs or special interests – just small donations and mostly passive fundraising. I also think the media fails us. They want thousands of dollars for the smallest ads, and they headline popular candidates and call them for their opinions on events or issues. They cover “big” candidates with video interviews and long articles as well, and they have one short blurb for others. This primary was no exception to that.
The amount Raised per Vote by Each Candidate (How much your vote cost) so far tonight was:
- Tom McDermott: $583,199 / 21,174 = $27 per vote
- Frank Mrvan: $232,122 / 24,263 = $10 per vote
Overall, it was about $15.00 raised for every Democratic vote in the district, about 100,000 votes expected in the end.
Endorsements like Pete Visclosky’s and USW helped Mrvan, but the problem is that Pete is a solidly moderate Democrat and USW is about 30% solidly Republican. So, Mr. Mrvan needed less fundraising, but endorsements come at a cost as well. For example, Mr. Mrvan is against Medicare for All. Given his reliance on the USW endorsement, it is highly unlikely that he will ever support Medicare for All or other bills that would help the working class. Pete Visclosky did not truly support M4A; he voted for it in his last year when he knew it would die in the Senate. If McDermott loses, it is only because of the negative reputation he forged all on his own. Given the money he raised and endorsements from conservative unions obsessed with the second amendment, he should of easily beat Mrvan – but reputation counts in an atmosphere in a place like NW Indiana; that’s a good thing.
~ What I have found most disheartening was how American voters continue to be disengaged and passive, especially the ones with the least amount of power – the working class and poor. Non-voters remain our nation’s largest voting block. I understand why – no one asks a working class or poor person to run for office, they don’t have time or money to run, and they are quite certain that no one will represent their needs anyway. Mr. Farrar and I were two working class candidates, nearly all others were lawyers. It is by the enduring work of FDR, JFK, and LBJ that we have any safety nets for us. But these safety nets are being peeled away at an increasingly rapid pace under Trump, including Social Security and Medicare.
~ Getting out the vote is only part of the solution the problem of voter apathy. Our efforts to reach out to the working class, family farmers, college students, the young, and poor is a priority, but running candidates from these populations with progressive platforms is also a priority. I think 16 years old’s deserve the right to vote as well.
**There are things voters can do to take money out of politics:
1. Do not rely on name recognition. Candidates know that voters do this, that’s why they have huge signs with their name on it. Someone said McDermott has 6,000 signs in our district.
2. Do not rely on yard signs, commercials, mailings, billboards mean a well-funded candidate who will represent big donors, not voters. Yard signs and ads are a sign of a passive electorate waiting to be spoon-fed information – don’t expect to hear what you need to hear.
3. Expect to spend many hours researching candidates; call them, email them, write them, visit their office to talk with them. Read their website; develop questions that delve into issues to find out who they really are. If they do not respond, then let others know.
4. If you find a candidate you like, offer to volunteer, or make a small donation.
5. Research candidates’ donors on http://www.OpenSecrets.org, http://www.ProPublica.org, and http://www.Fed.gov.
6. Share information about candidates’ donors with others.
7. Know, thyself – do not rely on the word of others. I heard people say many times that a candidate was for something that they were not for, such as M4A.
8. Careful what you think matters with a candidate. For example, candidates often show-up volunteering around town during election season – what were they doing before?
9. Look for previous articles, blogs, podcasts, news paper articles, and other information on candidates to understand their history.
10. Look at a candidate’s resume. Keep in mind, most people running for office are qualified to run; what’s important are their life choices and experiences with diversity, and what are their values. For example, one candidate is a lobbyist. That might be a red flag for self-dealing to some voters.
~ I wish all the best to Mr. Mrvan in his two-year term. I do hope that he embraces progressive policies like Medicare for All and the promise of equality and justice through the resolution of the Green New Deal.
“When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me”
“He crowned thy good in a brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.”
Black Lives Matter.
Close the Detention Centers.
Let the Refugees come to America.
Legalize and Decriminalize.
Raise the Wage.
Rich pay fair share.
Public Ed grade 18.
Medicare for All.
Vote at 16.
And much more.