I am the elected Precinct 12 Derry Township committee person to the Dauphin County Democratic Committee, and a candidate for Democratic Delegate for Bernie Sanders in PA Congressional District 15 . I endorse Admiral Joe Sestak as the Democratic nominee to run for the US Senate in 2016.
[NOTE: This post was updated Feb 17, 2016, to reflect my placement on the 2016 ballot as a Sanders’ delegate, and on March 18, 2016, to add Sestak’s statement]
I do so not because I dislike his Primary opponents, Katie McGinty or John Fetterman. I like both fine. I endorse Joe because he is the first, and will very likely be the ONLY to finally address what I’ve been waiting for.
He attacks the true opponent: our broken political class of BOTH parties. In his Nov 30 email to me, Joe says:
“I am starting with…the advantage of having the entire political establishment against me once again.
My independent thinking and leadership has again placed me outside the Democratic party’s establishment. But my independence has given me the support of regular Democrats (and even Independents and Republicans) – because the government of the people has never before been held in such low regard by the people.”
‘The Democratic party’s establishment’ includes those heavy hitters who get national or at least statewide coverage: PA Governors past and current, other states’ Senators, big dollar donors, about whom most of us know little, although we are pretty sure they are not based anywhere near where we work, live, worship, and play.
It is not we local and county Democratic committees, not the rank-and-file of our PA state Committee. Nor is it folks who donate a couple bucks as we can afford (or less, as we really can’t afford it at all). It is NOT we Dem voters…not by a long shot.
Our Dem Establishment actively opposed Sestak last time (2010). He beat them, so this time, they actively recruited well over a half a dozen candidates to challenge him in the 2016 Dem Primary. None did, so they tried Katie McGinty, who agreed to do it. Like clockwork, endorsements fell in line for her, before my friends and neighbors had one clue about what she could bring to the US Senate. But why?
Our Dem Establishment actively opposes Bernie Sanders for President, but not personally. It really opposes anyone who opposes Hillary Clinton, whom it long ago anointed as our choice. Even more generally, though, it opposes any candidate for any office who speaks specifically to issues. It looks on with bemused annoyance at our pitiful little rebellions: how dare we who just work and pay bills actually pick our candidates? To them we reply: “well, someone has to pick OUR servants, and you folks stink at it.”
I understand Joe has significant support among the PA state Committee’s voting rank-and-file. I know there is such support at various county and local levels, because I’ve seen and heard it. Joe acknowledges that, in that same Nov 30 email quote above. I know Bernie Sanders does too, because I have seen and heard that.
But, just as Clinton has 38 of our 100 US Senators already behind her, while no other Primary candidate has more than 3, McGinty also has the Establishment. Those fine and dandy with things as they are want things to continue as they are. And how on Earth could the Establishment not be fine? Wealth distribution, and its accompanying lock on power, have never more propped up the few on the backs of almost everyone else, since just prior to the US Great Depression. This wealth and power disproportion is caused by the very thing that keeps those in the Dem (and GOP) Establishment in power: an elite and empowered Political Class. Both are further enriched as they support each other.
We struggling citizens are NOT fine. We are fed up. Our government doesn’t do what we want, unless The Political Class allows it to. And we need representation.
Thank you and best luck, Joe.
March 18, 2016 UPDATE – Sestak’s Statement
If you doubt my take on the situation, four months after I published this, Joe sent me the following statement:
“I have had no politician’s endorsement in this campaign.
With Bob Casey’s endorsement of my primary opponent today, it completes an all-inclusive rejection by Washington DC’s and Pennsylvania’s Democratic politicians of what I believe in, and stand for.
I don’t think it can just be about me (although I know I can be challenging). Bob Casey is too nice a man for that. Nor can it be my voting record or courage in standing up for the right votes at all times, as I unhesitatingly did — from Obamacare to the Economic Stimulus bill.
It certainly isn’t my ability to work within the establishment … for it was the Democratic Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, who called me the “most productive” Congressman.
And after servicing 18,000 constituents who flooded my District office for help up to 9 p.m. seven days a week during the recession, even my Republican district voted to re-elect me by 20 points despite my having no time for any media ads.
I’ve doubted it was my refusal to “sit down” from running against Senator Specter after the Party leadership initially asked me to run against him in 2009 before he switched parties to become a Democrat. After all, that was 7 years ago.
And I’ve doubted it was my refusal to pay “street money” to the party machine or my refusal to take lobbying jobs from the consultant class. For while our newspapers are filled too often in Pennsylvania with stories of self above service, there are nice people in office, like Bob.
There aren’t many veterans in Congress, and none who served 31 years and was a flag or general officer — except me. Perhaps that’s why … I never grew up in politics.
I grew up under the principle of being accountable for the men and women I lead — it was always about them, above service to any officer senior to me.
When a Senator once said, “Sestak, whenever I tell you anything, the only answer is to be ‘yes,’” I could only think how a sailor might view me if he were ever to see me agree to such a command as his commanding officer — and as assuredly a Pennsylvanian would shake her head, also, if I were ever to agree.
More than anything, I want the trust of the people I will serve; that I am for them. It is why I have not asked for any politician’s endorsement.
Perhaps too many of our politicians in both parties have acquiesced … and maybe that is why the general public — from the old Tea Party to today’s progressive Democrats — have felt attracted to those who seem to break the system.
They just want a public servant.
Will you help me be one?