January 19, 2010

The Ultimate Measure of a Man…QotD via Martin Luther King, Jr. {Andrew Romanoff}

At times of challenge and controversy.

Today’s QotD comes from Andrew Romanoff’s announcement re running for US Senate vs. Governor of Colorado:

Over the last two weeks, I received hundreds of phone calls and emails, encouraging me to run for governor of Colorado. To those who took the time to write or call, let me say that I am deeply grateful for your support.

To be clear, though, this election is not about my job; it’s about yours. It’s about the 100,000 Coloradans who lost their jobs last year. Nearly 350,000 Coloradans – that’s one out of every eight working-age adults – are unemployed or stuck in part-time jobs or have given up looking for work altogether.

We need a strong governor to continue putting Colorado back to work. John Hickenlooper’s experience in the public and private sectors makes him well qualified for that job. I’ve had the privilege to work closely with Mayor Hickenlooper for the last seven years. I admire his creativity and his leadership. I support his candidacy, and I look forward to campaigning with him this fall.

It’s not only Coloradans who are suffering, of course. In every state in the union, families are losing their paychecks, their coverage, and their savings.

The problems that afflict America today are too broad and too deep for a state to solve on its own. We find ourselves at a tipping point. Our economy, our health, and, in many ways, the fate of the earth itself hang in the balance.

Yesterday we honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man,” Dr. King once said, “is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

This is a time of challenge and controversy. We need bold leadership not only in the White House but also at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

That’s why I’m running for the U.S. Senate.

In recent months, we’ve seen what happens in the absence of leadership. We’ve seen what happens when senators cut special deals for Nebraska or Louisiana or Florida. What we haven’t seen – and what we desperately need – is at least one member of the U.S. Senate who will stand up for the United States of America. One senator who will say no to backroom deals. One senator who will take on Washington’s political class by turning down the corporate cash that corrupts it.

Fortunately, Coloradans have a choice this year. I say “fortunately” because some folks have forgotten what democracy is all about. Too many elections are foregone conclusions, contests in name only, or auctions in which public offices are sold to the highest bidder. The politicians who prevail pose little threat to the status quo; their victories are bought and paid for by an
incumbent-protection racket that regards voters as expendable. We have flipped our political system on its head by cutting citizens out of the electoral process before the polls even open.

How do we reclaim our democracy? We restore the power of people. We lead by example. We are building a broad, grassroots campaign, fueled by and focused on the people of Colorado. I’m proud to have enlisted more than 5,000 supporters, covering every county in the state.

Today I am asking every Coloradan to join us. Sign on at www.andrewromanoff.com. Together, we’ll prove that genuine change comes not from trolling for dollars on Wall Street but from talking to people on Main Street.

That’s what this election is about. In 10 months, the people of Colorado will decide whether we run Washington – or whether it’s the other way around.

That decision begins today. In fact, a lot of outside interest groups have already voted.

The nation’s biggest insurance firms, drug-makers, oil companies, and Wall Street banks are pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into my opponents’ campaign coffers. Why? What do these donors expect to get in return for their money? And what have they already gotten?

Those are questions each candidate will have to answer. But here’s what we do know: the same special-interest groups that are bankrolling my opponents are blocking the reform we need in D.C.

It’s not just a single senator; it’s the whole system. We’ve put our democracy up for sale. Congress has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the industries it’s supposed to be regulating.

It’s no secret; it’s a matter of public record. Take a look at the biggest donors on the Federal Election Commission website – that’s www.fec.gov. It’s a “who’s who” of the nation’s most powerful political action committees. These groups know that the best way to advance their agenda is not simply to lobby lawmakers – it’s to pick them.

For many industries, subsidizing members of Congress is simply a cost of doing business. Companies shell out a certain amount each month for wages, for benefits, and for elected officials.

The problem is: we get what they pay for.

That’s why we spend twice as much as our competitors on health care and are now poised to give the insurance industry 30 million more customers – without providing

Americans the choice of a public option or even discussing a not-for-profit model like so many other industrialized nations use.
 That’s why we shield the profits of pharmaceutical manufacturers and offer them a tax break on their advertising – rather than negotiate discounts on behalf of consumers.

 That’s why we desecrate our environment and disrupt our climate – instead of ending our addiction to fossil fuel and transforming the way we heat our homes and fuel our cars.

 And that’s why we not only allow the biggest gamblers in the world, the speculators on Wall Street, to jeopardize our pensions and capsize our economy, we reward them with taxpayer-funded bonuses – when we should be protecting families from foreclosure and fraud.

I want to pause on this point because it’s such a clear example of what’s broken in Washington. Some of the nation’s largest financial firms – call them “bankers without scruples” – have been gambling with our money. They sell mortgages to people who can’t afford them, resell them at a profit, and then make even more money by betting that they’ll fail.

They’ve gotten away with this – and they continue to get away with it – only because no one holds them accountable. That’s no accident; it’s why the banking industry lavishes millions on the members of Congressional banking committees. For a Wall Street banker, the price of a pliable politician is not just a bargain; it’s a steal.

It’s a great deal for Wall Street: “Heads I win, tails you bail me out.” It’s a raw deal for everyone else.

The sight of so many senators sacrificing their constituents for the sake of their contributors isn’t just unpleasant; it’s obscene.
We’re not going to stand for this. We reject politics as usual. We want a senator whose loyalties won’t be divided. A senator whose judgment won’t be clouded. A senator who won’t have to pick between doing what’s right for his constituents and what’s profitable for his contributors.

That’s why our campaign does not accept contributions from political action committees. I am the only candidate in this race to make that commitment.

The people of Colorado understand this decision – and they support it. In the last quarter, more Coloradans contributed to our campaign than to any other candidate for any office in our state. More than 2,200 Coloradans stood up to the powerbrokers and the party bosses and the political pundits – they put their hard-earned money where their mouths are.

That matters. When we win this election, we will send a seismic shock to the U.S. Senate – which needs one. The message is this: People come first.

That’s a radical approach only in Washington. Here in Colorado, it’s called common sense.

As the speaker of the House, I stood up to special-interest groups. We fought the insurance industry – and we won. We fought drug companies – and we won. We fought polluters – and we won. We fought predatory lenders and brokers – and we won.
We not only won those fights at the State Capitol; we changed the battlefield. We enforced open-meeting laws. We allowed public testimony on every bill. We televised our debates for the first time in the history of Colorado.

I ran for office four times – and got elected four times – by engaging as many voters as possible. I recognize that the stakes in this race are a little higher. And the coverage charge is a little steeper. But what we’ve seen over the last few months – among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – tells us that Americans are fed up with pay-to-play politics. An appetite is growing for a different kind of candidate and a different kind of campaign. More and more people, in Colorado and across the country, are hungry for real reform.

The special interests have enough politicians on their payroll. We need a senator for the rest of us.

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