by georgecassutto on 27/05/11 at 1:53 pm
Can an average citizen break into the halls of political power in Washington, DC? Such a dream would fulfill the real meaning of democracy, but is it realistic? A teacher considers the options as the 2012 election year approaches.
With the ascension of Barack Obama to the presidency, my interest in politics has become increasingly intense. I shed tears of joy when he gave his victory speech on November 4, 2008 after defeating John McCain in the general election. His administration began with such high hopes and promise for a better future. In the two years that he has been in office, the economy has improved, but only in an anemic way. Unemployment is still too high, and there has been an attack on organized labor and public workers on the state level that, to this teacher, seems alarming. The Affordable Health Care Act of 2009 was signed into law after a contentious debate in town halls across the nation. In response to the expansion of federal power in the form of the health care reform law and massive deficit spending in the form of the Recovery Act (often called the “Stimulus Bill” by both supporters and foes alike), the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party caught the imagination of the nation and empanelled a conservative majority in the lower house of the federal legislature that seems intent on dismantling the entitlement programs my generation will be looking to for survival in the coming decades. In the light of all of these events, I have given thought to running for office, possibly in just the form of a fantasy, but also out of deep concern for the direction in which my government, and ultimately, my nation, is moving.
I did some research on what it would take to run for the position of member of the House of Representatives, which is my case, would mean defeating 10-term Republican incumbent Roscoe Bartlett, who holds the seat for the 6th congressional district for the state of Maryland. The 6th district of Maryland is the state’s largest, stretching across six counties and covering a variety of constituencies. The district includes the second largest city in Maryland, Frederick, as well as growing communities such as Hagerstown and Carroll County, nearest to Baltimore. Workers’ unions have influence in state and local politics in western Maryland’s coal country, such as the town of Cumberland, and in the rail center of Brunswick in southern Frederick County. On the other side of the continuum, the district is predominantly conservative, with second amendment rights supporters, “family values” Christians, and multi-generational Republican families making up the active electorate. Some growth in Frederick County, coming from northern Virginia and Montgomery County, pulled the voting public slightly to the left, which is also evident as the population grows in its diversity and socio-economic mobility.