Politics Makes Strange Fellows
I'm trying to figure out how to write this properly. The challenge is my conflicting reactions of great admiration and utter incredulity about the very same thing. My great admiration is first and foremost and honest and sincere. However, the utter incredulity is overwhelming.
I will withhold all names but one, to protect the "innocent." And that "one" is only because the story can't be told properly without it being referenced. Alas, that makes it easier to track down the specifics I'm referring to, but my assumption is that most people won't have the interest in doing so, but if so, that's the reality of life. And still, even then it might not be certain who I'm referring to. Which is just as well, since the "who" isn't ultimately the point here, but the why.
I was on Facebook last night, and saw a little notice for someone running for Congress in Los Angeles – and I knew who it was. I haven’t seen the person for many years – we used to travel in the same circle and crossed paths quite a few times. Very nice, quite bright, and talented. We didn't know each other well, but this was good person who I liked. As happens, that circle separated a long while back, people went their separate ways, and I haven't seen many of them in perhaps 15-20 years. However, when I joined Facebook a while back, some of their names cross my path, and I "Friended" some, even though we haven't exchanged any communication between us. And then came that notice about running for Congress.
I checked out the campaign website, and happily saw that it was a Democratic candidacy. The mission statement said thoughtful, insightful things about why it was important to run next year, and have a Democratic presence across the country. It all sounded great. And all the better, it was in Los Angeles, so I could spread the word about someone I knew and liked and would be an asset on any ticket, I'm sure. Being in the 28th Congressional district, I figured maybe I’ll write a nice piece about the race. I didn't know where the 28th district is, though, and what Republican would be the opponent – assuming that my distant acquaintance would be able to win the Democratic primary. So, I checked it out. And…
It turns out it’s a Democratic district. And it's not an open seat, but there’s a Democrat currently in office. So, this would be primarying the incumbent. But far worse than that, the sitting-candidate is – Adam Schiff!!!
What on EARTH is any challenger in that race thinking?? Adam Schiff?? The Ranking Member and co-chair of the House Intelligence Committee?? Outside of Nancy Pelosi, perhaps the most outspoken and important Democrat in the House against Trump?? That Adam Schiff??!!! Running in a Democratic primary against Adam Schiff??!!!! Seriously??? Adam Schiff is not only great, out-spoken and important, but he also has one of the highest-profiles of any Democrat in Congress!!
The only thing I can think of is that at some point I’ve read that Adam Schiff is thinking of running for Dianne Feinstein’s seat whenever she retires. So, maybe the thought is to run to get your name known if and when the seat becomes open – though Feinstein is running for re-election next year, so that possible opening is six years away, unless something untoward happens earlier. But even stretching possibilities that far, that’s the best I can think of. Because otherwise, this seems inexplicable. The point of Democrats running everywhere and being competitive in every district in the country is wonderful, getting voices heard where they're needed and otherwise silent. But as far as I can tell, new and unheard voices aren't remotely needed in the CA-28th district. Adam Schiff is wonderful. Maybe I'm missing something, but I honestly don’t have a clue…
I’ll go a step further: if Adam Schiff, of all people, one of the most outspoken critics against Trump and strongest defenses against the Devin Nunes-wing of the House Intelligence Committee, got defeated, whether by Republicans or within his own party, it would send an absolutely terrible message about public interest in the investigation. So, Democrats shouldn’t even want to think about seeing him not get re-elected.
Not that that's likely, mind you -- he won his last race against his Republican challenger by 78-22 percent. So, given that reality, and how terrific, visible and important he is in Congress right now...WHY? No matter how good and smart and thoughtful you are -- as this person really is -- WHY???
I was so pleased when I saw that someone smart and good I knew from years past was running for Congress. I'd be happy to offer my support in almost any other district -- even my own, and I like my representative a lot. I'd feel good with someone like this is Congress. But when I saw who the opponent was -- Adam Schiff! -- I'm at a total loss. As I said, I hope I'm missing something. Perhaps it's as simple as wanting to be part of the political process, even knowing you don't stand a chance, to send a message across the land about participation. But even at that, I’m almost sort of glad we haven’t seen each other for so long, because if we were still in touch I don’t know what I’d say if asked what I thought, or to sign a petition. Is there a polite way of saying, “Oh, dear heavens, no!!!"???
It's not because this is an impossible race to win. A famous Spanish proverb is "Only he who attempts the ridiculous may achieve the impossible." So, if it's the dream in your heart to be elected to Congress -- great. Go for it. That's not the question. It's -- if you're going to enter a race, even for the noblest of reasons while knowing you will near-certainly lose, you are on the ballot to win, so: why on earth would you want to win in this district in the first place and not do everything you possibly can to make sure that Adam Schiff, more than perhaps any Democrat in Congress, gets as many votes as possible to send a critical message against Trump?
I have great admiration for the effort and utter incredulity.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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