As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Darcy Burner: Progressive Leader

I was happy to co-host an event last night for Darcy Burner (WA-08), a future leader in the Democratic Party. My friend occams hatchet wrote up a great capsule summary of the event.

Darcy was the featured guest at the event; two other netroots congressional candidates, Ron Shepston of CA-42 and Mary Pallant of CA-24, also attended.

Darcy told the story of how she came to be involved in politics: In 2003, around the time her son was born, her brother was being shipped off to Iraq. Darcy thought about the state of the country and the state of the world, and realized that no matter what choices she might make for her son as he grew up, unless a dramatic change took place in the direction the nation was heading - well, she did not like her choices.

So, as she likes to say, she did what any responsible American parent would do: she decided to run for Congress.

She started with zero name recognition, but ran a textbook campaign and almost toppled Republican incumbent Reichert.

Although Darcy came up short in her 2006 bid - but only by a little; five voters per precinct, to be exact, as she will remind you - she put a very big scare into the Republican Party. So much of a scare, in fact, that George Bush and Karl Rove both have visited Darcy's district in an effort to raise money for Reichert. (She also will remind you, with a smile, that when an online counter-fundraiser was held last fall to offset the Bush $1,000-a-plate event for Reichert, 3200 donors contributed $123,000, outraising the president himself.)

This year Darcy show a lack of leadership in the Congress over the issue of the war. People kept asking her on the campaign trail how she would end the war, and she grew tired of waiting for the leadership to give her something she can use. So she took the matter on personally, joining with military and counterterrorism officials and creating The Responsible Plan To End The War In Iraq, which doesn't just call for a full withdrawal of all military forces and a diplomatic, economic and humanitarian surge to manage that withdrawal, but calls to end the failed structures that got us into the war in the first place, things like Constitutional reform, and green energy, and ending media consolidation, and restoring the balance of power between the executive and the legislative branch.

So far 54 Congressional challengers have signed on to this plan, giving it a value that is measurable. If dozens of freshman Congressmembers enter Washington with a mandate to end the war, that has a rare power. Which is amazing. But the real takeaway of the night is the fact that Darcy handmade the button that I was given as one of the co-hosts of the event. She told me that she needed a bunch of buttons for visibility during her initial campaign run and decided that it would be cheaper to buy what you need to make buttons instead of buying the buttons themselves. It's a little thing, but it shows initiative and a commitment to get things done. And it was charming. She's as far removed from an everyday politician as anyone I've ever come across. And maybe that's why she's such a natural leader; there's no artifice and no cringing fear about the consequences.

After a day where there was a lot of sturm und drang among the grassroots in California, particularly because of the Democratic campaigns purging delegate slates for upcoming elections, I was reminded of these two amazing events I got to participate in this week, both with Tim Goodrich and last night with Darcy Burner. The grassroots is strong when we are all working together for incredible candidates who can bring about progressive change. And that's what I saw last night.

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