Matt Cartwright For Congress-- A Guest Post By Jack Cartwright
Today my father, Matt Cartwright, announced his candidacy to represent Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
In a way, I can’t believe I’m saying that. Having been interested in politics and public policy for as long as I can remember, I thought I was as far away as I could get from the decision makers in Washington. Over the years I watched electoral and policy debates with my family, and year after year we continued to see a gap between what politicians said at home and what they did in Washington. I would talk to family, neighbors and friends about these debates and all I could sense was a growing cynicism about Washington politicians and their ways. I could tell that these people who were so close to me had lost faith in our system because of this political credibility gap.
This past year the Occupy Wall Street movement highlighted another kind of divide. Tax policies crafted in Washington designed to help the special interests and the super rich over the working class people have split us into two categories: the 99% and the 1%. Time after time, the special interests have triumphed over people. After the Citizens United decision, big corporations now have undue influence over our electoral system. The average C.E.O. makes 350 times the amount of the average worker, average hourly earnings haven't increased in 50 years, and the 1% owns 42% of the wealth in the United States. Their control extends to all areas of legislative business, including health care, economic policy, trade policy, environmental protection, etc.
For over 25 years my dad has stood up to the special interests in the courtroom. He has held corporations responsible for their offenses against the middle class people of Pennsylvania. He has sued polluters. He has won cases for unfair bank practices, and auditing malpractice. For several years he gave up his time giving nightly free legal advice to viewers on a local news station. He regularly volunteers at a free legal clinic in a local church. My father comes home every night, and I can tell how much he genuinely cares about the people he fights for every day. When I was a little boy I asked my dad, “Why are you a lawyer?” and he told me, “Because I want to help people.”
Helping people is what he does. After 9/11 he got his firm to take 7 cases representing the family members of victims for free in front of the Victims’ Compensation Fund in New York City to achieve just compensation for their losses. When two local judges got involved in a notorious local scheme to imprison “kids for cash,” he set up a Juvenile Defense Pro Bono Lawyer Project and was honored by the local bar association for it. Outside of the courtroom he has been a leader in our community. He was a District Governor of Rotary International and for many years organized a “Rotary Run Against Drugs.” He has served as a member of the executive council of the local Council of the Boy Scouts of America. As a member he has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local Scouting programs, and he was also a leader in my own Boy Scout Troop. He was on the board of directors of a local hospital. If you attend Divine Mercy Parish at the Church of Saint Joseph in Scranton, you might even
catch him doing a reading.
My father is a person who has been blessed with great success in his career as an attorney, but he always gives back to his community. Now he has an opportunity to help his community in an even greater capacity: by representing it in Congress.
He will have a tough race. It will require a lot of money, and grassroots organizing to be successful. The special interests will be against him, and he will need the help of every person who wants to see positive, progressive change in this country. It will be a battle of ideologies. My father’s ideology being that we need a government that looks forward, maintains a healthy economy, and protects the consumer from the deceptive practices of corporate America. His opponent’s ideology is of a limited government that is reactionary, one that makes deep cuts in spending, protects industries like the credit card companies and the big banks, polluters, and health care insurance companies.
This will be a primary fought on issues. My father believes that everyone in this country is entitled to health care while his Blue Dog opponent does not. My father believes that the government should protect the environment while his opponent votes with the Republicans to frustrate environmental protections. My father believes that we shouldn’t be making it harder for middle class folks to declare bankruptcy against credit card debt, while his opponent voted for that. My father believes that we need energy independence in this country without giving tax breaks to huge oil companies, while his opponent voted for the Bush-Cheney energy policy of 2005. His vote has had devastating consequences on the environment in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In the Bush-Cheney energy bill, the Halliburton Loophole allows fracking companies to dump chemicals into public water sources without the responsibility to inform residents of what is in their water. My father likes to say that he comes from the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party,” while his opponent votes with the Republican Party over 50% of the time. [According to ProgressivePunch, Tim Holden voted with the GOP against the Democratic position on crucial rollcall votes just over 68% of the time last year.]
This primary election takes place on April 24, 2012. It’s going to be a difficult fight, but what it comes down to is what my dad has been doing his whole life: helping people. For the future of this country, my father needs your help.
Here is a recent family photo. Let to right: My dad, my brother Matt, my mom Marion Munley Cartwright and me
You can contribute to Matt's campaign at the Blue America BadDogs page.