Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Why Should We Support State Senator Alan Lowenthal For Congress? I Asked Him


My name is Alan Lowenthal. I grew up in New York and moved to the sunny coast of California during the fateful Summer of Love. Now more than 40 years later, I’m trying to return to the East Coast, but this time as a United States Congress Member.

A few days ago I finally had a chance to speak with Howie Klein. Howie has been a part of the progressive movement for a while, but we’ve never quite connected. Our conversation was to-the-point. I get the impression every conversation with Howie is to-the-point, and for good reason. There isn’t a lot of time to dawdle. We have an opportunity to take back the House of Representatives, and I am humbled that I have a chance to be a part of that change.

I was happy that Howie asked me to write this post for Down with Tyranny-- to give me this opportunity to introduce myself to the ever-growing online community of progressive activists that help keep the Democratic Party true to itself.

It’s fortuitous that I’ve begun to actively reach out to the online progressive community. The internet has enabled the bringing together of progressives on a scale that Long Beach Area Citizens Involved (LBACI), a community group, could never have imagined. Here we are, hundreds of thousands strong helping to direct and influence public policy. Things that people used to think would never happen in their lifetime are suddenly happening. We elected an African-American to the White House; marriage equality is no longer a dream; Wall Street has revealed itself; and, people are starting to wake up to the wide-spread and institutionalized economic disparity in this country. We are on the verge of a great new day in America, and I am so excited that I might be able to come to Washington D.C. and be a part of it.

When I first began this campaign, even though I’d served in elected office for 20 years-- first as a City Councilmember in Long Beach, then an Assemblymember and State Senator-- I was still so humbled every time I uttered the sentence, “I’m running for Congress.” It’s such a remarkable thing to say out loud.

A lot has happened between my move to the West Coast and this campaign. I helped pioneer the field of Community Psychology and had a 28 year career as a college professor at California State University, Long Beach (Go Beach!). I became a community activist and helped lead the group Long Beach Area Citizens Involved, attempting to bring all the progressive groups in the area to work together and help move our city forward in a direction that we thought would mean a better life for our neighbors and us.

The inaction of the House Republicans has gone on for too long, and this election gives the American public a chance to take back the House with better, brighter, and more experienced leaders.

Moving our country forward requires drafting and enacting progressive, not regressive, policies. This is why I am running for Congress.

I am taking my progressive record with me to Congress. I’m proud of the legislation I have authored throughout my tenure in the California State Legislature, and I plan using my experiences as a framework for when I go to Congress.

1. I led a nearly ten-year fight in the Capitol for reform of the redistricting process in the state. After not being able to get a second from either party, my persistence and determination led to a ballot measure approved by voters in 2008 that instituted citizen-run independent redistricting in the state, also known as the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

2. I have fought for more than 20 years to clean up the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. My efforts led to a complete revamp of their business model at these two ports (#1 and #2 respectively in Western Hemisphere) that places environmental stewardship at the forefront. Bills authored by me has led the ports to take action which has reduced the air pollution by over 75%. The two ports are now the greenest in the world and role models for the entire port industry.

3. I authored (and got passed) the Student Success Act of 2012-- the first major student-focused reform of the community college system in more than two decades (SB 1456).

4. I provided the first allocations for the purchase of commercially-made electric cars in the state and created the benchmark environmental standards for the production and use of hydrogen fuel in vehicles (AB 2061 and SB 1505).

5. I authored landmark consumer protection legislation, AB 1778, requiring auto insurers and repair shops to fully disclose the type of parts used in a repair.

Progressive may not be a party, but it is greater than that-- it is a way of living life. I have never sought out the label of ‘progressive’, but if a progressive is someone who stands up for affordable housing, education and health care, tax fairness, environmental justice, equality and inclusion, and a pro-choice stance on women’s reproductive rights, then by all means I am one.

In Congress, I am looking forward to joining the Progressive Caucus, passing the President’s American Jobs Act, fighting for education, proving environmental stewardship and economic development are not mutually exclusive, preserving Medicare and Social Security, promoting equality, and upholding a woman’s right to choose.

This cause is greater than any one of us. We need each other to be successful, and I hope we can count on one another. The road is long. I’ve been at this for 20 years in elected office and decades prior as an activist. We have achieved much more than many people would have thought when I first moved to California.

UPDATE Blue America has endorsed Sen. Lowenthal and he'll be our live guest at Crooks and Liars a week from today (11am, PT). Meanwhile, if you'd like to help his campaign against GOP hack Gary DeLong, you can do that on the main Blue America page.

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