To Fight the Unbeatable Foe
From time to time, I, like Don Quixote, dream of impossible things. Maybe it is the Angels making the playoffs, beating Mike Henry in tennis for the first time in 15 years, or becoming a better dancer.
This spring, my impossible dream dealt with the congressional primary in our district.
For 30 years, so many of us have tilted against the windbag that represents us in the House of Representatives, Dana Rohrabacher. This time a Republican, Scott Baugh, who is not a Russian sycophant, and two strong Democrats, Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead, were in California’s so called “jungle primary,” where the top two finishers, regardless of party, meet in November. My dream was that Rohrabacher would come in third. Titles for the column I would be able to write suggested themselves: “Requiem for Rohrabacher,” “Primary Results Doom Dana,” “Fightin’ 48thOusts Putin’s Favorite Member of Congress.”
It did not actually seem like a totally impossible dream. Hillary Clinton carried the 48th in 2016, and Dana has kept on saying outrageous things. Most recently about arming school children. Democrats, who have a poor record for voting in mid-terms, seemed energized. What self-respecting Democrat would not turn out to vote against a guy who gets an “A” rating from the NRA, a zero percent rating from NARAL, does not believe in man-made climate change, and is against marriage equality?
But in our district, Democratic votes would not be enough. Independents and Republicans would have to show up and say “enough” to Congressman Rohrabacher if my dream were to come true. I know there are still Republicans that believe in the validity of scientific research. When they learn that Rohrabacher said, ”The much touted melting in the ice caps has now reversed itself in the last few years,” they would realize this man is out of touch with reality. The Arctic sea ice is, in fact, in rapid retreat.
Again, I know there are Republicans and independents who are convinced that Russia and Putin represent a grave threat to American democracy. Politico has named Rohrabacher “Putin’s favorite member of Congress.” In 2012, the FBI warned our congressman that Russia regarded him as an intelligence source. Do not forget that he was one of the handful of members of Congress to vote against imposing sanctions on Russia. Dana, we need to mend relations with our allies, not cuddle up to a person Senator John McCain called “a thug.” He thinks he can get away with his bromance with Putin because he claims his constituents couldn’t care less about Russia. But care we do.
Remember Charlottesville where avowed white nationalist Richard Spencer and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin promoted “the unite the right” event which ended in violence?
Congressman Rohrabacher declared the episode a “hoax” orchestrated by liberals.
In late May, the congressman involved himself in something that many believed would cost him dearly. Addressing a group of realtors, he said homeowners should have the right to decline to sell their properties to buyers whose lifestyle (meaning gay) goes against their religious beliefs. “A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.” Fortunately, the number of Americans who equate gayness with immorality is shrinking in our district. The National Association of Realtors withdrew its endorsement of Rohrabacher. I thought that might have been the straw that broke his back. But it wasn’t. Dana Rohrabacher came in first with 30% of the vote. Rouda came in second with 17.3 % and Keirstead third with 17.2%, just a handful of votes behind Rouda. Republican challenger Baugh was fourth with 16%. If you add these Baugh votes to Rohrabacher’s, that is a steep hill to climb in the general election.
But, I have another dream which I hope comes true. Perhaps enough Baugh voters and independents will realize that 15 terms of Dana Rohrabacher is quite enough and come Nov. 7, we can celebrate congressmen-elect Harley Rouda. Then the 48thDistrict will have a representative who will come to grips with climate change, defend a woman’s right to choose, and have a much less draconian attitude toward those seeking refuge in our country.
James Utt is the author of “Laguna Tails and Boomer Wails.” He has always been inspired by Langston Hughes. He said, “hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”