Daylin Leach-- the Pennsylvania state Senate's "liberal lion"-- is running for the open congressional seat in Northeast Philadelphia/Montgomery County (PA-13) that Allyson Schwartz is giving up so she can run for governor. Blue America has already endorsed Daylin. Kutztown blogger, Sean Kitchen, interviewed Daylin a few days ago and I've highlighted a few points as a way of reminding you that EMILY's List has found a much more conservative candidate-- as they always do-- to try to push into this deep blue district... and is planning to pump a fortune into the race. Obama beat Romney in PA-13 by a wide margin-- 66.2- 32.9. This is exactly the kind of safe Democratic district where we should look to elect progressive leaders and not just garden variety followers of the EMILY's List brand. If you like what you hear from Daylin below, please consider a contribution to his campaign here.
Sean brought up how extremely impressed the Montgomery County DFA was with Daylin's at their meeting. Daylin:
We're very proud of the endorsements we're racking up. We're very proud of the support we're getting in the sense that the hard work we've been doing for eleven years seems to be paying off. People seem to be grateful that we've been fighting for labor, fighting for teachers, fighting for women, fighting for the environment, fighting for civil rights for LGBT people and fighting for the rights of voters to actually cast their votes-- a whole series of issues we've taken the lead on. People seem to remember and seem to be eager to help.
Sean wondered why he even wants to go work in Congress-- with the nihilists and luddites in control of the Republican Party in Washington. Of course, there's Harrisburg...
Have you been to Pennsylvania? It's not much better here. There's two things. Number one: there's obviously there's some issues that you deal with in Congress that you don't deal with in the state legislature: foreign policy issues, etc. Even more than that... I've taken on a lot of issues and what I've learned is, you learn the issue backward and forward, you give a great debate on TV, you write a brilliant editorial, you get on the floor and you give an impassioned speech and the reporters all write that you gave a great speech-- and at the end of the day you don't change a single vote. And what I've discovered is, changing your colleagues votes is not going to happen. You have to change the public's perception on an issue. And we've seen that with marriage equality. In the last three or four weeks politicians have been falling all over each other to say, 'Oh, yeah, I'm for it... I've always been for it, oh yeah, absolutely.' And that's because the public has moved on it. So, I feel my job, if I want to be effective, is to try to move public opinion, rather than change [the opinion of] the guy sitting at the desk sitting next to me in the Senate. And Congress is a much bigger platform to try to change public opinion. And that's where I can contribute something.
I followed up with Daylin on the phone about why foreign policy is so important to him that he mentioned it so prominently as a reason for going to Washington. I was especially interested since he almost always talks about solving domestic problems, especially problems that impact the lives of ordinary working families. Those issues always seem to be what drives him. His response, though, was inspiring. "Among the reasons I want to go to Washington is to affect foreign policy in a way that a state legislator simply can't. I remember when I served in the PA House. Whenever a soldier from Pennsylvania was killed in Iraq, we would recognize their sacrifice on the House floor. The soldier's parents would come and I would watch them as they stood in the guest box as their local Representative would speak about their life. These people had just lost a child and were barely able to function. Some couldn't even stand on their own power. I found these, all too frequent memorials devastating. I just felt so helpless, completely unable to have any influence on the insane, endless war that Congress had voted to authorize. I knew then that somehow I had to do whatever it took to put myself in a position to help ensure that this sort of thing never happened again." And, yes, Daylin very much wants to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and bring our troops home safely.
Sean wanted to talk about marijuana legalization, which Daylin has championed in the state legislature. "This is such a horrible, pernicious policy we have on prohibition," said Daylin. "It hurts so many people, it costs so much money, it makes no sense, and, frankly, this is what we call 'a dead issue walking.' This is going to happen. We're going to have an end to prohibition; we're going to have marriage equality; and we're going to look back and wonder why these things were ever controversial. There's two reasons for that. Number one is demographic-- young people have no interest in prohibition. And number two is exposure. As more and more states end prohibition, like Colorado, like Washington, like, essentially, California... as more and more of that happens, people will see that whatever horror stories have been painted by the other side just never come to pass and so it's going to be harder for them to make that case. We feel very good about it. We wish it could be quicker. Every day that prohibition remains in effect is an injustice, where someone's life is being ruined because of it. Hopefully within the next few years we can get this done."
And then Sean turned the conversation towards the Establishment's Austerity Agenda and, specifically, Chained CPI. Daylin was right on point.
Look, the last thing we should be doing is balancing our budgets on the backs of seniors, who worked all their lives and now rely on their, often meager, Social Security check to get by. If there is a shortfall in Social Security... there is an easy way to fix it. Rather than cutting benefits to people who need them most, why not uncap-- right now you pay your payroll tax, your Social Security tax, on your first $113,000 in income. Over that, you don't pay a dime and that's unfair. That means Bill Gates is paying a rate much, much lower than his secretary for the Social Security benefits. Why not at least raise the cap? We can get a bunch of money in that way; we don't have to cut benefits for seniors. That seems to make a lot more sense to me.