It would make a tremendous difference nationally and internationally to have a real activist, progressive, populist, and democrat as mayor of our nation’s capital. Imagine a leading opponent of war as mayor of the world center of war making. Imagine major public initiatives to address the massive poverty and racial disparity in the headquarters of the greatest wealth machine on the planet. Imagine the model set in Washington for school systems elsewhere based on public community schools rather than corporate commodification of mis-education.
Imagine Congress forced to work in a place with living wage laws, wise environmental practices, free mass transit, perhaps a public bank — a place where the quality of life rises for all and trickledown propaganda can’t utter its first syllable without being mocked. Imagine the home of the U.S. government as a living breathing counterexample to every acontextual ahistorical anti-intellectual claim for the benefits of violence over diplomacy, monopolistic capitalism over the social good, and brutal pigheadedness over civic engagement and innovation.
I hardly ever promote candidates. We’re not going to vote our way to peace and justice — much less vote our way to clean, open, verifiable elections with public financing and free, fair media time. But Washington, D.C., is actually a place where Andy Shallal has a chance to get himself elected. He’s in a 7-way race, and people want a newcomer.
Andy Shallal! Most of you know who this is. Andy has been a leading opponent of wars and militarism, of racism, and of extreme materialism. Andy has testified before Congress, rallied crowds, and gone to jail for justice. He’s helped keep Northrop Grumman from living off DC taxpayers. He’s pushed for higher wages from Wal-Mart, and paid them at his own restaurants. He’s the owner of four — soon to be six — Busboys and Poets restaurants, the places where all the best organizations and campaigns find a free space to meet, strategize, communicate, and entertain — spaces that always seem a bit more integrated by age, race, and background than anywhere else in DC.
Andy is not just a personality, not just a backstory, not just an aura or a brand name. He has proposals ready to work on. He wants a moratorium on school closings. He wants money put back into the minimum wage (what’s commonly and misleadingly called “raising” it). He wants the voting age dropped to 17. Andy is on the board of trustees of the Institute for Policy Studies. That’s like having your own cabinet already formed, but formed by geniuses and actual small-d democrats.
I can think of another major city where a mayor was recently elected with great fanfare and great expectations, but the disappointments came quickly. I don’t know how that will work out, but I know that Andy won’t disappoint. He also would not want public activist pressure to go away. We’ll need to pressure Andy and the D.C. City Council, we’ll need to organize and educate and listen to and learn from our neighbors. We’ll need to keep doing what we do, but we’ll do it with the mayor on our side, the mayor of an international city, a city with sister cities on every continent, a city with great influence on public discussion at home and abroad.
This is a campaign for us all, no matter where we live.
Andy is the guest this week on Talk Nation Radio. Listen here.
His own website is at http://Andy4DC.org
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