Replace Rangel With Tasini Right Now

By David Swanson

Well this is helpful. The best candidate for Congress I know of, Jonathan Tasini, is now running against an incumbent, Charlie Rangel, who is going to be put on trial in Congress for all sorts of alleged corruption.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “the allegations range from misuse of rent-controlled apartments in New York City and failure to disclose income from a villa in the Dominican Republic to reports that he exchanged official favors – a tax loophole for oil driller Nabors Industries Ltd. – in exchange for a $1 million gift to the Charles Rangel Center at City College of New York.” The Associated Press reports that the detailed charges will be released next Thursday, and “sanctions can range from a damaging committee report to censure by the House and even expulsion, a punishment reserved for only the most egregious violations.”

Of course, this is all petty tomfoolery in comparison with what Rangel and most members of Congress spend their days doing, funding illegal wars, funneling our money to Wall Street, promoting corporate needs over human needs, and engaging in overlooking instead of oversight. But massive crimes, no matter how many people they kill, are just not as interesting as petty personal ones. If sex can be found anywhere in these new charges, Rangel’s career of misrepresentation will be ended for sure (after all, he’s not a Republican). Or perhaps clips of him acting scared, obnoxious, arrogant, and a touch senile will do the trick. Here’s one from Thursday on CBS.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) and others familiar with the charges are calling for Rangel to resign. Someone else calling for him to resign, or at least to abandon his reelection bid, is Jonathan Tasini, who said on Thursday:

“I am calling today on Rep. Rangel to announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for re-election to the 15th Congressional District in New York in light of the findings of the House ethics committee that Rep. Rangel violated ethics rules. For the first time in eight years, the House ethics committee has taken a very serious step forward in ethics investigations, calling for the appointment of a special subcommittee to rule on the findings — a step last taken when former Rep. James Traficant was convicted of taking bribes.

“While Rep. Rangel still should be accorded the right to defend himself before a trial of a special subcommittee, the threat to the future of the Democratic Party is today. Rep. Rangel will be, as I argued when I announced my candidacy for the 15th Congressional District, the face of Washington corruption in Republican advertising and campaigns across the nation. Rep. Rangel will, without a doubt, cost the Democratic Party seats in the November election, if he is the nominee of the party.

“By announcing that he will not stand for re-election, Rep. Rangel will allow the people of the 15th Congressional District to choose a new Congressman who will be able to spend 100 percent of his or her time defending the interests of the people, not his own political career. Our party must be clear — we must not allow even the hint of impropriety to be part of our ranks. The people, the voters, are sick and tired of dysfunction. They are fed up with corruption — real and moral. They want leaders who they can trust.”

Now, I think Tasini is wrong about not allowing even a hint of corruption to be tolerated. The next victim of a Breitbart video should be immediately promoted and honored, rather than attacked and fired, for example. The facts will most likely end up fitting that response. But Rangel’s corruption is out in the open. He does not serve the people of Harlem, New York City, New York State, or this country, or the world. He serves the military industrial complex, his campaign “contributors” and the demands of Washington insiders and lobbyists.

Normally, replacing him would not change that in the slightest. But we’re talking about replacing him with Jonathan Tasini. I know Jonathan and have for years. He’s an activist and an organizer. He’s sworn not to spend a dime on aggressive wars and to work to end them. He’s committed to defending Social Security against all attacks. If he’s elected to Congress, you’ll see him organizing on Capitol Hill for peace, justice, civil rights, and the interests of the constituents so abused, neglected, and taken for granted by Rangel.

I don’t know if Rangel will ruin the chances of a Democrat running in New Mexico or Oregon, but he certainly won’t help. I doubt we can pressure him to resign or pressure Pelosi to pressure him to resign. But he is, and already was, in serious danger of losing his primary, and we can take advantage of the current story, which may lead to his resignation or expulsion, to build national support for a candidate already surging in New York’s 15th district, a progressive whom national advocates for democratic governance ought to be rallying around anyway: Jonathan Tasini.

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