Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Border Politics is Future Politics" Speech to Yuma County Democrats

Hello Yuma. I’m Mikel Weisser, candidate for US House of Representatives in Arizona congressional district 4, the left coast of AZ. That’s Yuma to Utah Parker to Payson, the central highlands and all the places in Maricopa County where the people are not. That’s Seven Counties, Nine Legislative Districts as red as the river is long. It’s the kind of battle no sane Democrat would want to take on.
That’s why you’ve got me.
Yes, you can laugh, I have been a political writer for about twenty-five years now and a lot of what I write I call humor. So if I say something that sounds oddly phrased or just plain weird and you wonder, did he think that was supposed to be funny?
… Yes.
Besides political writing, I am now the northern vice chair of the Arizona Democratic Party Progressive Caucus, Mohave County’s party secretary, on the state boards of DFA, AZNORML, & the state Poetry Society. I am one of the founders of Safer AZ, a cannabis reform group that is working day and night to change the Arizona for the better. I am particularly grateful to be in Yuma this weekend to thank your legislators for their continuing support of my work, our work.
How about a hand for Reps. Escamilla & Otondo and Senator Pancrazi?
Last week Senator Pancrazi helped introduce a bill that started in our offices, HB2474, to end felony sentencing for minor possession cases. One of 12 brave Democrats at the statehouse willing to put their careers on the line for the good of Arizonans. I can tell you more about that work later.
But Yuma is special to me for a different reason. They make a joke about Kennedy in Berlin: that when he tried to tell the people, ‘I am one of you,’ he called himself a donut. Well, I don’t know about that; but I know to my soul that I am a Yuman.
Now, when  I travel around the whole giant district, giving speeches, stirring up trouble and everywhere you go you need to say, “so-n-so is special to me because…” Because everyplace is special, truly, right?
Well, Yuma is special to me because it is a lot like where I grew up near the Rio Grande River in Texas. A river, a border, citrus everywhere and a lot of brown skinned people. Puro chicano. 85% in my home town.  Plus plenty of great food, yes, but it’s the people that excite me. I actually was hired from Illinois to move to Arizona because yo hablo poquito espanol. OK piquincito. But enough to get me here and I have been fighting por la gente every since.
I have lots of issues in my campaign, but here in Yuma, I know the reality of the border.  People border politics is future politics. We will have to get there as a nation or destroy ourselves in the process. As w everything, the old must adjust as the world keeps on changing. The future of America is all the colors of the rainbow. I want a country that cares about all people, that welcomes immigrants, economic refugees like my grandparents were a 100 years ago; a country that realizes what it holds dear is freedom of speech, not freedom of English. I want a country that realizes you don’t stare at your number one trading partner down the barrel of a gun. Like Ronald Reagan said, tear down the wall.

But, I didn’t come to Yuma to tell you my wishes, I came here to work for yours. I am not here to sing my own praises, I am here to make a difference. Arizonans can make a difference this round. The future is waiting for us. Let’s grab it--

--Mikel Weisser writes from the left coast of AZ

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