After two years of telling people I believed in "Telling the Right They're Wrong!" I realized that despite all the sound and fury and the many scenes I have caused trying to do exactly that, that I had never actually written a speech for a mixed or Republican audience. In twelve hours I will be at a GOP dominated candidate forum in extreme rural AZ: Meadview. Here is the speech I hope to give:
My name is Mikel Weisser.
I am the Democratic candidate for US House in AZ’s 4th Congressional District. I’m a native Texan, a former teen runaway. Grew up in a small town near the border of Mexico, about 15 yrs ago I moved to AZ from Illinois por que yo hablo poquito espanol. I share my humble beginnings because I believe the beauty of the American Dream is that a man can remake himself and make a better world if he tries.
I grew up a working man, 3rd generation construction worker. I didn’t learn to type till I was 27, didn’t really go to college till I was 30, worked as a plumber till I was 35, put myself through college and then grad school working as a carnie, then a homeless shelter administrator. I did freelance journalism part-time and had a political column going for about 25 years. I retired as a social studies teacher a year ago to do this full time. I have two masters degrees, one in English from the University of Illinois and one in secondary Ed from NAU.
Currently, I serve as the executive director and legislative liaison of Safer AZ, the state’s cannabis reform PAC and as a vice chair in the progressive caucus of the Democratic Party. I also sing, play guitar & perform poetry around the southwest. I love my wife and kids and grandkids and dogs and cats and the beauty and the challenge of living in rural Arizona.
Now that’s a whole lot of biography for a little bitty speech like this, and I want you to understand I understand for many of you, nothing else mattered after I said Democrat. But I been a Democrat since I was en utero and I am especially proud to be a Democrat here in Western AZ.
Some of you may know my campaign slogan is, “Tell the Right They’re Wrong!” I mean that. You don’t have to take that personally, but if you just blindly hate anything Dem, then none of the rest of this will matter anyway.
But yes, that is my belief: I run as a Democrat because I believe the Republican Party has dominated our society, our laws and government since the 60s and their rule has come at a terrible price. The conservative values agenda has wrecked our social life, imperiled us globally and gutted our economy to serve the rich. I don’t care which hometown patriotic values the Right claim to care about, bottom line, they are only serving the corporate interests of their campaign donors. Like the way their economic plans first dismantled Wall Street’s security system, stole everybody’s piggybank and six million people’s homes, stuck you w the bill and then blamed the poor and the struggling to hide their tracks. That’s the GOP, that’s your Republicans.
This is just one example. I could rant all day and not cover all the highlights and I could also not convince you. Just like folks didn’t want to believe that Nixon was a crook, or that Reagan let Iran-Contra happen, or that Bush lied to us about weapons of mass destruction, and millions were killed, and billions squandered and trillions more stolen and much of the world has now turned against us in your name. I know no one wants to believe it; but when it comes to domestic policy, foreign policy and especially economic policy the conservative values agenda have been wrong, dead wrong.
And many those folks will tell you I am the enemy, even call me an enemy to America just for thinking such things. Of course they are the same people who will tell you that I am an enemy because I let my hair grow out sometimes, because I wear jeans and Chuck Taylors, instead of pin stripes and wing tips. Because I don’t think that gays or immigrants are subhuman, because I like to smoke and drink and occasionally cuss.
And so I know that they’re wrong about that, because those things just make me a lot like a lot of the rest of you. So, I would like to talk about the things we could agree on. I know some of you would like to hear some new ideas beyond the same old same old GOP BS.
Like, I believe in educating our children, in roads and solar power. I tell you people, this is Arizona in August, you step outside and you cannot help but believe in the power of solar, just saying.
I believe that my government is NOT supposed to treat me like an enemy, or stick its nose into people’s personal lives. I want the government to stay off of my back and out of my bedroom and as long as I am not trampling on the rights of my fellow man, I want to be free to pursue my own life, my own happiness.
I believe we need to be conservative w our precious natural resources and protect the lives of innocent children, especially after they’re born. I believe in Arizona’s dream of rugged independence, carving out your own vision and honoring your land and your country. I believe in encouraging innovation, I believe we owe something to our children.
And I very much believe that we live in an extremely dangerous time. Yet with all the problems we face on a global scale, the GOP want to be sure we spend most of our time fighting each other. I believe that America is worth fighting and, when necessary, dying for. But I also believe that it is worth living for. I wish everybody believed that way, then, we really could have a country of, for, and by the people.
Now here are some things many of you will disagree on. Like first that a lot of the messes we face were made by Republicans and they lie and wave a flag in front of us expecting everyone to go along. Look at the last 40yrs of American history, especially in this state. Who’s been in power? So who’re the folks to blame?
Look at the way Carter, Clinton and Obama were treated, even though greatly different presidents, they all get attacked the same way, relentlessly, insanely. I think they waste our time w this nonsense, I think they squander our money, I think they don’t solve the problems we hired them to fix because they’re too busy slinging mud and begging for money. When Obama got elected, Mitch McConnell, famously said his goal for the next four yrs was to obstruct Obama’s efforts and tell me what else have they really done lately, except become very good at wasting our time and money?
I also don’t believe that the immigrants are the cause of America’s problems anymore than they were when my grandparents were immigrants 100 yrs ago. They were also poor, uneducated and didn’t speak English.
I don’t believe that someone’s right to be a religious fundamentalist extremist trumps women’s right to make their own reproductive choices.
I don’t believe that government services make us weaker; that tax cuts create jobs; that every Democrat is after your guns; or, that the 80 yr prohibition on marijuana has ever been anything but a fraud and a crime against the American people, people like yourself and your children.
And I tell you what I do believe in: I believe in jobs: in education, in construction, in innovation, and in tourism and rural development. I believe we need to address the refugee crisis on our border, but we have to treat immigrants as people and children as children. I believe corporations are not people and their rights are not superior to the rights of actually humans and that we need a Constitutional Amendment to solve that problem once and for all.
I also have proposals on issues like rural solar electrification and water reclamation. I am one of the shapers of the state’s marijuana laws and have proposals to stop the federal prohibition the same way we are dismantling AZ’s private prison pipeline.
There are so many things we could agree on. There are so many issues the right will never work on for you and there is only so little time to act before they drive the country over the cliff again. I know that many of you have been true believers in the GOP for a long time. But am I asking the honorable people in the audience to think about what they’re doing, the way they act, who the Republican Party has become and ask yourself, does the GOP really represent you these days?
I hope you’ll say, “No!” I hope you’ll join my fight.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of az.