By Editor in Chief Scott Drexel from Eyesonobama.com:
Perhaps the most telling quality of Pleitez is a sort of quiet restlessness, a subtle frustration with the government's failure to always serve the people to the best of its ability. He exudes a determination to right that fundamental wrong. He surveys what's now in place and sees a system that all too often places power above progress, politics over people. And to his core, he knows he can do better. We heartily concur.
Though EyesOnObama has gotten pretty good at picking winners, we’ve never really gotten into the business of formally endorsing them. But this time, we just can’t keep our mouths shut.
The May 19th Democratic special election primary for the 32nd California Congressional District will be the only federal election going on in the country when polls open, so all eyes will be trained firmly on the seat that was vacated by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. After careful review, we feel that there is no better candidate than Democrat and former Obama Transition Team manager Emanuel Pleitez, the district’s own home-grown favorite son.
We’ve yet to see the first wave of post-Obama candidates really begin to emerge, but already, the proven marketing tactics of the president’s groundbreaking campaign are being channeled through the political world and beyond (the buses that run through CA-32, for one of the more egregious examples, are emblazoned with advertisements for local community colleges. The slogan: "Change? Yes you can!"). But while a few candidates have already begun to parrot that central tenet of "hope" that was so vital to the success of the Obama campaign, to Pleitez they seem to be less abstract marketing strategy and more a public demand for the relentless pursuit of a government better equipped to serve its people.
While Pleitez is young (at just 26, he’d be the most junior member of Congress), he makes up for it with incredibly pertinent experience and an impressive comprehension of the financial industry mechanisms that need to be repaired in order for this economy to move into the black. Economic laymen- which unfortunately seems to include many current members of Congress- tend to view "the economy" as some sort of single, umbrella-type super-issue, mistaking economic indicators as failsafe measuring sticks. That’s a disastrous mischaracterization at a time when individual failures in the banking industry and credit markets combined to create an economy-crushing perfect storm. And Pleitez isn’t afraid to say it, noting the "ignorance on the part of some of the Congressional members who really don’t understand what’s going on in the markets." But Pleitez gets it. He spent time at industry giant Goldman Sachs, where he learned firsthand how greed on Wall Street affects hardworking Americans on Main Street. But true to his roots as a self-made man from East Los Angeles, he left Wall Street behind to dedicate his career to public service, answering the call of the Obama-Biden Transition Project to join the high-pressure Treasury Team. Engaging with top Treasury officials and external stakeholders and advocacy groups, he helped identify the failures of the previous administration that led to our current economic crisis, and just as importantly, the changes that need to be made to recover from them. No other candidate- perhaps nationwide- boasts the kind of varied exposure that has allowed Pleitez to foster experience on both sides of the economy.
But far from a wonkish policy grunt, Pleitez demonstrates a knack for empathy that this country once demanded from those in public service. The reason Franklin Roosevelt was able to fully address the symptoms of the Great Depression is because he made it his business to fully understand the illness that plagued his countrymen. He didn’t simply view the crisis as a systemic problem that could be remedied by altering some numbers on a balance sheet. That same seamless fusion of public policy and real human experience sets Pleitez above the other candidates. "Look," he said, "we’re in a crisis situation, but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people have lived through an economic crisis all their lives." When I interviewed him, the fundamental truth behind his comment knocked me back in my chair. There are millions of working poor who struggle on a daily basis, but the media only covers it when the dream house with the white picket fence ends up in foreclosure. But because Pleitez can look beyond the problem itself to see the effect it has on the people around him, he is incredibly well-equipped to see that his constituents don’t just read about economic recovery in the newspaper, they feel it when they’re sitting at their kitchen tables. Pleitez, who grew up in a single-parent immigrant household, knows exactly what that feels like. He embodies a sense of civic responsibility that reminds us why it’s called "public service."
And nowhere has his people-first philosophy been more evident than in his campaign. While Republicans were out organizing "tea parties" and most Democrats were busy thinking of well-crafted public responses, Pleitez was opening up his office to members of his community who needed help filing their taxes. And in his mind, that’s the only way to run a campaign.
What’s more is that the economy isn’t the only challenge Pleitez has ridden out to meet. He speaks boldly of reinvesting in infrastructure (something that’s been neglected over the last 50 years) to maintain the roads and railways that act as the arteries of our economic system, and strengthening levees so that no city suffers the fate of post-Katrina New Orleans. He talks about the importance of education, calling it "the foundation of our economy," espouses healthcare reform for millions of perilously uninsured Americans, and backs immigration reform that realistically tackles the issue of 11 million undocumented workers living in this country. His foreign policy views are aimed at addressing the most serious threats to our nation’s security- i.e., instability in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. But taking all of this together, the clear underlying commonality in every single solution that Pleitez proffers is a people-driven methodology, rather than one dominated by political wrangling.
That idealistic nature has been gone from politics for too long. And while it’s no knock on the other Democrats in the primary, Pleitez just has it - they don’t. Both tax board member Judy Chu (whose husband succeeded her in the state Assembly) and state Senator Gil Cedillo (whose political record has long been tied to his college pal, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) are career politicians. And in the knockdown game of California politics, that says a lot. They’re the ones who’ve been able to tap into deep pockets for campaign cash and to utilize vast fundraising networks, but it’s been Pleitez who’s had the vitality of a grassroots effort. Long before his opponents went out and hired paid campaign employees, Pleitez had a full, 25-person staff who believe so thoroughly in his campaign that they’re willing to work for free. He was the first to hit the sidewalk with door-to-door voter contact, the first to mail out old-fashioned campaign literature, and the first to begin personal phone calls to constituents (his opponents have primarily opted for cheaper, impersonal robo-calls).
Perhaps the most telling quality of Pleitez is a sort of quiet restlessness, a subtle frustration with the government’s failure to always serve the people to the best of its ability. He exudes a determination to right that fundamental wrong. He surveys what’s now in place and sees a system that all too often places power above progress, politics over people. And to his core, he knows he can do better. We heartily concur.
And now, for a call to action. If all you can do is forego buying an iTune, and instead send your $1.99 to the Pleitez campaign, the net effect will be a lot larger than you think. Ron Paul’s single day "money bomb" that raised $4.2 million dollars was fueled mostly by donations of just a few dollars. If you can’t send money, send an email to the LA Times and other local newspapers, as well as major Democratic websites like DailyKos, MyDD, and MoveOn.org urging them to endorse Pleitez as well. If you’re in the area, volunteer for a day. And for heaven’s sake, vote for him. President Obama needs Representatives like Emanuel Pleitez in Congress. It's our job to put him there.
Click here to contribute to Emanuel Pleitez's campaign through EyesOnObama's donation page on ActBlue, the Democratic Party's clearinghouse for campaign fundraising.