I'm Chris Miller and I'm a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress in Illinois' 12th Congressional District. I'm not a stranger to blogging, but this is my first attempt at doing so on Daily Kos so just bear with me as I get it figured out.
I have been a progressive Democrat all my life. I started volunteering in campaigns when I was 15. At 18 I enlisted in the Army. I am a third generation Veteran; military service is a deep tradition in my family. I served 9 years in the U.S. Army in nuclear, biological, and chemical defense. I served 2 tours in Baghdad, Iraq. I trained Iraqi soldiers and screened Iraqi police officers. I planned and led combat logistical patrols. I received the Purple Heart in 2004 when a suicide bomber attacked my vehicle and detonated his device at point-blank range.
The war in Iraq was started on false and forged intelligence. It was a very costly lie, in terms of human life and money. 13 men I knew were killed during my tours there. I almost died there myself. It is their memory I carry with me every day.
Since leaving the military, I have been an advocate in Washington for breaking our addiction to oil, getting Americans to recognize that climate change is a national security issue, and that supporting new green technologies will create jobs. I have also worked to preserve the U.S. budget for international development assistance as requested by our Generals in Iraq and Afghanistan, having participated in some of these efforts in Baghdad.
I know personally the results of poor government policy. Those who go out and do all the fighting and working for the country have virtually none of the say. Domestically, our Congress is filled with old millionaires who are out of touch with working people and the realities of the post-Cold War world. The influence of corporate money in our politics has created a situation where our Representatives must bend to these interests to stay in office. I believe public service should be about service again. If we want to change Washington, we have to change the people we send there. We need to send more of the 99% and less of the 1%. This will require average Americans standing up and taking charge. That's why I am running for Congress.
This is my first attempt at writing here on Kos. So be nice!
I’m no stranger to politics, having put up yard signs and knocked on doors for Democratic candidates since I was 15 years old. But it is quite a different experience actually being a candidate myself in my home district. In the last two months, I have knocked on doors, gathered nearly 2,000 petition signatures, and called voters throughout the Illinois 12, a district that takes 4 ½ hours to drive through end-to-end.
Americans are intensely tired of the same old politics. Congress’ approval rating is lower than the IRS, communism, and Nixon during Watergate. Less than a quarter of our members of Congress ever served in the military, despite being charged with vital national security decisions. Their average age is 60 years old. 47% of them are millionaires, and their net worth is up 15%. Contrast this with an economic downturn, unemployment double the norm (and even worse among returning veterans such as myself), declines in income and increasing poverty, and a U.S. median age of 36 and it’s easy to see why.
To create real change means more than changing the party in charge in Washington every couple of years. Real change will mean Americans focusing on issues and who candidates are. If voters pay attention to issues and those who want to represent them, political parties will have to put up candidates that represent the people’s interests and not simply their party’s interests.
Sadly, most of the electorate doesn’t do this. I often have to explain to folks the difference between State Representative and U.S. Representative. Many people don’t know what district they live in or when Election Day is. A surprising number are not registered to vote and the most common excuse is that they don’t want to get jury duty. Others say they’re so frustrated they just plain don’t care to vote anymore because it won’t make a difference.
Unfortunately, it is this frustration-turned-apathy that has led to an out-of-touch Congress, the province of old millionaires who can’t seem to get along even on issues they agree on such as the payroll tax break. All that is necessary for our current woes to continue is for voters to continue to do nothing. If we want to change the way our Congress and our government works, we have to change the kind of people we elect to represent us in Congress.
2012 presents another opportunity for Americans to choose. While the media focuses on the top of the ticket and the White House, the real fight should be about who we send to Capitol Hill. A good number of the old guard are retiring from Congress this year. It presents a chance to pass the torch to a new generation of leadership who will get America moving forward again.
Americans will have a clear choice to make this November. Hopefully they’ll make the right one.