A Progressive Challenge to Jane Harman

There are many reasons why progressives will mobilize behind the campaign of Marcy Winograd, who announced on Monday that she’ll challenge incumbent Congresswoman Jane Harman in the 2010 Democratic primary.

Some will speak of Harman’s pro-war record. Some will recall her support for warrantless wiretapping, followed by her irony-free indignation when it turned out that NSA snoops had taped her own phone conversations. Some will recount Harman’s long public silence after being briefed on torture by the U.S. government.

And then there’s the extensive evidence that Rep. Harman has gone over the top to do the bidding of the Israeli government and some of its most extreme supporters in the United States.

But what may be most significant about Winograd’s race to unseat Harman in 2010 is that it reflects — and is likely to help nurture — a growing maturity among progressives around the country who are tired of merely complaining about centrist Democrats in Congress.

Many progressives are getting a clear take-home message: Let’s stop griping about lousy members of Congress and start defeating them.

Winograd, a high school teacher in South Los Angeles, is a longtime activist who founded the LA chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. Back in 2006 — after less than three months of campaigning — she won 38 percent of the primary vote against Harman.

The launch of Winograd’s new campaign has come more than 12 months before Election Day. And the candidate’s kickoff speech Monday afternoon laid out a tapestry of compelling reasons behind her second run for Congress.

At the Venice Pier in the northern end of California’s 36th congressional district, Winograd sounded the unabashedly progressive notes that have animated her activism over the years.

Speaking of widespread economic woes in such areas as Torrance, where foreclosures have skyrocketed, Winograd declared: “It doesn’t have to be this way. It is time to say NO to government waste, to trillion-dollar war budgets for endless occupations that breed more terrorists, to countless no-bid contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan that drain our treasury of hard-earned taxpayer dollars. Halliburton gets rich, while the working family in Torrance watches their home slip away.”

Congresswoman Harman provides a particularly spectacular example of an officeholder who has boosted militarism while helping to undermine civil liberties and human rights. But, in essence, on the Hill she’s run-of-the-mill.

As a matter of routine, most members of Congress avidly serve corporate interests and the warfare state. They benefit when progressives leave electoral battlefields to others while complaining bitterly about corporatists and warmongers atop Capitol Hill.

Strong progressives like Marcy Winograd belong in the United States Congress. Movements that learn how to propel more candidates like her into office — while defeating the likes of Jane Harman — will gain strength for the long haul.

NORMAN SOLOMON, co-chair of the national Healthcare NOT Warfare campaign, is the author of many books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” In California, he is co-chair of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay. www.GreenNewDeal.info

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Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

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