Courage to Speak Out

With Sandra Fluke, reproductive rights activist, scheduled to be in the Sarasota area this Saturday, September 29 for a rally supporting Congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald (more details here), I wanted to share more of my impressions of this remarkable young lady, both here and on Sarasota Patch. When I saw Sandra Fluke speak at the Democratic National Convention, I was so proud to be a Democrat! This young woman stood up for what she believes, and even after ridicule and hateful slurs from the far right, she stood up again and delivered her message loud and clear to the world.  Here is some of what she said about “two profoundly different futures” that await women:

“[In one America], you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don’t want and our doctors say we don’t need. An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it; in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again; in which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve help, and which don’t. …it’s not the America we should be. It’s not who we are.

“We’ve also seen another future we could choose. First of all, we’d have the right to choose. It’s an America in which no one can charge us more than men for the exact same health insurance; in which no one can deny us affordable access to the cancer screenings that could save our lives; in which we decide when to start our families. An America in which our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters—not his delegates or donors—and stands with all women.”

Among so many important issues, this election is about the right of women to decide their own futures, decide about their own bodies, and their right to health care when they need it. Watch the full video of her speech and you, too, will be moved – moved to choose the future “where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom, [not] one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies and our voices.”



DC Support for Sarasota Races

Ellen Moran, Chief of Staff at the US Department of Commerce under Secretary Gary Locke was in Sarasota on April 19th in support of U.S. Congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald.  Ellen Moran previously held the position of White House Communications Director and prior to her post at the White House, she was executive director of EMILY’s List.

So why would the former EMILY’s List director come to fundraise for Keith Fitzgerald, with so many female progressive candidates to support? Because Fitzgerald has a significant chance to defeat incumbent Vern Buchanan, who is engulfed in legal investigations, including those being conducted by the Justice Department and the IRS.  With the House in play, Sarasota represents a chance for a Democratic pick-up from a GOP incumbent known for his fundraising abilities, and because of this, we can expect to see many more heavy hitters coming to fundraise in Sarasota.

Character Counts

Earlier this week I wrote a post for the Sarasota Patch blog about the ongoing ethics problems of Sarasota Congressman Vern Buchanan (problems that are also drawing national attention), and the responsibility voters need to take for electing politicians with integrity. Do you think that ethics issues will – or should – play a deciding role in this and other races across the country? Share your thoughts in the comments.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

On January 30th, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman (and Florida Congresswoman) Debbie Wasserman Schultz visited Sarasota. Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz focused on the President’s commitment to Israel. From the outset of his administration, President Obama has been committed to maintaining the special relationship between the two countries, and to working with our Israeli allies and the Arab world on solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Wasserman Schultz spoke about the strong bond between the two nations and highlighted President Obama’s efforts to strengthen that relationship.  Israel continues to be the largest recipient of U.S. Foreign Military Finance Program funds for military training and equipment. In 2010, the administration sent $2.775 billion (the largest amount ever) in security assistance funding to Israel, and increased that amount to $3 billion in 2011.

The administration has also provided the Israeli military access to advanced U.S. military systems.  Moreover, President Obama has stood strong with Israel against threats Iran, and against terrorist organizations such as Hamas.  And time and time again, President Obama has stood against efforts in the international community to de-legitimize Israel, making clear his administration’s commitment to a two-state solution that protects Israel’s interests.  (You can learn more about President Obama’s stances on Israel by visiting Jewish Americans for Obama.)

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and U.S. Congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald

After speaking on Israel, Wasserman Schultz’s second stop was a fundraiser in support of Congressional candidate Keith Fitzgerald.   National party leaders have tapped Sarasota Democrat Keith Fitzgerald as one of their best bets to beat an incumbent in the 2012 election, which is sure to keep a spotlight on our area that goes beyond our role as a presidential battleground.