In the last few weeks a fair number of people have asked me about running for Congress if Tammy Baldwin gives up her seat to run for the Senate. Here's my answer.
Some of these questions about Congress have been in the spirit of urgings as in, "You should seriously think about running for Congress." Others have been more in the spirit of, "You wouldn't seriously think about running for Congress, would you?"
I have to admit I considered it briefly. I did because I think this Congress has moved so ridiculously far to the right that it needs some equal energy on the left to balance it out a little bit. Why is it that every right-wing idea gets an airing, while liberals keep pulling their punches? How is it that in a deep recession when stimulus investments were the answer we got trapped in a debate about just how much more damage we wanted to do to the economy by cutting domestic spending?
So, if I went to Congress I'd go to push for another stimulus package big enough to pull us out of the re-recession we seem to be in; I'd go to pass a constitutional amendment that officially defines marriage as none of the government's damn business; I'd go to build commuter rail, streetcars, bike paths and really nice bus systems in every city in America and high speed rail to connect them all; I'd go to pass meaningful gun control laws to slow the mindless carnage that results from there being just too damn many guns around; I'd go to do something strong to stop global climate change, starting with rejecting the notion that fossil fuels have to be the largest part of our energy portfolio even for the next couple of decades; I'd go to extend Medicare to everyone; I'd go to outlaw the death penalty everywhere in America; I'd go to stop subsidizing corporate agriculture and start providing real incentives for locally grown food.
I'd go to Congress because I believe in the soul, the hanging curve ball, high fiber, good scotch, that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. I believe in the sweet spot, opening your presents Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.
Oh wait, that last part was from Crash Davis in Bull Durham, but I agree with him on those points as well.
So, there's a lot to do, but I'm not going to run for Congress for a variety of reasons. One is that as a freshman member of what is sadly likely to remain the minority party, I'd be lucky to get recognized at the Democratic Club much less get any of my agenda recognized. Another reason is that there are a lot of good Democrats lining up for the job, most of them friends of mine and all of them with the energy and ideas to fill the big shoes left by Tammy Baldwin. And last I'm not going to run because I don't want to be a congressman.
Politics was spoiled for me by having the best job in politics there is: mayor of Madison. Nothing else holds a candle to that experience because there's so much you can get done as mayor of a community with the resources and creativity that we have here.
Cynics among you will also point out that I'm not running because I have as much chance of getting elected as Adam Dunn has of winning a batting title this year. (Those of you who are not baseball fans can read the New York Times story.) Actually, I think I'd have a fair shot at it, but it's not for me.
Our next congressperson? It ain't me, babe.