For those of you out there who still think that voting does no good, there was an amazing and inspiring story in last week's Boston Globe about Carol Shea-Porter, winner of the congressional seat in New Hampshire's First District.
Shea-Porter is one of the very few people in the age of big-money campaigns who can watch "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and truly see herself. She's of a political breed that many believed was extinct: the angry citizen who decides to run for Congress -- and wins.
No other newly elected representative came from as far off the national radar screen as Shea-Porter, a 53-year-old community activist who never before ran for public office. She defeated Representative Jeb Bradley last week in a race that shattered the myths of what it takes to win a congressional seat.
She had no slick ads or Washington consultants. Her campaign was run by a medieval scholar who worked alongside a nutritionist, an accident investigator, and a pair of court reporters. The Democratic establishment brushed her off as unelectable. She was outspent 5 to 1.
According to the story, the average House seat "costs" close to $1,000,000 in terms of the amount needed for advertising. Shea-Porter spent only about 12% of that figure - $123,000 - the least amount of any of the House candidates nationwide. And she won! Mind you Shea-Porter is the first woman New Hampshire ever sent to congress, and the first Democrat from the district over 30 years!
One thing that caught my eye about about part of her strategy:
After Bush won reelection, she began tracking [Rep Jeb] Bradley at town hall meetings to confront him about his support for the Bush agenda and the Iraq war...
Very effective, and something any of us could do, either individually or in a tag-team group with our own Representatives.
For more excellent reading on how she accomplished this amazing feat, see:
Maybe I'm na´ve, but I think this story demonstrates why Americans should honor and exercise their privilege to vote. This encourages and empowers average citizens like Carol shows us that we can still, if we put our minds to it, take back the reigns of power of our government.