While the President is elected every 4 years, and a Senator every 6, members of the House of Representatives are up for elections every two years. Which means every two years, every member of Congress must face off against whatever challenger happens to be running against them. John Boehner has been safe in his seat for many years, without a strong challenger running against him, and always enjoyed double-digit leads over any challenger, never getting under 60% of the vote. Many times, the Democratic Party did not even bother running a candidate against Congressman Boehner.
However, in 2014, times are changing.
Meet Andrew Hounshell, an Army Veteran, steelworker, father, husband. Here he is with Ohio Senator, Sherrod Brown:
He is still getting organized, but so far has been pounding the pavement, engaging in the old fashioned method of campaigning. Instead of fancy ad blitz campaigns paid for with big corporate money, he’s out there meeting people, taking his message to them. His donation page is set up for the small time donor. He has 20 months in which to get his message to the people of the 8th District of Ohio. And he is wasting no time in doing it.
But, as to why he is running, I will leave explaining that up to his own words:
Why I’m A Democrat
by Andrew Hounshell
I was 5 years old when I heard the dreadful news that our President had been shot in a failed assassination attempt. Even at that young age, I felt the impact the event had on the grown-ups around me. On the way to the grocery store, I asked my mother if we could get a get well card and send it to President Reagan. Together, we picked out one and mailed it to the White House. A few weeks later we received an official letter on White House Stationary from the President, thanking me for the well wishes. Our local newspaper ran a story, “Middletown Boy Gets White House Response,” and I was the talk of the town. From that moment on, this 5 year old from southwest Ohio loved President Reagan and thought he could do no wrong.
Fast forward 10 or 12 years, my brother was stationed in Germany while serving in the Army and was being transferred to Ft. Lewis, Washington unable to take any leave to visit his family due to his orders. His wife had given birth to our parent’s first grandchild and they had yet been able to see him. As legend goes (time clouds the memories in my family), someone made a call to our Congressman’s office (then a fairly new John Boehner) and my brother was able to get his orders changed so he could take leave and visit with his family before reporting to Ft. Lewis. In my young impressionable eyes, John Boehner was personally responsible for me getting to see my nephew for the first time, and getting to spend some precious time with my oldest brother after not seeing him for years. Once again, a young Andrew Hounshell was quite impressed by yet another Republican politician showing how much they cared about my family. These guys were great!
What I didn’t know was what was happening to other families around me. If I had been older than 5 years old when I bought that Get Well card, I might have known that it was only five months later, when our President fired over 11,000 PATCO striking Union workers; a move which has been described as starting “America’s downward spiral;” that our nation’s wages would stagnant for the rest of my life. That decision didn’t affect me as a kid, but nearly 30 years later, it is an event that persuaded me to take a deeper look into policy decisions that our elected officials make and ask myself a deeper question. Could it be the dear Republicans I grew up admiring, were not as supportive of the very middle class that I now spend my adult life fighting for?
Memories like mine can mold and shape a person’s voting patterns for a lifetime. Luckily for me, my thirties brought on a time of clarity. There wasn’t one particular event that turned on a light bulb, but rather a combination of many: college, union work, community work, my father relying on the VA for health care, my mother relying on her Social Security to survive, in-laws going without health insurance because they can’t afford it after my father in-law was laid-off from Delphi, having 3 children at one time (the list goes on and on). I realized that through policy, our elected officials do have a huge impact on our livelihood. Through cuts in Social Security, appointments to the NLRB, cuts to the VA, immigration reform (or lack thereof), tax loopholes for corporations, subsidies to oil companies, etc., our middle class has been eroded and we are not taking care of those who can no longer take care of themselves.
The Republicans I loved as a child, and I thought loved me back, were the very ones who were supporting this erosion. How could this be?
The five year old in me feels so betrayed. It turns out, I’ve been caught up in a very real version of the fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. At first glance, Grandma looked sweet and innocent, with her thank you card from the White House and an a few weeks of leave for a soldier to visit his family. Now that I am all grown up and have a family of my own to support, I see what big teeth you have, and how you have used them to take a huge bite out of the Middle Class. Like many voters in Ohio’s 8th District and in this country, I see the GOP for what it really is. No disguise is good enough to hide the Big Bad Wolf these days.
Now I dedicate my time to trying to make this world a better place for my children and that includes supporting those who actually support the working class in this country. In 2012, when I looked for that person in the 8th District of Ohio, the ballot was blank. It was then that I decided in 2014 there was going to be a Democratic option for my family, neighbors, coworkers, and community; an option that leads to re-building our Middle Class and a stronger America. No More Boehner. Our Time is Now.
We could not say it any better ourselves.
If you want to support Andrew Hounshell in his fight to remove John Boehner from congress, feel free to donate to his campaign, or at least drop him a note on his Facebook page. And we wish him the best of luck?
Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.
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