I arrived in New Haven in 1993, when the promise of the end of Cold War was still fresh. There was actually buzz about how we would be able to redirect military spending and invest in our infrastructure, build homes for the homeless, feed the hungry, reduce teen pregnancy.
Yet somehow the military spenders soldiered on, hoisting the banner of “preparedness.” We had to maintain our capacity to build nuclear subs, was one of their arguments — thus saving jobs at Groton’s Electric Boat. And there was our Rosa DeLauro among them, saving jobs by maintaining our ability to build bigger and faster and better weaponry.
A few decades (and elections and elections and elections) later, I have done a 180.
My experience at United Way of Greater New Haven has shown me that DeLauro is an effective advocate in Washington for issues that matter: ending homelessness, feeding hungry kids, protecting workers (especially women), keeping our food safe.
I had the opportunity to cover a panel discussion Monday night featuring DeLauro and Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes (at left in photo) about publicly financed elections, for the New Haven Independent. Sarbanes’ “Government By the People Act” is certainly a step in the right direction.
DeLauro was riled up at the panel, raising her fist against the march toward fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, another dastardly trade deal engineered by “new” Democrats, including the Obama administration, in concert with their corporate and industrial masters and their paid lobbyists, with plenty of Republican support. The negotiations are proceeding largely in secret, and the leaked details have shown the potential for the deal to weaken our environmental and food safety regs, and displace still more workers.
I checked the Independent story a few minutes ago, and I hear my old inner voice in some of the comments that have been posted in response: a deep cynicism that says that publicly financed elections can’t work, a similar distrust of DeLauro herself, especially since she has proven pretty adept at building an enormous war chest.
There’s some truth to these critiques. But there’s truth, as well, to the Rosa DeLauro who is unafraid to challenge President Obama on free trade. Who has delivered on food safety, family leave, and homelessness, and more.
Last November was the first time I was proud to pull the lever for Rosa DeLauro. Last Monday night reminded me of why.