Marleine Bastien’s campaign for Congress to replace Kendrick Meek representing District 17 first came to my attention when she was being considered for endorsement by the Miami chapter of Progressive Democrats of America. PDA is an activist group that focuses on endorsements, rallies and protests that involve the like-minded: those who focus on progressive causes within the structure of the Democratic Party. Marleine Bastien has been a community organizer as well as an activist, however. Organizing communities means reaching out to and involving groups and individuals in a wide spectrum of knowledge and beliefs and getting them focused on how they can effect improvements in their daily lives through social programs and political participation.
For the past 30 years, Marleine Bastien has been deeply involved in efforts to improve the lives of her community both as a social worker at Jackson Memorial Hospital and as the founder of Haitian Women of Miami, along with her participation in activism in Florida and in Washington D.C. In reviewing the answers in her questionnaire submitted to PDA’s Miami chapter for an endorsement consideration, Bastien demonstrated her commitment to progress on issues across the board, from her objection to funding for continual war to her support for equality for the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered community (GLBT).
PDA Miami voted to extend their endorsement to Marleine Bastien, and PDA in Washington then launched their efforts to publicize and support Bastien’s campaign. I attended Democratic club meetings and candidate forums throughout the district in order to personally speak with and hear the views and positions of all of the candidates. One forum that I could not attend on a Thursday afternoon last week was made available on-line. Hosted by Michael Putney of WPLG’s Channel 10 at FIU’s North Campus, the forum included all the candidates in the race for District 17’s Congressional seat- almost a dozen of them. All of the candidates are highly accomplished. Some of them are currently serving in elected office in Tallahassee. Several of them are highly educated, including one candidate serving on the Miami Gardens city commission who has an Ivy League education. All are impressive and are likely capable of holding a higher elected office. For Ms. Bastien, there was a lot of competition to impress the audience and to demonstrate her knowledge and her capabilities. The video of the candidate forum at FIU can be seen here.
Even before that forum was held, I had spoken personally with Ms. Bastien and seven other candidates and reviewed the positions and the qualifications of each (Shirley Gibson, Mayor of Miami Gardens, still does not have a working link to her “Issues” positions on her website). I had already committed myself as a supporter and a volunteer for the Bastien Campaign for Congress, and I had visited the campaign office and made calls to voters. There was much left to learn about all of the candidates, however, and one of them even stopped by my house when he was in the neighborhood. Bastien had performed very well at the candidate forums I had attended in Highland Oaks and Miami Gardens, but the race for District 17 has a particularly large selection of candidates to choose from.
Well, the forum held at FIU was the largest thus far and included those who have had much higher profiles than the others because of a personal fortune (“I’m Rudy Moise, and I approve of this message.”) and a unique persona (big, sequined hats, specifically). Watch the video, however. It’s just over an hour long. Marleine Bastien blew the rest of them off of the stage, and the audience clearly knew it.
Bastien responded as everyone else was expected to in regards to support for Israel, yet she was the only one to answer, “However…” when she announced that it is imperative that all sides come together to commit to and plan for “lasting peace.”
Each candidate was asked to label themselves politically, i.e. a “conservative,” a “liberal,” a “progressive,” etc. One declined to choose any label but declared himself simply politically involved. Several more chose “centrist,” including one of the applicants for an endorsement from Progressive Democrats of America. Marleine Bastiene declared herself, of course, a “progressive” who is proud to have the endorsement of PDA as well as the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Bastien is the only candidate for the district who declares her determination to divert the tens of billions of dollars being spent on war and military operations overseas towards putting resources where they are really needed in the district: schools, jobs, protecting our environment, improving infrastructure and providing health care. Most of the other candidates in the race declared their intentions to continue funding for war in Afghanistan.
Marleine Bastien’s vision for holding a Congressional seat is less in line with the powerful moneyed interests in Washington and more representative of the citizens on the ground. Those are the people hoping for true leadership that fights for their interests in District 17 and in the nation. All of the other candidates in the race appear to dream of being an accepted and respected member of the establishment in Washington. Marleine Bastien is determined to take on the establishment and earn the lasting respect of her constituents in her district by fighting for their true interests.
Every day last week I went to the polling place in my area to campaign for the candidates I support. On the weekend, the Rudy Moise campaign continued to demonstrate Dr. Moise’s personal fortune by not only running frequent TV commercials in which the candidate does not speak until the end (“I’m Rudy Moise, and I approve of this message.”) and sending glossy mailings, but also by erecting a giant tent under which paid supporters handed out fliers, barbecued hot dogs and blasted music and pre-recorded announcements for their big-money candidate via giant loudspeakers piled on top of one another.
Despite such efforts to gain name recognition with slick and frequent advertising along with loudspeakers and hot dogs, Marleine Bastien has moved to the lead position in a poll commissioned by Florida New Majority. Bastien’s surprising and gratifying lead is a result of her meeting the needs and expectations of voters in the district who are seeking leadership and attention to values that represent progress and truly rational priorities. They want the interests of working families and individuals who are struggling to improve their daily lives and their communities to be put ahead of the interests of industries that profit from war and from moving jobs away from home and from disabling the power of the voters to attend to their own needs and to securing their rights.
There’s so little leadership in American politics now, and yet that’s exactly what Marleine Bastien is about. True leadership. The vibrance of her personality and her skill in organizing communities for direct action, including her involvement in helping to craft legislation with her political allies for the benefit of the people she’s been fighting for over so many years is what has led to the attention and the admiration that she’s achieved in this race for District 17’s Congressional seat.
Her lead is slim and tenuous, however, because other candidates have a lot of money to spend and entrenched political interests to placate. Despite Bastien’s previously lower profile and her modest campaign funds compared to other candidates in the race, the Marleine Bastien Campaign for Congress has been remarkably impressive. Her campaign’s determination and ability to reach the public, to create a viable message and to portray an image of Marleine Bastien in a crowded race has been thoroughly professional and effective.
She needs your help, however. Get to know Marleine Bastien. Watch the video of the candidate forum moderated by Michael Putney. Meet the candidate. Visit her campaign office and the campaign website: www.votebastien.com
It’s also vital that you make an immediate donation to help in the last days of the primary election campaign cycle, talk to your friends and neighbors about Marleine Bastien and, of course, VOTE!
It’s so important that Marleine Bastien wins the seat to represent District 17, and it’s so possible. Help make it happen. Support Bastien. Talk about Bastien. Vote Bastien. Get involved in getting a true leader and a true representative of her community nominated to the United States Congress on August 24th.
Marleine Bastien told the audience at her most recent candidate forum that should we elect any of the candidates for District 17, we will win. If we vote for Marliene Bastien, she said, however… “You will win BIG!” The audience roared their enthusiasm.
She’s right. It’s time for our district to WIN BIG with a true leader who has been endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America and The National Organization for Women and who has led and fought for her community over many years that have gained her profound respect from community leaders.
Vote for Marleine Bastien in the Democratic Primary election and help to ensure that everyone that you know in District 17 does the same.