I love working on domestic policy issues and solving problems. I do not consider myself either a liberal RINO (Republican in name only) or an ultra-right conservative. I hate labels but if I had to own one, I’d say that I am a Ronald Reagan Republican and that I believe that someone I agree with 85% of the time is indeed an ally.
I was an appointee of the USDA (under President Ronald Reagan – 1985-1986), an appointee of the US Dept. of Labor (under President George W. Bush – 2002-2006), and an Alternate to the California Coastal Commission (under Gov. Schwarzenegger – 2005-2006).
Since I moved to California in 1998, I’ve watched ultra-conservatives beat their chests when someone they disagree with strays from a “party platform” line. It’s something I rarely saw my Presidents do – and while I refuse to speak for Ronald Reagan – I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have coined the divisive wedge issues and rhetoric in a Republican Party he called “home”. Democrats have the same issues in embracing their fringe elements. Somewhere in the middle lie those who will decide the 2012 elections.
Those who have chronicled Reagan best tell the story of a man who loved life, family, and friends and thrived on making California and our nation a better place. He believed in communities and neighborhoods and had an enormous love for those who chose this country for their economic freedom. Epic were his tales of two Irishman – one man named Reagan from California; another named O’Neill from Massachusetts. When I worked for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, O’Neill had penned a photograph of himself, Dole and Reagan – “We Three, Americans First.”
Former California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown tells of how he and then-Governor Reagan assembled toy trains and took time from their legislative battles to speak as people – not party leaders. Ronald Reagan didn’t think of either the California Speaker or the U.S. House Speaker as an enemy. Anyone who agreed with you 85% of the time was a friend. If you could agree on principles, you can always find solutions to the most difficult problems.
Enter two-time Iraq War Veteran Nathan Fletcher, a photogenic war hero married to power woman Mindy Tucker Fletcher, who leads her husband’s women’s coalition. Nathan is running for Mayor of San Diego. His recent switch from GOP to Independent ruffled feathers of right wing activists and led operatives of his former party to say he couldn’t be trusted. This seemed ridiculous to those who know the man. Fletcher put his life on the line for his country, served as the tactical strategist for Assembly Republicans, got more of his own bills signed into law than any other Republican in his first term, and is the only candidate with a comprehensive, thoughtful plan for the city he loves.
I saw a lot of “The-Reagan-I-Remember” in Nathan Fletcher this week in Silicon Valley at the home of Chris Kelly. You might remember Kelly as an entry in the 2010 Democrat sweepstakes for California Attorney General and Facebook’s privacy officer until his 2010 run for office. Fletcher and Kelly worked together on child safety and anti-trafficking issues. Kelly believes Fletcher is the right guy to bring San Diego into the future. Like so many of us, Republicans and Democrats, Kelly is frustrated by what politics has become today – focused on the 1% and the 5% rather than the 85%.
Those who believe in innovation and education in a knowledge economy understand the value of high growth economies and entrepreneurs. Fletcher believes technology is about empowering individuals. He wants to simplify regulations so more businesses will come to San Diego.
Party operatives paid by Republicans and Democrats are waging war against Fletcher. They worry about the 1% and the 5% and have spent hundreds of thousands in negative advertising against Fletcher. Republican DeMaio supposedly infused another $100,000 in his negative attacks this week after using the California Republican Party label on his negative advertising campaign against Fletcher last week.
Party operatives see victory by playing on voters’ fears. The right shows his photos of Governor Jerry Brown while the left mails pictures with former POW John McCain. Both parties fear that if they run against Fletcher, they will lose in November.
While petty, these attacks won’t stop Fletcher. His tours of duty in Iraq and Africa and life experiences as a legislator paint a picture of the warrior, the mentor, the innovator, and the leader. His Dad was a factory worker; his Mom an advocate for children. His scars are deep, losing two cousins in the war in Afghanistan. He has watched people die in three countries while on active duty as a Marine.
He wants to re-define San Diego as an innovative, global city. He believes education provides people of all colors access to the American dream and wants to help lead a re-birth of San Diego. Reaganites would call it “a shining city on a hill” with a beachside setting.
He has an innovation plan to promote biotechnology, info tech, and high growth industries. He’s got a good plan for our schools and yes, he’ll fix your potholed-filled streets and highways too.
The reason that both Democrats and Republicans don’t want to run against Nathan Fletcher is because he has an uncanny ability to unite supporters across the political spectrum and embodies the character, independence and stamina we once saw in great leaders like Ronald Reagan.
San Diego should vote Nathan Fletcher into a “top two” position on June 5th and elect him their Mayor in November. He’ll inspire others who wish to achieve the American dream for their children. His candidacy and approach is a better choice than continuing the gridlock that stifles our state and our country today.