"Where were you when [Donald] Trump was elected?" asked a man speaking on behalf of the Democratic Club of West Orange County (DCWOC). "Where were you when he was inaugurated?"
The crowd pondered these questions at the District 48 candidates' forum at the Greenbrook Club House in Fountain Valley the evening of Jan. 4. The room went eerily silent, at which point I realized that question has the same spine-chilling effect as "Where were you when JFK was assassinated?" or "Where were you on 9/11?" Guess why? Because Nov. 8, 2016, was the day America basically got assassinated, and Jan. 20, 2017, was the day everyone realized what a royal embarrassment our country had become.
With hopes to unseat current U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, dueling candidates Harley Rouda and Boyd Roberts answered questions from the public about the environment, what businesses and groups support them, and how they'll handle certain situations if elected. Laura Oatman is also a candidate for Rohrabacher's seat, but she wasn't able to make it to the meeting because she had the flu (who doesn't have the plague right now?). Pat Harris, the Democratic candidate running for U.S. Senate, was also at the meeting and spoke on these issues as well.
There were nearly 65 people in attendance. According to a woman filling the water station at the snack bar, that's 20 more people than the usual attendance for the DCWOC's monthly meeting. The silver lining in this era of political chaos? The American people care more about politics than they have in decades. "Trump may do more for the progressive movement than Hillary [Clinton] would've ever done," Rouda, a Laguna Beach resident, said to me as he mingled with the crowd before addressing them. "People are so pissed-off and so attentive to what's going on politically that this step backward will actually move us forward."
As much as I'd rather saw my own arm off than give Trump credit for doing anything productive, Rouda's right. Although Trump may go down as the worst U.S. President in history, people have woken up—and they're continuing to wake up. For roughly the past three decades, the American people have given little to no shits about what's happening in politics, with the exception of a few demonstrations, such as the Iraq invasion protest in Chicago. No one understood, and no one cared. Everyone has been complacent and distracted—just as the government's encouraged us to be. (It's crazy how powerful capitalism and reality TV are, right?!)
So Rouda makes a solid point. And it's because of this collective awakening, people have also become privy to the asinine behavior of our most loathed congressman: Dirty Dana. The cities of Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Newport Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach and Westminister comprise the 48th District. The Weekly has written about Rohrabacher (or, if you're among the misguided in the cannabis realm, the "Weed Jesus") for more than a decade, so we've got a lot of material on him.
He's been re-elected every time during the past 25 years, but he doesn't actually live in Orange County. He has admitted to knowing Jeff Sessions since elementary school. He's homies with the orange man and is being investigated for collusion in the Russia scandal. And, according to reports by R. Scott Moxley, our Congressman lives like Jabba the Hutt.
As Moxley graphically reported, Rohrabacher's million-dollar rental home in Costa Mesa was left in a condition even filthy frat bros would be ashamed of: "Massive black stains and muck covered the carpet throughout the home. Sticky, grime-encased, damaged, rusted appliances. . . . Blinds were cracked. Black dirt ruined the appearance of once-sparkling tile floors. Walls inexplicably contained odd holes, nail polish, wax and some smelly substance that may have been feces. Every toilet seat in the house was broken. . . . Clumps of hair and remnants of what may have been balloons or some other rubbery material clogged sinks. . . . Thick, solidified grease rendered the air-suction vent above the kitchen stove useless."
Rohrabacher's wife, Rhonda, used the second floor of the house as her bedroom. It had a massive, strange, lubricant-like stain—Moxley describes it as something you might expect on the floor of a Hollywood sex club—that had seeped through thick carpet, tarnishing a hardwood floor.
If that didn't make you cringe, this will: It was also reported that white maggots squirmed underneath a kitchen stove.
So that's who our congressman is. At this point, it almost seems that having a mannequin as congressman would be better than having Rohrabacher in office, especially because he usually spends less than a week—cumulatively—in Orange County every year.
The bigger mess is that we only have until June 5 to figure out who's going to take Rohrabacher's place—and we don't exactly have much room for error. So here's the lowdown on three democratic candidates who were featured at the DCWOC last week:
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Rouda is a businessman, philanthropist and attorney. He received his MBA from Ohio State University and his J.D. from Capital University Law School. His motive for running for office is to bring common sense, fiscal responsibility and social pragmatism to District 48 and the country, according to a statement. Despite donating to Republican campaigns up until 2004, he's stated publically that he's a Democrat and not only voted for, but also truly believed in Hillary. He believes in climate change (thank God) and clean energy and is an advocate for science. He's passionate about women's rights and supports public education and affordable access to higher education.
Like Rouda, Roberts is also from Laguna Beach. He's a small-business owner and real-estate broker. He holds a BA in economics from Cal State San Bernardino, studied at Waseda University in Tokyo and has 14 years of experience as a commodities broker. He voted for Bernie Sanders and wants to implement a cost-effective governance in which the public has full access to publicly owned resources. He also wants to make sure the Transportation Corridor Agencies are held accountable for their promise to make the toll roads free after 20 years of fee collection.
Lastly, Oatman is a business owner, community activist and mother of five. She earned her BA at UC Irvine and a master's in architecture from UCLA. She reportedly plans to bring shared values and forward-thinking solutions back to Washington, D.C. She is not a career politician or a billionaire. Rather, she is willing to ensure her kids and grandkids have the best education. She wants the best health care and a healthy, sustainable, peaceful planet, too.
This Saturday, there's another debate among congressional candidates at Harbour View Elementary School in Huntington Beach. If you hate what's going on in the county, state and country, this weekend's your time to do something about it!