A dour German philosopher once said: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Alan Grayson is a perfect example of the visionary leader who is just far enough ahead of the pack to first garner ridicule for his ideas, then violent opposition, and finally receive the acceptance of the issues being self-evident.
One of my favorite examples of this was his prescience two months prior to the upheaval in Ferguson, when Grayson introduced an amendment to prevent local police departments from buying surplus military equipment. The amendment failed just days before the nation was shocked to see what a militarized police force looks like in the aftermath of the Michael Brown killing.
Then, because the matter had become self-evident, President Obama did exactly what Grayson proposed via executive order.
Of course, we all remember Rep. Grayson’s presentation on the Affordable Care Act when he charged that the Republican plan is “don’t get sick and if you do, die quickly.” Then, Charlene Dill actually did die quickly because Republicans in Florida refuse to expand ACA Medicaid funding. This young mother lost her life, just as the Congressman foretold, precisely for the reasons he put forth.
The bold progressive from Florida’s 9th District was also early to the debate on spying by the National Security Agency, brought to light by Edward Snowden’s leaks. While most of the country was calling Snowden a traitor, Grayson cautioned restraint, warning that if true, these revelations could cause significant harm to our tech industries that rely on providing secure products and services. Earlier this year we found out that foreign approval of American technology brands fell by a third, and our cloud computing industry is poised to see as much as $35 billion wiped off the ledger because of the spying revelations.
Yesterday, none other than former Attorney General Eric Holder came full circle, admitting that Snowden’s leaks ‘spurred an important debate.’
Alan Grayson took the lead in all of these difficult issues. He didn’t wait for the parade to leave and then jump in front of it to pretend he was there all along. Instead he got out in front early, shaping debate on what would become matters of enormous importance.
But wait, there’s more.
Here at home, Grayson was a staunch supporter of an earned sick time initiative in Orange County in 2012. The proposal called for hourly workers to earn time off for illness, or to care for a sick child. It set off a firestorm of controversy, revealing disturbing patterns of lobbyist influence reaching right down to the County Commission where commissioners and the Mayor texted corporate lobbyists during the decisive public hearing, receiving valuable information on how to quash it.
The Congressman With Guts appeared at numerous press conferences to show his support for earned sick time, and introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives. Now even President Obama and candidate Hillary Clinton are pushing for these reforms nationally.
Lastly, while many in the Democratic party were angling to form a bipartisan agreement to cut Social Security and Medicare, Grayson criticized the “grand bargain” that led to the sequester cuts. While some, like Senate candidate Patrick Murphy were forming alliances with Republican colleagues to make sure “everything is on the table,” Grayson refused to mince words. “Somebody has to say… we’re not going to strip money from people in need, we’re not going to throw grandma from the train.”
It’s not easy to stand up to members of your own party, but when they’re wrong, such as on cutting Social Security and Medicare, count me as one person who is quite glad to have a leader who has no problem with truth-telling and has the guts to put forth a bold vision that’s right for America, when everyone else is seeking political cover.