Raised in Town and Country in St. Louis, Byron DeLear, the child of classical musicians, pursued a career in music that led him to California, where he ended up as a media producer. He was at Twentieth Century Fox in the aftermath of 9/11. That event galvanized him politically. He distrusted the facile justification for Bush’s “war on terror” (“the terrorists hate democracy and freedom”). In fact, he distrusted it so much that he left his career in the entertainment industry, sold his house in Sherman Oaks, and co-founded a non-profit organization that promoted conflict resolution to resolve the Israel/Palestinian standoff.
That’s how his career to improve this crazy world was launched. Between then and now, he was also the producer and host of the internationally broadcast “Global Peace Network” and he ran as a Green Party Congressional candidate against Howard Berman in California in 2006.
Last year, when he was in St. Louis visiting his family, members of the West County Democrats urged him to move back home and run against Todd Akin. Byron took two or three months to sound out community members and to assess whether he could raise sufficient funds to make a credible challenge to Akin. He decided to take on the challenge and has moved back home.
Now that he’s in it, he’s pumped. And he’s everywhere. I attend lots of political events, and it’s a rare one where I don’t run into him. When he’s introduced at them, he booms out that he’s running to challenge that political dinosaur, Todd Akin–always to loud applause. Indeed, getting rid of Akin is looking less and less like a pipe dream. On primary day, voter turnout in the Republican stronghold of the second congressional district, West St. Louis County, shook out this way: 54,068 people took Democratic ballots; 51,581 people took Republican ballots.
The question is whether DeLear will be the Democrat chosen to run. Five people had announced their candidacy at last count. The most serious about winning appears to be Mike Garman, who’s been hard at work for several months. But DeLear is counting on getting out his progressive message, because he believes that voters will be drawn to it.
For starters, he is disgusted with the way that the leadership of the Democratic Party has, because of the infusion of corporate campaign contributions, lost its soul. “They’re selling out the interests of the American people to the highest corporate bidder,” he says.
DeLear wants to see “a separation of buck and state.” He used that phrase when he spoke here in St. Louis in 2006. Jim Trout asked Byron’s permission to adopt the phrase and used it when he (Trout) challenged the Republican plan to lift campaign finance limits. Trout got a judge named Limbaugh to agree that the new law was unconstitutional. Byron likens Trout and his successful lawsuit to the little engine that could, and DeLear intends to take that same kind of determination to Washington.
“It’s absolutely essential, now that we’re moving into this Democratic majority, for us to make the argument for public financing of campaigns on the federal level. 67,000 lobbyists infect D.C. right now.”
Another opportunity DeLear craves is the chance to work for universal health care. He would support Conyers’ bill, HR676, but if he’s forced to settle for less, he sees the plans promoted by Clinton and Obama as creating milestones toward Medicare for All. It’s important to change our national priority “so that we provide care for those who need it.”
The economy and jobs, naturally, loom large in DeLear’s mind. He denounces the “Enronization of the American Economy and the outsourcing of American prosperity.” For starters, he proposes that we rebuild our manufacturing sector by creating a million Green-collar jobs. We could employ people to build a sustainable energy grid, supplied by wind, solar and geothermal sources.
Furthermore, we need to repeal NAFTA and CAFTA, which have assaulted working families on both sides of the border. American labor has been getting the short end of the stick ever since Reagan, he says, and our government needs to begin defending the rights of workers to organize and collectively bargain.
Last but not least, DeLear cites his support for a withdrawal from Iraq, for public education and for women’s reproductive rights.
He wants our troops out of Iraq, wants the “fraudulent, deceptive and tragic campaign” there to come to an end.
On education: He believes we must make it a priority to fund education first and jokes that the first piece of legislation he will propose is that lawyers and teachers swap salaries.
As for the abortion issue, he worries that with the appointments of Roberts and Alito to the high court, the coup may be complete. We must do all we can, then, to protect the policies that O’Connor and Ginsberg championed so that Roe v. Wade will not be overturned.
If you’d like a look at Byron DeLear in action, take a look at the video below from his website.