Kossack Jerry Northington (possum) for Congress!

When Jerry Northington began letting people know he would be running for Congress, my first reaction was that I would love to help write for him. My second reaction was that this was Jerry Northington, and that he needs no help writing! Jerry has an extraordinary combination of intelligence and passion, eloquence and conviction, and anyone who has read his online writings, under the pseudonym “possum,” knows that Jerry’s huge heart and tough but gentle soul are exactly what this country now needs in its elected officials.

As many of you know, “possum” has been administrating the human rights blog, Never In Our Names. Everything you need know about Jerry is in that encapsulated. His idealism in the causes of peace, justice, and human rights are at the core of absolutely everything he has done in the realms of politics and social action. He has lived it. He has worked for it. And now, he wants to take his ideals to Washington.

Who is Jerry Northington?

As explained in his diary, Black Annie, Jerry grew up in a different time, in the deep south. He saw, first-hand, the crippling effects of racism, and how it poisons the racists, their victims, and our entire culture. Writing of a woman he knew, as a child, Jerry observes:

Annie’s life was restricted far beyond her schooling and housing.  She lived in a society where “White Only” signs were posted on water fountains, public restrooms, and store windows.  Lunch counters admitted no blacks to their facilities in those years.  The distinction between races was stark and ever present.  The difference between the facilities offered to black and white residents was severe.  Water fountains offered to blacks were often inoperable.  Restroom facilities offered were mostly so unacceptable in condition that most people would avoid their use at all costs.  Blacks coming to town for shopping or business planned to be back home before needing any public accommodation.

In those days of my childhood black people were not given the status of human in most respects.  The society that surrounded blacks in those days saw them as somehow animalistic as the various epithets used as adjectives clearly showed.  Today we see the same degrading behavior toward the various foreign populations both in and out of this country.  One satellite radio channel uses derogatory terms to describe the opposition fighters in Iraq.  Many such epithets were applied in Viet Nam as has been discussed here on NION already.  The abuse of human rights has a long history in our country.  We have much work to do to reverse the effects of our past action in this area.  Progress is being made, but we can never forget our history lest we fall back into old patterns once again.

Certainly, the bigotry Jerry observed, as a child, still poisons our national culture. Its roots underlie so much of what is still so wrong, both in our domestic and foreign policies. But, for Jerry, his life experience would soon show him yet another devastating result of this poison. As he writes on his campaign website:

War is hell. There is no kind or gentle way to avoid those words. By the time I reached Vietnam, I could see the failure of the US Army to prepare well for the situation. We were trained in conventional warfare and then sent to fight a guerilla operation. We were kids sent to do a man’s work as the old saying goes. No amount of preparation could have readied us for what we were to face. Only experience taught us the lessons of survival, and too many did not live to share their experience.

The sights and scenes play back in my mind like a bad movie. I can return to those minutes and hours at any moment of the day without hesitation. The memories are as clear today as the day I came home all those years ago. I was lucky to be spared much of the worst of what war can bring one’s way. I am among the fortunate ones who came home alive, if not so well as before. Many thousands of my fellow soldiers came home in caskets. What each and every one of us endured was more than enough to teach me the futility and uselessness of all war let alone one of occupation.

I came home a very changed person. That returning was the beginning of my time as an antiwar activist. The intervening years have seen increased involvement in protest until today when I stand for election to Congress in the House of Representatives. I stand as an antiwar activist and campaigner for the people. The lessons of the past are very clear. War is not the way to win hearts and minds. We must pursue more peaceful solutions if humankind is to survive. There is so much we humans can accomplish if we begin to work together for a better world. If we continue our militaristic ways we may have no future whatsoever.

It’s not only about a particular war- whether Vietnam or Iraq- it’s about the very nature of war, and the culture that so often pursues it, without cause. When this war finally ends, we, as a nation, must reflect not only on the political machinations that got us into it, but on the ease with which we, as a nation, accepted the lies. The jingoism. The false bravado. The glorification of violence. All of these are ingrained in our national psyche, and Jerry is exactly the kind of person we need to participate in the official dialogue that will help us cleanse ourselves.

A Vet, twice over, Jerry came home and became a veterinarian. Again, we see Jerry’s fundamental sense of compassion, and his passion for healing. As his website explains:

Like his father, Jerry went on to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree, and was asked to teach neurology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine for four years. He eventually helped to establish a veterinary specialty hospital, and continues his practice as a veterinarian with a practice limited to neurology.

Did I mention that he’s smart? Did I mention that he’s motivated? Did I mention that his life is proof of the depth of his caring?

Let’s look at some more excerpts from his diaries.

In his own words

Homeless in the USA:

Homelessness is an issue that effects the entire community.  When people are homeless they are much more vulnerable to hate crimes and other crimes of the moment.  Women who find themselves homeless are likely to be raped within a few short weeks of hitting the streets.  Teens may turn to sex as their body may be the only remaining asset they have for survival on the streets.  The community suffers from the image of homeless people wandering the streets.  People complain about the homeless urinating on the street.  The tragedy is less the presence of urine on the street than that the urinating individual is homeless in America today.

The homeless among our society are invisible to most people.  Ignoring the homeless or wishing them away are not solutions.  We must face the issue and begin to seek solutions.  There is much evidence for the root causes of homelessness but now how do we find solutions?  Of course providing some measure of shelter removes people from the street.  Such shelters need to provide more than just a bed and food for the night.  People suffering longer term needs may also require drug and alcohol counseling along with basic job skill training.  Some people need mental health care.  Many homeless people are qualified for jobs and need help in that search.  Some need child care in order to take a job.  Job seekers need an address not identifiable as a shelter in order to rent an apartment once they get on their feet or even to get a job on the way to returning to stability.  Each individual must be evaluated and given specific care to meet their needs in the shelter situation.

Forced Tube Feeding–A Form Of Torture:

There are no pictures readily available to show the degree of restraint and the procedure involved in forced tube feeding.  That must be left to our individual imaginations.  The continued use of force feeding by tube insertion is tantamount to torture by its very nature.  The Bush administration continues to assert its right to use a variety of  “alternative procedures” for the interrogation and treatment of detainees.  Until and unless this treatment, including that of forced tube feeding is ended, there can be no justice for the detainees and no moral standing for the United States in the eyes of the world.

In the marvelous Words Have Suitcases, he contemplates the value of language and meaning, and how our linguistic choices reflect the meaning of our values:

Justice Stewart was said to think he “knew pornography when he saw it.”  Apparently society as a whole today feels much the same way as people choose to view certain sorts of images and to refuse others.  Even the use of language today is fraught with peril.  To speak of sex is considered somewhat less than polite in society.  And to speak of war in realistic circumstances is verboten.  The administration hides images of war and the returning dead Americans to “preserve the sensitive feelings of the public.”  Seems pretty strange that a society which allows movies like Hostel and its genre cannot view war images without being somehow offended.  And how can a person be offended by the word, fuck, and still allow torture to be an American pastime in the prison at Abu Graib?  Are we so desensitized to the words and the images that we no longer care?

In my personal world words are fine as themselves.  In and of themselves words are not harmful.  Nor do they offer specific benefit other than as descriptors.  All comes from the presentation.  In my mind war is obscene and to that end its images may be suppressed if obscenity is to be avoided in public.  On the other hand the images of war at least allow a public to be informed as to the reality of the situation.  When the public is not allowed to see images or hear words directly describing the horrors of war, then war loses much of its obscenity.

And I also recommend this entire diary, about discrimination and the government’s war on privacy- an issue on which Jerry is particularly focused: Privacy.

We’re used to politicians who posture and spin, and whose every move is meticulously calculated. How often do we see politicians who think and write like Jerry Northington? He’s a warrior for peace, a teacher and healer, a scientist with the soul of a poet. We don’t often have the chance to send such a person to Congress. We now do.

The race.

This will not be an easy race to win. Jerry’s Republican opponent, Mike Castle, is a long-time Delaware politician, and is considered, by some, to be a moderate. Some facts about Mike Castle:

Typical of an entrenched politician, he voted against the Lobbying Reform bill, H.RES.437:

Title: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2317) to amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require registered lobbyists to file quarterly reports on contributions bundled for certain recipients, and for other purposes and providing for the consideration of the bill (H.R. 2316) to provide more rigorous requirements with respect to disclosure and enforcement of lobbying laws and regulations, and for other purposes.

Typical of a modern Republican, he supports bills that limit American rights to privacy, such as S.1927:

Title: A bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to provide additional procedures for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence information and for other purposes.

And typical of Republican chickenhawks who never served in uniform, but have no problem sending those who do to fight and, possibly, die, he voted against H.RES.533:

Title: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2956) to require the Secretary of Defense to commence the reduction of the number of United States Armed Forces in Iraq to a limited presence by April 1, 2008, and for other purposes.

In April, Castle said:

I have disagreed with many aspects of our strategy in Iraq, but I feel strongly that requiring an arbitrary date for troop withdrawal would endanger our soldiers and undermine efforts to maintain stability in the Middle East.

It obviously hasn’t occurred to Castle that leaving our troops overworked and underprotected in the middle of a civil war might endanger them a little more than requiring a date for them to be brought home; and it obviously hasn’t occurred to Castle to ask himself what stability in the Middle East he thinks we’re maintaining. 

In July, Castle said:

While I believe strongly that we must change course in Iraq and bring our men and women home, it would be a mistake for Congress to think it could disregard the complexity of this conflict by simply picking a random date for withdrawal.

In other words, it’s hard work. He knows it’s hard. It’s so hard that he can’t seem to comprehend that the only way our troops will ever leave Iraq is if someone who isn’t afraid of “complexity” actually does the hard work of deciding on a date and method for them to come home. Clearly, Mike Castle is not up to such a job.

Bulldozing the gate

If this race were to be easy, it wouldn’t take a person like Jerry Northington to run it. Castle will be favored. It will take a lot of hard work, and a little luck, for Jerry to win. Jerry has never been afraid of a challenge, and he has never been afraid to do the work and make the sacrifices that are necessary for paradigmatic changes to occur. Once again, from his own writings:

Beyond Hope:

Protecting the parts of life I love requires action on my part.  And to sustain that action I must be able to believe my actions will result in positive changes.  I must be allowed to hope.  Otherwise life for me becomes less a positive and more a negative.  Then despair begins to set in.

Despair is all too easily found in our lives these days.  These are dark times in which little seems to be positive so often.  In my mind, hope is the wellspring from which despair may be overcome.  Hope for a better future allows me to work to that end without falling into the dark depression that is despair.  May you, too, find reasons to hope today.  Or at least find reasons for activism whatever those reasons may be.

Responding to Life Today:

The current issues with Congress and the apparent Dem failure is a fine example of a threatening outside event.  We can rant and rave and call them all the names we wish to assign or we can reach deep inside and find peace in ourselves and get back to work.  We can write, call, and Fax our Congress critters to let them know our disappointment and our annoyance.  Action to a positive end has its own rewards.  We may not always attain the goals set by our thoughts and actions, but at least we have the personal reward in knowing we were active.

As always action is the best medicine available in my life today.  I write letters to the editor, call my Congress critters, and stand a pair of weekly vigils for peace as described here and here.  No longer am I able to sit and stew.  I must reach inside often to find inner peace and serenity.  Action helps me reach that place and helps heal the hurts inflicted by so many events of today.  Life may continue its twists and turns, but we must all keep ourselves alive and well by acting in the best interests of our overall society.  In the end that will assure the twists and turns of life lead to a better future for all of us.

Is this the kind of person we want in Congress?

And, in The Wooden Bowl, a marvelous little story about family, compassion, and the wisdom of a child, Jerry tells us:

Today we live in a world where so many need so much to be changed.  We each and every one can be a measure of that change if we but choose to be so.  We can look at our own lives and reflect ourselves in the lives of others.  If we desire peace we can be peaceful beings and lead others to peace and tranquility.  Action is the word of the day.  Action to make the world the place in which we wish to live in future years.  Leave the wooden bowl behind and make life what we wish for ourselves.  Only by acting and living the right life do we have any hope of seeing a new future.

Jerry Northington has been acting and living the right life for the entirety of his life. We tend to get cynical about the quality of even the candidates we support. We would like to think that our political leaders would be more than lawmakers, that they would be visionaries, possessed of intelligence, wisdom, compassion and simple human decency. Jerry Northington is such a person. If we succeed in getting him elected to Congress, we will all be the better for it.

Please visit his site, and please contribute:

Jerry Northington for Congress.



Skip to comment form

    • Turkana on September 13, 2007 at 20:16

    about his campaign on daily kos, probably tomorrow evening. please pin it to the top of the rec list, and keep it there for as long as the algorithm allows. i won’t often mention my own crossposts, but i’ll put this up at teh big orange around noon, pdt.

    learn all about delaware in unitary moonbat’s diary: History for Kossacks: Delaware, Caesar Rodney, and possum

    also, please support these other kossacks who are running for congress:

    CA-42: Ron Shepston (a.k.a. CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream)

    LA-01: Gilda Reed (a.k.a gildareed)

  1. and look forward to helping in any way i can!!

    youre kind to do this for him, a most deserving and NEEDED candidate.

    show delaware a little love, huh???

    • escapee on September 13, 2007 at 20:20

    Lila Lipscomb in ‘Fahrenheit 911’, I knew I would vote for the devil or a lamppost before I ever voted for him again.

    Jerry Northington is a whole lot better than the devil or a lamppost, and he has my wholehearted support.  Come on, Delawareans!  Time to retire Castle!

    • plf515 on September 13, 2007 at 20:21

    possum is a good guy, and DE-AL is definitely winnable. 

    DE gave 53% to Kerry and 55% to Gore; it has a Democratic Governor (Minner), two Democratic Senators (Biden and Carper).  Its state House is majority Republican (22-19) but less so than last cycle when it was 25-15).  The state Senate is 13D and 8R, same as last cycle.

    Castle has won easily, the last few times, but there have not been serious challengers – in 2004 the challenger had less than $5,000. 

    • melvin on September 13, 2007 at 20:22
    • lori on September 13, 2007 at 20:23

    Thank you for this summary, Turkana.  As a long-time possum fan, I still had a few things to learn.  I might add that he’s also a good egg.  Lucky Delaware. 

    • Alma on September 13, 2007 at 20:31

    comment from yesterday.  Fantastic!  Its so nice to see good people running.  🙂

    Where’s the possum pic?

  2. Turkana.

    possum’s heart, wisdom, and honesty is what’s going to get him that seat in Congress and he so deserves it.  If we had more representatives with that would listen to our concerns with their hearts and souls instead of their ears and minds, this country would be a so much better off.

    Thank you for this excellent diary.  And congratulations possum!  We’re behind you!

  3. Kudos to “Possum” for continuing to serve his country. I’ll try to send along a few $$’s now & then, even though I live far from Delaware.

    • OPOL on September 13, 2007 at 23:50

    maybe THAT’LL work.  🙂

    • RiaD on September 14, 2007 at 00:24

    I’m SO happy to hear of ALL netroots candidates. I just commented yesterday(?) @ dKos in pinche’s diary that I’d trust many netrooters before any Dem. This is what netroots is all about. Promoting from within, getting Good Decent Real People in office.
    I’ve especially admired ‘our’ possum & his way with words. I can’t think of a nicer man.
    Thank you Turkana for writing this, telling us so much more about him. I don’t have much, but I’ll send some to him.

  4. I wish I could vote for him. Since that is impossible, I’m telling everyone in my old home state of DE all about him.

    Thanks for the great diary Turkana!

  5. he sounds like a great guy.

    They will be lucky to have him.
    If I get a hold of some extra
    cash that I am not spending to
    thwart villans in my area, I
    will send him a few bucks.

    thanks for the great diary!!!

  6. This is great news!

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