The night before I met Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson in Washington, D.C., in late February, I spent a few minutes listening to a young man in a tailored suit and an easy smile describe the virtues of a “bipartisan political movement” called “No Labels.” Among its ranks, the group once boasted, were no fewer than 70 members of Congress. My new friend may well have been quoting propaganda directly off the organization’s website. The nonprofit, which was formed in 2010 and is not required to name its donors, wants onlookers to believe it is “a citizens’ movement of Democrats, Republicans and independents dedicated to a new politics of problem solving.”

The following morning, as my brother, our videographer, was pinning microphones on our lapels, Grayson told me he had heard of the group. He was friendly with some of its Democratic members. One day, in anticipation of her chance to demonstrate her commitment to the group’s professed ideals, one of his colleagues expressed to him her plan to sit on the Republican side of the chamber during the president’s State of the Union address.

“You’re really gonna regret that,” he cautioned her. But the member didn’t listen. “She regretted it,” he told me. “Every time anyone among the Republicans stood up and applauded, she sat down. And every time she stood up and applauded no one else did. So much for ‘No labels.’ “

The power to parse bullshit is an honored prize among truth seekers, and it was this power of Grayson’s that drew me to him when he was attacking House Republicans during the Obamacare clashes of 2009. “It’s my duty and pride tonight to be able to announce exactly what the Republicans plan to do for health care in America,” the former lawyer said in one of the House’s most memorable performances that year. “It’s this: Very simply … don’t get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly.”

Some of the larger left’s more genteel members take issue with this kind of treatment of those on the right-hand side of the aisle. I asked Grayson about the incompetence of those he targeted. He didn’t see it that way. “I don’t think that Congress is incompetent,” he said. “I think that the people in charge here in the House are serving their corporate masters and are doing so quite effectively and are doing it as effectively as they possibly can. They’re doing everything they can to defeat any sort of progress in the country, whether you’re talking about inequality or health care, or whether you’re talking about jobs or education. They’re very good at it, and my hat is off to them, except for the fact that I think of all the suffering that entails in the lives of ordinary people all around America, which they seem to be utterly inured to. They just don’t care. They’re calloused, bigoted tools and they’re acting for the benefit of their corporate patrons who are the real owners of the Republican Party. The fact is that Congress is gridlocked because that’s the way corporate interests want it.”

Criticism has followed the congressman’s inflammatory style from the start, but anyone mildly acquainted with the facts knows his assessment corresponds with the truth. Throughout the legislative battles of the early Obama years, the corporate-owned, right-wing media carefully painted the whole of the party to which Grayson belongs as inflexible and constitutionally unwilling to compromise with their more conservative peers. The unfortunate and regrettable fact is that little could be further from the truth. But even if it were true, standing alone, that account ignores the history of the death of congeniality in Congress at large. It was killed by Republicans themselves, by Newt Gingrich in particular during the conservative revival of the 1980s and early ’90s.

Much like the successes of the right, it is impossible to deny that Grayson’s tactics have worked, and done so to the clear benefit of the public. After hounding Republicans zealously during his first term, he was named the most effective member of the House by Slate magazine midway through his second term in 2013 for passing more amendments than any of his colleagues — a significant achievement in a chamber dominated by the opposing party. His bills included a corporate death penalty for contractors who broke the law, a prohibition on law enforcement’s purchase of weaponized drones and a 50 percent increase in financial assistance for non-English speakers who are unable to negotiate housing agreements without the help of a translator. These were “not bills to rename post offices,” he told me, but “important amendments that were actually progressive values expressed and embodied.”

In a city where evil often gets its way through the obfuscation of meaning, the names applied to Grayson’s bills are respectfully straightforward. A student of George Orwell’s writings on the liberating potential of plain speech, Grayson has sponsored the “Medicare You Can Buy Into Act”, the “Seniors Have Eyes, Ears and Teeth Act” and the “War Is Making You Poor Act.” In response to revelations of domestic spying by the National Security Agency, in January he introduced the “Big Brother Is Not Watching You Act.”If his reputation as a populist and an opponent of corporate predation is to be doubted, those doing the doubting have to explain not only the character of his legislation, but the attacks laid against him by the right’s most powerful leaders. The multibillionaire Koch brothers, who have turned their antisocial interests into policy around the country, are sufficiently convinced of his threat to their agenda that they began attacking him on television in November, a full year before his bid for re-election. To defend himself from the assault, Grayson relies overwhelmingly on small donations made by people throughout the U.S. This season he’ll have the added problem of an accusation of physical assault leveled in early March by his wife, from whom he is separated. Though investigators found the claim to be groundless on the basis of video evidence, we can be sure that those who want him gone will use the sound byte they’ve been given to do Grayson as much damage as possible.

“Some people believe it,” he told me of the lies told against him. “Other people don’t, but they are appalled by what they see on their TV screen and they get turned off to the whole system entirely. It’s a very effective way for them to suppress the votes on the Democratic side.”

And why should his opponents behave any differently? Grayson wears a congressional pin, but he’s not exactly a member of their class. They can’t rely on his observing their codes of silence. He entered politics after age 50, and thus received none of the socializing experiences that shape the personalities of those who light out in the field in their early 20s. The whole of his glory is to be achieved in causing the public’s enemies as much trouble as he possibly can. And he begins this, as all heroes do, by naming what it is the villains want.

“They want deregulation and privatization to give them more monopoly opportunities,” he recognized. “They want a low taxation on the rich and low taxation on corporations, and what they want above all is cheap labor.

“Wall Street is running our economic policies,” he continued. “The big oil companies have been running our energy and environmental policies. The military-industrial complex runs our foreign policies. It doesn’t have to be that way. People simply have to wake up and take back control. The tools are available to do that. We are still a functioning democracy. Someone like me can still win a congressional campaign. If we actually had a serious antitrust law, if we had a serious system of progressive taxation, if we had a serious system that put human needs first instead of the needs of monopolies and multinational corporations, then we’d have bliss. We’d have heaven on earth. And it is actually attainable.”

He takes his plan for the rebuilding of paradise from the work shed of classic liberalism. It involves a precise set of laws that would reorganize capitalism to deliver its benefits to society as a whole. “All we need really is the traditional goals of full employment and a well-managed economy including full aggregate demand,” he told me, meaning enough money in the hands of the public to buy goods and services at a rate that keeps the economy from shrinking. These are precisely the principles that built the middle class during the most prosperous decades of the 20th century.

Borne along by current trends, the alternative is an apocalyptic dream. “Things will simply get worse and worse,” the congressman explained. “We’ll have more unemployment. The economy will get shakier and shakier. We’ll have a huge and growing trade deficit. All the wealth will be sucked out of this country. And in the end one person will own everything. … We’re headed toward a future of wage slavery and debt slavery that’s pervasive and almost universal.”

For reasons that must be respected, politicians are among the kinds of people least respected by huge portions of the American public. My elder friends and colleagues tell me it wasn’t always this way. A politics of joy once abounded, in which giant personalities like FDR and Ronald Reagan strode mightily across the national stage, speaking and acting with their own bodies and voices, whether for evil or good, rather than delicately tiptoeing around issues in careers carefully choreographed by political scientists and advertising consultants.

Near the end of our hour together, Grayson told me that “the best thing about this job is all the good you can do for people.” After reading many pieces of writing by and about him and studying his actions in Congress, I believe that he means this. And I believe that the prevailing alliance of money and power are going to expensive and extravagant lengths to get rid of him precisely because if word about what he is up to got out (say, through mass subscription to his famously witty and irreverent email newsletters) Americans would extend their new-found and heightened expectations to the rest of their political leaders. For this, we honor Rep. Alan Grayson as our Truthdigger of the Week.

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