Sandra Fluke, 32, whom you would never have heard of if the right wing hadn't blasted her as a slut for wanting some birth control, is seeking the California Democratic Party's blessing to run for the congressional seat of retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills).
Fluke vaulted to fame in early 2012, when she was scheduled to speak to a House committee considering taking the birth-control coverage requirement out of the Affordable Care Act, and chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) refused to allow her to testify, leaving all dudes to chat about uteri and other lady bits. She later testified for the panel's Democrats.
Then a student at Georgetown Law School, Fluke argued that letting Jesuit institutions like hers to opt out of the birth control coverage was an unfair burden on working women. Rush Limbaugh hideously called her a ho-bag, and she became a cipher for the year's War on Women, as much a symbol of hope and change among progressives and reproductive rights advocates as she was a punching bag for social conservatives, who felt emboldened to say truly awful things about Fluke, and all the sisters.
Three days ago, Fluke sounded slightly flummoxed that people wanted her to run for Congress. "I'm flattered that I'm being discussed as a potential candidate," she told an L.A. radio station. "A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run." Man, she must have decided to go with that #runsandrarun crowd fast, now that she's looking to get a big endorsement for office.
Or the whole thing was an astroturfed "grassroots" campaign to make her preplanned candidacy look organic.
On one hand, Fluke is a solid Democratic vote on virtually every issue, and is particularly experienced on women's rights, having worked on domestic violence issues in Manhattan before decamping to California. She is even sought out as an endorser by some senior (and ill-fated) Dems.
On the other hand, congratulations, America: You get more of the same entitled political class of Ivy-undergrad, DC-law-school, manicured, manufactured candidates who were born to run and grown to win. Even Fluke's congressional testimony—and the right-wing reaction to it—seemed engineered for maximum branding and marketing exposure of a young talent the Democratic Party wanted to move along the cradle-to-Georgetown Law-to-Capitol Hill-to-K Street-to Georgetown brownstone-to-grave career arc. It's hardly a phenomenon limited to this candidate and this party. Fluke and her supporters just did it especially well.
If elected, Fluke may acquit herself admirably as a member of Congress. She is smart and fearless and, by virtue of her willingness to be a public symbol, powerful enough that the president has sought her counsel and support. But that doesn't change the fact that she's 32, and has spent most of her brief adult life preparing to be a member of the pampered political nomenklatura. American voters never tire of elites who can deliver pitch-perfect populism.
[Photo credit: AP]