Be Like Noam

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Noam Bramson: Actually talking to (gasp!) people.

Before we became Southern California residents, my family lived in New Rochelle, N.Y., where our mayor was a man named Noam Bramson.

Now, in full disclosure, I consider Noam a friend. I’ve known him for years, and he’s a genuinely decent humanoid trying to do a difficult job.

But the point here isn’t about friend or enemy or mayor or congressman. No, the thing that always impressed me about Noam was his availability. Love the guy (as I did) or hate the guy (as others did), he was accessible. He returned phone calls, spoke to civic groups, held open meetings, addressed concerns. There are plenty of videos and images of an obviously pissed-off Noam facing hostile circumstances, and while the visuals are unflattering, the mayor did not avoid them. Again, he was eternally present.

New Rochelle is sort of like New York’s version of Long Beach—this big, diverse metropolis with myriad groups expecting myriad things. It’s impossible to please everyone. And, oftentimes, it’s impossible to please anyone. But Noam would at least explain his thinking, then take the inevitable bullets.

Which, of course, leads me to Dana Rohrabacher.

Our congressman refuses to take bullets. Or even little pebbles to the shins. He avoids conflict like a guppy avoids a shark, and—in his defense—there is some logic. Congressmen run every two years, and the last thing Rohrabacher wants is some video of 100 liberals shouting him down. I get it.

But … here’s the thing. Dana Rohrabacher represents me. He, technically, works for me. I live in his turf, and I have the right to let him know how I feel. And he has the responsibility to listen.

Alas, he is nowhere to be found.

He’s no Noam Bramson.

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