Notes from the Field

Martin O'Malley

Here’s a true story I learned in Florida last week that I thought you would like.

When Stephanie Murphy was just six months old, her parents fled for their lives — with she and her eight year old brother — from South Viet Nam. Saigon had fallen to the Viet Cong, and many families like Stephanie’s desperately fled on board whatever boats they could to escape.

Years later she learned that the ship her parents jumped aboard was one of the very few drifting ships that was intercepted by the U.S. Navy, refueled, and allowed to proceed under its own seaworthy power to a Malaysian refugee camp. Turns out Stephanie’s parents had a good instinct for picking strong ships. They eventually brought their children to the United States.

She has no memory of those desperate days in Viet Nam. Unlike so many refugees today, her parents then were able to apply and obtain U.S. citizenship. They raised a patriotic daughter. The only country she has ever known is the United States. After the attacks of September 11th, she went to work for the United States Defense Department as a security analyst, and then taught at Rollins College (Fiat Lux) before running for Congress as a Democratic challenger in 2016. It was a stunning victory against a well known Republican incumbent.

Years later she learned that the ship her parents jumped aboard was one of the very few that was intercepted by the U.S. Navy and allowed to proceed under its own seaworthy power. They were dangerously adrift at sea when the Navy refueled and resupplied them and pointed them toward a Malaysian refugee camp. They were later sponsored by a Lutheran Church to resettle in the United States. Stephanie’s parents had the good fortune to be on a rare, seaworthy vessel, and the better fortune to happen upon the providence of the U.S. Navy sailors who were patrolling the South China Sea in order to secure freedom of commerce.

Unlike so many refugees today, her parents then were able to apply and obtain U.S. citizenship. They raised a patriotic daughter. The only country she has ever known is the United States. After the attacks of September 11th, she went to work for the United States Defense Department as a national security specialist, and then taught at Rollins College (Fiat Lux!) before running for Congress as a Democratic challenger in 2016. It was a stunning victory against a well known Republican incumbent.

Now, for the first time, she is running for re-election. And has already earned the distinction of being named one of the most effective members of Congress for reaching across the partisan divide to get things done.

I had the honor not only to campaign for her last week in Orlando, but also to host a roundtable with some of the patriotic young high school activists in Florida who are pushing our country’s conscience to get something done on common sense gun safety legislation. The young people around that table appreciated the fact that Congresswoman Murphy had gotten something done. She had convinced her fellow House members, including a few Republican members, to allow our Center for Disease Control to collect data on America’s epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings, which truly constitute a public health crisis.

The young people around that table, like Mitch Emerson, along with representatives from Moms Demand Action, know that this is a big year for more life-giving and life-saving political action. 36 Governors’ races, 36 state legislatures up for grabs.

This was my fifth trip to Florida over the last year. Other trips include campaigning for Annette Taddeo, Margaret Good, and Javier Fernandez — all were Democratic challengers in special elections and all of them won seats that had been Republican held.

I met a lot of up and coming new candidates on this trip as well, including Anna Eskamani and Lee Mangold.

Our country remains a large and powerful idea. Large enough and sea-worthy enough to carry the hopes and dreams that all of us have for our children.

We must win back our states to save our democracy.

We must win back our states to save the United States.

“Sail on, oh Ship of State.”

— Martin

Martin O'Malley

Written by

Former Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore. Learn more at https://martinomalley.com/.

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