A day after Fish Stark’s father lost his seat in Congress, the 16-year-old political prodigy of Pete Stark did what most young people do in this day of social media, he poured his heart out on Facebook. Except, instead of telling us what he had for dinner, like most teenagers do, or denigrating the musical chops of Justin Bieber, Fish instead wrote a heartfelt salute to his father’s legacy (see below), sprinkled with a bit of the old man’s tenacity. And, wait, did he just announce his candidacy for Congress in 2022?
Dad said to me once that being a Congressman was like being a symphony conductor: they both got up every day knowing that they were going to make someone’s life a little bit better.
He lost his election last night, in the wake of a campaign filled with lies, innuendo, and attacks on his age, his service, and our family.
I’m not going to do anything but hold my head high. I’m proud to be the son of a man who went to work with the one simple goal of helping people who needed it. I’m proud that he wrote the COBRA law that helped people keep their health insurance between jobs. I’m proud that he wrote the law ensuring that everyone who needs emergency room care gets it, whether they can pay or not. I’m proud that he was the architect of Obamacare. I’m proud of the work he did for technology in schools, foster children, and students with dyslexia.
Dad doesn’t believe in politics as we know it. He believes in saying what he means and doing what he knows is right, not dancing around the truth or going with the flow. That frankness and that courage helped him do wonderful things. It also gained him enemies and, ultimately, lost him an election. I wouldn’t have it any other way. He fought hard for forty years and never compromised his values. That, to me, is as clear a win as you can get. He taught me that the most noble thing you can do is to have the courage to stand up for what’s right, for others, and for yourself, even if you have to sacrifice to make it happen.
Dad’s career is over but his legacy is not. We will always need leaders who believe that those in positions of power have a responsibility to help those in need. We will always need those who believe in being bold and speaking truth to power. The developers, Republicans, and the pharmaceutical companies that spent heavily to defeat him haven’t heard the last of the Stark family. Not by a long shot.