Transportation Sec Endorses Miss America Candidate

Photo courtesy of the <a href="http://www.misssd.org/">Miss South Dakota Scholarship Program</a>.

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The only Republican cabinet secretary in President Obama’s administration, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, has decided to toss bipartisanship aside, get off the sidelines and weigh in on a hotly contested race this week: the election of the next Miss America. In a blog post on Monday, LaHood, a former Illinois congressman, officially endorsed Miss South Dakota and urged people to vote for her in the “America’s Choice” segment of the pageant, where the public gets a chance to help pick the winner. 

It seems rather unusual for a high-ranking federal official to offer such a public endorsement of a beauty queen. (Miss Illinois must be steamed!) But Loren Vaillancourt, the contestant from South Dakota, has apparently won a fan in LaHood by taking up his signature issue: distracted driving. Vaillancourt has made her pageant platform all about keeping teenagers from texting and talking on cell phones while driving. And she’s got a personal stake in it all, which seems to have captured LaHood’s attention. Vaillancourt’s only brother was killed in 2009 while riding in a car with a distracted driver who pulled out in front of a semi. His death prompted his sister to use her platform to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

LaHood writes:

Look, I think all of these young women are to be congratulated for their thoughtful service platforms. But Loren Vaillancourt, Miss South Dakota, has taken on a cause that is central to DOT’s core priority: safety. And she has done a terrific job raising awareness among young people in South Dakota.

Now, through her partnership with State Farm’s “Teen Driver Safety” Facebook page, she is extending her reach. All week at the Miss America pageant, Loren will be posting to the sfteendriving page and–whenever possible–updating her video diary there.

For all that she has done in this fight, she has my vote this week. I hope you’ll consider giving her yours.

The new Miss America will be crowned on Saturday. We’ll see whether getting the Transportation Secretary’s vote helps push Miss South Dakota into the winner’s circle.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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