The year was 1963, and Doug Bosco, age 18, happily joined the several hundred thousand people at the National Mall for the March on Washington on Aug. 28. Working as a page on the House floor at the time, he would go on to have an inside look at Washington during the assassination of John F. Kennedy and, later, during his service as Congressman for the First Congressional District from 1983 to 1991, an inside look at the Reagan-Bush years. But for the Sonoma County lawyer and chairman of the Coastal Conservancy, it was the March on Washington that resurfaced before his eyes last week while watching the inauguration of Barack Obama.
"It just brought back all of those memories," he says from his Santa Rosa office. "It also brought back a period of time where we were all young and idealistic and wanted to change the country. I got the exact same adrenaline running through my blood when I heard Obama's speech. People are very, very excited now."
Bosco's lecture on history this Thursday at the Sonoma County Museum brings the national excitement down to a local level when the former assemblyman and congressman speaks on the history of politics in Sonoma County and the First Congressional District, peppered with his own reflections and insight. "I'm obviously not a historian; I can't admit to doing hours and hours of research," he says, "but I think I have a pretty good idea of how things were and where things are going."
Campaign finance, special interests and lobbyists have changed politics entirely, Bosco charges. "We never had any special interests!" he says of his campaigns 30 years ago. "We just had anybody we could get to give us money, to borrow money. Our families helped. It was not nearly the intensity it is now. I think we spent maybe $300,000, maybe $400,000 on our race then. But now an open congressional seat would be a $10 million race and would definitely attract the attention of every special interest in the country."
As for all those young people who want to change the country? Despite the money and interests involved, Bosco recommends running for Congress. "All of us old guys can speak at historical societies," he says with a laugh, "but they're the ones who are going to have to move us into the future."
Doug Bosco speaks on Thursday, Jan. 29, at the Sonoma County Museum, 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa. 6:30pm. $5–$7.50. 707.579.1500.