Next Tuesday, November 6, a congressional campaign that seemingly started the day after Donald Trump was elected president will finally, mercifully, blessedly, come to an end.
We think the best choice to represent us in Congress for the next two years is the Democratic challenger, Antonio Delgado.
Delgado doesn’t have an extensive resume of public service and hasn’t been living among us for that long. But he brings plenty of his own merit to the table. He’s very intelligent and has a top-flight education to maximize that intelligence’s impact. He’s well-versed on the issues and displays passion for bringing help from Washington to those of us in the 19th who need it. Coming out on top of the seven-way Democratic primary has honed his communication skills and shown him to be a hard worker unafraid of talking to people.
While nobody can be blamed if they think Delgado’s old rap album is the most important issue in this campaign, actually the most important issue, in terms of its impact on every living person in the 19th, is healthcare.
Three out of the four candidates want to move in the right direction. Diane Neal and Steve Greenfield are for single-payer. Delgado favors a public option.
While Delgado’s critics from the left point out that he is not for the “Medicare for all” way of achieving a single-payer system, his advocacy of some kind of public option to both help those who need a low-cost plan and keep private insurers on their toes with a serious competitor, has potential as a good first step.
John Faso and Republicans have ideas that address some of the issues with our current system. But that can only go so far. Simply put, the cost of healthcare is increasing much faster than wages, so there’s only so much you can do to increase affordability in a private system where consumers have to pay for their own healthcare. Especially when someone isn’t part of a larger group where risk can be spread out.
Trump not on the ballot
In these midterms, Trump is the elephant in the room. Some want him impeached for his alleged collusion with Russia, turning back on our longtime allies and the emoluments he’s accused of collecting while in office. But none of the candidates are calling for it. Others just want to see Congress in Democratic hands as a check.
We agree there’s something to be said for divided government. Congress is a co-equal branch of government with its own prerogatives.
Faso has been a moderate Republican who’s criticized Trump numerous times. He even said he didn’t vote for him at the WAMC debate. He shouldn’t be dismissed outright by voters who have issues with Trump just because he has an R next to his name.
Faso is a conservative to be sure. But like his predecessor Chris Gibson, his ideology is tempered by a streak of pragmatism and an evident belief in politics as the art of the possible.
The Republican Party in the age of Trump has become a force hell bent on undoing some 90 years of progress — dating to Roosevelt’s New Deal — on healthcare, public education, environmental protection and the very concept of government as duty bound to look out for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. For all his talk of bipartisanship and common-sense solutions, when it comes time to fish or cut bait, Faso has more often than not cast his line into the foulest waters of this legislative vandalism. In times like these, with Social Security and Medicare squarely in the crosshairs of the ascendant “to hell with the poor” wing of the GOP, Faso’s middle-of-the-roadism brings to mind the dictum, “You can’t be a good soldier in a bad war.”
Let’s return for a moment to the attacks on Delgado’s raps. The ads — which weren’t made by Faso’s campaign but weren’t denounced by Faso either — came off more like a racist bid to “otherize” Delgado rather than genuine concern that, if elected, he would conduct himself in a manner closer to Tupac Shakur than Maurice Hinchey. It was a new and saddening low in our local political dialogue and we hope it’s not the beginning of a trend.
We liked Diane Neal, who’s running as an independent, and Steve Greenfield, who will appear on the Green Party line. Both offer plenty of constructive criticism, mainly of the Democratic side; Neal on the adversarial style of politics and focus on wedge issues, which makes consensus and compromise difficult; Greenfield, more on big issues Dems won’t touch, like the bloated defense budget, Democrats’ cozy relationship with Wall Street and the party elite’s marginalization of progressive voices.
If a candidate not in one of the two main parties were close, we’d give them a second look. But the most recent Siena poll shows them at 5 percent and 1 percent, with the two front-runners only 1 point apart in the low 40s. That’s not going to change in the final few weeks.
Campaign finance should have come up
We would have liked to hear more from candidates on campaign finance. Delgado said he believes Faso doesn’t actually believe in his positions on issues like healthcare — he’s just acting as a mouthpiece for donors. If he really believes this, he should support changes to our system that prevent donors from controlling elected officials. Money in politics gives the appearance of corruption, if not actual corruption, and the widespread belief that our system is corrupt has contributed to a loss of faith in our democratic institutions. That causes voter apathy and makes our institutions vulnerable to anti-democratic movements.
Delgado’s our choice. But whomever you support, please make the time to vote on Nov. 6. The more people who participate, the more democratic our republic will be. Polls open at 6 a.m. and will remain open until 9 p.m. For polling site information, visit vic.ntsdata.com/ulsterboe/pollingplacelookup.aspx or call the Ulster County Board of Elections at (845) 334-5470.