Voting for the incumbent, save one

Paul Tonko v. Liz Joy

Paul Tonko
Paul Tonko

I voted yesterday, in person, at one of the six polling places in  Albany County, and the only one in the city of Albany. I voted by mail in the June primary. Now my fear of being disenfranchised is greater than the threat of COVID.

If you don’t know who I voted for in the Presidential race, I’ve been far too subtle. There are three Congressional races in this television market. Only one, of course, is for my district.

NY-19

South of here is the 19th Congressional district. The incumbent is Anthony Delgado (D), who won the nomination in a very crowded primary field in 2018. In that general election, he knocked off one-term Congressman John Faso, plus two other candidates, including Diane Neal, formerly on the TV show Law and Order: SVU.

In 2020, Delgado is running against Kyle Van De Water (R), as well as Steven Greenfield (Green) and Victoria Alexander (Libertarian). But I’ve only seen Delgado commercials here, mostly him touting how he keeps in touch with his constituents, even during a pandemic.

NY-21

The most contentious race in the area is in the 21st district, north of here, between incumbent Elise Stefanik (R) and Tedra Cobb (D). This is a rematch of their 2018 race, which the Republican won by 13.7 percentage points. Stefanik had replaced retiring incumbent Bill Owens (D), beating Aaron Woolf (D) handily back in 2014.

Both campaigns use a combination of inspirational and negative ads. Stefanik touts helping small businesses in her district, sort of helping to make pizza. She’s with a group of police officers when she, and they, note they “back the blue”; she’s even wearing blue jeans, perhaps to emphasize the point. She paints Cobb as a tax-and-spend liberal.

Cobb portrays Stefanik, who appeared at the 2020 Republican National convention, as a Trump clone. Her best ad shows her and her adult daughter discussing the fragility of having health coverage.

NY-20

In my district, the 20th, Paul Tonko (D) was first elected in 2012. He had been a long-time member of the New York State Assembly. I could name none of his opponents prior to this year.

In August, I saw a couple of lawn signs, not far from my house, for Liz Joy. I have no recollection of lawn signs from any of Tonko’s previous opponents.

Then she ran this damn TV ad. She’s leading a bunch of women down the streets and spouting some law-and-order blather. She suggesting Paul Tonko and the Democrats are seeking to destroy the police and the country. I was appalled with the Sarah Palinesque tactic. If I saw her, I’d say, “Oh, come ON, Liz! Tonko as a wide-eyed radical?”

I met Liz Joy once. She was a blogger for the Times Union, though her blog is down for the duration of the campaign. Mike Huber, who was the blogmeister at the time, wanted to find some more conservative voices, and she qualified.

One of the other TU bloggers had a small gathering – six or eight of us – at their apartment, perhaps in the late autumn of 2016, and she was invited. There’s a photo somewhere. She was very pleasant. We DIDN’T talk politics at all.

The one ad I saw of Tonko’s was a fairly boring one about him serving his constituents. I don’t know him, but I’ve run into him several times. He’d be at an Underground Railroad event, an economic development session, the 50th anniversary of FOCUS churches celebration, and the like. If he’s in town, and not in DC, he’s meeting the citizens.

Liz Joy would not be unsurprised that I am voting for Paul Tonko.

Kindness, civility, conscience, injustice, protest

“Restaurant owners routinely deny service to obnoxious Yelpers, noisy children, and even critical restaurant reviewers—this is the norm. These are not protected classes.”

I’m still deciding what to think about the correct responses to injustice.

Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Professor of Theology and President (1998-2008) of the Chicago Theological Seminary wrote Do Not Tolerate the Intolerable: Public Shaming Can Be a Justice Action. “Jesus of Nazareth publicly shamed those leaders he saw were committing injustice in his time, calling them out (Matt. 23:13). Jesus didn’t hesitate to be confrontational. ‘You hypocrites!’ he cried out.”

She points to Professor Gene Sharp, “often called the ‘grandfather of nonviolent direct action,’ who compiled a list of 198 Tactics for The Politics of Nonviolent Action. “Both publicly ‘taunting’ officials and withholding services are on the list.”

I get that. Still, one has to be strategic in this manner. Some of the suggestions from the Sharp list, such as not voting, I’d oppose in the US in 2018, yet would have supported in Russia, when Putin eliminated any real opposition.

Some actor named Hugo noted, and I agree, that actor Robert DeNiro cursing out some guy during the Tonys was a bad strategy. “Sinking ships aren’t saved by succumbing to anger… Progressive change isn’t brought upon society through verbal abuse. Decency and maturity are more effective — a levelheaded, well planned and swift takedown of a demagogue…”

In that manner, I’ve come to understand the owner of the Red Hen restaurant: “Several… employees are gay, which is one of many groups of people targeted by the Trump administration. They were uncomfortable to see the president’s chief propagandist in their midst, so they called the owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, who drove in from home…

“They wanted Sanders to leave. Wilkinson did not attempt to publicly embarrass Sanders. She asked her to step out on the patio, where she explained why she wanted her to leave. The reason… why millions of Americans know about what happened… — is that Sanders used her government Twitter account, which has more than 3 million followers, to try to ruin The Red Hen, which seats 26 people.

Sarah Sanders is a bully. Any discussion about her that raises the issue of civility is nothing but an intellectual exercise by people who aren’t worried enough about the harm her boss, the bully in chief, is inflicting on this country. Trump attacked The Red Hen on Twitter, too. Of course he did.

“Civility requires mutual respect. The Red Hen employees apparently understood this. If someone spends her days making clear her disregard for you and her willingness to harm you by parroting her boss’s bigotry, no one should expect you to act as if it doesn’t matter when she’s not talking into a microphone.”

BTW, I had forgotten when a baker turned away Joe Biden and received praise from conservatives.

An article in GQ notes: “Restaurant owners routinely deny service to obnoxious Yelpers, noisy children, and even critical restaurant reviewers—this is the norm. These are not protected classes, which include race, religion, disability, and gender, under anti-discrimination laws. Just as posting a ‘no shirts, no shoes, no service’ sign is not equivalent to Jim Crow-era ‘white-only’ policies—there is a wide chasm between bad behavior and immutable characteristics.”
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Read this piece from Tucker Fitzgerald, a “straight, white, male. I have a Master of Divinity from a Christian seminary,” who “voted for W both times”. He addresses his own shift in Intolerant Liberals, which should explain to conservatives WHY we protest.

I suppose, at the end of the day, in responding to injustice, as our Congressman Paul Tonko said on July 4, we need to resist, to protest, to protect, and to heal. There will be differences of opinion about what that means. I’m still idealistic enough to hope that it’s done with love in our hearts.

In These Challenging Times: Tonko on 4 July

Congressman Paul Tonko will reflect on the meaning of July 4th in the context of our current political and social climate.

Within the framework of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is Your Fourth of July,” Congressman Paul Tonko, as featured speaker for the 2018 July 4th Oration, will reflect on the meaning of July 4th in the context of our current political and social climate.
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The legacy of the institution of slavery weighs us down as a nation, but, together, we can rise up and shake off the weight by carrying on the enduring legacy of our abolitionist forebears.
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Program – 11am-12noon at The Myers Residence at 194 Livingston Avenue, Albany, NY 12210 – bring your own chair if you can
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Lunch – 1pm-2pm – bring a dessert to share
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Restroom facilities available. Parking is on Livingston Avenue and Third Street.