Sunday, January 22, 2017

Could I Run For Office?

​I have never run for public office, but I've thought about it periodically. This past weekend, while watching millions of amazing women, men and families march in solidarity in Washington, Boston, London, and in literally hundreds of other cities and towns all over the world, I was inspired to think through what really irks me about elected officials. But at the same time I've also been thinking about what it is about the idea of serving in public office that is appealing to me.

I live in Ithaca, within New York's 23rd congressional district, also encompassing Corning, Jamestown and Elmira. We are the home to wonderful colleges and universities such as Ithaca College, Cornell University, and Hobart and William Smith, companies like Corning, and fantastic restaurants, wineries, breweries and inns. It's a wonderful place.

Our current member of the U.S. House of Representatives is Tom Reed. He has been a complete and utter failure at representing our district. This failure begins with his decision to vigorously promote and support the racist misogynist authoritarian Donald Trump in his quest to be the President of the United States. Reed was one of the earliest politicians to endorse Trump, and he has continued to support Trump in order to bolster his own political ambitions and earn a spot in Trump's team, while timidly acknowledging Trump's utter lack of ethics. This is the epitomy of being entrenched deep in the swamp.

But Tom Reed's failures do not end with his support of Donald Trump; they only begin there. Trump's very first move as president was to sign an executive order seeking the reduction or denial of affordable health coverage, dismantling the Affordable Care Act. Reed himself voted to repeal the ACA dozens of times. Trump's executive order and all the other disastrous decisions that Trump will make in the future can be traced back directly to Tom Reed. 

Like all member of congress, Tom Reed is paid the handsome salary of $174,000 per year for his work. And just like the rest of congress, Reed spends an unethical amount of his time -- time that belongs to the public -- raising funds for his next election. A recent 60 Minutes piece reported that members of congress spend half their time trolling for money, making them nothing but professional fundraisers. It's not legal for them to make these calls from their offices on the hill, so they slyly skirt this law by crossing the street to private "call centers" where they can legally grovel for money from PACs, lobbyists and corporations to whom they then owe their allegiance and votes. It's an entirely corrupt system. The "career politicians" in the house and senate are not working for you or me. Reed is one of the most entrenched residents of the very swamp Trump vowed to drain while campaigning, but to which he now owes his political future, and vice-versa. The breadth and depth of the corruption is staggering.

Thomas Jefferson never intended for politicians to stay in Washington for decades. These "careers" consist of getting rich from lobbyists, Super PACs and billionaire donors, while pretending they are acting in the public's best interest. The only interests being served in this system are their own and those of the mega-rich donors they represent.

In thinking through if I were to run for the U.S. Congress, here is how I would conduct my campaign and subsequently my legislative agenda:
  1. I would run for precisely one two-year term, after which I will gladly support and endorse the next candidate who vows to do the same. Afterwards, I will happily leave office and return to my life as a teacher.
  2. I would only accept individual donations. I would not accept any money from corporations, PACs, super PACs or special interests.
  3. Because I would not run for another term, I would spend not one second of my time in Washington raising money. All of my time and efforts would be spent fighting for the needs of my constituents and the country, meeting with them and going to bat on their behalf.
  4. I would web stream every meeting, lunch, and work phone call I am involved inand subsequently archive them and make them free to the public, with the only exception being times when classified information pertinent to our national security is being discussed. I would not meet or talk with anyone who requested that a meeting be off the record. This is how the people would always know that I was truly representing their best interests.
  5. I would fight for all members our community with conscious effort to support people from groups whose lives, families, and livelihoods are most often threatened -- women, the LGBTQ community, the black community, the Hispanic community, immigrants, veterans, and everybody else who has been oppressed because of their race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
  6. I would collaborate with any member from any party who was working to bolster the economy, protect the environment, support the military and veterans, ensure health care for all, provide affordable housing, child care, family leave, and secure equal rights for everyone.
Now, that's not so hard, right? Shouldn't they all do it? Couldn't anyone do it?


The corrupt, pathological liar Donald Trump was elected president because of early and unwavering support by people such as the unethical opportunist Tom Reed (R-NY 23rd district). I believe we voters should do everything in our power to ensure Tom Reed is unseated in the 2018 election.

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