Yuck. It has been a nasty election season across the board. I do not believe I have seen more ugliness in my nearly 25 years of being a registered voter, volunteer, and occasional paid employee of campaigns. The two main stream candidates for governor here in NY are waging an ugly war of the words and I wish I could say it was just that race. In particular it is sad to see a race I hoped would be civil, but should have known better given how important it is to both Democrats and Republicans, spiral into an endless barrage of negative ads, that of New York’s 55th State Senate District.
Full disclosure: I worked for Ted O’Brien’s 2012 Senate campaign. I am proud of the work we did on that campaign, both in getting a truly progressive candidate elected, but in the team we built and how ultimately, even through some drama and some logistic difficulties we put together a strong, motivated, and professional canvas (kudos to RJ Ortiz-Bradley on that.) I remain proud even though pragmatism has occasionally ruled Ted’s decision-making since then when I really hoped his idealism would lead the way. He remains the best choice.
He remains the best choice through the sturm and drang of television attack ads by both sides. Ted’s team, and his supporters working independently, certainly do not have clean hands on that. Neither do his opponent’s fans. Two ads in particular from the other guys rub me the wrong way. First is the series of moms attacking Ted for voting no on a bill for abused kids. I really loath that particular tactic. You see it a lot these days in social media memes. People attacking politicians from the other “team” for voting down legislation that on the face of it should have bipartisan support. I say on the face of it because I would hope the voters of the Genessee Valley are smart enough to know that there are often all sorts of details in a bill that make it a poison pill and both parties do this. It is one of the worst symptoms of our business-as-usual, do nothing politics in all our state capitals and DC.
The ad that really hit home for me though, the one that should hit home for the rest of you, and one that came from the other guys, was the one attacking Ted’s support of public financing of elections. This, ladies and gentleman, should tell you all the need to know. This is the other side blatantly telling you that they should be able to continue to buy elections. This is them making you so afraid of a government that should be working for you, that you are willing to make sure that it does not. Public financing of elections is the most important issue of this election, just not in the way those fighting for corporate sponsorship of our public offices would have you believe.
Public financing will finally let candidates shake off the big donors, regardless of who those donors are. It will finally give you the tools to get your neighbors, you know, the ones with all the great ideas but no time or money, elected to offices you all say they should run for but you know they cannot, at least not as things are now. Yes it costs millions, which will more than be recuperated when the state is running as it should be, as opposed to giving handouts to the big donors when they come begging in Albany. Indeed, when that happens, public financing will pay for itself. When you really think about it you will know it, and Ted knows it now. He, and those who will fight alongside him need you to do the right thing on Novemver 4th. Don’t vote for Ted O’Brien, vote for yourself by voting for him (on Row D of course) and finally get the big money out of our politics, which will, of course, have the beautiful side effect of getting rid of most of those ugly attack ads.