One of the many lamentable aspects of John Faso’s short tenure as our Congressman was his refusal to hold an open town hall. He was almost like a ghost in our district, appearing unannounced at public events such as picnics and fairs, rarely letting anyone know where he was going but often letting people know where he had been by posting pictures on social media. It was a scheme for being seen (mostly by his supporters) while avoiding answering tough questions or taking responsibility for his votes.
In sharp contrast, our new Congressman Antonio Delgado has already held several town halls–more in his first month than Faso during his entire term–and has hosted events to open district offices, all publicly announced beforehand. If you haven’t attended one yet, you’ll have plenty of chances. His next town hall takes place this Saturday, February 2nd (Groundhog Day!) in Sullivan County at 3pm.
Then on Monday February 4th Delgado hosts an office opening event in Delhi at noon.
Delgado had a busy first month in office. He signed onto and supported House Resolution 1, which aims to expand national voting rights, tighten ethics laws, and reform campaign finance rules. The bill should be voted on by the House soon, but will have trouble passing in the Republican controlled Senate.
And now Delgado is introducing another bill, called the CLEAR Act, which stands for “Connected Lobbyists and Electeds for Accountability and Reform Act, which seeks to improve disclosure of activities by lobbyists and PACs.
The more money we remove from politics and the more disclosure we can require from big contributors, the greater control we citizens will have over our government. Republicans don’t like this idea because they get so much of their funding from shady billionaires, CEOs, PACs and special interests. And while Democrats get some of their funding from these same sources, this is not a case of equivalence. For the most part, Democrats want to wrest control of our government from corporations and wealthy individuals before a plutocrat-backed authoritarian like Trump does irreversible damage to the fabric of our Republic–whether it’s hollowing out our critical agencies or degrading our justice system or demonizing the press.
This past week Trump threatened to declare a “national emergency” if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall, and he belittled our entire national security apparatus for expressing conclusions at odds with his own ridiculous opinions. His son-in-law Jared Kushner is being called out by House Democrats for having a security clearance when he clearly shouldn’t. And Trump’s Labor Secretary Alex Acosta remains under a cloud of potential prosecutorial misconduct due to his preposterous quasi-prosecution of child molester Jeffrey Epstein. And so on.
Voting Trump out of office is now our primary goal. I’m confident that the Democratic nominee–whoever it turns out to be–will be far more fit for office than Trump ever was. It won’t be difficult to get on board and support her or him. But we have to make sure our base doesn’t lose motivation, and we have to make sure that the radical excesses of the Trump regime never become anything approaching normalized. This will require vigilance and engagement, and Rep Delgado is off to a good start as an exemplar.