As we approach the 2020 election it’s easy to focus on Trump as the main antagonist and target of our resistance, but keep in mind that our own Congressional district will once again be up for grabs. No Republican has thus far announced a run, although the NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) has already identified NY-19 as a top priority for them to try to flip back to the GOP. They will undoubtedly pour a mountain of money into the race, along with all the usual billionaire villains like the Kochs, Mercers, etc. Their GOP candidate could wind up being a newbie, or it could be someone as well known as Marc Molinaro.
Also keep in mind that Antonio Delgado–the hardest working representative in Congress–is not immune from a primary challenge. In fact, on social media there are various voices, albeit small voices, claiming to be progressive yet urging a primary challenge. They have every right to do so, just as I have every right to criticize them. One of them recently Tweeted that “we can do better,” and in an ideal world this is possibly true, but in the real world we know with certainty that we can do a lot worse. We had worse for eight years, culminating in the disastrous tenure of fracking lobbyist John “No-show” Faso, a nickname he earned. So are we going to let the possibility of perfection jeopardize the reality of the good?
Aside from the main fact that Trump is a disgraceful horrorshow, there are many policy battles worth fighting for in today’s political arena. Abortion bans versus a woman’s right to choose. Immigration and asylum versus isolation and nativism. Treating corporations as people versus true representative Democracy.
If any incumbent Democrat supported an abortion ban, I would heartily support a primary challenger. But suppose a Democrat supports a Medicare option, as Delgado does, versus Medicare for all. In what twisted and hyperventilating world is the difference between these two healthcare positions so awful and egregious that it merits a primary challenge? Both sides of the issue have pluses and minuses, and in the end either would be much better than what we have now. It’s one thing to be passionate about this kind of policy difference and strenuously advocate for one side or the other, but it’s quite another when it becomes an all-or-nothing rationale for a search and destroy mission of an incumbent. Primary challenges aren’t always lethal to a House of Representatives incumbent but they drain away precious resources and risk getting ugly in a way that diminishes the general-election prospects for whoever wins.
I would urge any progressive who disagrees with a Delgado position to go to one of his many town halls and press him on the issue. See if–just perhaps–his view is well considered and reasonable. Ask yourself if the outcome you seek is really so vastly far from the outcome Delgado seeks that it’s worth risking control of our district–and perhaps the House of Representatives–to achieve. For me, Delgado’s position on health care is not so unreasonable that he deserves being primaried. Not even close.
With our Democracy being trampled by an authoritarian mob-boss and a corrupt, unethical, mercenary Senate Majority Leader, the stakes are way too high to demand perfection or purity from a first-term Democratic Congressman who works hard to listen to his district while standing on the right side of the vast majority of issues. There are some things I will happily get in Delgado’s face and complain about. But none of them are matters of morality; they are matters of strategy or process or implementation. Why risk our huge win in 2018 for what might be, at very best, a modest upgrade? Meanwhile, we might do a lot worse.
Trump is setting fire to our Constitution and destroying the foundations of our Republic. Let’s keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”