There is a lot riding on the 2022 November election. It’s time to flex our power! Not only will we elect federal and state leadership, New York voters also will cast ballots that are key to fighting right-wing policies on the rise nationally that make life worse for our most vulnerable neighbors.
The November ballot in New York is extraordinarily consequential. There are races for governor, attorney general, comptroller, U.S. Senator, Congressional representatives and various judgeships. They are the leaders with the power to address issues important to our communities, such as police reform, jobs, bus and subway service, public housing, and federal voting rights legislation.
New York City voters will also decide four ballot questions that would increase spending statewide on environmental projects, create an Office of Racial Equity to address structural racism in city agencies, and require city government to develop an alternative way to calculate poverty to determine the actual household income required to live in New York City.
As Election Day approaches and as voters concentrate on the choices in front of them, they will realize the importance of the race for governor between Gov. Kathy Hochul, who is seeking her first full term, and Rep. Lee Zeldin, an ally of former President Donald Trump who has represented Suffolk County in Congress since 2015.
Even though Hochul has a commanding lead in the polls, that’s not a reason to be complacent. Hochul has done a fine job filling the shoes of Andrew Cuomo and has dedicated herself to defending essential norms that are under attack elsewhere in the country, as well as voting rights, access to abortion and public safety. She has worked constructively with Mayor Eric Adams, a refreshing reversal of the dysfunctional relationship between Cuomo and the former mayor.
Zeldin’s views are downright scary and mean-spirited. His ilk in the Republican Party have actively worked against our interests for decades. Voter turnout will send a clear message that we’ll go to the wall to protect the progress low-income families and people of color have made over the last decade.
We must demand that New York elected leaders are vocal supporters of U.S. democracy and our picks for Congress support the proposed Electoral Count Reform Act, which would make it harder for conspiracy theorists to hijack and overturn a legitimate presidential election.
This election is happening at a five-alarm fire moment. The buffoonish Trump, threatening another run for president, and his cadre of believers in the stolen election myth are on the move nationwide. His most staunch online supporters talk of an impending “civil war.” Trump’s very presence on the national scene promotes old-fashioned prejudice, White racial conservatism, turmoil and aggrievement politics.
Further complicating matters is the U.S. Supreme Court. After overturning Roe v. Wade and eliminating the nationwide right to abortion, the conservative majority is poised to decide several important new cases that seek to undermine the Voting Rights Act, limit gay rights and eliminate affirmative action in college admissions. (I was a classmate of Justice Clarence Thomas at Yale Law School. I recall him as an extraordinarily bitter man with a penchant for wearing overalls to class.)
Whatever happens, Joe Biden will still be president. But the election results could have a profound impact on the rest of his tenure and the runup to the 2024 presidential election.
With all that happening, it’s easy to see how New Yorkers might feel that they face a catch-22 at the ballot box. In a Democratic stronghold like New York, it’s easy to believe our vote doesn’t really matter. This line of thinking holds the real action in November is in California, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, where voters have an opportunity to decide closely contested Senate and House races, thereby making their voices heard on abortion rights, racial equity, climate change and other issues.
In the last 60 years or so, the Democratic Party – despite its many failures – has done far more for Black voters than the GOP. That’s why the vast majority of Black voters cast ballots for Democrats, even if they aren’t necessarily liberal themselves. It is the rare Republican candidate who is a truly viable option for Black and Latinx voters in New York.
But every election has consequences, which is why all groups must engage by going to the polls. We can’t buy into the false narrative that our vote will be ignored and taken for granted.
The ballot box is the most important place to have a say in who sits on our courts, who leads our communities, and who we trust to count our votes, enforce our laws and so much more.
David R. Jones, Esq., is President and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York (CSS). The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, whose title and affiliation are provided for identification purposes only.