One good thing about bicycling is that I can pass by places I infrequently see. New York City is a great place to ride. Every time I ride, I see additional bike lanes or improved bike routes. On Sunday, I rode, among other places, along the Hudson piers and Brooklyn waterfront. It is amazing to see the improvements and construction. Since the last time I was there a few months ago, there is now a new park, a playground, and a sand volleyball court with real sand. So many people were riding Citibikes. For those who grew up in New York during the lean years of the 1970s, no one in their wildest dreams could have imagined such a turnaround. Of course, there were reminders that more work must be done. I saw three dead rats on the bike path. I’d never seen that before. Nevertheless, it is important to remember the tough times of the past before we are so negative about the present.
Now to my main topic. Although many Democrats are scared that Lee Zeldin could possibly win the election, it is a good thing that the race is so close. It will increase voter turnout. Also, it will be another warning to the Democratic establishment in New York State that they must moderate some of the extreme positions and laws that have been passed, including the bail reform law. Furthermore, it is good for democracy when both parties have a legitimate chance of winning.
Every vote counts. We saw that in the Democratic primary for District Attorney, where Melinda Katz defeated Tiffany Caban in a very close race. The difference was the turnout by the Jewish community. We must continue to vote in high numbers. For politicians, two groups matter: those who donate and those who vote. The communities who vote in higher numbers will get the attention and funding from elected officials. This even applies in districts which may have been traditionally Democratic but now are becoming Republican. The Democratic Party wants to get these voters back. Therefore, even though many Orthodox Jews may vote for Zeldin, if he loses, it is still a good thing. Former Secretary of State James Baker commented in 1992 about American Jews: “[expletive] ’em. They didn’t vote for us.” This is not how leaders now look at the situation. There has been a lot of talk about how Hispanics have been more supportive of the Republican Party. The Democratic establishment is looking for ways to woo them back. It will be the same for Orthodox Jews.
I am proud of how the Queens Jewish Link has presented columns and letters from readers advocating for their favorite candidate for governor, whether it is Hochul or Zeldin. This is something you will not find in other Jewish papers available in Kew Gardens Hills. In one paper, the letters to the editor were so extreme that a few of them attacked the paper for running a paid ad for the current governor. You will not find any place in that paper where they say anything positive about a Democrat or anything negative about a Republican, except for Republicans who dared to stand up to Trump.
I was recently at a wedding celebration, and I was speaking with someone who is a few years older than me. I asked him whether the country is more divided and dangerous now than it was in 1968. He, being an extreme Trumpian, thought it was worse now. I felt that at least now, no one has been assassinated, in contrast to 1968 when Rev. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy were assassinated within a few months of each other.
The recent attack on Paul Pelosi was made by an election denier, anti vaxxer, anti-January 6 Commission and Q-anon believer who was looking for Nancy Pelosi. This is another reminder that unfortunately, it may only be a matter of time before an elected official or well-known public official is assassinated. The attack could come from the extreme left or the extreme right. The chances of an assassination would be significantly diminished if both sides condemn any attack, even if it comes from people who are on their side. Another way to try to stop the crazies from using force is to tone down the rhetoric. I may be guilty at times of using strong rhetoric. However, I doubt that anyone who agrees with me would look at my column for a call to violence.
A third way is to go vote. Voting is the best way to stay engaged and show the crazies that we are not going to be intimidated by their conduct. It also gives strength to the poll workers and others in the front-lines who have been subjected to threats of physical violence and other abuse. Although such problems are uncommon in New York, it is still important to send that message to the states where it is a problem to show support.
Do your civic duty and vote. If you do not vote and your desired candidate loses, you have no one to blame but yourself.