Political Courage


Our August 9 meeting was at the country’s oldest theme park – Santa’s Workshop in Wilmington NY. We had a good turnout for Assembly Member Matt Simpson’s visit, which ran 1.5 hours – as with most of our meetings, over time and we still had plenty to talk about.

I didn’t vote for him, but I’m impressed that Matt readily accepted our invitation to drive a long way to meet with us, especially given that he had to be in Albany the next morning. Lynn summed it up for me: ‘he gives us hope’. We could have easily focused on polarizing issues – reproductive rights, immigrant rights, restoring voting rights for felons, gun legislation, marijuana legalization, Gov. Cuomo’s demise – and maybe we ought to, next time. He’s not a Stefanik Republican by any means, he is pro-vaccination, pro-environment and readily acknowledged to the press that President Biden won on November 7. He has a good command of local issues, notably advocating and advancing local farm-to-market legislation.

Should we be fraternizing with Republicans? In my opinion, yes. The sensible, decent ones, and I consider them to be the majority, aren’t anti-science, neofascist, racist, and anti-democracy. Maybe I’m too optimistic but I think many Republicans would welcome the end of Trumpism. If we must have a two party system, I want the other party to get healthy, we rise and fall to the level of our opposition. I see it as our job to provide a safe space for the Republicans who aren’t comfortable with their party’s trajectory.

Wally arranged the whole thing and Matt Stanley graciously offered up the terrific historic venue, with a panorama mountain view. Later I felt as if our little committee crossed over into a higher level of political relevance. My only regret is failing to invite my Republican counterpart, Pat Devlin, and maybe a few other JRC members to the meeting. As I said…next time!