The opinions expressed in a recent piece published by the Editorial Board could suppress student turnout such that it would create a Republican majority in the House of Representatives in November 2020. Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi scored one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 midterms by winning a seat that President Donald Trump won by more than 15 points. Of all 233 Democrats in the House of Representatives, only one represents a redder district than Brindisi — Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), who won his seat in a district that Trump won by more than 30 percentage points in 2016.
Republicans are chomping at the bit after former Rep. Claudia Tenney’s embarrassing loss in 2018. Three Republicans are already running, including Tenney and Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell. The policies advocated by each of them would be disastrous for students as they would serve as a rubber stamp by toeing the party line for the GOP, putting their wealthy special interests first and putting students and immigrants last. As Pipe Dream correctly noted in their editorial, Tenney voted with Trump about 97 percent of the time in 2018.
New York’s 22nd Congressional District spans from Binghamton to Utica and has the same problems that plagued the Midwest with the loss of its manufacturing jobs and a struggling economy. However, because New York state isn’t electorally important, nobody cares about the struggles in its rural upstate — but Brindisi does. Brindisi used his leverage to gain a seat on the House Agriculture Committee, which is extremely important because we need to stand up for our farmers, as Trump’s unpredictable, impulsive trade wars ravage farmers as they are faced with more and more uncertainty.
If the Editorial Board ventured outside the friendly confines of Binghamton, they would see the struggles of the dairy farmers in Madison County or the diverse Bosnian refugee population in Utica — they would realize that NY-22 is more than just students, which make up just 40,000 of the roughly 697,000 people in NY-22.
The op-ed continues to be misleading and omit important information. Brindisi defied the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other big special interests to support universal background checks to combat the series of mass shootings that plague our country. Brindisi also supported the Equality Act in order to provide explicit protection from discrimination in housing, hiring and education for members of the LGBTQ community. Tenney refused to back the Equality Act when she was in Congress, has an A-plus rating from the NRA and does not support universal background checks — going against the grain of 97 percent of gun owners who support it. Tenney also received a paltry 28-percent ranking from the Human Rights Campaign over her support of LGBTQ issues.
The allegation that Brindisi is out of touch with the opinion of students is utterly false. Brindisi has been on campus at least twice since he was elected to Congress and has held two town halls within 15 minutes of campus, one in Binghamton and another in Apalachin. Brindisi also held a town hall in April on campus discussing the issue of climate change and just last month held a roundtable with student leaders to discuss the pressing and close-to-home issue of student debt. Tenney never appeared on campus during her two years in Congress and treated Binghamton University students as an afterthought. There is no better representative in uplifting student voices than Brindisi, despite the small fraction of the population they make up. Tenney’s Twitter profile is filled with fearmongering, falsities and other right-wing propaganda. What is missing is any local engagement or evidence that she cares about issues impacting students and Binghamton.
The Editorial Board seems to encourage not voting for Brindisi because Brindisi does not fit their perfect image of a progressive Congress member. If Tenney is elected to office because students sat out the election, it would be illegal to get married on Sunday as a same-sex couple, and you could be evicted from your apartment on Monday and get fired on Tuesday. You might not agree with every vote Brindisi takes, but he is better than Cornwell, or Trump’s minion Tenney, who is more concerned with playing politics and toeing the party line than being a true, independent voice for upstate New York. If students want to see the Democrats maintain control of the House to exercise their constitutional obligation to investigate and check Trump, they should vote for Brindisi. However, if they would rather see Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) serve as a rubber stamp for Trump’s radical and disparaging agenda, they should sit out and live with the consequences.
Thomas Dowling is treasurer for the Binghamton University College Democrats and a senior majoring in political science.