Tomorrow, millions of Americans will vote. A significant number of Cornellians are casting absentee ballots for their home state (and for those who haven’t yet, this is a gentle reminder to get those in soon), but students registered in Ithaca will vote in a congressional election that has become as contentious as the Clinton-Trump face-off.
Democratic challenger Navy Captain John Plumb is vying with incumbent Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) to represent New York’s 23rd congressional district in the House of Representatives. Although the vitriol hurled by both campaigns is alarming, Plumb has proven the stronger contender with a platform that would actually support New York residents.
One of the first congressmen to endorse Republican nominee Donald Trump, Reed has continually supported misguided, if not dangerous, policies. He currently holds an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and opposed the NY SAFE Act, a gun regulation law that bans ammunition sales over the internet and requires ammunition vendors to conduct background checks. Even after the June 12 mass shooting and hate crime in Orlando, Reed refused to acknowledge gun regulation problems and blamed the incident on “radical Islamic” terrorism. Plumb, on the other hand, has taken a more reasonable approach to gun control: although a shotgun owner himself, he believes that Congress should work towards bipartisan solutions to keep weapons away from criminals and mentally ill and has called for more thorough background checks.
On other issues, Reed similarly misses the mark: he is “unapologetically pro-life,” has fought to suspend federal funding for Planned Parenthood, voted to extend the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps in 2011, voted to shut down the government alongside Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in a failed attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act and has received nearly 60 percent of his campaign funds from special interests and PACs. In April, he presented the REDUCE Act, which would have mandated that colleges with endowments greater than one billion dollars use 25 percent of its returns for financial aid — a policy criticized by late President Elizabeth Garrett and Cornell administrators for “cheat[ing] future generations of educational programs.”
Ultimately, Reed is a part of dysfunctional Washington that has failed to act in constituents’ best interests. It is time for a new face: John Plumb, who has run on a much more balanced platform — one that includes support for women’s reproductive rights, a nuanced opposition on fracking and firm resistance of monied interests in politics. Although he has never held public office, Plumb has served as a Navy officer and in the U.S. Senate and National Security Council and will provide a much-needed ability to compromise and execute bipartisan projects. After months of negative campaigning, this community needs someone who will bring results, not just empty talk.