When we get frustrated, we get cranky. And when we get cranky, we sometimes do stupid things that wind up hurting us. We’re on the verge of that right now.
Washington frustrates everyone at the moment. And so the mood in the electorate is “Throw out all those bums in Washington—get rid of the whole bunch!” This makes it a bad time to be an incumbent, and a fine time to be a challenger offering simplistic nostrums that appeal to cranky people who are not thinking clearly.
But each campaign is still a choice between two individuals, not between “the incumbents” and “the challengers”. Depending on which of the two individual candidates the voters in each district and state send to Congress, voters’ frustration will either swell or diminish in the years that follow.
In the New Jersey 12th district, the choice between those two individuals could not possibly be more stark, and so voters here could not possibly have a greater duty to understand the profound differences between them.
One is a legislator respected on both sides of the aisle, the other a man who made millions on Wall Street. Looking at their respective positions on critical issues, it is apparent that their personal life experiences shape their perspectives and policies. Scott Sipprelle is a super-smart financier who amassed an enormous fortune and aims to sustain both his own wealth and that of others who have figured out how to get rich. Rush Holt is a super-smart scientist who studies the interconnections between cause and effect in our society and aims to ensure that sound-bite solutions don’t bite us back. A few examples illustrate these differences:
Rush Holt has been a driving force in Congress to establish an agency dedicated to protecting consumers from the kinds of flimsy “investments” that proved so deceptive even professional financiers got snookered, wreaking havoc with the U.S. economy and American families from coast to coast. Scott Sipprelle opposes this protection and thinks consumers who invest should fend for themselves.
Rush Holt insists on fiscal responsibility through Congressional adherence to the Pay-as-you-go (“PayGo”) legislation passed in the Clinton administration which balances any new expenditure with commensurate cuts and/or new revenues. Scott Sipprelle favors the Bush tax policy of breaks for the very rich and for corporations. PayGo brought about a balanced budget, while the Bush policies have created calamitous debts and deficits. Extending breaks for the very rich will add $700 billion more debt for our children to pay off.
Rush Holt has worked to strengthen Medicare, which provides the most cost-effective healthcare in the U.S. He realizes that there are certain times—maybe not a lot, but some—when the federal government is actually more efficient and wiser than private industry. Meanwhile, Scott Sipprelle thinks that our trillions of dollars in Social Security should now be handed over to Wall Street financiers—the same folks whose feckless derivative vehicles and reckless manipulations have brought the U.S. to the brink of a second Great Depression.
Rush Holt sees that American schools are in serious trouble and understands the implications for sapping our global competitiveness, not to mention stunting the lives of ill-educated individuals. So he is supporting strong initiatives to improve schools’ science and math programs. Scott Sipprelle reportedly would abolish the Department of Education.
Rush Holt has seen that Americans’ household income dropped again this year for the second year in a row and responded with support for increased minimum wages and—a no-brainer—equal pay for equal work (who knew that was still even an issue?) Scott Sipprelle sidesteps the issue of minimum-wage increases while personally giving major financial support to The Club for Growth which actively opposes both minimum wages and equal pay for equal work.
The diametrically opposed views of the two candidates for the New Jersey 12th District seat in Congress would be even easier to comprehend if Scott Sipprelle had chosen to respond to the questionnaire posed to all Congressional candidates across the country by VoteSmart, the non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to pinning all candidates down to very specific answers to very specific questions and issues. But he stonewalled them. Rush Holt’s responses are there for all to see (www.votesmart.org).
But as noted on the VoteSmart website “Scott M. Sipprelle refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders. This candidate has demonstrated 0% courage during the test.”
Ducking the hard questions may be cunning campaign strategy during a time of the electorate’s blind revulsion toward incumbents, but my vote will always go to those who are willing to bear witness to the truth.