Thinking about making your vote Tuesday a primal scream?
Go for it. There’s a lot to scream about.
It’s always your duty to vote. But there’s more at stake this time.
Send a message about the ugliness oozing from several campaigns. Negativity is routine in elections, especially in the final days when nervous candidates often resort to baseness. It’s always corrosive to the democratic process, and when it goes too far, it sows fear and hate in our communities.
Mailers from the state Republican Party linking Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Laura Curran to the MS-13 gang are grotesque. For one political party to suggest that someone from another party encourages gang violence is appalling, and it stains GOP candidate Jack Martins, who stands by that message. And the imagery used — three scowling, heavily tattooed Latino men — demonizes that ethnic group.
Shackled by endemic corruption, unable or unwilling to fix the county’s assessment problem and thus neutered in the argument over taxes, the Nassau GOP has returned to the issue that has animated the party for decades — that only Republicans can protect residents from “them” and that Democrats embrace “them,” including threatening gangs and minorities in general. It is racist at its core and it is obscene and yet another indication of how divisive our political conversation has become.
Send a message about corruption in both counties. In Nassau, the pay-to-play culture is bankrupting government to benefit elected officials and contributors, not residents. In Suffolk, there is a different twist. It’s more about abusing power and the way party leaders conspire to fix races and rob voters of choices. That determines whether government works for you or the chosen few. That was made clear in the recent indictment of District Attorney Thomas Spota on charges of helping cover up crimes committed by protégé and then-police Chief James Burke. Spota, who ran unopposed in his last three races, was not accountable to anyone. On the other hand, GOP sheriff candidate Lawrence Zacarese bucked the party bosses who tried to rig his race; he is qualified to do the job.
Send a message about dishonesty. Nassau GOP Legis. Howard Kopel is not the first and most likely won’t be the last to imply, as he did in a Facebook post, that Newsday endorsed him. We did not. We chose his Democratic rival, neurologist Karen Blitz.
Send a message about taxes. If the tax reform bill being discussed in the House of Representatives passes in anything like its current form, Long Islanders will have a lot less money in their pockets and worse, our region will take a sucker punch as housing values decline. As GOP Rep. Pete King is making clear in his loud appeal to his party, this is hurting Trump voters in districts that supported him last year. Coupled with looming school pension hikes, that would put more pressure on local governments and school districts to reduce taxes, including by reining in teacher and police contracts. Washington will read the tea leaves from these off-year elections; give them something to interpret.
Send a message — about negativity, about your anger at being shut out of your government, about your frustration regarding dishonesty and backroom deals, about your demand for fairness and transparency.
Enter the voting booth, and scream.