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I am fortunate enough to spend the last few days of the election cycle working with Anna Throne-Holst’s campaign in New York’s beautiful First District. Fall in Suffolk County is truly something else – the changing leaves and crisp air are enough to soothe even the most extreme cases of pre-election stress. Yesterday – in between canvassing shifts – we took a short break to look out onto the Atlantic, and I jokingly quipped that this was an ideal time to muse about whether politics really does stop at the water’s edge.
While it was initially a joke, the sentiment – coined in 1947 by Republican Senator Arthur Vandenberg – bears some relevance for the issues at stake in New York’s First. Throne-Holst is working to unseat Republican incumbent Lee Zeldin, who has stood proudly behind Donald Trump throughout the election. While the race hasn’t directly addressed whether Americans should air our partisan divisions overseas, Zeldin certainly seems to think that politics should stop at his party’s edge. Okay, maybe not a perfect metaphor, but it’s a problem for Zeldin either way.
Despite the relentless racism, disgusting misogyny and reckless invective of the Trump campaign, Zeldin hasn’t wavered in his support of the GOP nominee. As Throne-Holst’s camp has charged, he’s putting partisan politics over the good of the country. Zeldin cited the Supreme Court as a reason to vote for Trump, pointedly refusing to defend some of his most outrageous statements.
Zeldin’s political calculus reinforces the stakes of this election for me. When it comes to foreign policy, Trump’s blithe throwaways about leveling countries in the Middle East and the frightening callousness with which he talks about nuclear proliferation render him unfit to be president. Republican candidates should distance themselves from him, even if it means they have to air out their party’s disagreements.
I’ll be spending the next few days working tirelessly to make sure Lee Zeldin doesn’t return to Congress with a head full of Trump’s dangerous ideas. I’ll be out knocking on doors and talking to voters not just because Anna Throne-Holst is a Democrat, but because she has the demonstrated values and principles we need more of in Washington D.C.