Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Spitzer for Governor

I've always liked what I've heard about Eliot Spitzer. He's done some extremely important work trying to enforce financial regulatory laws at a time when our Federal Government was at best failing to enforce them (if not outright weakening them). So when I heard he was running for Governor, I sort of assumed that I'd support him. And, to be honest, I tend to focus on national and international politics when I read the news, so I didn't even really keep up with the race.

But there was a debate last night between Spitzer and his opponent, Thomas Suozzi. I didn't watch or listen to it, but I did read the New York Times article on the debate this morning. It's a pretty poor article, actually -- a lot about style, less about substance; I scanned the article to see how the two men differed and learned less than I'd have liked, and even what is in there about substance is usually phrased in stylistic terms. But I did learn one thing that settled the matter for me (unless I hear something truly egregious between now and the primary).

I want to emphasize that, while I was leaning towards Spitzer, I did really have an open mind here. I didn't know much about Suozzi; if I'd seen some good positions from him, and some corresponding bad ones from Spitzer, I would have had to think long and hard about the decision. As it is, I saw something that convinced me that my initial instinct was right. Here was the exchange, from the Times article:
[Suozzi] said his opposition to gay marriage had “a lot to do with semantics,” explaining that he supported giving the same rights to gay couples that married couples have — yet, as a Catholic, he saw marriage as a sacrament for a man and a woman. Mr. Spitzer said that answer was not acceptable. “Semantics is not what this is about — this is about equality,” he said.

Damn straight, Spitzer. Separate but equal has a long and disgraceful history in this country; the last thing that we need is more of it. And equal rights for our gay and lesbian citizens is an extremely important issue, particularly in this state due to the recent disgraceful decision of New York's highest court.

Nor should this have anything to do with religion. Suozzi is free to believe whatever he wishes about sacraments, and no one is suggesting that a religious group be compelled to do anything (and I'd fight anyone who did so suggest). But Suozzi's running for Governor, not Bishop; he ought to be committed to equality for all under the (secular) law. Fortunately, Spitzer is.

Now, I'm not really a one-issue voter, and I don't agree with Spitzer on everything. He's for the death penalty; I'm against it. He's against legalizing medical marijuana use; I'm for it. But those issues are -- frankly -- not in the same league as gay marriage, at least not for me.

And on other issues I care a lot about, Spitzer also sounds better. He's better on health care, supporting universal health care in the state. An early paragraph in the Times article made him sound worse in his support for public schools -- and certainly I wish he was more vocally supportive -- but if you read down you find out that he actually wants to fund public schools more generously than Suozzi, practically speaking he's better on this, too.

So Spitzer is not only coming into the race with a great record, but he also has very good stands on some very key issues -- gay marriage, health care, schools. He's clearly the better choice.

And while I'm not a one-issue voter, gay marriage is an issue that is of the utmost importance to me. This is a crucial time for the question, in the nation as a whole and for New York in particular -- the latter because, thanks to the Court, the legislature is going to deal with it very soon. We need a governor who will do the right thing on it. Last night, Spitzer said he would, and Suozzi said he wouldn't. That settles it.

Spitzer for Governor.

Incidentally, I also wrote to both men and told them who I was voting for and why -- the "why" being a little less nuanced than here because, well, it was a letter and whichever aides who read it were going to scan it quickly (unlike my Noble Readers, I'm sure) and I wanted to be sure they got the right gist: Spitzer holds the moral position on gay marriage, and will thus get my vote; Suozzi holds the immoral position, and thus looses it. -- I mention this to encourage any other New Yorkers who read this not only to vote for Spitzer, but to write and tell him why. It's all very well and good that he's for equal marriage rights, but it is important to let him know that that issue is winning him votes, to help ensure that he stays true once he -- deus volent -- wins the Governorship. So drop him a line ( and let him know that he's doing the right thing, and that you support him because of it. I think that telling people why you're voting can be at least as important as voting that way (hence this blog post).

The NY State primary is September 12. New Yorkers, make sure you're registered.

Spitzer for Governor.

No comments: