Today, Blue America is proud to endorse Nate Shinagawa for Congress in NY-23, the old Eric Massa district composed of the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York. It was a district Democrats lost after Eric Massa’s breakdown and resignation. The GOP extremist who took over, Tom Reed, is a backbencher who has an unblemished record as a proponent of greed and selfishness. But it’s not some deep red Confederate-leaning district. Mostly the old NY-29 — now NY-23 — has been redrawn as a swing district. Under the new boundaries Obama would have beaten McCain 50-49%, instead of losing to him 48-51% as he did under the old lines. Reed has been so invisible that new polling shows only about a third of the district has even heard of him. And when voters are made aware of Nate’s positions and Reed’s votes, they prefer Nate. Nate is our guest right now for a free-ranging question and answer session below in the comments section. Please join us and feel free to ask questions. And, if you can please consider contributing to his grassroots campaign here on the Blue America page.
As we mentioned Sunday, Nate’s compelling personal story is quintessentially the All American story. Like every last one of us, his antecedents had come to America, struggled, persevered and come to love and become part of their new homeland. His Japanese ancestors were interned in concentration camps but later his grandfather joined the U.S. Marine Corps to fight for the country they loved. That story helped to define how Nate saw himself as grew into the best America has to offer itself. And that story led him to explain his campaign to me as one “about being brave and fighting for a government that provides for its senior citizens, creates opportunities for its young people, and protects the pristine lands and waters of this great country.”
As American as apple pie? Of course. But that’s not the way the apostles of greed and selfishness who have taken over the Republican Party see it. And Nate happens to be running against one of the most radical and contrary Republicans of all, Tom “I got mine” Reed, a self-entitled freshman who insists he’s both a teabagger and a multimillionaire. Before running for office, Reed was a medical debt collector who profited off of the misfortune of sick people and once he did manage to get into office– as a result of the Eric Massa scandal– he, in quick succession hired a former health insurance company lobbyist as his legislative director and voted to repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction. Reed, a huge supporter of Paul Ryan’s plans to radically redrawn America in an Ayn Rand image, proudly supports raising the Medicare eligibility age (rather than bring down costs by expanding coverage the way Nate is suggesting) and has publicly said that Social Security had to be “on the table” for cuts.
Despite the congressional earmark ban, Reed has introduced earmark tariff bills that would only benefit individual companies that contribute to his campaign, exactly what less hypocritical and idealistic Tea Partiers said the ban was meant to put a stop to. In other ways, though, Reed, is more in line with knee-jerk GOP dogma. He insists that the Bush tax cuts did not need to be paid for or offset in order to be extended and he has opposed every attempt President Obama has made to make the tax system fairer and to bring jobs back to America. If Nate’s story is quintessentially the All American story, Tom Reed’s is quintessentially the All Greed story. Last fall when Tropical Storm Lee devastated much of his own district with floods and FEMA funding was running out, he stood with Boehner and Cantor and not with his own voters, a standoff that brought us to the brink of a government shutdown. While Reed was playing obstructionist games and posturing about his extremist ideology, people’s lives and safety were in danger. Ironically, Nate was Incident Commander at his hospital, coordinating the emergency response in communities affected by the flooding from
from the same storm, even buying $3,000 worth of water with his own credit card when the hospital sewer system went down!
Nate couldn’t be more different from Reed. “We need leadership committed to building up the middle class again,” he told us, “and making government work again for all Americans. Voters have seen the Republican Congress give more advantages to the already advantaged at the expense of their own communities where working families continue to struggle as our economy slowly recovers from recession. It’s time to prove once and for all that the American Dream is our future, not our past.” It must make Reed’s skin crawl to hear Nate drawing attention to the profound differences the two of them have:
“I believe that the job creators in this country are everyday Americans. They are our teachers, nurses, firefighters, construction workers who work hard every day. They are our small businesses and our entrepreneurs. They are our farmers, our students and our senior citizens.”
If you’d like to help a smart, effective young progressive replace Reed in Congress, please consider making a contribution at the Blue America ActBlue page.