Opinion: Lessons picked from peaches

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Raphael Warnock speaks on his campaign’s Youtube account
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Raphael Warnock speaks on his campaign’s Youtube account.
Warnock for Georgia

I’ve only spent a few hours in Georgia, but because of their particular election rules, Georgia’s on my mind. Those election laws resulting in Warnock and Ossoff Senate wins propels Park Slope’s own Chuck Schumer to Senate Majority leader. The wins, coupled with Donald Trump’s defeat, gives me more hope than any New Year Resolution ever could for the year 2021.

The consequences of better federal policies — starting with funds to close COVID-created budget gaps — will be a great help to New York State and City and us here in Brooklyn. I also think since Trump kept threatening it would happen if the Democrats won, we could continue to break down zoning barriers to suburban integration for those seeking that lifestyle. I mean, I wouldn’t want him to have a reputation as a liar.

The Georgia elections were more than just wins — they will help save lives and bolster our democratic institutions. They also highlighted a fundamental truth: campaigns should be clear about what you want to and will strive to do if elected. In this case, Ossoff and Warnock very clearly stated voting for them was a vote for those $2,000 emergency aid checks, which Senator Mitch McConnell has blocked. It’s simple, to the point, and directly benefits people without needlessly getting into targeted policies of “means testing” that cause a significant delay in an emergency. Don’t do complicated inexplicable tax cuts and labyrinthian programs that are too often dead ends. As we’ve seen most recently with vaccination skepticism, we are suffering from low social trust levels and a lack of faith in institutions to do right by people. 

When people need help, help them. While means-testing may be well-intentioned, hell is down that road. The argument of means-testing does not want people to get benefits if they can scrape by without help. Of course, that standard doesn’t apply to corporate welfare and ever-greater tax cuts for billionaires. The “undeserving” wealthy end up with even greater wealth while people who could benefit from what is, relatively speaking, a pittance of extra cash are cut out due to some arbitrary line in the sand.

We’re all in this together-approach of Social Security and Medicare on the federal level. Universal Pre-K, implemented by the de Blasio administration in 2014, has proven to be sustainable and popular. 

Universal Pre-K guarantees a seat to all four year olds in New York City and is widely popular in part  because middle class parents don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars for private school Pre-K. No program is perfectly structured or executed, but Social Security, Medicare and Universal Pre-K are here to stay.

All the mayoral candidates are tripping over themselves to find ways to demonstrate how they’d be better and different than Bill de Blasio. However, despite his lack of popularity, you won’t find a single candidate looking to cut his biggest policy achievement. There’s a lesson in there, and I hope a couple of James Madison High school alum remember it.