Why a Congressional Seat?
The issues I’m talking about can’t be effectively rectified at the local or state level.
Sure, we can use the tools we have at the state level to try to mitigate our healthcare problems, but these are just Band-Aids that neglect the root causes of our problems. For example, states can expand their Medicaid program to increase the number of insured residents. New Jersey has done this. Despite this expansion, New Jersey is among the states with the fewest doctors even accepting Medicaid patients (NJ FamilyCare) – “You have a card saying you have health insurance, but if no doctors take it, it’s almost like having one of those fake IDs.”
The same is true for climate mitigation. Despite New Jersey “leading the country in offshore wind” and taking climate mitigation seriously, our state is the quickest warming state in the country. We don’t live in a bubble. Fighting climate change requires a federal remedy.
If we are to advocate for these issues, we’re compelled to look at the record of our federal representative – the person with the capacity to influence these policies. The healthcare and climate advancements we seek are undermined by our federal representative. Donald Norcross was the only leadership member of the CPC not supporting H.R. 1976 – a single-payer, universal healthcare system that Yale University, Harvard University, and the CBO suggest would save hundreds of billions of dollars a year and tens of thousands of lives. On climate, he was one of the only House Democrats who supported the KeyStone XL Pipeline – energy described as the most destructive on the planet by the National Geographic. He also celebrates the Covanta Incinerator in Camden, New Jersey – the largest polluter in the county and the second largest emitter of lead in America. He accepts campaign contributions from the private insurance industry, ExxonMobil, and the Covanta Incinerator.
Tacit in this question is an implication that politics is like a career – that one should have an office at a lower level before stepping into a federal level. The reality is any of our local or state representatives could have identified these systemic issues and had asked our federal representative to support legislation that would support healthcare and climate progress – no one did. I led a year-long initiative to pressure him on these issues. When there was no movement, I announced my primary challenge against Donald Norcross.
This isn’t about career advancement – it’s about realizing we don’t have the luxury to sit around and wait for our representatives to do what’s right.