A visibly pleased state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, above, who announced last week he will retire at the end of the year after 34 years representing Otsego County in Albany, receives a standing ovation from the 140 attendees at the Otsego Chamber’s State of the State Luncheon today at SUNY Oneonta’s Morris Hall. He is flanked by Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, right, and Assemblyman John Salka, R-Brookfield. Insert, left, Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, gave a thundering address after soliciting from the audience three reasons why people are leaving Upstate New York: High taxes, over regulation and no jobs. “Let’s address these three issues and bring people back to New York State,” said Tague, a leading Republican prospect to succeed Seward; he would face Jim Barber, a Schoharie farmer, who has won Democratic backing. “I’d have big shoes to fill,” said Tague, then reported his shoe size as 14 1/2, triple E. Seward said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back next year.” He won’t be at the head table, he said, “I’ll be in the audience with you, asking tough questions.” Also speaking were Mayors Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch of Cooperstown and Gary Herzig of Oneonta. (Jim Kevin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Congressman Antonio Delgado’s Sunday, Jan. 19, address at the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission’s MLK Day commemoration. Delgado represents the 19th District, which includes Otsego County.
Dr. King has long been my North Star. The power of the man spoke to me even before I fully grasped the magnitude of his legacy. And to stand here today, provided with the opportunity to honor his life – having myself become the first African American to represent Upstate New York in Congress – is incredibly humbling. For I know that without him, there is no me.
But to be clear, I’m not here to talk too much about the past and how it brought us all here today. I’d rather speak about the present, or even better, what Dr. King once called the “fierce urgency of now.”
You see, Dr. King long warned us about the moment we find ourselves in now. Indeed, he gave his last warning nearly 52 years ago, on April 3, 1968 – the day before he was assassinated. At the time, he was delivering what would become his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” at Mason Temple Church in Memphis Tennessee. He was in Tennessee to support the sanitation workers strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition. Importantly, by that time, Dr. King had made a critical shift in his strategy to achieve justice and freedom for all. Rather than focus just on the legal and political obstacles for black Americans, he took on broader issues like poverty, unemployment, education and economic disenfranchisement for all of the nation’s poor – black, white and brown. And it was in the midst of promoting his Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. King was summoned to
Memphis to lend his voice to the sanitation workers’ strike.
In his speech that night, Dr. King said the following. “The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity.” He continued, “If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent.”
Now the way I read this, what Dr. King is saying is that as inequity grows in a democratic society, so too does the illegitimacy of that society’s democracy. And after a while, the inequity can be so extreme, that the people stop believing in democracy all together – which, is a very dangerous place to be. Why, you might ask? Well, at that point, only certain voices need matter, and only select groups need abide by the rule of law, or warrant protection under the law. And what you end up with is a society where might makes right and where greed triumphs over fairness. It’s a scary situation, and its one we are not too far removed from today.
We’ve stopped believing in democracy, and it’s not without good reason. Let me explain. When I was growing up, America was number one in the world in upward mobility. Now, we are dead last in the western world. As a young kid I had a better than 50/50 chance to end up better off than my parents. Now, more and more of our young people are worse off than their parents. Tragically, as more and more wealth has been generated in our economy, economic inequality has only worsened. Consider the fact that while the economy has doubled in size over the last 40 to 50 years, and worker productivity has increased, wages have remained stagnant over that same period of time. The wealth remains concentrated at the top. Indeed, the top .1 percent owns one-fifth of all the wealth, and the top 1 percent owns 29 percent, which is more than the combined wealth of the entire middle class. Meanwhile, the bottom half of all households own just 1.3 percent of total household wealth, two-thirds of Americans are living pay check to pay check, and half the country couldn’t survive a $500 medical emergency bill without going into debt.
It is hard to believe, but 95 percent of all the economic gains post the Great Recession have gone to the top 1 percent.
These numbers are staggering, and when combined with the fact that unlimited amounts of money are allowed to influence our elections and the decision making of elected officials, the result is that a great many of us our actually shut out of our democracy. It is no longer government for the people and by the people, but rather government for the powerful few and by the powerful few.
In response to this cold reality – where perceived scarcity becomes the norm – it is human instinct to want to close ranks and only look out for yourself and those closest to you. When faced with a zero-sum game – even if just an illusion – we take sides, lose our center – and become hollow at the core. Partisanship and divisiveness intensify and democratic norms like mutual toleration erode. Rather than accept our partisan rivals as legitimate we treat them as enemies or traitors and exhibit no restraint – anything goes. This type of environment allows for the rise of strongman politics and demagoguery, where those seeking political power appeal to the desires and prejudices of disaffected people rather than by using rational or fact based arguments.
To be clear, race-baiting, fear-mongering and scape-goating become the predominate methods for political ascent. And the result is a more hostile environment that’s feeds off of anger, and ultimately leads to hatred of the other – from racism, to anti-Semitism, to Islamophobia, to xenophobia.
And as far as I can tell, this is where we find ourselves today – this, my friends, is the urgency of now. Hate is on the march, and our very democracy is on the line. So what’s the answer? The answer, my friend, is the power of love. Now stay with me on this.
As Dr. King once preached, “I have . . . decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind’s problems.”
It is the only force, said Dr. King, “capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.” For “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that . . . Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
And I couldn’t agree more. When you think about it, love is at the heart of democracy. For love enables us to see the humanity in each other – beyond our surface level differences. Love acknowledges the equality of human dignity in us all. And as Aristotle once wrote, “democracy arises out of the notion that those who are equal in any respect are equal in all respects.”
Thus, as we are all equal in our humanity and before
God, we should also be equal in the eyes of our laws and government.
One person, one vote. We all matter, regardless of the fact we might not look like each other, pray like each other, dress like each other, or eat like each other. We all should be free to speak our minds, practice our religion, cast a vote, and pursue our happiness.
This is America’s promise; and it’s why our land has long been a beacon of hope and democracy for people everywhere. It’s why we gaze upon the Statue of Liberty with pride, and seek to embody its inscription – “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”
All of this is born out of a profound love for humanity.
And this is why I love America so deeply. I love our steadfast commitment to perfecting our union, through all the ups and downs. I love how we were not founded on language or geography, but rather a set of democratic ideals and principles, designed to morally anchor our collective will, from freedom, to equality to fairness. I love our diversity and how it makes our endeavor as a nation, human history’s grand experiment in democracy. And I love how in America, a little black boy from a working class family in Schenectady can one day grow up to be a Congressman with a rap album and represent a district that is nearly 90 percent white, and the eighth most rural in the entire country.
Drug courts and treatment, rather than immediately resorting to incarceration, are key to tackling the opioid-addiction epidemic, Congressman Antonio Delgado, R-19, said in a press conference this morning.
“The more we can get away from incarceration and toward treatment, the better,” he said.
Though he did not offer specifics, Delgado has been meeting with organizations ranging from hospitals providing medical treatment to community groups giving moral and psychological support to addicts and their families during his in-district workweek.
It has been shown through research that addicts have a better chance of getting back on their feet if they are supported through their recovery, not just throwing them in prison. There are more companies than ever that are trying to encourage the positive treatment of those with addiction. For example, Recovery Delivered is allowing opioid addicts easier access to Suboxone in Colorado so it’s hoped more innovations like that make their way through the country.
Within minutes of Antonio Delgado proclaiming his support for impeaching Donald Trump on Monday, Sept. 23, the National Republican Campaign Committee declared it is the freshman 19th District congressman’s “political death sentence.”
It’s out of character, for sure. On issues to date, Delgado’s played it safe, focusing legislative efforts on agriculture, broadband and healthcare, knowing, regardless, little legislation sent from the Democratic House of Representatives to the Republican U.S. Senate is going anywhere.
He’s played it just right in what Otsego County’s Republican Chairman Vince Casale calls “a textbook definition of a swing district.”
What did he have to gain by coming out for impeachment?
The 19th District voters who supported impeachment –Democrats and some centrists, mostly – had nowhere to go except Delgado. Sensible centrism made sense for an out-of-district candidate in his vulnerable freshman year: build cred, firm up the base incrementally.
That’s out the window now.
“My impression is this is a pure moral, ethical stand,” said Richard Sternberg, Cooperstown, the Democratic strategist and his party’s Town of Otsego chairman. “Having identified and political risks, he’s basically making a courageous stand.”
A look back on Election Night 2018 is illuminating, and shows vulnerability.
Delgado beat incumbent Republican John Faso handily by an 11.3 percent margin (147,873-132,873), but given the four-way race – remember the Green Party’s Steve Greenfield and independent Diane Neal, the “Law & Order SVU” actress? – he garnered less than a majority (48.6 percent) of the total vote.
We forget: Ulster County, a Democratic stronghold in the swing 19th, won the election for him. The Delgado lead there – it makes sense the congressman then established his district office in Kingston – was 19,052. Districtwide, he only won by 15,000.
And he only won four of 11 counties in the 19th: Otsego and Schoharie, both squeakers, the Dutchess portion just comfortably, plus Ulster.
Not a landslide. Reelection isn’t a sure thing.
Until the Sept. 23 announcement, Delgado had played it cool. It’s hard to think of any controversial stance on anything.
Maybe he simply got carried away by the Democratic fever that swept the House of Representatives over
the weekend of Sept. 21-22, after the Ukraine-gate surfaced.
Think 40 years ahead. A young lad is sitting on his grandfather’s lap, “What did you do in Congress,
Granpa?” Would grey-haired Delgado really want to reply, “Sat on the sidelines of history, Sonny.”
Casale presented an alternate scenario to Sternberg’s: “He’s scared of the left of center” – in Ulster County, if anywhere. “If he’s not with them, they will threaten him with a primary.”
Leading up to presstime this week, it appeared it may be, where goeth the polls, so goeth the presidency.
On Saturday the 28th, an NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist poll found 49 percent of Americans favored
impeachment – up 10 percent from April, when the Mueller Report was first released; 46 percent said impeachment was unnecessary.
By the next day, a CBS poll found 55 percent favored impeachment, to 45 percent saying it wasn’t warranted. Building, building… (Monday the 30th, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said there WILL be a trial in the Senate if the House sends up articles of impeachment. Hmmm.)
But FiveThirtyEight, and pollsters who led the New York Times over a cliff in 2016, were expressing caution in the form of the “differential nonresponse bias.” – “If partisans on one side of a political question respond to a survey more readily than partisans on the other side, … the results in your poll won’t match the real-world opinion. “… Instead, the poll will be skewed by how willing some people are to respond to a survey.”
Given how sure-footed Antonio Delgado was in dispatching six Democratic primary challengers last year, then grinding down Faso, it’s interesting to see him bet all on this impeachment thing. It’s a plunge.
Delgado’s next local Town Hall meeting is 6-7 p.m. this Saturday, Oct 5, in the Cherry Valley Community Center, 2 Genesee St. Go and ask him about it.
On impeachment overall, waiting for the outcome of the 2020 presidential election – it’ll be here before we know it – would have been a better way to tamp down acrimony. But that’s not to be.
ONEONTA – After meeting with poverty-fighting officials in Oneonta earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, R-19, plans to return Saturday, Oct. 5, to participate in a public forum, “Living in Dignity and the Crisis of Poverty in Otsego and Delaware counties,” organized by the Faces of Rural Poverty organization.
Moderated by Jeri Wachter, executive producer of filmmaker Joe Stillman’s “Faces of Rural Poverty” documentary, the forum – 2-5 p.m. at Foothills – will address current issues in education, health care, housing, wages, and transportation.
U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado’s bi-partisan bill to aid family farmers during downturns in the agriculture economy was signed into law Friday by President Trump, the congressman’s office announced.
H.R. 2336, The Family Farmer Relief Act, eases the process of reorganizing debt through Chapter 12 bankruptcy rules, a tool created specifically to help family farmers during tough economic times. Delgado introduced the legislation in April with support from House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Reps. TJ Cox (D-Calif.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.). This legislation passed the House on July 26, the Senate on Aug. 2.
ONEONTA – After 36 years in the New York State National Guard, retiring Feb. 2 at adjutant general, the top commander, Tony German’s career was guided by a set of values: Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.
That’s the code of the U.S. Air Force, he explained.
“I’m not going to change now,” he said Sunday, Aug. 18, in an interview at his Cemetery Hill home as he contemplates his latest challenge: Running for the Republican nomination for 19th District congressman. If he faces a GOP primary and wins next June, he’ll face the Democratic freshman, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado on Nov. 3, 2010.
Calling Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony last week “incredibly important” in an afternoon press conference call today, Rep. Antonio Delgado suggested he would support impeaching President Donald Trump if the president continued to “steamroll” the House’s investigations of him.
“I will weigh progress in our public hearings against the obstacles Trump is putting up,” Delgado said. “If that reaches an impasse, then we have to make a decision.”
Delgado’s statement indicated a shift from his emphasis on unity and impeachment being perceived as “a purely partisan political act” in his Oneonta town hall last Saturday, July 27. But since then, more Democrats – both members of Congress and presidential candidates – have called for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
HAMILTON – Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, will give the commencement address at his alma mater, Colgate University, this Sunday, May 19, the college announced today.
A 1999 graduate of the college, Delgado majored in philosophy and political science, graduating magna cum laude and earning Phi Beta Kappa membership.
He attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, receiving a second degree in the school’s Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program, then returned to the United States to earn his JD from Harvard Law School in 2005.
Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19th, included three Otsego County representatives to a 19th Congressional District Health Care Advisory Committee he announced yesterday to advise him on “skyrocketing costs of healthcare and on healthcare legislation before the House.”
They are Bassett Healthcare Network President Bill Streck, Dr. Chris Kjolhede, director of Bassett’s School-Based Health Center Program, and Sue Smith, Otsego County Health Department deputy director.
COOPERSTOWN – U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19th, will host his first in-county “Town Hall” meeting 12:30-1:30 Monday, Feb. 18 – President’s Day – in the ballroom at Village Hall, 22 Main St.
This is Delgado’s first event in Otsego County since a thank-you reception he hosted in Oneonta after the Nov. 6 election.
Last week, there was a “soft opening” of Delgado’s Otsego County office in Otsego Now’s headquarters on the fifth floor of 189 Main St., Oneonta. An official opening is planned when the congressman can be there.