Commentary: A troubling trend in local politics

Originally written at Binghamton Political Buzz by Michael “Vass” Vasquez on March 14, 2016


There is a trend that is occurring in politics lately. In part at the national level in the Presidential debates, but what is far more troubling is at the State and local levels. A trend where the public is denied relevant information to evaluate the candidates that seek their donations, support, and ultimately votes.

There is plenty of news coverage on the evasions of Hillary Clinton in discussing Benghazi and the emails that violated the very State Department regulations she imposed on others when she was the Secretary of State. Equally Donald Trump has been well covered as he dodged discussion of his business failures or details on hos Mexico will pay for the wall he hopes to build on the border. But there is no comparison of such coverage when it comes to Congressional and lower races. Examples can be found in the Southern Tier of New York.

Starting with the New York 22nd congressional race there are Democrats and Republicans who make the evasions and deflections of the 2016 presidential race look like an encyclopedia of information. Specifically candidates Kim Myers (Democrat), George Phillips and Steve Wells (both Republicans) have apparently sought to take advantage of the devolving political environment. In each case, these candidates have pursued donations in lieu of logic or justification. The proof is in the campaign websites and outreach the candidates are actively making to the public.

Going by order of time, George Phillips entered the NY-22 race in December 2015. His website, available to the public as of December 22, 2015, asked for donation but never mentioned why Mr. Phillips was running for elected office for 60 days. Only after having the news media directly call out his lack information repeatedly was a change made to the website to include the following:

  • Creating more opportunities for job growth in Upstate New York through economic and tax reform;
  • Improving national security in the fight against ISIS and al Queda;
  • Standing up for the Constitution – especially the Second Amendment – in the face of bad liberal policies like President Obama’s recent Executive Order and Governor Cuomo’s so-called NY-SAFE Act; and
  • Restoring the people’s trust in public service by cleaning up government corruption and making ethics reform a top priority.

Those aren’t thought out reasons or explanations. Those are a series of talking points so brief and general they can’t fill a 30 second commercial. In fact, 3 of those points are given facts for the existence of Government – economic prosperity, national security and public confidence in the Government. It’s an empty set of statements that mean nothing – as they don’t explain HOW or WHY this candidate will address any aspect of these items. Thus, objectively, for 83 days, the public still has no reason to donate or support Mr. Phillips besides his declared political party.

Next would be Steve Wells. He entered the NY-22 race on February 9, 2016. Once again there is a candidate who declined to tell the public anything but empty statements. But at the start, Mr. Wells who had developed his website since January 8, 2016, gave a bit more to the public considering the negative attention Mr. Phillips received. Thus Mr. Wells, in addition to asking for donations, provided the following as reasons to support his bid:


National Security
Iran, Syria, North Korea

Non-State Terrorists
Al–Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hezbollah

Economic Security
Heavy Regulation, Weak Growth

Personal Security
Violent Crime, Broken Healthcare

Technology Security
Foreign Hackers

Supporting Free Enterprise

Maintaining our Strong Military

Upgrading our Defense against Cyber-Attack

Rebuilding our Aging Infrastructure

Improving our Mental Health Facilities and Education

Reducing Government Regulation

Guarding against the Threat of Socialism

Developing a Competitive Tax Structure

Again, this is not a set of reasons. This is not a plan. These are general statements describing the status of the nation. Like Mr. Phillips, this is not even enough information to fill a commercial [Note that neither candidate has released any commercial or advertisements to date]. Mr. Wells offers no plan to resolve the threats to the nation, nor how he would gain support for whatever is his undisclosed solution on the floor of Congress if elected. In comparison, Hillary Clinton was more forthright about her emails than Mr. Wells has been on his plan for Congress.

As much as it may seem that this is a Republican issue it is not. Democrats just entered the race later than their counterparts. Legislator Kim Myers jumped on the bandwagon on March 4, 2016. While she has had the least time to inform the public, she has provided the least information. Legislator Myers campaign website for Congress was bought in February 2016, and yet though time to develop a presentation was available, the public was just given a donation button and the following quote:

“I’ve lived in Broome County my whole life. Around here we care about each other. We don’t really care that much about party or politics, just about helping our neighbors out and making communities strong.”

Objectively, this is absurd. It says nothing about the issues facing the nation. It says nothing about solutions. It even provides a backhanded insult to a majority of the constituents of the NY-22 (who live outside Broome County). Exactly why should anyone support Legislator Myers – because she is a woman (though Republican candidate Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney has also been in this race since November 2015), or because she is a Democrat. Those reasons are just blind partisanship, and/or sexism. That level of reasoning might not even be enough for a high school election, to say nothing of a congressional one.

But this void of reason and purpose is not limited to just the NY 22nd congressional race. This trend to deny the public information that is vital to making an informed decision has pervaded the County Executive election of Broome County. Jason Garnar announced his intention to run against incumbent Broome County Executive Debbie Preston on March 7, 2016. It would seem that the same people who developed the campaign planning for Legislator Myers worked for Mr. Garnar.

Still at least Mr. Garnar offered the public a video (and only a video besides a donation button) on his website that both introduced himself and gave some description of why he is running. Yet he glaringly avoided any mention of what he would do if elected. Not even a glancing mention of a focus of his goals was given in this internet advertisement. But given the very short period of time of the existence of the website and announcement, Mr. Garnar is the only candidate of those mentioned that has an excuse – he is just ramping up.

Each of these are examples of a trend. Less information, more partisanship. This is a dependency on low-information, soundbite driven politics – the equivalent of eating handfuls of sugar when hungry. It may feel good, it may fill you for a time, but it provides no benefit and may be harmful over time. That is the state of politics in the nation, especially at the local level.

No wonder so few are confident in politicians and why corruption (in both Parties) is so rampant. Literally, used car salesmen are more upfront and detailed in their sales pitch than what is being given to the public by these candidates seeking elected office. This is insulting to voters. The assumption that votes can be bought so cheaply, and so little is expected in return, needs to have more light shed upon it.

Perhaps some of the candidates mentioned, and others seeking to enter various 2016 New York elections, will take this as a call to action. Maybe they will embarrassed enough to provide the public with the respect that is due. But, Democrat or Republican alike, at this time they have not. Therefore they need to be called out for that. Because there are no laws protecting the public from lemon politicians and the damage they can do – until the damage has already been done.

** Michael “Vass” Vasquez was a Republican candidate for Congress in 2014, and has been a political commentator for nearly a decade. Mr. Vasquez announced support of Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney in November 2015. Mr. Vasquez is also a member of the Broome Republican Committee. This is mentioned for full disclosure to readers and has no impact on any interview of any candidate, as this publication does not endorse ANY candidate. **

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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