October 28, 2016
Scott Garrett’s political obituary has been prepared before, mostly because his politics are incompatible with any district north of Chattanooga, and predictions of his electoral fadeout are always double-digit miscalculations.
But there are signals that his joyride through a dark political universe could end next week, as the country reexamines the Republican party’s embrace of negativism and obstruction as operating principles, and ponders the removal of those who forsake the nation’s needs and potential.
Garrett is running against Democrat Josh Gottheimer in the 5th District, the chevron-shaped arc in North Jersey. Gottheimer, 41, is a former Microsoft exec who wrote speeches for Bill Clinton and worked in the John Kerry presidential campaign, and his talent and policy positions generally reflect such a pedigree. He is easily the most prepared, charismatic, and best-funded opponent Garrett has ever faced.
Garrett is the spiritual leader of the Tea Party and a founder of the Liberty Caucus, which authored the 2013 shutdown and whose charter vows to “abolish programs, not create them.” His subservience to wealth and his contempt for the middle class defies cataloguing, and his ability to win office seven times speaks to his ability to hide from his record.
Because he doesn’t have legislative achievement as much as an anarchistic governing philosophy and a talent for manipulating truths. And the whole truth is in the Congressional Record:
  • If voters know anyone shattered by natural or manmade tragedy, they know Garrett is as sympathetic as a Louisiana chain gang guard.
He voted against reauthorizing the Zadroga bill for 9/11 first responders, turned his back on Sandy victims, and lied about both votes. He voted against extending emergency aid for Katrina victims, and against prosthetic limbs and PTSD treatment for veterans. He was against revitalizing severely distressed public housing, and against the regulation of subprime mortgages.
  • Voters might notice that his moral dissonance affects everyone they know.
He voted NO on the Violence Against Women Act, NO on equal pay, NO on banning job discrimination based on orientation, NO to paid sick leave, NO on expanding child health care multiple times, NO on extending the Voting Rights Act, NO on a women’s right to choose, even in cases of rape and incest. He sponsored a bill that authorizes Congress to “protect life beginning with fertilization,” yet he always advances the cause of gun rights, including for those on the FBI Terror Watch list.
  • And consider the potential damage done under the rubric of fiscal responsibility.
He has refused to protect safe drinking water multiple times, he voted against funding the Department of Homeland Security, he voted against the auto bailout, he is against enforcing anti-gay hate crimes, he advocates drilling off the Jersey shore, he opposes making price gouging by oil companies a crime, he has voted to defund public broadcasting, and he wants to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
GARRETT HAS HAD a rough year. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, he has always been Wall Street’s dancing chimp and Dodd-Frank assassin, but donations from Goldman Sachs and Capital One vanished after his repudiation of gay candidates made his bigotry a scarlet letter he can no longer remove.
Essentially, they recognize that his career has been a campaign for the hegemony of white, homophobic Christians with a closet full of assault rifles and an aversion to civil rights.
Little wonder why Garrett clings to a cartoonish autocrat as his electoral life raft: He has urged Donald Trump to quit the race, yet he’s voting for him anyway.
While we disagree with Gottheimer on some issues – such as his disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal, and some provisions in his plan to overhaul the tax code –we enthusiastically endorse his election next Tuesday.
He is wise enough to remind voters that only 33 cents come back to the 5th District for every dollar it pays in federal taxes – a ludicrous disparity – partly because their Congressman refuses to secure grants for everything from fire trucks to infrastructure projects, which explodes their tax burden.
It represents a dereliction of duty that has defined Scott Garrett’s career and reflects his concern for his constituents. It is time for him to go.