By Dennis “DJ” Mikolay
It’s been a long and strange journey to today’s Senate Special Election, a road that saw ideological clashes, personal attacks, and surprising twists as two of the most polarizing figures in New Jersey politics stumbled their way to Washington, evidently unconcerned about who is trampled or abandoned in the process. With Republican Steve Lonegan, a Tea Party favorite and former organizer for Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity in one corner, and Democrat Cory Booker, Newark’s celebrity mayor and Wall Street buddy in the other, voters are now presented with two very different, extremely polarizing choices. Moderates, those in the social and fiscal center, have been completely abandoned this time around, meaning voters will choose between whom they perceive as the lesser of two evils.
Steve Lonegan is very socially conservative—I don’t like that. But he is also against military intervention in Syria and in favor of protecting citizens against government surveillance, both of which are very important to me. Cory Booker is a social progressive, as am I, yet he is dead wrong on most fiscal issues, and seems overly ambitious. One must wonder whether his sights lie on Pennsylvania Avenue instead of the Senate? Lonegan is backed by Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Rand Paul, three figures who are way too far Right for my tastes. Booker is backed by Mayor Bloomberg, heir to Rudy Giuliani’s gentrified pro-big business empire, which represents another end of the spectrum of which I thoroughly disapprove.
With such different candidates running for office, it would be irresponsible for me to tell anyone, regardless of their own ideological inclinations, anything other than “vote your conscious.” Should you choose to head to the polls today, be sure to select the candidate you truly feel will best represent the people of New Jersey in the United States Senate. Examine their personal histories, platforms, and goals very closely before making a decision; judge what impact they will have on Congress, your Constitutional rights, privacy, and foreign policy, before endorsing either contender. Remember that they will be your employee for the next year, working for you until November 2014’s regularly scheduled Senate election. True, it is only thirteen months, but a great deal can happen in that time: why risk investing power in someone who will misuse it?
If you vote for Steve Lonegan, Cory Booker, or any one of the independents running, make sure you think it through beforehand. I won’t tell you how to use your vote, but please take this election seriously, based upon the issues themselves and not merely the personalities or political parties involved.