Those who viewed the on Wednesday, Aug. 29, between my primary opponent and myself noticed an unusual difference of opinion for two New York Democrats. For those who also witnessed the Rocky Point debate noticed an ironic and fleetingly comical example of political submission by my opponent.
On Wednesday, both candidates stated our personal support for marriage equality. Our principles diverged when the subject became how we would vote, as State Legislators, on this issue or any other civil rights issue. My opponent adamantly disagreed with my point that I would choose civil rights over popular opinion. She clearly argued that if a majority of her voters were against a basic civil right, such as marriage equality, that she would willingly “adjust” her position. The very next evening at the Rocky Point debate she obscured her opinion on the issue with double talk. The irony is of submission on the issue of submission.
This debate issue highlights one of the biggest difficulties of political discourse. Candidates who believe that election or re-election is the most important goal and are willing to compromise principles for that goal are clearly missing the most critical component of public service.
At last week’s Democratic National Convention, Massachusetts Gov. Patrick said that Mitt Romney is “more interested in 'having the job' than 'doing the job.'” My opponent resolved to run for another position before she was even sworn into her current elected position. That is not "doing the job" and neither is crassly submitting to public opinion.
When it comes to an elected officials vote on civil rights issues I follow the principled position of Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, who advocated for the passage of the Civil Rights Act knowing that it could have cost them an election and knowing it would guarantee equal treatment for all their constituents despite majority opinion.
President Lincoln said, during a speech at a Republican banquet, “Public opinion, on any subject, always has a 'central idea' from which all its minor thoughts radiate. The central idea in our political public opinion, at the beginning was, and until recently has continued to be the equality of men.” Our country is based on the principal of equality despite the ebb and flow of public opinion and no leader should forget that cornerstone.
As a member of the Illinois General Assembly, Lincoln, against popular opinion and the opinion of his colleagues, was one of only two dissenting votes on a resolution declaring the right of slave-holding sacred. President Lincoln demonstrated his leadership early in his political career by not bending to public opinion on this issue of equality. In casting his vote Lincoln considered only equality, not popularity.
This principal extends to certain other issues. A leader does not waiver on the health, welfare and equality of their constituents. President Barack Obama did not bend to public pressure on health care in order to protect the health of all Americans. President Obama also did not submit to public opinion on the issue of the GM restructuring. The first decision saves lives; the second saved jobs as well as the auto industries contribution to our GDP.
Those leaders who have made the greatest contributions to our country are those who demonstrated political bravery by pursing legislation serving the best interests of all concerned without consideration of their own electability. That is a test of true leadership. If these great leaders had believed, as my primary opponent does, that an elected official must always “adjust” to public opinion polls on all issues, what might our Country look like today?
I am running to do the job. I have served the community in volunteer positions for years. Now I will serve the community as our State Senator to get the reforms in place that we need to move Long Island and all of New York State forward.
My passion for public policy and public service is evident in much of the community work I have done. You can read other opinion pieces I have published right here on Patch that provide a sampling of some of the issues I advocate for including , , and for important programs such as child care. In my published writings and during the debates I demonstrated a true understanding of the issues. As an active community volunteer, I have received awards from both the Town of Brookhaven and from a Town of Southold Youth Council for my volunteer work and advocacy for children.
My commitment to basic Democratic principles and to the best interests of Suffolk County is clear and unwavering. I have refused to sell out Suffolk County for New York City campaign contributions. These city-centric interests are the support foundation for my primary opponent. This is why I have received the steadfast support of many local Democratic party leaders and committee-members. I look forward to serving the First Senate District and New York State as a proud life-long Suffolk County Democrat, independent of the city-centric agenda that has wounded and offended Long Island taxpayers. I am ready to get to work in January as our next New York State Senator.
For these reasons I ask Democrats from Port Jefferson to Montauk to vote for me, Jennifer Maertz, this Thursday, Sept. 13.
Jennifer J. Maertz, Esq., a Rocky Point resident, holds a B.S. degree from St. Johns University, a JD from Touro Law, and an MBA from NYIT. Jennifer is a Democratic candidate for New York State Senate on the East End of Long Island and part of Brookhaven Town. www.JenniferMaertz.com