I’m sure we are getting more mail and electronic messages of a political nature than anytime I can remember in the past. I was surprised though to receive an email from Assemblyman Brian Kolb, who is the State House Minority Leader from Canandaigua. The email is in the form of a letter to the editor that apparently ran in the New York Post. The heading is: “Dems’ ‘Minimum’ job-killer.”
It starts out exactly like most politically biased emails I get these days: by attacking the other party — “Assembly Democrats want to raise New York’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour.” The email explains the bill’s destructive nature, its negative impact on hard-working New Yorkers, and states that Mr. Kolb understands private sector employers, having been one himself.
On the face of it, Mr. Kolb hopes to generate public support for his position and thinks that a majority of New Yorkers will agree with his letter and demand that the bill is rejected. I believe Mr. Kolb knows better and is instead playing to his Republican base. In my opinion, he is doing more harm than good.
Mr. Kolb’s letter epitomizes the problems our country and state face today. Every issue is looked at from either the right or the left and we allow our politicians to frame every issue as such, thus forcing all partisans to fall in step. We will never solve the problems facing us until we start working together as a team to resolve the ever-growing divide that forces this type of confrontation to spill out from the halls of government into the streets across the land.
Democracy works best when we, and our elected officials, make an effort to understand that we are all in this together, and when our elected officials represent all of their constituents, not just those in their party.
We should be sending people to Albany and Washington who go with the mission of working together to unite people.
That’s where I take great exception with Mr. Kolb’s letter.
As a member of the Assembly, if he wants to send out a letter to the public it should not be written from a partisan perspective. His first sentence should read: “Assembly wants to raise New York’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour.”
He should then go on to explain his position and why he thinks that increasing the minimum wage will hurt the very people it purports to help.
As citizens we owe it to ourselves and our country to remove the blinders of party allegiance and instead consider issues based on facts and how they will impact not just each of us personally, but all Americans.
Remember, we’re all in this together.
Members of political parties will capitulate and compromise — within their own group — but when compromise happens across party lines it is viewed as a sign of weakness.
Is it foolish to think that government could ever work in an environment where partisan concerns take a back seat to what is best for the people? Perhaps, but our parties created this divide and they must take the lead to begin repairing the damage it is doing to our society. Politics shouldn’t be a sporting event that demands retaliation and redemption, winners and losers. We will never achieve consensus and harmony when conversations start with what divides us rather than what should unite us.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org