promoted by Rosi
Between marriage equality, debates over education policy, and a Democratic primary in NJ-9 that is heating up, it’s a busy time at Blue Jersey. But even as we learn that Assemblywoman Wagner will not be running, we must continue organizing and mobilizing in NJ-5. We cannot let the district fall off our radar. As a 22-year-old soon-to-be constituent of Scott Garrett, I know this race is far too important — because Scott Garrett is bad for young people (and for everyone else, too).
On the issues important to young people, Rep. Scott Garrett has consistently stood against progress. SAFRA, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, is a particularly good example. Benefits of SAFRA included expanding the Perkins Loan Program, enabling more families to qualify for Pell Grants, and taking the private, for-profit middlemen out of the loan business. Students and taxpayers won, but Garrett voted no. No to saving taxpayers money – and no to helping young people go to college.
SAFRA was hardly the only time Scott Garrett was far from the mainstream, especially when it comes to young people. For the 2009-2010 year, Congressman Garrett received an F from the NEA. His 10% rating from the Children’s Defense Fund is not much to be proud of either. So opposition to college affordability and accessibility was just par for the course.
It hardly bears mention at this point all the other ways in which Garrett is out of touch with the priorities of youth. Surely one of its most popular provisions, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ensures that I will be able to stay on my parents’ health care until I turn 26 – a provision that offers me security and gives my parents peace of mind. As my friends who graduated in May have seen, with insufficient (though improving) job prospects, health care reform has become a critical lifeline.
I had the opportunity to work on Dennis Shulman’s campaign for Congress in 2008. It was a thrilling experience for me – we were a team full of energy, knowing that we were seeking to unseat one of the most reactionary members of Congress. In the years since, Garrett has stayed true to his extreme ideology, and it has hurt young people most of all. From LGBT issues to environmental protection, Garrett is even out of touch with some NJ Republicans who see the writing on the wall and know what other issues young people care about.
I know that this community will be disappointed in the Assemblywoman’s decision. While she would have been an incredible advocate for young people (her perspective as a teacher and guidance counselor is sorely needed in Congress), we must rally behind any Democratic nominee to take back NJ-5. And we need to start now, by calling our friends, asking people to volunteer, and posting on Blue Jersey and telling our neighbors when Scott Garrett takes conservative votes. No matter which Democrat we decide to support, we need to get New Jersey’s leading reactionary out of Washington.
We cannot let these coming weeks pass quietly. Having a member of Congress that believes in giving a voice to the youngest generation is just too important.