Another bitter election has come and gone.
Despite a concerted effort to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin by Democratic newcomer Perry Gershon, the Republican incumbent easily won his third term, even if his margin of victory was narrower than predicted.
As is the norm in these times, the campaign was a nasty one, with both sides freely slinging barbs that are much too numerous — and often exaggerated — for us to bother to try to list them.
Zeldin now returns to the hyper-partisan atmosphere of Washington, but for the first time as a member of the minority party. Although he has co-sponsored some bills with Democrats, but never on truly contentious issues, and broken with the Republican leadership on some occasions — most notably last year’s GOP tax overhaul that will have disastrous consequences for many of his constituents — Zeldin has too often been content to make excuses for President Donald Trump, whose cruel rhetoric and pathological need to lie have further divided the country.
With the presidency and a solid majority in the Senate, Republicans still hold the upper hand. But that doesn’t mean they should continue to try to govern as though the Democratic Party — which again outpolled the GOP nationally — doesn’t exist.
Americans of both political persuasions want Congress to work for them. Despite what the National Rifle Association would have us believe, 90 percent of Americans want some kind of sensible gun control. Despite frustration with Obamacare, Americans say they want a healthcare system that takes care of them, not their insurance companies, when they get sick. And most Americans want reasonable environmental protections in place that don’t hamstring business, but don’t favor industrial polluters, either.
A polite and soft-spoken man, Zeldin has often said he is willing and able to reach across the political aisle to compromise. Never would there be a more appropriate time to do so.