Surely, Thomas Payne would agree, that these are the times that try our souls, men and women both. In the November 2016 election, frustrated voters called “a plague on both your houses”, and chose a President who has turned his back on the US-led liberal post-war era.
Trump favors the cramped vision of Charles Lindbergh’s “America First”, recalling a whiter, more male, less tolerant America.
An America in which authoritarian certainty is preferred to the foment of a free press.
An America in which neo-Nazis and white supremacists are given moral equivalency to their opponents.
An America in which science is subordinate to profit.
An America in which “repeal and replace” means less healthcare, not more.
In such a time, we need a Congressional Representative who can articulate a more inclusive vision for our society; who can reject the morals of tribalism; who can challenge the ethos of nepotism and personal gain that pervades the White House; and who can stand for values of decency and democracy that propelled this country to global leadership. Leonard Lance is not that man.
Leonard Lance has been our representative since 2008, arriving in the House with a reputation as a moderate, but his voting record reflects a steady drift to the right of his party. Hilary Clinton carried NJ in 2016; indeed, she received more votes than Donald Trump in the 7th District. But Congressman Lance has voted in line with Trump’s position 93.8% of the time.
In common with most of his Republican peers in the House, Lance voted multiple times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He consistently voted to defund Planned Parenthood. When confronted with a CBO score that showed that 23 million Americans would lose their insurance under the ill-starred American Health Care Act of 2017, he bowed to the weight of public opinion and joined the “No” vote. He never had a plan for affordable access to healthcare for all our citizens.
When Donald Trump havered and prevaricated over the events at Charlottesville, it was not Congressman Lance, but Ken Frazier, CEO of New Jersey-based Merck, who spoke out and said what had to be said: “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”
When Jeff Sessions announced the termination of DACA, it was not Congressman Lance, but another Republican, Senator Lindsay Graham, who spoke out and said, “Jeff Sessions is wrong. These kids are not taking jobs from American citizens, they're part of our country.”
And when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said that it was “insensitive” to discuss climate change after Hurricane Harvey and Irma, it was not Congressman Lance, but the Republican mayor of Miami, whose citizens raced to evacuate before Irma, who said if not now, when?
No. Congressman Lance is not the man for this season. For once we can agree with Oliver Cromwell and say, “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
About Merv Turner
Merv Turner was born and educated in England, where he earned a PhD in chemistry. After a career in UK academic research, he moved to New Jersey in 1985 to take up a position in Merck Research Labs, in Rahway. Merv spent the rest of his career with Merck, in drug discovery, licensing and business development, and corporate strategy, before retiring from the company in 2011. He continues to consult in the biotechnology and pharma sector. He has lived with his wife in Westfield since 1985 and enjoys spending time with her in New York, and with his children and grandchildren, who all live in Brooklyn.