As a former constituent of U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, it's obvious to me that the climate change and the coronavirus pandemic crises compel the conclusion that the residents of the 16th Congressional District should re-elect Congressman Engel in the Democratic primary on June 23.
According to the 2018 "Almanac of American Politics," Congressman Engel "has remained popular at home by relentlessly staying on top of constituent service and working on issues of interest to his district's foreign-born and low-income residents. He has backed many downtrodden ethnic groups, and has been a stalwart defender of Israel."
I know from when I lived in Riverdale during the 1990s, Congressman Engel and his staff worked relentlessly on behalf of constituents. Eliot Engel, who is a former guidance counselor in the New York City public schools, genuinely enjoys helping people.
As chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Engel understands that the global climate change crisis can be ameliorated only through global action. He understands that the United States must lead the way forward on climate change by getting all governments — especially China, which is still building coal-fired electric generating plants — to work together to save the planet for all of us.
Congressman Engel is practical and persistent. According to the almanac, "in 2010, (Engel) enacted a bill that made it illegal to use false-caller IDs to trick people into revealing personal information."
Congressman Engel has always stood up against racism, sexism, ageism and prejudice based on religion and sexuality. Congressman Engel's values — that all people are created equal, and that all Americans are entitled to the four freedoms enunciated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 (freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear) — are universally held American values.
The coronavirus crisis compels the conclusion that, if Congressman Engel is re-elected, then all Americans will benefit from his experience in foreign policy, because he can effectively work to unite all countries, around the globe, to adopt plans to combat the global pandemic that affects everyone, everywhere. Having served in Congress since 1989, Congressman Engel can pick up the phone and reach political leaders in New York and around the world.
When I saw Congressman Engel at an event last February, I told him that I thought he was the embodiment of the American dream. Eliot Engel's father was a welder, and through hard work, he became the first person in his family to graduate from college. He later earned master's and law degrees, while working to support himself and his family.
Congressman Engel wants all his constituents — and all Americans — to have the same opportunities he had, including freedom from fear of unjustifiable police violence against Black men, personified most recently by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. If he's re-elected, Congressman Engel will be a leader in the movement to reform police departments so that no one ever has to fear unjustified and inexcusable police violence and racism, ever again.
Hatred is on the rise in America. In April 2019, when I saw Congressman Engel at an event, I told him about a shocking experience I had at a town hall held by U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents parts of the lower Hudson Valley. That January, a woman whose name I do not know said to me in front of Congressman Maloney, "Everyone hates the Jews!"
I told Congressman Engel that if that woman attended a Passover Seder, then she would understand that if the Jews hadn't left slavery in ancient Egypt, then the world wouldn't have he Ten Commandments, which Christians and Muslims accept as universal human values. And that if the woman tasted some of the delicious foods served at Seders, then she wouldn't hate Jews anymore.
I explained that the woman inspired me to invent the Global Passover Seder, whereby Jews would invite non-Jews to their Seders and explain to them what's going on, and non-Jews would hold mini-Seders (lasting 15 minutes) using a mini-book, "Why Passover Matters," which I co-wrote, and can be downloaded for free.
Congressman Engel thought that the Global Passover Seder was a great idea, and I hope he will help us work to make the 2021 Global Passover Seder next March an international success.
I also hope Congressman Engel will help us persuade the members of the state senate and Assembly, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to support our bill renaming the Mid-Hudson Bridge — which connects Poughkeepsie and Highlight — the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge. Although they were the two most important and influential 20th century Americans, there is nothing in the United States that is named after both of them.
The values that Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt enunciated — truth, freedom, fairness and gratitude — are Eliot Engel's values, which is why he should be re-elected to congress.