Iím a Democrat who doesnít eat meat or shellfish, and canít drink because Iím extremely pregnant. Given those conditions, it might be hard to understand exactly why I attended the Chenango County Republican Committeeís annual Lobsterfest fundraiser.
Of course there is the obvious reason: It was a work function and I was paid to go. But after attending Lobsterfest once again this year, I left understanding what those on the other side of the aisle are thinking.
I enjoy politics. I donít pretend to know all the answers or understand all of the intricacies of the political power plays that take place in Washington and Albany, but I enjoy staying informed about what is going on and forming opinions on those issues. With the stateís current political struggles, budget issues and an ever-increasing financial crisis, it seems like there is a lot to stay on top of right now.
Generally, my views on political issues tend to lean to the liberal side, but unlike some, I can appreciate the merits of a good argument and I donít feel like I have to side with a political party or candidate. If something makes sense, Iím more than happy to take a look from another angle.
Lobsterfest generally provides that opportunity. Going into the event, I had my ideas about the recent situation in Albany, and while my mind has not been completely changed, I listened to the politicians talk about what they feel they have accomplished, what they believe still needs to be done and how we can manage to pull New York State out of the crisis it is currently in.
There were several politicians in attendance, but Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R-Schoharie) stood out in my mind as he spoke about the use of the stimulus funds and how he would like to see the final round of funding used. Everyone at the event talked about the stateís budget crisis and how to improve it, but most spoke in broad generalizations. Cut spending. No more tax hikes. Lopez laid out a clear plan that involved upgrading the stateís energy grid to allow for the use of alternative energy sources. The upgrades would help the state provide lower cost energy (one of the major expenses for businesses and residents in New York.) In addition, Lopez talked about how small changes Ė like supporting local farmers instead of importing dairy products from unknown sources Ė could bring millions of dollars back to New York state.
While Lopezí comments stood out, several of the other politicians at the event made equally feasible comments and suggestions. From reducing state mandates, to providing a feasible energy solution for businesses, none of the suggestions sounded outrageous or one sided to me.
I left the event knowing that some of our politicians really do have the ideas and intelligence to pull the state out of this downward spiral. Unfortunately, to do that, both the Republicans and the Democrats have to work together. It seems like an easy thing to accomplish, but Iím afraid getting the two parties to listen to each otherís ideas and agree on a course of action might be more difficult than finding the solutions in the first place.