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Codger’s column: Zeldin must go

The stationary bicycle arrived in pieces.

Cur II was not confident that Codger and Crone could assemble it properly. Being an apricot standard poodle, he called an Island company called Silver Lab, which sent over two friendly humans, Mark and John. Before you could say, “Good, boy,” Codger was up and pedaling.

It’s now been two weeks into the latest year and Codger has logged many happy miles, made happier by not knowing exactly how many. The odometer is off.

For most of his jogging and biking life, Codger competed against himself, never a worthy opponent. Did he run or bike longer or faster than he did yesterday? Was he improving or deteriorating? Should he feel better or worse about himself?  When you compete against yourself, you never win.

Codger ponders: Is it maturation or surrender when you stop keeping score? Is this the path to wisdom, or am I spinning my wheels? These anxious days, Codger concentrates on the new year and his one and only resolution, which is building and maintaining the stamina and strength to help unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in 2022.

It’s not too early to start. Zeldin must go.

Zeldin is another shameful reminder of the mistakes that voters make. O.K., that’s democracy, says Codger. But mistakes need to be corrected.

Right after last week’s terrorist attack on the Capitol, Zeldin joined the vote to overturn the election despite the democratic process that had resulted in dozens of failed legal attempts. Then he tried to cover himself by calling for “zero tolerance for violence.”

But Codger believes the violence occurred and will occur again because elected mob members like Zeldin have been supporting Trump’s fascistic attempts to subvert democracy for the past four years, culminating in what seems more and more like a failed coup.

The Congressman did not go all in on Trump until he won the presidential nomination, but then became a major booster, even part of his legal team during the impeachment hearings. Zeldin was a true believer in the cascade of damaging lies.

Zeldin was not “humoring” Trump or playing “grown up” to help prevent catastrophes. He was an acolyte. He was not even dependent on him for the votes of his base: In the most recent election, Zeldin’s margin of victory was 9.7% (up from 4% in 2016) while Trump won Suffolk County by only .03% (down from 7% over Hillary Clinton).

Zeldin can be on the right side of things. He did significant work passing legislation to get federal aid to help save Reel Point and he has been justifiably praised for preventing the sale of Plum Island. But he has also voted for tax breaks for the rich and against marriage equality, various consumer protections, women’s rights, Indian rights, and most veterans’ rights, particularly concerning healthcare. He has gotten low marks from conservation groups.

Codger is not all that excited by efforts to impeach and/or remove Trump with a few days left in his term. That time and energy may divert both Democrats and Republicans (don’t forget the brave and patriotic Republican politicians who pushed for President Richard Nixon’s impeachment) from the more difficult, less thrilling work of finding candidates to defeat Retrumplicans like Zeldin.

Zeldin, who has used the right-wing site Parler, was surely aware of the weeks of internet messages calling for protests leading up to the deadly assault of Jan. 6.

Four days earlier, wrote Julia Brennan in The Shelter Island Gazette, Zeldin posted this:

“Some insist everything President Trump and his supporters claim about the 2020 election is ‘evidence-free’. That lie may be easy to rattle off, but it’s still a massive, destructive lie that will haunt them on Jan. 6th and far into the future.”

And now the haunting is here. The internet has been filled with calls for protests around the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden that are supposed to culminate in a “Million Militia March” on Jan. 20 during the swearing-in ceremony scheduled to take place on the Capitol grounds.

The blood and the bodies of Jan. 6 are gone from the Capitol along with the Confederate flag and the noose. But not the sense of desecration. Not the feeling that Americans can’t trust some elected officials like Zeldin who are so absorbed in their own ambitions that the fate of the citizens they swore to protect is irrelevant.

On his bike, Codger has had a hard enough time processing the criminal negligence that killed so many Americans from COVID-19. Pedaling to nowhere, he wonders if there will be more deaths to come from what feels like a civil war created in greed and cynicism.

The insurrection that Zeldin helped foment is not over. Where will Zeldin be voting and cowering in the haunting to come?