I’m proud that our Money Island marina community has become a model of racial and cultural inclusion just a few miles from a south Jersey KKK stronghold. Yet tonight’s election result shows that we still have a long way to go before we stamp out discrimination from this community.
The most shocking election result in the nation: New Jersey’s 2nd District. This is an economically challenged region with much lower than average income and level of education than the rest of the state. The shockingly racist, sexist candidate who lost the election – even abandoned by the Republican Party for his outrageous positions – still got 47% of my neighbors’ vote! (NJelections.org reported a total of 125,755 votes (53%) for Van Drew and 110, 491 (47%) votes for Grossman as of one day after the election). He’s the guy who made national news when he said “The whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American”. He is an outright climate change denier. He says the 1950s were better times because women and blacks knew their place. He wrote an article saying article saying blacks “are a threat to all who cross their paths”. I am shocked and embarrassed that almost half of my neighbors supported this BS! Recent conversations convince me that many of my neighbors here actually do support these shocking positions. Our region has long been identified as a KKK hotspot and this evil undercurrent of shows through tonight. I’ve noticed and talked about many instances of blatant racism in daily business life here. Ironically, we live in an area whose economy is largely supported by the non-citizen immigrant work force disrespected by this candidate. I’ve been personally threatened and even physically attacked for supporting more enlightened and progressive pro-business positions in my own rural South Jersey community. Violent assault for political differences has been a sad but not prosecuted part of our community’s recent history. Fortunately Dr. Van Jeff Van Drew, who I supported for state Senator and in this campaign, is now is our Congressman, pulled out the win. But this election result underscores the difficulties I have in trying to build community and develop jobs in a poverty-stricken region of rural Cumberland County with little opportunity to minorities and women.