HIGHLAND PARK, NJ — June 20, 2020 — I am writing this letter to strongly urge the voters of New York’s 17th Congressional District to make Evelyn Farkas their Congresswoman, and to say why I believe we need her.
Before this year I did not know Dr. Farkas or even know of her, and I don’t reside in the district or even in New York (I’m in New Jersey. Please don’t laugh.) Yet when I met her at a fundraiser I felt immediately that she was exactly what America needs and very much lacks at this moment in history. Evelyn is kind, and smart, and strong, and not many people are all three. But even more important, Evelyn knows when to be kind, when to be smart, and when to be strong. This is very rare. I’m a clinical psychologist with a background in political psychology, and I don’t see this combination of qualities very often in regular folks, and perhaps even less often in politicians.
I emphasize this because of what I see as the single biggest threat to humanity in our time. For me, it is not climate change, or racism, or inequality, or nuclear weapons, even though all of these are truly enormous problems. For me, the biggest threat is authoritarianism, the political expression of the human tendency to dominate others in order to exploit them. To me, this is the biggest threat to us all because it is either the direct cause of, or a major contributor to, all the other threats.
Evelyn knows this, and feels it emotionally, and has spent her life both studying it and fighting it. She understands the pull of tribalism, whether ethnic, racial, religious or political, and fights to oppose it in the name of freedom. We are now dealing with authoritarianism everywhere, whether in our politics, our policing, our economics and racial climate, or with foreign adversaries who collude with the authoritarian elements in American society. Evelyn will oppose this everywhere it occurs, and will do so intelligently and effectively.
I fear that a number of Democrats will see Evelyn’s work in the Defense Department and automatically conclude that she is a warmonger. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Evelyn is very much a ‘peace hawk’ rather than a war hawk, meaning that she advocates for the use of military interventions not to start wars but to stop them. She left a high-ranking position in Obama’s defense department in part because she disagreed with the administration’s refusal to protect civilians in Syria from genocide, a position that was later proven right when enormous numbers of them were massacred.
Evelyn’s basic moral instinct is to protect the defenseless from being preyed upon by the powerful, and she channeled this into the area most relevant to her background, which was national security and diplomacy. But Evelyn strongly opposes oppression in all areas, particularly the oppression that results from the grotesque inequalities in race and class that now pervade our once-great nation.
I was moved to write this because I saw today that the New York Times endorsed one of her opponents in the race, Mondaire Jones. I have no reason to doubt that Mr. Jones would be a competent congressman and a reliable vote for the correct policies on most issues. Evelyn Farkas, however, will be all of that and much more. She will vote for justice and fight for it on all domestic issues, and will also be a Congressional thought leader and a creator of needed law on all the global and international issues facing our country.
We now face a world that is both deeply interconnected and full of enemies. This requires courage, principle and intellect, plus judgment borne of maturity and direct experience with international conflict. Evelyn Farkas has this. America has great internal problems, but we cannot ignore external threats because of it. Evelyn will be everything the Democrats want on domestic issues, but can also help lead a restoration of American ideals across the world. Please vote for her.
Thomas Hollenbach, Ph.D.
Highland Park, NJ