Editorial: 2022 will be a very big year for all of us

Jan. 6 is the one-year anniversary of the riot carried out by the followers of then-president Donald Trump. They attacked and ransacked the Capitol, shouted that they wanted to lynch the vice president, set up gallows outside and attacked police officers, all with the goal of stopping the Electoral College count that certified the election for Joe Biden.

Members of the House of Representatives and Senate, who witnessed the attack and had to hide from rioters, met in its aftermath to complete their constitutional duties and certify a vote deemed by a multitude of experts and dozens of judges to be a fair election. One that Biden won by approximately 7 million votes.

2022 is now upon us, and we — as citizens of our East End towns and villages, as citizens of the state and the country — must decide what kind of America we want to live in and what kind of towns and villages we want to live in.

This is an election year. In November we will elect a New York governor and, here in the 1st Congressional District, a new member of Congress, as the incumbent holding that position, Lee Zeldin, is running for governor as a Republican.

Southold Town has sworn in two new members of the Town Board, both Democrats. With the addition of Brian Mealy, the board moves toward diversity. Riverhead seated an all-GOP Town Board. In Riverhead, major policy changes are not expected; Southold, with a 3-3 Town Board, is an open book.

Democrats on the Southold board will begin to assert their presence in town government, with the overriding question that hangs over so many local decisions for all members of the board: What do we want to be going forward? 

As Mr. Zeldin runs for governor, we hope he will answer critical questions. Not questions on how he will handle this or that issue if he is elected governor; that can wait. But the ones now before the Jan. 6 committee. 

Why was Mr. Zeldin among the 147 senators and members of Congress who voted not to certify the Electoral College count in Arizona? Why did he vote against the creation of the commission investigating Jan. 6? How do his votes reflect on his views of the constitutional process and the rule of law?

Yes, we have major issues before us, in both Riverhead and Southold. In Southold, major development proposals are on the table. If saving farmland and our bays is priority No. 1, when is enough enough in terms of large-scale, landscape-altering development? And is it even possible legally to stop it?

In a post-Cuomo New York State, we must decide which candidates best respect our democracy, who want to strengthen it and ensure voting rights, and how a candidate, if elected, is going to make our lives better as citizens of what aspires to be the freest country on earth.

Over the weekend, Rep. Liz Cheney, the Republican member of Congress from Wyoming and a member of the Jan. 6 committee, summed up where the Republican party is in one sentence: “We can either be loyal to Donald Trump or we can be loyal to the Constitution, but we cannot be both.”

2022 is a very big year in America. And here on the North Fork, too. We Americans, on both sides of the political divide, may be faced with a similar dilemma, but also must ask: Is America a country in decline? The answer to that will determine what kind of future is ahead of us.