The unfolding situation in Ukraine and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package. These seemingly unrelated topics help frame the real-time battle between authoritarianism and democracy that is boiling up in the pot of world debate. If we are going to reduce crime, cut taxes and help our troubled schools, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that democracy wins.
Last fall, President Biden told members of Congress that both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping had told him that they “don’t think democracy can accomplish big things in this world of social media and the 24-hour news cycle.” Russia and China believe that America, and democracies generally, are too divided. They don’t think we can accomplish big things anymore, and that they can.
Today’s division in Washington, Albany and governments across the country is hurting us. Elected officials pander to their base. The battles waged on Twitter and Facebook seep out into every part of our lives. Cable news talking heads pit Americans against one another, finding wedge issues that make us believe there’s more that divides us than unites us. Even more concerning are the efforts by our foreign adversaries to sow disinformation and civil unrest using the very platforms that they curtail in their own countries.
Can we still do big things with so much dissent?
A few months ago, we passed the largest ever investment in infrastructure in history — $1.2 trillion — and it was bipartisan. As vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, I helped negotiate this once-in-a-generation infrastructure package. We overcame all of the rancor and division to pass a bill that will send billions of dollars to New York — with the state set to receive $13 billion in funding for roads and bridges; $24 billion for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, including the Long Island Rail Road and New York City’s subways; over $1.4 billion for water and sewer system upgrades; and almost a billion more for much-needed airport upgrades and climate resiliency.
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi represents New York’s 3rd Congressional District.