Former CNN Commentator John Avlon Running for Congress in NY District

‘The United States is the greatest democracy the world has ever known. But right now our democracy is in danger,’ says Mr. Avlon.
Former CNN Commentator John Avlon Running for Congress in NY District
John Avlon, journalist, political commentator, and author, speaks on stage as The Bob Woodruff Foundation hosts The Got Your 6 Summit at Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City on June 15, 2022. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The Bob Woodruff Foundation )
Jackson Richman

Former CNN commentator John Avlon announced on Feb. 21 that he is running for Congress as a Democrat in New York’s First Congressional District, a swing district on Long Island.

“The United States is the greatest democracy the world has ever known,” Mr. Avlon said in a video posted on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. “But right now, our democracy is in danger.”

He went on to say that “this election is not a drill.”

He’s among a group of Democrats who are seeking to oust freshman incumbent Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.).

“It’s up to all of us to step up and get off the sidelines,” Mr. Avlon, 51, an author and founding leader of the bipartisan group No Labels, said.

“There is too much at stake for the country and the community that I love.”

He called for “the broadest coalition” to beat the likely GOP presidential nominee, former President Donald Trump, and for the Democrats to “win back the House from his MAGA minions who don’t even seem interested in solving problems anymore.”

“Together, we can flip this seat. Together, we can rebuild the middle class, invest in infrastructure, protect women’s reproductive freedoms, and combat climate change,” Mr. Avlon said. “Democrats can’t afford to lose this fight.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the House GOP’s campaign arm, wasted no time criticizing Mr. Avlon’s candidacy.

“John Avlon’s entry into the NY-01 race adds even more leftist fuel to an already crowded dumpster fire of a Democrat primary,” NRCC spokeswoman Savannah Viar said in a statement. “We look forward to litigating this smug, liberal hack’s past so voters can see just how Left he and the rest of the modern Democrat party have become.”

Mr. Avlon’s congressional run had been anticipated for weeks since he left CNN earlier this month.

‘Democracy Is Our Responsibility’

In his final column for CNN’s website, published on Feb. 8, Mr. Avlon called on Americans to fight for their democracy.

“Instead of being invigorated by the prospect of defending our democracy from a candidate who already tried to overturn an election and is now campaigning on a frankly authoritarian platform, it seems that many Americans are exhausted,” he wrote, referring to President Trump and the 2020 election. “But this is precisely the wrong time to be tuning out politics and the news.”

Mr. Avlon wrote that Americans need to be anything but discouraged by what he said is a deliberate attempt by the Trump camp to create mayhem in the headlines.

He blamed the right for alienating people.

“Endless culture war clashes, right-wing assaults on democratic norms and associated violent threats become part of the background noise of politics,” he wrote.

“Normal people start to tune out. More and more citizens begin to see the political sphere as something ugly, dangerous, and indecent. But their withdrawal from civics and politics has the effect of ceding the public sphere to extreme partisans who don’t mind wading through the mud to get what they want.”

He also blamed social media for worsening the current political discourse and the news cycle causing people to switch gears.

“These folks extol the virtues of not watching or reading the news, given how much of the news we face is bad: from ongoing assaults on democracy to the horrific terrorist attack in Israel on October 7, to the antisemitic outbursts it spurred on college campuses and in Western capitals, to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cold-blooded invasion of Ukraine,” he wrote.

However, he wrote, that not following the news closely is not a solution.

“It does not make you safer or more secure,” he said.

“In fact, we are safest when we confront reality and take action. But that requires reasoning together from a common set of facts. And that’s what is under assault when a combination of cynicism and confusion causes people to question whether facts are real at all.”

Mr. Avlon lamented the state of the news industry, which has experienced significant cuts and even the shutting down of a startup, The Messenger.

He wrote that this isn’t the time for Americans to be indifferent about the state of politics.

“This isn’t an election like any other. Democracies depend on active citizens engaging in political debates in good faith. They depend on elevating facts over hyper-partisan fiction. They depend on citizens getting in the arena, rather than retreating from it, especially during hard times.”

Mr. Avlon concluded his column by calling on the American people to step up to the plate.

“The great challenge of being a citizen of a democratic republic is that we the people are responsible,” he wrote.

“We cannot simply wait for someone to come save us. Democracy is our responsibility. That is the opportunity and the obligation of being alive at this time in the United States of America.”

Jackson Richman is a Washington correspondent for The Epoch Times. In addition to Washington politics, he covers the intersection of politics and sports/sports and culture. He previously was a writer at Mediaite and Washington correspondent at Jewish News Syndicate. His writing has also appeared in The Washington Examiner. He is an alum of George Washington University.
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