I must’ve knocked on 10,000 doors at this point in my campaign. Doors belonging to Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Doors belonging to every race, religion, sexual orientation, culture, and concern that our county houses. Doors in communities where neighbors get along, and doors in communities where neighbors are polarized against one another.

Despite our perceived differences, there is one common theme I hear more than anything else: We’re sick of the negativity. We’re sick of fearmongering. Of the attack ads. Of being told how radical “the other” candidate is and how we must do everything to ensure they don’t get elected. Big fonts. Scary language. Black-and-white photos of the “bad guy” and smiling colorful photos of the “good guy.”

When I talk to voters in our community, I hear exhaustion, and I hear fatigue. But I also hear something else: I hear a resounding desire to move forward. 

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When I talk to voters in our community, people are not nearly as concerned with voting “left” or voting “right” as they are for moving beyond this negative discourse and simply finding someone who understands them, someone who will help them, someone who will do more for their community, someone they can trust to make decisions for real people — and not work on behalf corporations, special interests, and party machines.

When I talk to voters in our community, I hear the exhaustion from politics as usual reflected in the skepticism of questions like, “How do I know you will honor your word?” or “How do I know you are really going to represent me, and not special interests once you get to Harrisburg?” My answer is always the same — I am not just running for an elected office; I’m running for a position of public trust. Trust is earned, and I want to earn yours.

I have worked hard to run a campaign worthy of that trust, and a campaign that puts protecting our democracy, trust in our institutions, and kindness to our neighbors (including my opponent and her supporters!) at its core — not just winning.

That is why I won’t approve any negative mailers or ads (often to the enormous frustration of my campaign staff — sorry team) and will publicly condemn any attempt by outside groups to run them against my opponent.

That is why I have worked with my team to be as responsive to questions about where I stand on issues, regular essays for publications like Broad + Liberty’s candidate spotlight, Ballotpedia, recorded forums and interviews, etc. 

Our politicians should have to demonstrate that they actually know how to work and build relationships with people who don’t think or believe the same things we do.

That is why I have also been asking my opponent to work with us to create a public debate where we could discuss our policy disagreements, and help voters make up their mind, without generating a political spectacle. While she initially agreed, it has been silent since.

That is why I have looked for ways to make sure that when my campaign made purchases, it was with businesses in the region, in order to not only support local businesses, but get to better understand the unique challenges that small business owners face in our community, and what solutions could be implemented to help them thrive and grow.

That is why I have publicly committed to support term limits in the legislature, because politics shouldn’t be a career. If the voters of the 178th district honor me by giving me more than one term, I will not abuse that honor by staying long enough to gerrymander myself a “safe seat.”

These ideas shouldn’t make me unique. These things shouldn’t be exceptions, they should be the rule for campaigns in our communities. Our politicians should have to demonstrate that they actually know how to work and build relationships with people who don’t think or believe the same things we do. That’s what a truly inclusive, vibrant democracy is. And that’s why I am so proud of the coalition I have working alongside me. From Republicans to Democrats, Steelers fans to people who like better teams. My district’s former (Republican) Congressman Jim Greenwood and Andrew Yang’s new Forward Party have enthusiastically backed my candidacy because they know firsthand that as State Representative, I wouldn’t just work for the people in the 178th that vote Democrat. I’d work for everyone in our community. Because that’s what representatives are supposed to do.

Ben Franklin was asked on the final day of the Constitutional Convention whether we would have a republic, or a monarch to rule in America. He said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

United, we can.

Ilya Breyman is the Democratic nominee for state representative in the 178th district.

One thought on “Ilya Breyman: Voters are tired of extremism and tribalism”

  1. How many negative ads did you run?
    Did you call out HDCC for running negative ads on your behalf?

    Honestly don’t know the answer, but I would like to.

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