WASHINGTON D.C. – Congressman Max Rose delivered his farewell address this morning after serving two years as Congressman for the 11th Congressional District.
The district, which encompasses Staten Island, Bay Ridge, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, and Bensonhurst, will soon be represented by Nicole Malliotakis, a Republican, who won with 53.1% of the votes, while Rose, a Democrat, received 46.9%. He only served one term after beating incumbent Dan Donovan (R) in the 2018 election. It is not yet confirmed what Rose will be doing next year, but there are rumors about him mulling a mayoral run. For now, though, he says goodbye.
“We live in a tough time for truth. And it’s causing faith in our government to corrode. There’s not a person in this chamber who thinks the American people trust us. There’s not a person sitting here right now who thinks the American people believe in our government,” he said in the House Chambers.
“That didn’t happen overnight. It was a death by a thousand disappointments, a thousand scandals, a thousand lies. Broken by politicians who mock a virus until it kills their neighbor. Who carve us up into blue states and red states, yet have the nerve to question someone else’s patriotism. Who saw no problem whatsoever giving a trillion-dollar tax cut to Big Pharma and the companies that are killing our planet, but then they clutch their pearls when we say we want to be there for poor people, when we say we want to be there for the most vulnerable. But during my few years in politics, I’ve seen how we can beat back this festering cynicism.”
“When we fight like hell for what is right—especially for those who need us most. When we bring converts to our side by promoting truth where there is injustice. By appealing to common sense, and, God forbid, humanity. I’ve seen constituents who thought their government was there only to screw them over, begin to hope that maybe that wasn’t the case when we passed the Victim Compensation Fund. When we cut through the red tape to finally begin to build the East Shore Seawall—the largest resiliency project in New York City,” he continued. “I saw it when we reunited families torn apart by the racist Muslim Ban, and when we secured millions to combat the opioid epidemic. In retrospect, those were good days.”
He went on to speak about the Black Lives Matter march that he attended, saying, “When a peaceful march for justice in my community was used as a weapon to tell my constituents that it’s impossible to believe that Black Lives Matter while also believing that the vast majority of police officers are heroes.”
“Those marchers were called thugs, they were called rioters—just for believing peaceful protest could change this country. The public was told that their movement was dangerous. Not something you should listen to, but something you should be afraid of. Yet to those who saw it with their own eyes, the truth cut through all those smears,” he said.
“I remember being outside a supermarket. It was raining. I was miserable. An off-duty police officer came up to talk to me. He assured me he was no Democrat, but he’d been working that day of the march. He’d been skeptical, but those young men and women, they changed his mind. And he was proud of them. That officer saw past the lies—past the differences others have used to divide us. He witnessed his fellow Americans in pain, and for him, it changed everything.”
“In typical Staten Island fashion though, right after, he told me he wasn’t going to vote for me and that I was still going to lose for a thousand other reasons. But conversations and conversions like that, they’ve refreshed my memory, my faith that this country can one day live up to its promise. We can put the government back on the side of working people—from New York City to Washington DC and everywhere in between,” he continued. “That’s the America we know is possible. One, where in the face of unimaginable vitriol, we don’t hate back. In the face of unimaginable adversity, we don’t give up fighting until it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, but in this country, you can accomplish your dreams. A safe America, a just America, our America.”
He said he doesn’t know what the future holds for him, but he knows he will always be on the frontlines fighting for what he believes is right.
“You know, in light of recent electoral results, some have begun to wonder if Democrats should soft-pedal the fight for equal justice, if they should take a step back from fighting for economic security, or even just give up. I am here to say absolutely not. Justice cannot wait,” he said. “If you aren’t willing to risk everything to build a better country, then you do not belong here in the first place.”