Undercover senator causes social change


Editorial


During an era in which socioeconomic divisions have grown immensely, it’s rare that we find individuals, especially in politics, that are willing to bridge the gap for the greater good.

But that’s exactly what N.J. Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex, does to gain a better understanding of the conditions at local homeless shelters across the state. In his latest attempt at researching the lives of the homeless, Codey dirtied his face, threw on a worn-out ski cap and fitted himself with a faux beard for an overnight stay at the Goodwill Rescue Mission in Newark.

He spent the night sleeping on a bed mat alongside dozens of other homeless individuals who routinely stay at city homeless shelters. If that’s not dedication to one’s career, we don’t know what is.

But the implications of Codey’s undercover strategy run far deeper than commitment to community service. A homeless shelter, is, after all, the last place one would expect to find a state senator. This type of undercover work may be common to journalists and anthropologists, but does a public official have any business disguising himself with makeup and a fake beard to spy on the homeless?

By going to such lengths to accomplish something that will benefit not only himself, but thousands of homeless individuals across the state who will undoubtedly benefit from his work, Codey has forced us to question the role politicians can play in effecting change and admire him for his commitment. He has showed us that, sometimes, sitting back and barking orders in not enough to affect change – that sometimes, you’ve got to get your hands dirty. And, on top of it all, he makes his colleagues look bad in the process.

If Codey was looking to bring publicity to his cause, he certainly got it from us — and from residents throughout the Garden State, we’re sure. We’d love to see more public officials engage in this sort of hands-on approach to politics, but we’re can’t expect many others to glue on a beard and go prospecting through their local homeless shelters like Codey does.

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