“A liberal, a socialist, and a progressive walk into a bar. Caught off guard, the bartender replies, “Wow, I thought you were all the same guy.”” “So, a liberal, a moderate, and a conservative walk into a bar. Bartender says, “Hi Mitt, what will you have?” “A conservative walks into a bar. Surprised, the bartender responds, “That’s odd. Usually they just trip over low ones.”” Okay. Some are funnier than the others. But a point is proven: We all have our go-to biases, don’t we? We throw so many complex and competing viewpoints into easy, one-size-fits all labels. “He’s a baby-killing liberal.” “He’s a war-mongering, Hispanic-hating conservative.” We lump junk together because it’s easier on the thinking and maybe we don’t have time to sort things out or maybe we’re just lazy and maybe the political bosses ruling over our sad state of affairs would keep it just that way. Sigh. We’re polarized and paralyzed. It’s time to move past labels to straight-up solutions to our country’s and our district’s very real challenges. To ideas, not biased labels. Let’s me disclose: I know Bryan Caforio. He’s a friend of mine. We’ve spoken over coffee and on the phone quite a bit. I don’t know Steve Knight very much, save for listening to him at a few engagements. Steve, can we talk? Also, let me say this: Bryan Caforio, your next Democratic nominee for Congress is not a groper or harasser. He’s categorically denied such. Bryan also believes Steve Knight is not a groper nor a harasser. “Steve Knight is far too principled in his life for any of that,” he says. At least we can share that common ground and decency. Goodie – now we can get to the ideas and solutions rather than the accusations. To hell with accusations. I don’t want to hear them from Bryan and I don’t want any of it from Steve. Last election, Steve’s team put out ominous hit-job ads frighteningly painting Bryan, “Bryan Caforio isn’t one of us.” “He’s a big-city liberal lawyer.” Now, that might have been dog-whistling to bigots, or it may have been emphasizing that Bryan was new to our area. This time, that dog-whistle won’t hunt. Bryan is a veteran of Valencia, raising his kids here and investing himself in his district and the local community. And, while Steve’s largely been away, Bryan has been representing locals’ interests at the Aliso Canyon gas leak, fighting for locals living around the Chiquita Canyon dump, and pushing locally for more local infrastructure investment. Arguably, Bryan knows more about what’s going on here in our district than anyone else. Yet, Steve is “one of us” too. He’s lived in the A.V. forever and grew up in a local political family. This should be a clash of ideas – not of fake and lazy labels. Speaking of “us” – our next congressman must truly stand for us, here at home in our real lives. What happens here, in tax burden. Here, in our medical care. Here, in infrastructure and transportation. Here, in industry. The impact here, as he or she votes on national issues that hit right inside the walls of our homes. These are important times. Medical care, tax burden, opportunity equality, internet use, care of our poor, peace vs. war – are all very much on the line. I’m been disappointed with Steve Knight’s recent votes on these matters. While Steve is from here, he’s voted “Washington.” He voted down the Affordable Care Act when brave men like John McCain voted, “thumbs down.” Recently, he voted in favor of the tax plan that gives trillions to the ultra-rich while removing our district’s very important local and state tax deductions and limiting the mortgage deduction. Most of us are homeowners and we pay substantial state and local taxes. What was Steve thinking? That we wouldn’t care just because it’s “Republican?” Yeah, tell that to your checkbook. So why should you vote party line when our district’s needs are much different than some party boss’s dictate and command? Independent ideas and solutions for our district and for our lives should be our guiding principle. I know Bryan Caforio wants to keep our state tax exemptions because it impacts our district very personally. He’s also aware of income and opportunity inequality and seeks a fair tax model that’s productive for America and fair across all income brackets. Bryan unabashedly supports Medicare-for-all as baseline American care, and if you want more, you can buy up as you see fit. Yes, while the ACA has improved the lives of most Californians, if we are willing to work at it, we can come up with a better model, with less hassle, less cost, and still provide full choice – if we’re willing to break outdated molds and get to thinking again. Bryan knows our district is home to the largest electric bus manufacturer in the country. So, why not get more infrastructure here at home to encourage pollution-free travel, here at home and benefiting our local economy? And energy. California is home to more clean energy jobs than anywhere in the USA. Solar is a major contributor to our energy base and this fully clean power source is growing every day. Trump wants to hobble solar with tariffs to juice up dirty coal and gas. Why would we use smoggy old coal when we know our jobs and our future lies with the sun? Our congressional representatives can’t just vote old party line when California has its own needs, very much different than current Republican actions. One more: “A voter walks into a voting booth. She pauses and thinks long and hard about what matters at home before pushing the R or D button… “ Yes, this coming election is no joke. Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.