The Key to the 2022 Midterms Is in My Backyard

Julio Vincent Gambuto
7 min readApr 29, 2022

When Amazon announced in the fall of 2017 that it was opening a $100 million, 855k-square-foot warehouse on Staten Island, New York’s fifth and most suburban borough, I will admit I cringed. Did it mean jobs? Yes. Did it breathe new life into re-development efforts for Staten Island’s west shore, a section of swampy expanse that has long needed commerce and economic activity? Yes. But as a native of the borough, former resident and local small-business owner, I felt a certain sense of NIMBY.

Amazon has dangerously fueled our American consumerist obsession, and I wanted it nowhere near New York City, especially not in my beloved borough. Not only does the online retailer underpay workers and actively campaign against unionization, it has done more to decimate Main Streets and malls all across the country than any other American giant. Why we continue to seriously consider subsidizing its growth is astounding. Its exploits seem uncontrollable in a digital age pathologically loyal to an unchecked free market. Also, at that point in my experiments with Alexa — before I unplugged her and trashed her — she wasn’t working well enough to outweigh my disgust with her parents nor my exasperation with ever-growing surveillance capitalism.

But earlier this month, when the Amazon Labor Union won an historic victory on Staten Island, becoming the first Amazon warehouse to unionize, I was overwhelmed with pride — a feeling that is sometimes hard to come by when my hometown is subjected to national ridicule by its two otherwise pretty-funny native sons on Saturday Night Live. It always baffles me that, in 2022, we dare not joke about women, communities of color, or the gays (I am one of them 👋), but it is still perfectly fine to rag on the working class. I may vehemently disagree with many of my hometown friends and family on political matters, but I still find the constant trashing of the place — on television, in the city and in the press — the epitome of hypocrisy from those who say they’re woke.

What people often fail to recognize about the borough is that there are more registered Democrats on Staten Island than there are Republicans. The press loves to talk about the Island as the “bastion of conservatism” within New York City limits, when in fact it is a very purple place. Were there “Fuck Your…

Julio Vincent Gambuto

Author of “Please Unsubscribe, Thanks!” // Now available in US and UK //