Foss: Schenectady’s Roger Hull turns his attention to the 2020 presidential election

Roger Hull in 2017 and his new book
Roger Hull in 2017 and his new book

Categories: News, Opinion, Schenectady County

Roger Hull doesn’t expect a lot of people to read his new book. 

Nor does he expect his book to change many minds. 

But he wrote it anyway, in a month-long burst of activity that started at the beginning of March, driven by a desire, he told me, “not to remain silent.” 

“I just feel that we, as a country, run a tremendous risk when people are silent,” Hull explained. 

Publicly, it’s been a relatively quiet stretch for Hull, the former Union College president who twice ran for mayor of Schenectady, losing both times to Mayor Gary McCarthy. Now 77, he opted to forego a third run last year, and has devoted his energies to less high-profile projects.

But that doesn’t mean he’s any less busy, or that he’s sworn off politics. 

Indeed, quite the opposite.

Hull’s new book, “How to Get Beyond Trump,” makes the case for supporting presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a brisk 137 pages. It’s a follow-up to a book he wrote in 2019, “2020 Vision: Dump Trump.” 

“We are at a pivotal moment in our history,” Hull writes, in “How to Get Beyond Trump,” which was self-published and is available digitally on Amazon. “If we are to restore civility, decency, fairness, morality, science and the rule of law to the United States, if we are to become again a beacon of freedom for the world, Democrats need to seize the moment – and the Presidency and Congress.” 

Hull himself is not a Democrat, and the book blurb on Amazon describes “How to Get Beyond Trump” as “an independent’s analysis of the 2020 election.” 

Politically, Hull has long marched to his own drummer, opting to found his own political party, the Alliance Party, to challenge Schenectady’s Democratic machine in 2011. 

In 2015, he ran for mayor on the Republican, Conservative and Reform party lines. If I had to peg Hull ideologically, I’d classify him as centrist, with an outlook that’s reminiscent of a Never Trump Republican, though he isn’t a member of the GOP. 

As a young man, Hull worked on campaigns for Ogden Reid, who represented Westchester County in the House of Representatives for six terms, first as a Republican and then as a Democrat, and former New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican. In the 1980s, “the Republicans became too conservative for my liking, so I became an independent,” Hull recalled.

It’s a position that suits him, and if Hull’s thrown his lot in with Biden and the Democrats, it’s because “I believe people should speak out if something bothers them, and (the Trump administration) really bothers me.” 

Like Hull, I find the Trump administration deeply bothersome. 

But his book isn’t aimed at me, or die-hard Trump supporters.  

It’s aimed at voters in swing states – Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. In particular, Hull believes Republican women are open to persuasion. 

“There are four or five swing states that will determine the election,” Hull explained.

Hull has written two books on international law and a book on leadership; his books on Trump reflect his knowledge of those topics, while focusing on up-to-the-minute concerns such as COVID-19, and were written quickly, with the goal of being available to readers before the presidential election. 

“(‘How to Get Beyond Trump’) was something I cranked out,” he said. “It wasn’t written to build up my resume.” 

In addition to his writing, Hull is now immersed in his non-profit organization, the Help Yourself Win Foundation, which works with at-risk youth and teaches under-educated, low-income adults the skills they need to succeed in construction. He also has a consulting agency that provides what he described as “no holds barred advice” to colleges, and a new grandson. 

I sometimes wonder what Hull would have been like as mayor of Schenectady – whether he would have succeeded in bringing the openness and transparency he promised to City Hall, or in revitalizing local politics with a different style of leadership. 

But that ship has sailed, and Hull doesn’t sound like a man with many regrets, or much interest in dwelling on the past.

In his seventh decade on earth, he’s still looking forward, and doing what he can to make the world a better place. 

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected] Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

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