I worked on this in bits and pieces at rest stops along the Thruway on my drive up and back to Syracuse Tuesday. I didn’t finish by the time the polls closed and the votes were tallied and Andrew Cuomo was declared the winner of the New York Democratic Gubernatorial Primary and so it might seem that this post was overtaken by events. But the post isn’t really about Cuomo or the primary or, at any rate, not just about him and it. So…
Stopped in at our local polling place, the basement of the town hall, on my way out of town this morning, determined to be the first in line to vote against our governor Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary and was stymied.
On primary days, polls don’t open till noon.
I was seriously disappointed. I was looking forward to voting against him TWICE.
Once today and, since he’s probably going to win, again in November when I’ll be voting for Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate.
I don’t like Andrew Cuomo not no way, not no how. Nobody does.
He’s arrogant, thin-skinned, abrasive and I think deliberately so, entitled, self-important, not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, and he’s not a liberal.
At least, he’s not as liberal as I’d like him to be.
He is a Democrat and all Democrats are liberals in that they believe in using government as the most effective (but not the only) machine to expand opportunity, redress wrongs and protect the rights and interests of the not rich, build and maintain infrastructure, grow the economy, and generally “form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. How liberal depends on the answer to how and how often to put that machine to work.
Cuomo doesn’t answer the question in ways that make me happy. Which means he’s not my ideal liberal. He’s not many liberals’ ideal liberal. He’s too concerned with the care and feeding of millionaires. That doesn’t make him a closet Republican. Concern with the care and feeding of millionaires doesn’t get you kicked out of the liberal clubhouse. If it did, there’d be no Democrats left in it. The governor of New York, no matter how liberal, has to be concerned with the care and feeding of millionaires because one of the major industries here---read: major employers and therefore, directly and indirectly, major taxpayers---is finance. The other two are farming and tourism. The governor has to be concerned with the care and feeding of millionaires or at least concerned with their concerns about how they care for and feed themselves just as he has to be concerned with farmers and Adirondack Mountain motel owners.
Again the question is how concerned and what do you do about the concerns. If you’re mainly concerned with the care and feeding of millionaires and definitely if you’re only concerned with it, you aren’t a Democrat. You’re a Republican. I mean that literally. You’re probably a registered Republican. Or you’re one of those self-styled libertarians who register as Independents but vote straight Republican, so who do you think you’re kidding?
If you aren’t concerned at all with the care and feeding of millionaires, if you’re in fact hostile to their care and feeding to the point of saying “Let them eat ticker-tape!” then you aren’t a liberal. You’re a leftist. I’m not sure what brand. That’s up to you. But you should own up to it and be proud. It’s a grand tradition. It’s just not a liberal’s tradition.
By the way, whenever some internet liberal calls a Democrat a Republican in disguise, I hear “This politician isn’t getting done everything I’m sure I’d get done if I held that office.” Also, the term Eisenhower Republican? Meaningless. There was only ever one Eisenhower Republican. That was Eisenhower. And in his day a lot of Republicans saw him as a closet New Deal Democrat, with good reason.
The proper term for Democrats who aren’t as liberal as you or I would like them to be is wrong.
Back to Cuomo.
Andrew’s too concerned with the care and feeding of millionaires. Not mainly concerned with it, let alone only concerned with it. But too concerned for my comfort. Too inclined to think---or, as many weak-minded and campaign contribution hungry politicians of both parties do, let himself think---that taking good care of the millionaires is the best way to help the rest of us. Rising tides lift all boats, right?
Not the boats with holes in their sides.
I like what I’ve seen of his Democratic challenger Zephyr Teachout. I think she’s a better person but more to the point she’s much less concerned with the care and feeding of millionaires. As governor she’d have to be concerned, probably more concerned than she’d like to be or, possibly, more than she believes she’ll have to be, but she won’t let herself think that taking care of the millionaires automatically takes care of the non-millionaires.
On the other hand, coming out of the city as she does, she may be too concerned with taking care of New York City.
The governor of New York had better be concerned with taking care of New York City. Besides the fact that that’s where most New Yorkers live and work, it is the home office of the financial industry---there’re those pesky millionaires again---the largest market for our farms, and the center of the tourist industry, our major attraction and the funnel of tourists and their money into the rest of the state.
In a very real sense, the rest of the state is a giant suburb of New York City.
But as an Upstater, I can tell you there are reasons not to think that’s a wholly good thing or that it’s wholly good to govern the state accordingly.
I don’t want a governor who’ll tell New York City to drop dead. I do want one who will regularly tell it, “That’s enough for now. You can’t expect the rest of the state to get by on your crumbs. Syracuse has troubled schools too. Buffalo and Albany have ports to maintain. There are roads that need paving and plowing in Rochester and Binghamton. There are poverty, crime, and unemployment in St Lawrence County. There is such a place as St Lawrence County!”
“The rent is too damn high everywhere!”
Still, in having to decide between a candidate for governor who might be a little too concerned with New York City and one I already know is overly concerned with the millionaires who live and work there and who’s likely to grow even more concerned as he feels the time growing riper for him to run for President, I’m happier deciding in favor of the former.
By the way, one more reason I don’t like Cuomo.
He honestly believes he can get elected President of the United States!
Yes, because arrogant, abrasive, thin-skinned, and entitled Presidents who are not nearly as smart as they think they are and aren’t as liberal as even the average Democrat are just what the party and the country need.
On top of all his other character flaws, he’s completely lacking in self-awareness.
I’d add that he’s corrupt but I’m a Democrat from New York. If I refused to vote for corrupt politicians I’d only vote in school board elections.
The best I ever hope for is that a politician is corrupt only in looking the other way while his or her allies line their pockets or abuse their power.
But here’s another important reason Cuomo’s not getting my vote.
He hasn’t asked for it.
I don’t mean me individually and particularly. I haven’t been expecting him to show up on my doorstep, pick me out of a crowd to shake my hand, or even give me a phone call. I mean me as a random member of his constituency and one of the thousands of voters he’s going to need to win the primary and then the general election. There’s been very little chance of his showing up on any of our doorsteps, shaking any of our hands in a crowd, or calling any of us on the phone because until very recently he hasn’t been out knocking on doors, shaking hands, making phone calls, or doing any real campaigning at all.
The perfunctory campaigning he’d done before that point was geared toward the election in November and focused on his Republican opponent, Rob Astorino. For as long as he could and as much as he could, he pretended that there was no primary, that Zephyr Teachout didn’t exist.
This is a pretty standard if cynical tactic for an incumbent. Why give voters an excuse to take your challenger seriously? It was petty and churlish of him to refuse to debate her, but the right and grown-up thing to do isn’t always the required thing to do. But Cuomo went beyond refusing to help her to what would have amounted to free advertising.
Having out-maneuvered, out-muscled, and out-wheeled and dealed her to secure for himself the Working Families Party nomination that Teachout reasonably expected would be hers and thus denying her an important spot on the ballot in November, he set out to deny her any spot on any ballot by trying to get her kicked off the ballot for the primary!
This went beyond petty and churlish. It was pure spite and malice. He was acting as if she’d committed a crime by daring to challenge him for the nomination that was rightly his simply by his already being the governor, as if in a democracy an elected official owns the office he’s elected to for as long as he wants to hold it.
Essentially, he was claiming the governorship was his property.
This is where he lost me for keeps. I can vote for a Democrat who’s not much of a liberal. I can’t vote for a Democrat or anyone who is not whole-heartedly a democrat.
Cuomo wasn’t just not bothering to ask for my vote---his way of telling me he didn’t think he needed it or me---he was setting out to deny me the opportunity to vote for someone else.
Again, me as a random member of his supposed constituency, so not only me. He was telling all of us he didn’t need us and denying all of us the opportunity to vote for someone else.
It was clear he felt he should have been given the nomination, if not a second term, by acclamation, and not the acclamation of the people but the right people.
This is one of the things that makes me despise Mitt Romney.
You thought this post was about Andrew, didn’t you?
It’s one of the many reasons Mitt is not a President.
He’s not a democrat.
He doesn’t think he should have to be.
He was like Cuomo. He seemed to think asking the little people for their vote was beneath him, as if the Republican nomination and the Presidency should have been his acclamation of the right people.
This goes back to 2008 when he got into an argument with a waitress in the diner who had the nerve to quiz him on his plans for health care reform. It was a photo op, didn’t she know that? She wasn’t supposed to talk to Mitt at all. Just look on admiringly and gratefully with a deferential smile, her expression and demeanor signaling the proper attitude: Thank you, my liege, for deigning to let me take part in one of your campaign ads.
He didn’t get better for 2012.
This is why I began to root for Rick Santorum. Santorum’s a Right Wing kook but at least he ran as democrat.
You have to ask the people for their vote. You don’t simply tell them to vote for you. That’s what television ads and lawn signs do. VOTE FOR ME! You go out and ask them. Please, can I have your support? The higher the office you’re running for, the more voters you have to ask, and the harder it is to ask the majority of them, never mind all of them. You have to send surrogates to do the asking for you. But that’s what they’re doing, asking on your behalf. And having them out asking doesn’t mean you don’t have to go out and do some asking yourself.
You go out and shake every hand you can, kiss every baby. Ask as many voters as you can meet up with to talk to directly, Please, may I have your support?
And you don’t act like it’s a chore.
Or as if it’s beneath you.
I learned this growing up watching Pop Mannion.
You thought this post was about Mitt, didn’t you?
Every election when he was town supervisor, even though he was routinely winning re-election with 60 percent of the vote, Pop went out to knock on doors, shake hands, and ask people for their votes. I don’t think I ever saw him actually kiss any babies, but if there was a baby to be fussed over, he fussed. He petted dogs too, and he was allergic. He did this his last campaign, the only one for supervisor he lost, when he had a mild heart attack between doorsteps and continued knocking on doors for another hour. He finally had to give up and go to the doctor who put him in the hospital. I think it helped cost him the election. People took a look at him and said, “My God, we can’t re-elect Mannion! It’ll kill him!”
But this is what you do. This is what a democrat does.
You shake every hand, you kiss every baby. You ask the people for their vote. You do it even if it might kill you.
Pop Mannion (left) and friend, circa 1992. Guy Pop’s shaking hands with here was not a constituent and Pop wasn’t asking for his vote. Likely it was the other way around and Bill Bradley was asking Pop for his vote.
Our senior senator, Chuck Schumer may not be every liberal’s ideal liberal but there’s no doubt he’s a good Democrat and a good democrat. He’s not up for re-election this year but he still went out to the New York State Fair to meet and mingle with his constituents. His goal was to shake 10,000 hands in a day. It was a stunt. It was crassly political. It was self-serving and self-flattering. And it was beautiful!