25 October 2010

Why I Won't Vote for Andrew Cuomo

Yesterday, The New York Times ran this story about our governor-elect Andrew Cuomo. It may seem odd to refer to Cuomo as governor-elect given that the election has yet to be held. But he is just another in a string of dynastic pretenders to political office around the country. The names are familiar - Kennedy, Clinton, Bush, Romney, Brown, and so forth. (The stink of oligarchy by itself is nearly a sufficient reason to vote against Cuomo.) And given that the New York State Republicans have nominated a complete idiot and political incompetent to oppose Cuomo, the chances of him not ascending to the Statehouse are approximately zero.

Now, Cuomo is a Democrat. He is rightly concerned that state government in New York is a mess. But look at who he blames and how he hopes to remedy the situation. According to The Times, Cuomo: "will mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions. He will seek to transform the state’s weak business lobby into a more formidable ally, believing that corporate leaders in New York have virtually surrendered the field to big labor." Are you kidding? First of all his diagnosis is, at best, tendentious. Like our local 800 pound gorilla Tom Golisano (corporate honcho, charitable benefactor and all around windbag), who has run for governor himself as an independent, Cuomo wants to blame everything on the unions. Second, he wants to invite in corporate interests as a remedy. This is a Democrat? Unfortunately, yes.

Let's not pretend that the public sector unions in New York are flawless. They surely are not. But if Cuomo wants to tackle the corruption and dysfunction in Albany he might try a more direct route - propose and push through institutional reform. Change the rules of the legislative process that make the state government about as undemocratic a governmental entity as you will find in the United States. According to this 2004 report from the Brennan Center at NYU Law School, the structure of state government is more or less wholly anti-democratic. (Nothing much has changed since the report was issued.) Consider some examples. The Speaker of the House and the Leader of the Senate exercise more or less dictatorial powers, including over the legislative calendar and the staffing budgets of individual lawmakers. The committee structure, such as it is, does nothing to promote examination of and debate over legislative proposals. There is no operative system of conference committees to resolve disagreements between the two chambers. The problem with state government, in other words, starts at home, with a constitutional structure that actively invites corruption and gridlock. And I am willing to bet that that structure was not put in place by public sector unions. It surely pre-dates their ascendancy. The venality and corruption in Albany are political in the narrowest possible sense. I also am willing to bet - and the article in The Times supports this suspicion - that Cuomo will do nothing to address the institutional problems of state government.

Since Cuomo is a sure winner in the election, I plan to vote for the Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins. Further down the ballot I'll vote my usual Working Families Party line.

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Blogger Stan B. said...

I almost did a spit take with the morning coffee yesterday when I read his get tough policy- not with banks, not with any of the right wing wacko groups, but with those few left who have any connection with the working man whatsoever and are on their last legs as it is...

25 October, 2010 12:35  
Blogger pietro said...

Hawkins gettin' my vote too!

25 October, 2010 12:52  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Yes Stan, Andrew's politics are 'noser' inducing! Pretty astounding stuff.

Hope all is well!


25 October, 2010 13:32  
Blogger Beth E. said...

I was actually not surprised at all by Cuomo-the-younger's little statement. The man has always been a political opportunist (to a degree that his papa's never come close to), and it's bad enough that Mario was also bad news for state employee unions. Andrew smells blood in the tea party bath, and like a shark he hastens to contribute to the union-bashing feeding frenzy, all the better to rake in more votes.

I've never been able to stand that guy--and congrats, Jim on picking up on Howie Hawkins, who I've known for 20 years. He's the real deal, and the Greens have a MUCH better thought-through and articulated set of positions on the screwed up state of the world than the Dems will ever be capable of pasting together.

So I guess I'm not voting for Andy, either!

25 October, 2010 17:51  

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