Some people probably think living in a solid blue state like New York is like living in some liberal bastion of progressivism where an open and honest government works tirelessly to defeat old conservative policies and proposals.
Far from it. In fact, most of the time it feels like you’re living in a shitty mob movie where scandals and bribery abound, closed-door meetings in smoke-filled rooms are commonplace, and way too many of our politicians fancy themselves gangsters and kingpins.
As the establishment media are wont to do post-election, people are already pointing to our governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, and his presence at some random meeting in Washington DC as proof of his presidential ambitions.
Cronyism in New York politics is not exactly a new phenomenon, but one of the reasons this problem persists is because of our dear governor. So if the pundits and predictions are right, it’s probable that New York’s corruption problem will become America’s corruption problem.
Since a lot of progressives don’t have the pleasure of living in the Empire State, I figured there are a few things you should know. I know 2020 is a ways off, and while I’m certain the governor’s brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo will bring up most of this, here’s a little primer. You know, just in case.
Suffice it to say, there’s a lot progressives aren’t going to like about our governor. I’m not talking about the surface things like his “wholehearted” endorsement of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries, or how he was so eager to take pictures with Bernie Sanders when he wanted to push his “free college” proposal (which is totally Hillary’s debt-free college proposal, and a weak-ass version of Bernie’s actual free-college proposal). Yeah, it’s annoying, but not reprehensible.
What’s likely to make progressives want to self-medicate is just how fast Cuomo has gone and salvaged the wreckage from Clinton’s busted campaign machine, wrapped himself in Clinton’s policies and surrounding himself with her people.
Not only did Cuomo lift her debt-free college plan, he’s also hired one of her top consultants/fundraisers from Florida. Hell, on Tuesday, he went and hired at least three of her campaign staffers, in addition to a few more who worked in the Obama administration.
I get it: seeing staffers get shuffled around is nothing new, but in the wake of what will surely go down as the most politically devastating election in the party’s history, he’s forging ahead with the business-as-usual attitude we’ve constantly seen from the corporate Democrats.
Cuomo’s shown he’s willing to adopt a loser’s policy proposals, some of her staff, and even some people who worked for a president whose legacy is being torn asunder as we speak. Why? Because he, congressional Democrats, and the rest of the party, were more concerned with making donors and Republicans happy than pushing real progressive policies and nominating a candidate most Americans actually agree with.
Let’s give the devil his due: Cuomo’s overseen some progressive stuff, but only when it was easy. New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, five other states sacked up and did it first. Right now, he’s considering extending a (tiny) tax on millionaires, and, with threat of an Obamacare repeal looming, Cuomo recently mandated insurance providers offer contraception and some abortion procedures at no extra charge.
He also signed off on gun control legislation, the NY SAFE Act, shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre, sufficiently triggering our far-right residents who now are attempting to render it useless.
But then there’s how some Dems in name only have formed a coalition with the Republicans in the state Senate, and how Cuomo is way too cool with conservatives basically running the joint in a “Democratically-controlled state legislature.”
Or how he’s continued an abhorrent tradition of having the governor, the state Assembly speaker, and the state majority leader cut important deals behind closed doors with no public debate. Albany’s even come up with a cute little name for it: the three guys in a room strategy. I’d call it no fucking transparency.
However, for many New Yorkers, this doesn’t distract from the giant cesspool of corruption Cuomo and the rest of Albany are swimming in. At all levels, in both parties. It’s repugnant. Oh look—there’s some fresh corruption right now!
Some of you may recall a tweet from a guy named Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District that just got shit-canned by Trump. He got some attention after referencing something called the Moreland Commission.
The Moreland Commission was formed by Cuomo in 2013. Its job: to have attorneys investigate any and all leads regarding corruption in state government.
Cuomo created the Moreland Commission in July 2013. “Anything they want to look at, they can look at—me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman,” Cuomo said at the time.
Then, Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission in March 2014. A three month investigation by the New York Times would later report he likely shut it down was because Commissioners took his advice and starting looking at him along with some of the folks he did business with.
It took decades upon decades for New York to earn the reputation as the most corrupt state in the union—so it’s not all Cuomo’s fault. However, he’s certainly overseen a good bit of it, (maybe) partook in some of it, and clearly reneged on plans to rein it in.
So, if the the corporate wing of the party has its way in the end, this is who you can expect to see as the Democratic nominee in 2020: a calculating opportunist who does what’s progressive when it’s politically convenient, someone more willing to concede ground and cut shady deals with Republicans than fight them, and someone who is neck-deep in the corruption and scandal Americans vehemently detest.
Remind me again: where have we seen someone like that before?
Edited by Lydia McMullen-Laird