Nature abhors a vacuum. With a torrent of lies, rather than leadership, coming from the White House, people who are craving guidance during a crisis have gravitated toward New York’s tough-talking governor, Andrew Cuomo. Maybe they’re being tongue in cheek when they say, “Cuomo for President!” After all, I’ve jokingly suggested funny cats and social-media clap-back experts for president. However, I’ve done that knowing that the felines and side-eye givers haven’t indicated they harbor presidential aspirations. Andrew Cuomo does have that kind of ambition, like his father, the late New York governor Mario Cuomo, did before him.
I do give Cuomo credit for appearing to rise to the occasion during the coronavirus pandemic. I also remember that the same thing happened with reviled New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani after 9/11. Because Rudy stayed calm when people needed reassurance, it was “Rudy for President!” But emergency-management Rudy was not regular Rudy. Regular Rudy is the one who went on to do Trump’s dirty work.
What we’re seeing now is emergency-management Cuomo. Regular Cuomo has been running the state capitol in Albany like a family business for years, seizing more authority whenever he can and strategically doling out favors. His specialty has been making bold progressive statements, then obstructing or watering down legislation that would turn his talk into reality. That way he gets credit in the press for being a good Democrat, but he can privately assure deep-pocketed Republican donors and business interests that he’s on their side. Case in point: Cuomo enabled Republicans to hold onto power in the New York State senate for seven years by protecting the Independent Democratic Conference — a group of eight rogue senators who ran as Democrats to secure votes, but caucused with Republicans to hold power. When hard-working activist groups including True Blue NY and Empire State Indivisible raised awareness and campaigned for IDC challengers ahead of the 2018 election, Cuomo tried to maintain the status quo by “welcoming the IDC” back to the Democratic party — a unity stunt that had worked in the past. It didn’t work this time: Six of the eight IDC senators were voted out of office, and the New York State senate officially flipped blue, despite the “Democratic” governor’s wishes.
For more on Cuomo’s record, this is what I said to my Indivisible Activate NYC chapter members in my weekly action newsletter. Follow the links for an education (but don’t take the recommended call/email action unless you vote in New York):
GET TO KNOW GOVERNOR CUOMO
I’ve seen a lot of people kvelling over how Governor Andrew Cuomo has handled the coronavirus crisis in New York, because he’s making reasonable decisions based on facts. That’s good, but “not being completely incompetent and/or deranged” is a pretty low bar. Cuomo is still the same politician who has been surrounded by scandal; who actively enabled a long-running stalemate in the state legislature; who secretly worked to give Amazon tax breaks; who just last month offered to turn over the larger part of New York’s DMV database to Trump regime, knowing the information would be used to track and persecute immigrants. Now that Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for New York, in addition to the PR bonus of being seen as a stern but benevolent father figure, he’s given himself the ability to suspend or change laws unilaterally. And, as a global pandemic rages, a panel appointed by Cuomo is proposing $400 million in Medicaid cuts to New York hospitals. Instead of cutting services to balance the budget, Cuomo should bring in more revenue by increasing taxes on his ultra-wealthy pals — activists call it budget justice.
Call and email Cuomo to say NO to cuts in health care ever, but especially during this crisis.
- Call 518-474-8390.
- Use Resistbot to email. Text the word RESIST to 50409 to get started. You can also use Resistbot via Facebook Messenger, Twitter, or Telegram.
One thing I didn’t mention in the newsletter was Cuomo’s continuing attempts to roll back the bail-reform laws that just went into effect this January. He started fighting to keep people in jails — hotbeds for contagion — after the first reports of coronavirus in China emerged. Is this your president? No. Take it from New Yorkers: Andrew Cuomo isn’t the national savior you’re looking for. He’s just playing one on TV. I fervently hope he gets results this time, but his record remains the same.
For an illustration of the need for bail reform, and tragic effects of cash bail, read: