June 2, 2014 By Jack Jodell.
A major political development occurred over the past few days involving an incumbent governor of a large state, his future political ambitions, his party’s state convention, and the way in which this governor was forced by a growing and very vocal third party to publicly endorse a much more progressive economic policy than the one he had been following.
It has been fairly obvious to many political observers that Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has been trying to position himself for a future run at the White House. He has used a methodology that many Democratic politicians have used in recent years to gain office and maintain power: court those to the left with big social promises, while delivering tax breaks for the wealthy to obtain funding and support from fat cats and the business community. Cuomo is well aware that a huge majority in his bid for re-election this fall would greatly aid his chances of receiving a giant electoral majority. A recent poll shows him leading his closest GOP challenger by a sizable 57% – 26% margin, yet he wants to increase this lead even further.
Cuomo first won election in 2010 by defeating his Tea Party challenger in a landslide. He managed this victory in an otherwise extremely successful year for the reactionary Tea Party by winning a huge and nearly universal majority of votes from New York’s boldest and most progressive third party, the Working Families Party. This third party was originally begun by a grassroots coalition of neighborhood activists and community organizers, with a large backing from organized labor. It came into being because of voter disgust with the way that corporations and big money have come to corrupt and basically own both major American political parties, making it virtually impossible for the poor as well as for working and middle class Americans to receive the fair electoral representation to which they are guaranteed by the Constitution. Whereas the Democratic Party used to be the proud party of the poor and working Americans, to many this is now no longer the case. Voters have seen far too many Democrats position themselves barely a degree or two the left of an ever-increasingly conservative and even reactionary, backward-thinking Republican Party, and they have steadily lost economic ground to wealthy corporatists as a result. Due to this abandonment of working class needs and wants, parties like the WFP are beginning to roar into existence.
Support for Cuomo began disappearing soon after he took office. WFP voters saw that, while he was doing a great job on cultural issues like gay rights and gun control, on economic issues he had all but abandoned Main Street in pursuit of policies designed to primarily benefit the wealthy and Wall Street instead. Many former supporters began to view him as a traitor, and some even began “Dump Cuomo” movements. As a number of WFP voters were also members of Cuomo’s Democratic Party, these angry, disaffected voters began to threaten to split the party, something Cuomo wants to avoid at all costs! For a time, they were threatening to put up a WFP member to actually challenge Cuomo for the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor. Cuomo, aware of the perils that could result from this, quickly took notice and became alarmed. He saw that polls showed that, were a WFP candidate to enter the race, that candidate would grab an astounding 20 points off Cuomo’s comfortable lead, and would reduce it to a shaky plurality of Cuomo 37% to the GOP challenger’s 24% to the WFP challenger’s 22%! It is clear to see from all of this that New York voters, much like many other parts of our country, are strongly rejecting the reactionary Tea Party philosophy of using obstruction to block much-needed legislation and imposing ridiculously harsh austerity budgets on a public still smarting from underemployment, meager job creation, and low wages. Even more importantly, though, they are rejecting politicians who are placing their own political advancement well in front of the constituents who elected them.
Even more striking is the anger more and more voters are starting to feel with weak-kneed, overly cautious Democrats, whom they correctly believe have all but abandoned them to placate wealthy, uncaring plutocrats! This blogger, and many others, shares their dismay with the way the Democratic Party has shifted far to the right of where it once proudly stood prior to the conservative / reactionary sludge slide that began with the Reagan administration of the 1980s. We have HAD IT with wimpy “Blue Dog” Democrats who have become “Republican Lite” corporatists instead of pushing for a fairer, more progressive political and economic agenda!