This past weekend the Working Families Party (WFP) held their convention to endorse state wide office seekers and provide access to their fusion ballot line (candidates in New York are allowed to appear on multiple parties' ballot lines, when I ran for Clifton Park Town Council I was on both the Democratic and WFP ballot lines). Typically this is a mundane affair, but in recent weeks and months public polls (Quinnipiac and Siena) showed that an unnamed WFP candidate would take 20% or more support in the general election pulling down Cuomo from astronomically high margin of victory to a mere plurality. This is response to Cuomo's triangulation in a state that gets pejoratively put down for it's liberal tendencies despite the fact to the past 30 years that have shown right-wing plutocratic policy has been deleterious to Middle-American family but the conventional wisdom in the halls of power continues to hold that those that were successful in business or the progeny of those successful in business has special knowledge and wisdom when discussing how communities or nations should be organized (surprise they put themselves on top).
We have seen on a national level in the previous 5 years Obama being elected on the electoral promises that you can't expect change by sending the same people to elected office and that he was going to change the game and not just play it better which in the wake of the Great Recession sounded intuitive-- then proceeded to carry out policy exactly in line with his predecessors; we have seen on the state level 4 years ago Andrew Cuomo was chosen as the Obama's preferred candidate and won election against far right-wing Tea Party backed Carl Paladino-- what could have easily been a clear repudiation of that mindset was instead taken by Cuomo as needing to given excessive deference to the point of view that he was instrumental to ensuring GOP control of the State Senate relinquishing a vestigial and repudiated world view to be remain as an opposition for the sake of opposition; we have seen on the city level that Bill DeBlasio's being elected on an electoral promise to end domination of the economic elitism and raise up those in outerboroughs that have been dismissed, through policies like stop and frisk that routinely harassed young men and teens of color like his own son-- what might have been expected had the Mayor followed the intentions of the electorated that just hired him would be an immediate suspension of stop and frisks, what we got was hiring Bill Bratton who initiated the program under Rudy Giulliani. What we might have also expected that the universal pre-k that was promised to be funded by those earning more than $500,000 a year in the city that just chose him in large part because they wanted to see those that earned a disproportionate income while never receiving their justified comeuppance from their role in the creation of the Great Recession was bamboozled by the governor with a promise of temporary revenues from other parts of the budget (ie. promised matching funds for campaign finance) that could be yanked away at the whim of Cuomo or any other future governor rather than permanent source of revenue to ensure a permanent universal pre-k.
I provide this background not as to make a case as to how consistent elected officials' hypocrisy is but show how the institutionalization of policy making is directly in rebuttal to the will of the people. A minor party like the WFP would be expected to not ever be able to bring enough sway to anything about this situation, and with the eroding union membership the establishment left should be powerless to anything about this trajectory; and yet the WFP along with SEIU 1199, SEIU 32BJ, RWDSU, and Hotel Trades Union have made a concerted effort in getting the electoral promises to be more and more left of center. With WFP's endorsement of Cuomo at the behest of Bill DeBlasio and his top political aide Emma Wolfe (former Political Director at WFP) has commited a critical blow to the progressive/liberal movement. Though the promises continue to be leftward leaning, the delivery of those promises are never to come to fruition. The elected officials decided to pantomime shared beliefs with those self identify as left-wing and those that are activists, but when it comes down to brass tacks they are the Washington Generals to the right-wing plutocrats' Harlem Globetrotters; all the effort to show that they are attempting to win policy implementation but the game is rigged and the end results are already decided against the will of the governed. If the it is inevitable that the WFP will collapse, then they might as well flip the bird to those are decimating the party as they go out the door rather than being courteous and deferential to those will see to it the party no longer exists. The 40% of the state committee that voted to endorse Fordham Law Professor and campaign aide to Howard Dean, Zephyr Teachout might have had this in mind, it is a shame that she did not win the endorsement. I will likely vote for her as write-in candidate both in the primary (if there is one) and the general election.
Why would true believers still volunteer for WFP candidates when they refuse to withhold support after it has been demonstrated those elected officials dismiss demands of the activists the moment they are elected? Why would anyone continue to contribute money to the WFP of that money is going to be spent on candidates that are never to be held accountable, and actually work against WFP states goals? If Cuomo's unspoken threat that if the WFP were to withhold their endorsement would be that he would persuade the unions that supply much needed resources to the WFP to withdraw from the WFP altogether, then what good is endorsing an overt backstabber who has no loyalty nor any shared principle? Cuomo was central to the collapse of the Liberal Party when it was too late to get his name off their ballot in his 2002 aborted run for Governor, Cuomo withdrew from the Governor's race which ensured the Liberal Party wouldn't receive enough votes to retain ballot access, so it is well within Cuomo's modus oprendi to follow a 'Scorched Earth' policy in regards to his allies, but oddly not his opponents (at least not conservative opponents). If Bill DeBlasio knows that he will not receive full hearted support from Cuomo (as demonstrated by Cuomo killing any guaranteed revenue for universal pre-k) why work so hard to ensure attain the ballot line of third party if not squelch real progressive change?
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