By Matthew Rosen
In one corner, we have the Democratic establishment candidate. This candidate is a part of family politics, has been in office, and hopes to maintain the Democratic status quo. In the other corner, we have the rising Democratic socialist. This candidate wants to move the Democratic Party even more to the left, and believes the establishment Democrats are corrupt. If you thought I was talking about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, you’d be wrong. However, the establishment vs. the far-left socialist battle is playing out again in our own state. Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon are replaying this same scenario, but for Governor of New York.
This battle may actually mean more to the future of the Democratic Party than the one with Hillary vs. Bernie, because that one wasn’t based on popular support, but rather superdelegates. The winner of this gubernatorial election will tell us something about where the Democratic Party is. More importantly, Andrew Cuomo’s final shift will tell us something about Democratic Party is headed.
The reason this is relevant this week is because the Democratic Party primary debate just aired, and all I can say is wow. I really don’t want either one as Governor. Cuomo took every possible chance to attack President Trump, calling him the greatest threat to NY today. Comparing the threat of Donald Trump to the threat of terrorism, climate change, and natural disasters, our Governor is stupid. Add horrible policies on top of that, and you can bet that I don’t want another term of Cuomo. That being said, Cynthia Nixon lives in a fantasy land, has the same horrible policies, but amplified somehow, and also hates Donald Trump.
Can Republican candidate Marcus Molinaro or Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe save us from these two? Probably not, at least not in Democratic NY where New York City is voting. So that leaves the question, who would you rather: Andrew Cuomo or Cynthia Nixon? Well Cuomo is more experienced, slightly more moderate, and more realistic than Nixon is by a mile. Not only that, but I think Cuomo destroyed Nixon in the primary debate. So between these two awful candidates, I would prefer Cuomo.
First of all, Andrew Cuomo debating with far-left Nixon actually made Cuomo into the candidate of reason. I know, shocking. But here’s why: Nixon’s far-left policies are so radical, that Cuomo was forced to take the side of the moderate candidate, even though he isn’t one. For example, Cynthia Nixon advocated for New York to move to a single-payer healthcare system, which led to Cuomo having a tiny voice of reason. He then asked her “Where do you get the $200 million short term, which would double the tax burden, and take money from everything else to get to single-payer?” He basically went over state finances with Nixon by explaining to her that the transition costs would be more than the entire current state budget of NY. Good job Cuomo for finally asking a Democrat where they are going to get the money for these programs. Unfortunately, this again does not mean I think Cuomo is a good Governor. I think he is horrible. He immediately than said single-payer is a good idea, and then attacked Donald Trump for not implementing single-payer on a national level.
Cuomo also acted as the fact checker on Nixon throughout the debate. He had to remind her numerous times that governors do not write laws, but the state legislature does. He had to remind her that the subway is under NYC jurisdiction, and that the state cannot possibly pick up all of the losses of a delayed fare hike. He had to remind her that she files taxes as a corporation. He had to remind her that he never lowered taxes on the rich, despite her accusations. He had to remind her that he was in favor of decriminalizing or legalizing marijuana before Nixon even entered the race, despite her accusations. Cuomo did say to Nixon, “You live in the world of fiction. I live in the world of facts.” The policies that Nixon advocated for are just nuts as well. She wanted driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, a governmental switch to renewable energy in NY, profits from legalizing marijuana going to reparations, Medicare for all, tax increases, etc.
Earlier I said this race could tell us something about the future of the Democratic Party. That is because feasible populist/anti-establishment candidates make the establishment candidate squirm. We’ve seen Cuomo squirm a lot since Nixon emerged in an attempt to keep pace with the left base that’s moving further left, but also not go so far left that you lose moderates. The most recent example was when Cuomo said “America was never great,” in an attempt to show he is edgy, far-left, and fighting just as hard as Nixon. Unfortunately for him, there was a backlash from the right, middle, and moderate left, which forced him to backtrack.
Watching how mainstream Democrats respond to the anti-establishment is telling of where the Party is headed. Just like you can watch primaries between moderate Republicans vs Trumpian Republicans to see where the Republican Party is heading, you can do the same for moderate vs socialist Democrats. Emergence of far-left politicians like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Cynthia Nixon show the Democratic Party shifting left, but by how much? And how will the results of these primaries help us predict what kind of candidate Trump will face off against in 2020? I think Cuomo will win another term as Governor. I also predict that the party will move slightly left by 2020 to a point where we see a candidate further left than Hillary was, but not a Bernie Sanders socialist. Maybe Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren. I predict a candidate that will promote policies further left than Clinton, but still an establishment candidate.
One final note, Cynthia Nixon will be on the ballot for Governor, even if Cuomo wins the primary since she won the spot for the Working Families Party. So Republicans should still go out and vote, just in case the vote is split between Democrat Cuomo, and Working Families Nixon! It’s a long shot and almost definitely won’t happen, but always worth a vote.