Why Andrew Cuomo Will NOT Be the Next Eric Cantor

Did you hear that Andrew Cuomo is facing a primary challenge next week? No?  To be honest, neither did I. Apparently, from what I gather, neither have the majority of New York Democratic voters. Know who else hasn't heard about the challenge? Real Clear Politics, that's who. Yep, the number one source for polling for both the midterms and the 2016 presidential election - did you know Hillary Clinton is ahead of Chris Christie by 7 points in North Carolina, but only by a point over Mike Huckabee? - has not one mention of a Democratic primary in New York. I looked and I looked and I couldn't find it.

So who is Andrew Cuomo's primary challenger? None other than Zephyr Teachout, a law professor at Fordham University. And she has the backing of "millions of New Yorkers" and "the base of the Democratic Party." She's also received several endorsements, like the one by Jeffrey Sachs of the Huffington Post, who wrote in an op-ed piece,

I am asking New Yorkers and New York Democrats to stand together to demand honesty and change. If we elect Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu, they and we will begin to fix New York. Working together, we can achieve better schools, renewable energy, and a fairer tax code. We can achieve a return to the great NY tradition of progressive leadership in the steps of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Fiorella LaGuardia. Those leaders built the hydroelectric power, the bridges, the airports, and the parks we still use today. It's now our chance, by supporting new leadership and honest politics to build our legacy, not corruption. We can fix our problems.

Spoiler alert: Jeffrey Sachs apparently thinks Zephyr Teachout will be the next Fiorella LaGuardia. I hope she's up to reading all those children's stories over the radio. Frankly, I'd settle for anyone who could make LaGuardia airport run smoothly.

On a serious note, the main thrust of Teachout's campaign centers on one issue: Common Core. She thinks it's been a brutal disaster. Know what? She's right. From what I've seen - and I'll admit I haven't studied it too much, at least not without a bottle of Excedrin - it's about as popular as a case of food poisoning on a cruise ship.

But is that enough to unseat an incumbent governor who is leading his Republican opponent by a healthy margin? No. To listen to Teachout and her supporters, you'd think Cuomo was Boss Tweed or something. He isn't.

But then that's not what's really bothering Teachout, Sachs and all those feisty progressives out there who have their panties in a bunch. What gets in their craw is the fact that Cuomo doesn't sing and dance like they do. He beds down with the enemy to pass legislation (Heavens to Murgatroyd!); his tax policies are aimed at attracting businesses to come to New York, instead of the other way around. He's no supply-sider but he gets it that taxes in New York are too high. He's pro gay rights and passed a gun law that puts common sense restrictions on what types of guns and ammo can be purchased and by whom. He's what most of us commonly refer to as a centrist, but what the Left calls a sellout.

That's what this whole challenge is about. Teddy Roosevelt and FDR are just window dressing. The Left got all weak in the knees when Bill de Blasio won a landslide election for New York mayor last year and now they want their guy (er, girl) in Albany. Never mind that de Blasio's win was an outlier and came about primarily due to a staggering low voter turnout; never mind that no one knows whether Teachout could actually win the general against Rob Astorino. Never mind all that, principles are all that matter when you're a progressive. Like the rest of us are just empty vessels.

Fortunately for New York, Andrew Cuomo will not be the next Eric Cantor. You'll recall the former Republican majority leader of the House was defeated in a primary by a candidate, David Brat, who was even further to the right than he was. There's a price to be paid in GOP land when you piss off the base; it's called getting your ass kicked. Eric Cantor is now a private citizen and the Virginia 7th district is now up for grabs. That's what happens when you don't think things through clearly and rationally; you end up cutting off your nose to spite your face.

This is why I can't stand progressives. I agree with their policies, but I strongly question their sanity. To this day, most of them still don't think it was a mistake voting for Ralph Nader in 2000. Bush and Gore were basically one in the same, right? Two wars, trillions of dollars in debt later and they are as obstinate as ever. It's a good thing for the rest of us that there are no Laura Ingrahams or Rush Limbaughs in our ranks who are capable of rallying the troops. The best we have is Rachel Maddow. Sorry, Rachel, you're no Rush.

Progressives need to stop flirting with disaster. It's one thing to admire Elizabeth Warren; it's quite another to think she could win the presidency. She can't. It's high time the Left comes to grips with a staggering reality: with the exception of a few geographic regions (the Northeast and the West coast) most of the country is somewhere between left of center and right of center. The Bill de Blasios and Zephyr Teachouts aren't well liked, much less electable outside of those regions. For all the talk about how terrible (e.g., middle-of-the-road) a candidate Terry McAuliffe was in last year's gubernatorial race in Virginia, the truth is had progressives gotten the candidate they wanted, Ken Cuccinelli would've won. Like it or not, it is the McAuliffes, the Cuomos and the Clintons of the Party that have the best shot at defeating the extremism of the GOP. As I have said on more than one occasion, elections are won in the center, not the flanks.

Maybe you're not crazy about Hillary Clinton. Great, find me an other Democrat who carries Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado and Iowa. Hillary can win them all. I doubt Warren would be competitive in but a few.

Look, I lived through the '80s. I saw the Democrats get their butts kicked three times. I have, believe me, no wish to return to those days.


Prof. Walter Jameson said…

It is amazing to me how some people extend the idea of political pragmatism to the support of duplicitous, two-faced pols who have
a serious deficit of integrity. You know, one persons so-called pragmatist (of this kind) is another person's directionless invertebrate.

Mr. Cuomo may not be the next Eric
Cantor, but he deserves to be. In all
likelihood he will win the primary, but
it's not going to be a slam-dunk for him by any means. I guess that's the best I can hope for - for now. A little ways down the road I wish him nothing short of a big fat subpoena from the desk of US Attorney Preet Bharara for his manipulations of the Moreland Commission.

With regard to your comment about voting for Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election, you're missing the point entirely. It should've never been about Ralph Nader's measly 97,000 votes in Florida. This was
all about the Vice President, and he alone. He was an extremely lousy candidate with an equally lousy public
personality. He certainly had a better message and he certainly would've been a better president than what we got, by far, but he couldn't sell enough of the product to make his quota, so to speak. It should've been a very easy victory for him. And the Ralph Nader issue should've been
irrelevant - as it has always been.

You brought up the electability issue of left-leaning candidates by saying, in part, the following: "As I have said on more than one occasion, elections are won in the center, not the flanks." Oh really now? I guess this passes for some type of conventional wisdom among the so-called pragmatists. Let me ask you something, okay? Did Ronald Reagan
run as a centrist? And even more recently, did George W. Bush run as a
centrist? Like hell they did! No, they had a conservative message that they, themselves, truly believed, and, at that point in time, resonated with a large portion of the voting public. They were also *extremely likable* and they knew how to "sell the product." When people pulled the lever for these two men, they pretty much knew what they were getting.

Finally, you stated: "Look, I lived through the '80s. I saw the Democrats get their butts kicked three times. I have, believe me, no wish to return to those days." Yeah, um, it is most unfortunate that you provide absolutely no context here as to WHY the Democrats got their butts kicked. I mean, would you accept a review about the movie "Citizen Kane"
that included a line that stated that "Rosebud" was just the name of an old sled? C'mon already!

Look, progressives have ideas about the economy and other bread-and-butter issues that are superior to those proffered by conservatives. If I have any criticism of progressives, it's that they should de-emphasize all the cultural horseshit issues and drive home those things that really matter to the voting public: Jobs and overall economic well-being. It'll win every time. The only thing needed is a candidate who is personable and
believable, and who can sell the product. What do "third-wayer", New Democrat centrists like Ms. Rodham-Clinton, et. al., stand for? What do YOU stand for?

Good ideas are good ideas. *True* progressives should never be afraid to run on them.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond.