But take it from one who knows: despite what President Obama says ("Don't be cynical! Vote!") it is indeed possible to be both a cynic and a voter. All you have to take with you to the polls (besides an ID card if you are voting in a red state while brown or black) is your tongue, held firmly against your cheek. You might also offer up a silent prayer of thanksgiving that today is the last day you'll have to endure what have to be the worst and nastiest political TV ads ever dreamed up by a data-driven pea-brain with a billion-dollar budget. (unless, of course, you have the misfortune to reside in one of those runoff states.)
I have to confess that the New York ballot had me a bit confused. It seems that there are four guys named Andrew Cuomo running for governor this year. There's a Democratic Andrew Cuomo, a Working Families Party Andrew Cuomo, a Women's Equality Party Andrew Cuomo, and an Independence Party Andrew Cuomo. Why there is not a Republican Andrew Cuomo is anybody's guess, since he is a Goldwater Republican. This is the guy who only last week called public schools a "monopoly" he wants to bust up in order to make room for Wall Street investors' charter schools. Way, way down the ballot was Green Party co-founder Howie Hawkins, who is not surprisingly polling at ten percent (compared to his previous one percent tally.) The Green Party is actually going mainstream. The Democratic Party has gone that far to the right under Cuomo. So stifle the cynicism for a second. Anti-Cuomoism is becoming a political force in its own right.
The whole back-story of that Women's Equality Party is really a textbook case of political cynicism. The WEP did not even exist until very recently, and it's not even a political party. It's a front organization whose board consists of nine men and two women. It was manufactured out of thin air in order to "punish" the Working Families Party, which had grudgingly endorsed Cuomo this summer after mildly criticizing him for being a sell-out to Wall Street. Don't you just love it when a sell-out like the WFP gets sold out by an even bigger sell-out? It really keeps one's cynical enthusiasm alive.
Anyway, Cuomo hopes that if enough people are confused enough to think that he actually stands for women's rights instead of for his plutocratic cronies, they will bypass the WFP ballot line and relegate it to oblivion. So, the "progressive" wing of the Democratic Party is making the election all about the viability of the sell-out Working Families Party instead of about such issues as record poverty and political corruption. That other co-opted sellout -- MoveOn. Org -- has gotten in on the action by actually urging progressives to vote for Cuomo to keep WFP alive. Here's their actual email (links deliberately disabled by me):
Dear New York MoveOn member,
Let's get this out of the way: The election for Governor of New York on Tuesday won't be a nail-biter.
Governor Cuomo is far ahead in the polls and appears certain to win. But one thing is still up in the air—and it could very well decide the entire progressive agenda in Albany for the next four years.
That's the fate of the Working Families Party, one of New York's most effective progressive political groups.
The WFP will vanish unless 50,000 voters cast their votes on the Working Families Party ballot line for Gov. Cuomo—and MoveOn members can be the ones to push it over the top.
For the past four years, the Working Families Party has been able to pull the often conservative-leaning Gov. Cuomo to sometimes act like a progressive. In his first year in office, the WFP successfully pressured Gov. Cuomo to abandon billions of dollars in tax cuts for the rich.
This summer, in exchange for the WFP endorsement, Gov. Cuomo agreed to break off his alliance with the State Senate Republicans, and start supporting Democrats. Along with that, he pledged to support a raft of progressive priorities, including a big minimum wage increase, public financing of elections, and the Women's Equality Act.
And how does Gov. Cuomo thank the WFP? By trying to destroy it.
This summer, Gov. Cuomo founded a new party, just one letter off from the WFP—the WEP. It stands for the Women's Equality Party, and you might have seen its TV commercials by now. But it's not a party at all—it's just a cynical attempt to knock out a huge piece of the progressive infrastructure by stealing votes away from the WFP.
The attack on the WFP is coming because Gov. Cuomo doesn't want WFP forcing his hand anymore. That's all the proof I need that the WFP is an effective, and necessary, part of New York politics.
Earlier this year, the Working Families Party recruited Zephyr Teachout to challenge Governor Cuomo, but after his concessions to the party, the WFP wound up endorsing Gov. Cuomo.
Some progressives celebrated the concessions from Gov. Cuomo. Others were upset the party didn't back Zephyr Teachout. But that's in the past. What's clear today is that for progressive voters, the best vote is for the WFP.
Let's get real: Gov. Cuomo isn't a reliable progressive. But he can be moved, like any politician, with enough grassroots pressure. And it's the Working Families Party that has been able to apply that pressure. And because of that, Gov. Cuomo seems to want to see the party vanish.
We can't let that happen. WFP has been at the forefront of many of the biggest progressive wins in New York, from the Millionaires Tax to the election of the Progressive Caucus in the New York City Council to paid sick days and much more.
It is virtually certain that Gov. Cuomo will be re-elected. The practical question that we face is this: Do we want to have a strong progressive movement around to keep the pressure on Gov. Cuomo, or do we want to let Gov. Cuomo destroy a key piece of it?
If the choice is between those two futures, it should be a clear one. That's why I hope you'll join me and MoveOn members across New York State in voting for Gov. Cuomo on the WFP ballot line on Tuesday.
Thanks for all you do.
–Ilya, Brian, Stephen, Aiyi'nah, and the rest of the teamI think MoveOn should change its name to the Pretzel Party, because its twisted logic just makes you want to forget the cynical tongue in your cheek and resort to grinding your teeth in despair before you choke on your own bile.
The rest of the ballot was pretty easy..... Write-in, Green, Green, Green, Write-In, Democrat, Democrat (assemblyman and Family Court judge, because she wrote me personally and is not likely to take bribes from hedge fund guys running private for profit juvenile detention centers in need of clientele.) For State Senator, I again voted for Candidate Blank over State Senator John Bonacic, again running unopposed on several different ballot lines. If this were a true democracy, Senator Blank would have been the incumbent. New Yorkers have historically voted for Senator Blank over Senator Bonacic. New Yorkers are a lovable, cynical bunch.
Memo to Andrew Cuomo: next time around you might think of running on the Chauncey Gardiner Party, since in one of your cynical TV commercials, you describe your sole paternal function as "Being There."
Cynical movie buffs will remember Gardiner, played by Peter Sellers, as the intellectually-challenged man who rose to national political prominence purely on the basis of his simplistic and reassuring utterances to the rich and powerful.