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Posted by: Doug Henwood | November 2, 2010

Voting in NYS

I meant to post this yesterday but my tsuris with WBAI hijacked all my attention.

This is for people registered to vote in New York State. I admire a lot of the work that the Working Families Party has done. They’ve been crucial to getting the state minimum wage raised, reducing the penalties in the Rockefeller drug laws, and getting a bill of rights for domestic workers, among many other things. For that reason, they’ve been under intense attack by Wall Street and real estate interests and the ideological right (the New York Post has run something like 80 articles and editorials attacking the WFP). Every attempt has been made to make them politically radioactive, and identify them with their allies in ACORN, which the right has already destroyed.

Because of that radioactivity, Andrew Cuomo, a wretched human being, made the party jump through all sorts of hoops before he’d accept their endorsement. New York state ballot access laws are the worst in the U.S.—among other things, they require a party to get 50,000 votes for their gubernatorial candidate to remain on the ballot in the next election. The WFP needs those 50,000 votes—and, I’m told, they need at least 100,000 to remain a credible force.

Among the hoops that Cuomo made the party jump through was endorsing his agenda, an agenda that includes letting the millionaire’s tax that the party fought for expire. This is outrageous in itself, but especially so in the midst of a fiscal crisis in a state with perhaps the most unequal distribution of income in the country. More recently, Cuomo told the New York Times that he wants to hammer the public employee unions. The scuttlebutt is that this worthless heir to his overrated father’s dubious legacy (tax cuts for the rich! massive prison building!) wants to run for president, and there’s nothing like easing the burden on investment bankers and increasing it on public workers to grease your way to higher office.

This is what the WFP was forced to endorse if it wanted to remain on the ballot. I’ve long worried that for all its many virtues—and they’re considerable—the party was ultimately constrained by its lack of a credible threat of exit from the Democrats. Cuomo is just the kind of Democrat (and how many other kinds are there, really?) that an independent progressive party should be running against. But the WFP is dependent on the support of unions who don’t want to alienate the Democratic party. So, as Althusser might say, the Dems dominate the WFP in the last instance.

What is to be done? For their many programmatic successes, the WFP deserves to remain credible. If the FIRE sector and Rupert Murdoch hate them enough to want to destroy them they must be doing something right. But voting for Cuomo, even on their line, is really painful.

So here’s how I’m resolving the dilemma: I’m going to vote for Cuomo on the WFP line. (Don’t vote twice! It won’t count!! More crazy New York ballot laws!!!) And Eric Schneiderman, who’s as good as Dems come, for AG too.

But if, after a few months of honeymoon pass, the WFP doesn’t fight Cuomo’s odious agenda, then it’s all over between us.

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Responses

  1. Oh no! Doug! WFP? I was hoping you’d call for a vote for HOWIE HAWKINS on the GREEN PARTY line (Row F) to help establish at GREEN ballot line in NY State – for which we need 50,000 votes.

    Howie & the Greens support all the issues you discuss on your show & blog – many of us are socialists and radicals, and would NEVER sell out to Cuomo or the Dems like the WFP has.

    WFP is a popular front group tying the working class and the left to the Dems. We need a real left party in NY, not a front group.

    I hope you’ll reconsider and cast your ballot for Howie Hawkins today.

  2. Believe me, I anguished over this. For the last few weeks I thought I was going to vote for Hawkins, and I really hope the party gets its 50,000. But I want to give the WFP one more chance.

  3. WFP could easily have acquired 50,000 votes with their own candidate, and doing so would have done *much* more for their credibility than any vote count they rack up for Cuomo by proving they could stand on their own.

    WFP’s capitulation to Cuomo is a moral, tactical, and strategic failure. It is one more link in a long chain of cynical decisions by Dan Cantor and the state leadership. If they can’t oppose Cuomo’s union-bashing, then what is the point?

    Vote Hawkins/Green Party for governor and support a truly independent, progressive party.

    Hopefully, when we wake up tomorrow, the Greens, Freedom Party, and yes even the WFP will have ballot status. We need a multi-party democracy.

  4. I had good friends who were actively supporting the WFP, but after endorsing Cuomo and Schumer and Gillebrand, I had to ask myself what purpose they served other than making lefties feel a bit better about supporting corporate Democrats. I did vote the WFP line for the progressives like Schneiderman and Assembly and State Senate, but then went Green for the rest. For my money, the WFP had strike one and two when they supported Hillary Clinton and with this year’s endorsements they struck out.

    Fortunately in NY, there’s no real chance that the idiots on the Republican line will actually win so now is the time to vote Green if there ever is one.

  5. WFP is not worth the paper it exists on. in CT, it would not join a challenge to campaign finance laws that enshrined the two parties as dominant.

    It has endorsed each and every CT Democrat for congress – that’s five more votes for empire, slaughter, wage and debt slavery.

  6. You have no doubt put work into this vote, but
    this is one that you will regret – as in just about a second after you did it. No “party” should ever betray its principles to the extent of seeking the likes of Andrew Cuomo, whom you and Ishmael Reed have nailed so well, echoing Charles Barron’s demolition of him in the “debate.”
    If a “party” starts making alliances with odious hatchet-wielding jackasses, then it is not a “party,” but an organized racket. The unions are complicit in this, of course, and every other candidate is a meaningless protest candidate, but I liked the vitae of the Green Lieutenant Governor nominee, much more than her delusional head of ticket.

  7. The Green Party got the 50k votes for a ballot line without selling out there values. WFP has no excuse.

  8. I’m curious: just what does the Green Party do between elections? Do they ever organize for anything? That’s really a question.

  9. Voted Green myself – except for Charlie Rangel’s seat – where I voted SWP (LOL!). But Doug’s right about his question – what organizing happens outside of elections? Are the NY Greens connected to other organizations? In Maine, Greens were involved in several local efforts and with other groups, which gave them a lot of credibility. In any case, I’m pretty much finished with the notion that electoral politics will lead to much… I think the Greeks and the French may have a better idea. After Social Security and Medicare are slashed and privatized (give it 6 months), that should prove the test about what this country is made of.

    See ya at the barricades!

  10. i had to face this too, and after cuomo’s announcement late that he was going after the unions – going to raise a war chest to go after the unions! – i couldn’t do it, even if it meant my lone vote would deny the WF their automatic place on the ballot.


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