You’ll be shocked – shocked! when you hear that New York City politics are a dirty business. Oh my aunt Nellie, it was never like that in the good old days! In New York, things are heating up. Just as the election of a gropey-gropey bastard to the highest office in the land sparked #metoo and #timesup, so too the election of a corrupt money-hungry scruples-free scam-dog as President (hint, hint I’m talking about the same guy) sparked outrage throughout the land.
People like me, who in happier times could be found downing mojitos in Tribeca before boarding a sunset cruise on the World Yacht* woke up on Nov 9 2016, uncurled ourselves from the fetal position, threw out the empty gin bottles, and started saying “we have to do something on the national level!”
Surprise! Try the local level first.
Welcome to the sausage factory
We all assumed that New York State is a progressive state. A sanctuary state. We assumed we had protection for women’s health and civil rights. Then we learned the facts.
The first order of business was understanding how state politics work. In theory, a law is proposed and sponsored, passes through a committee, is open for public debate, and then it’s voted on. In theory, every single man, woman, and child in New York City could decide to show up tonight to get tickets to “Mama Mia”.
In practice (what we call “reality”), things are a little different. Laws in NY State don’t get passed because they are voted on by the state senate. No. They get passed because of “three men in a room”. Three guys go into a room, close the door, make the decisions, and spend the money. All those bills, senators, public debates, press conferences? Just for show.
The silent, but pissed-off, majority
This allows for all kinds of interesting shenanigans. The first to wade into the steamy cesspool was the IDC (Independent Democrat Committee). Although New York State Democrats have a majority in theory, the “Independent Democrat Committee” has been throwing weight, money, and majority status to the Republicans. The IDC is a group of 8 “Trump Democrats” who swing the powerbase. They are, in essence, scamming the voting public by running as one party and then giving power to the other.
I have no quarrel with Republicans. If you run as a Republican, and you win as a Republican, then we all know where we stand. But these guys? They take private money and influence, then bank on the ignorance of the voting public to rubber stamp themselves into permanent power. They play identity politics when they are questioned. They have great resumes on paper…but they are sleeping with the enemy.
The times, they are a-changin
This is nothing new – but no one gave it a moment’s thought until, overnight, the country went to hell in a handbasket. Now, we’re all woke up. We learned that the people we voted to represent us are taking cashola from hedge funds and blocking pay for our kids’ schools. They’ve killed bills on gender equality, healthcare, voting rights, education, immigration, and fair pay: basically, anything that would have helped us urban dwellers. Instead, tax dollars from the city is getting funneled to gun clubs and dirt roads in the Stix.
Outrage ensued. New Yorkers all over the city started canvassing, hanging out in parks with homemade booths and fliers, and telling people who the traitors are. We took a leaf from the Tea Party’s playbook, and primary challengers stepped up to the plate. A new political force was born, and it only took about 18 months.
The governor of New York State has been spending the last few years glad-handing adoring crowds when he isn’t busy being the third man in the room. That’s all changed.
Governor Cuomo took a look at the Times, did a spit-take with his morning coffee, and realized that the party’s over. He’s been playing both sides of the fence, scheming behind closed doors and amusing himself during boring and pointless meetings by dreaming of headlines such as “Cuomo (Andrew, not Mario) shoo-in for 2020!” and “Cuomo (Andrew, not Mario) unstoppable! Dems and Republicans bow in awe!” and, of course, “President Cuomo (Andrew, not Mario) voted in for a third term! Surpasses FDR, Lincoln as most popular prez EVER!! Fireworks! Free beer! Dancing in the streets!!!!!”
When he awoke from this pleasant reverie, he discovered that his voters are blaming him, challenging him and rejecting his feeble excuses. He called a quickie press conference to say that he’d only just found out about the IDC, just yesterday! Honest! And he immediately told them to stop! Yay for him.
It was too little, too late. Cynthia Nixon, better known as Carrie’s mousier friend on Sex and the City, is running against Cuomo in the primary. Even without official Democratic party support, she’s gaining ground. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising young star, kicked the butt of Joe Crowley, another old Dem in a room. Then she went on to win a primary she wasn’t even running in.
Meanwhile, Jeff Klein, the founder of the original IDC, is getting nervous. His challenger, Alessandra Biaggi, is getting an army of volunteers together this weekend – sign up and canvas if you want to help.
Jump on, the bandwagon’s fine!
We’re gaining momentum. The days of looking the other way because your own party is in power are over. Corruption starts at home, and it will need to stop here, too. Let’s vote the bastards out – all of them – and start over. There’s work to be done.