Democratic Leader Governor Andrew Cuomo—“No One Else Can Defeat This Country, But This Country Can Defeat Itself” January 2, 2020
Leadership. An attribute sorely lacking in our current Executive Branch and its GOP congressional followers. However, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote in that Court’s 1932 opinion, “New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann,” states may serve as “laboratories of democracy.” States may enact laws that, if effective, can be eventually passed by other states as well as by the federal government. Kudos to present state leader, NY Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. As most of us know, a machete-wielding anti-Semitic attacker stabbed several ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews at a 12/28/2019 Hanukkah party at a rabbi’s home/synagogue in Monsey, NY. One of the victims will probably not regain consciousness (cnn.com, Gingras, Tran, & Sanchez, 1/01/20). After visiting a survivor of the attack in the residence where it had occurred, Gov. Cuomo condemned the recent attacks of violent anti-Semitism throughout the country, and assumed the mantle of leadership in combatting hate.
Gov. Cuomo could not have been stronger in his condemnation of anti-Semitism. He stated, “I would like to say, I wish I could say that this (the Monsey machete attack) was an isolated situation. Unfortunately, it is not. We have had 13 acts of anti-Semitism since December 8th in New York State… This is a national phenomenon that we are seeing. It is frightening and it is disturbing. If anyone thinks that something poisonous is not going on in this country, then they are in denial frankly… Hostility based on religion, based on race, based on creed, based on immigration status—it’s all across the country. It is an American cancer that is spreading in the body politic. An American cancer, turned one cell in the body against the other. Once we become intolerant of differences, then we are intolerant with America, because America is all about differences.”
Cuomo continued, “These acts are intolerant—they’re ignorant. To attack the Jewish community—the nation is based on freedom of religion. George Washington celebrated (his inauguration) with the Jewish community. That’s what America is all about.” And here is Cuomo showing leadership with his suggested remedies. In his words, “Attack the ignorance, attack the intolerance—education, cultural awareness—but attack the illegality. Yes, it’s ignorant, it’s intolerant—it’s also illegal. And we will enforce the law. We’re going to have an increase in police presence. We have the toughest hate crime laws in the United States of America and we are going to enforce them to the full extent of the law.”
Cuomo explained how he wants to make NY State the leading laboratory against anti-Semitism and other hate crimes. Cuomo declared, “I also believe that the situation has gotten so bad frankly that we have to increase our legal enforcement not just with more police but we have to change the laws to call this what it is. This is terrorism. It is domestic terrorism. These are people who intend to create mass harm, mass violence, generate fear based on race, color, creed. That is the definition of terrorism, and just because they don’t come from another country doesn’t mean that they’re not terrorists—and they should be prosecuted as domestic terrorists because that’s what they are. And I want this state (NY) to be the first state to have a domestic terrorism law to express how ignorant this is… and how criminal it is. And I’ll be proposing that law for this state (in his 1/08/ 2020 State of the State address to the NY legislature).” A state law attacking domestic terrorists, warning these hopeless bigots that they will face severe penalties, will protect millions of New Yorkers and encourage other states and maybe the federal government to enact similar legislation.
Cuomo added, “New York is all about diversity. New York is all about tolerance. We’re 19 million people from across the globe. We’re not going to allow this poison to spread throughout our state because it is a poison and no one else can defeat this country, but this country can defeat itself. It has to stop. Government must take the lead and New York State will (See governor.ny.gov/news/video-audio-photos, 12/29/19).”
Gov. Cuomo’s leadership on fighting anti-Semitism and all hate stands in sharp contrast to Demagogue Donald. On fighting hatred, he is MIA and worse. Much of his 2016 campaign was based on hate-- hatred of immigrants, especially Mexicans, hatred of Muslims, and hatred of women. Trump has been repeatedly charged with anti-black housing discrimination. Donald employed anti-Jewish stereotypes and anti-Semitism. He invoked George Soros conspiracy theories. His campaign created the “crooked Hillary” ad with stacks of dollar bills next to her and with a six-pointed star, like the Jewish Star of David, put behind her image. Trump was winking and nodding to white supremacist David Duke and his ilk the whole time. Trump had previously stated only “short people with yarmulkes should handle his taxes.” In office, he told a Jewish American group that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu was “your leader” and raised the dual loyalty anti-Semitic canard. Hate crimes against Jews have risen sharply since Trump’s election and time in office. Of course, what American Chief Executive other than Trump would call Nazis, KKKers, and other white supremacists in the fatal 8/2017 Charlottesville riot “fine people?” The fact that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is Jewish and his wife Ivanka, Donald’s daughter, converted to Judaism does not change Trump’s anti-Semitic record one iota. And having blatant anti-immigrant “alt-right” Jewish Stephen Miller as Trump’s adviser does not mitigate Trump’s anti-Jewish attitudes.
What would have happened if any Democrat or even GOPers Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney or anyone else currently sat in the Oval Office? The Charlottesville attack and the 12/10/2019 Jersey City anti-Semitic rampage that first killed a policeman and later three victims in a kosher butcher shop would have been nationally condemned by these leaders before televised audiences. Such leaders would have responded as Pres. Bill Clinton did in denouncing the anti-government militia hate group 4/1995 attack on the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building. IMHO, Gov. Cuomo did not directly say it, but he didn’t have to. Under Trump, America is defeating itself. Before Trump finally issued a tweet condemning the Monsey attack, he had posted tweet after tweet irrationally attacking NY and CA for homeless problems and lashing out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). In one of these tweets, Demagogue Donald stated that Gov. Cuomo had “lost control and lost his mind (dailykos.com, Hal Brown, 12/29/19, 12/28/19, 1:14PM).” Trump is projecting his own psychological failures. Meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a real leader.
Third-term Democratic NY Governor Andrew (62) grew up in the political world. He is the son of the late NY Dem. Gov Mario Cuomo who also served three terms as the Empire State’s Governor. A native of NY City’s borough of Queens and the second of five siblings, Andrew graduated from Fordham University in 1979, a year after his father was elected Lt. Governor. He received his 1982 law degree from Albany Law School. In 1982, Cuomo worked on his father Mario’s campaign for Governor. Andrew received credit for masterminding his father’s come-from-behind primary victory against NY City Mayor Ed Koch. Andrew spent several years as an aide to his father (Cohen & Cook, 2020 Political Almanac).
After a short time in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Andrew went into private practice. In 1986, he founded the Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged (HELP USA), a non-profit organization that aided the homeless. He left private practice in 1989 and ran the HELP Group until 1993. HELP USA became a national model for helping the homeless get jobs, drug treatment, and shelter. Bill Clinton, impressed by Cuomo’s work, asked him to serve on his presidential transition team in 1992. Clinton picked Cuomo as Assistant Secretary of the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development, where he served from 1993-1997. After Clinton was re-elected, Cuomo became Secretary of the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and served there from 1997-2001. Cuomo won praise for his strong efforts to make housing more affordable (Cohen & Cook 2020). In 2006, Cuomo ran for NY Attorney General and beat his GOP rival, then Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro, now FOX News “star,” by 18 points. In that office, Cuomo conducted wide-ranging probes of the financial industry. In 11/2010, Cuomo ran for Governor against wealthy wacko baseball bat-wielding GOPer Carl Paladino, a real estate executive close to Trump. In that GOP/Tea Party year, Cuomo clobbered Paladino by 30 points (Cohen & Cook 2020).
Andrew Cuomo is less liberal than his father. According to Edward-Isaac Dovere who wrote about Andrew in “The Atlantic” in 3/2019, “He (Andrew) deliberately stands apart from the leftward tilt of his party, but his record of bills signed into law on core progressive issues is unmatched by any other Democrat in D.C. or the states, with the possible exception of (CA’s) Jerry Brown. He wins in landslides, but most politicians in New York and beyond can’t stand him.” Dovere stated Cuomo can be “irritating, confounding, and egotistical. He can also be engaging, intense, and charismatic (See Cohen & Cook, 2020, Dovere, “The Atlantic”).” In his first year in office, Cuomo struck a budget deal in a politically divided legislature by reducing spending by 2% without raising taxes, but organized a broad coalition to support legalizing same-sex marriage, which the State Senate had defeated two years earlier. Pundits called Cuomo’s legislative handling of the same-sex issue “masterful” and he had a 62% approval rating. After the 12/14/2012 Sandy Hook, CT massacre, Cuomo signed legislation that he pushed for that tightened the definition of assault weapons and lowered the maximum magazine capacity. Cuomo’s popularity then took a dive among Upstate New Yorkers and GOPers, but downstate NY City voters backed him. In his first term, NY went from a budget deficit of $10 billion to a $6 billion surplus. Cuomo, however, took hits from progressives for ethics issues and for not passing a system of publicly financed campaigns. Cuomo, however, had toughened anti-bribery laws. He faced further criticism when several of his aides were indicted for bribery. Still, progressives with a leftist leaning who ran against him in the 2014 and 2018 Democratic primaries were clobbered by margins of 29% and 30% respectively. In his 2014 and 2018 general elections, Cuomo beat his GOP rivals by getting 54% of the vote and 60% of the vote respectively (Cohen & Cook 2020).
Cuomo put political capital into rebuilding infrastructure including a new Tappan Zee bridge and rebuilding LaGuardia Airport. After being elected to his third term, in which he finally had a Democratic majority in both the State Senate and State House, Cuomo quickly signed long blocked bills on electoral reform, including provisions for early voting, new campaign-finance restrictions, and advance voter registration for those who are 16 or 17 years old. Catholic Cuomo, despite opposition from NY’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, signed another long-delayed bill to protect abortion rights in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. The bill allowed practitioners other than doctors to perform abortions and permitted abortions until the moment of birth (Cohen & Cook 2020 Almanac).
Cuomo has no plans to run for President. However, he has shown more leadership than the current occupant of the White House ever will. Cuomo’s push for a law labeling violent attacks against religious and ethnic groups domestic terrorism to stop this “American cancer” should be passed in NY. His actions should set an example for the rest of us. And finally, as Cuomo stated, this country must “not defeat itself.” The way to keep America strong and undefeated is to come out in droves on 11/03/2020 and fire our “Bigot-in-Chief.” A moral leader in the White House will send these haters back to the fetid swamps where they belong.