Musings on Moderates & Militants
Zephyr Rain Teachout may sound like the name of a character from a steampunk novel, but she was actually the progressive Democrat who gave New York Governor Andrew Cuomo more of a challenge than one might expect. Cuomo managed to pull in a bit over 60% of the vote, with Teachout getting 33%. On the other side of the ticket, Cuomo’s running mate got under 60%, while challenger Tim Wu got over 40%.
Cuomo is facing some allegations of ethical wrongdoing, which didn’t help. Hochul didn’t have that, but they had her on tape talking about how non-liberal she is juxtaposed with her talking about what a great Democrat she is, having her come off as pretty wishy-washy.
Leaving aside the ethical allegations, this is actually very much the sort of primarying I can completely understand. True Believers have a reason to sit on the sidelines when it comes to jeopardizing a race that is winnable or losable depending on the candidate, but New York is sufficiently Democratic that I think progressives are right to wonder “Is this the best we can do?”
I have an odd relationship with establishment and insurgent candidates. it’s ideologically biased, of course. I look at Cuomo and see someone that I think I probably have more in common with ideologically than Teachout. The same applying on the GOP side.
Yet I also have a fascination and an appreciation of candidates who break the mold. I disagree with Ron Paul a lot, but if I were in his district I would probably vote for him every two years because he’s out there talking about things that nobody else is talking about. It also tends to be the case that more moderate candidates tend to sell out on issues that I actually care about. The right hit can compensate for a lot of misses, especially when the misses are unpopular and unlikely to go anywhere.
I have been reading Tim Wu for a while now, and find that I disagree with him a lot. But he is out there talking about things that are important to me. I know less about Teachout, but she is at least sufficiently sympathetic that she ran on a ticket with him. At the same time, Teachout tweeted and Wu re-tweeted a comment about how as governor she would oppose fracking anywhere and everywhere. That’s the flipside of Chris Christie being questionable on gun rights… non-compromising candidates don’t compromise on what I want them to, and they remind me “Oh, that’s why I’m not a liberal.”
And, for governor, that leaves me in Cuomo’s corner. Just as I wouldn’t vote Ron Paul for president, I wouldn’t vote him for governor. A legislator or an executive can advocate, but an executive needs to govern. Which makes all of those smaller things all the more important. So Tim Wu for Senate, but not governor (or lite guv, in this case).
Ultimately, of course, the party decided that whether Cuomo is the best they can do or not, he’ll do for now. Cuomo’s name and connections carry quite a bit of weight in the state. It should give the progressives hope, though, that they can do better in the future.
If the future of the nation is as Democratic as some people claim (I’m not sure it is), I could see it happening nationally. Virtually all of the questions surrounding whether the faithful will rally around Hillary Clinton seem pretty safely answered, but it does come in to play when we start talking about permanent majorities.
But maybe not. Cuomo did win, after all.