Monday, June 27, 2011

Ian Welsh urges "less Cuomo fellation" -- and some understanding of the importance of solidarity on the Left


Plus: A bright spot in the Supreme Court's (expected) strikedown of a provision in Arizona's public financing law?

"The fact still remains that the left doesn’t hang together well enough, and that that is going to cost a lot of people lives, jobs, health and so on. More and more as time goes on."

by Ken

In the wake of the New York State Legislature's hard-won passage late Friday night of a marriage-equality bill, Gov. Andrew Cuomo certainly deserves credit. He had said all through this grueling legislative session that he supported passage of such a bill but that he wouldn't submit one unless he thought it could pass. He held off till pretty late in the day, and even then it looked as if he might have misjudged and pressed for a bill that couldn't get through the Republican-controlled State Senate, the very outcome he had seemed so concerned to avoid. Of course it wasn't the governor all by himself who in the end got it done, but he played a crucial role, and deserves credit.

But maybe not quite the hero worship he's getting. To read his press, you'd think he was the most awesome first-year governor the state has had since . . . um, Hugh Carey. OK, the "Hugh Carey" part comes out as kind of an anticlimax, but it turns out that when you go looking for a NYS governor who actually got a lot of useful work out of his first legislative session, you come up against Hugh Carey, who also came into office in a time of financial crisis. (This is no knock on Carey, by the way, who served from 1975 to 1982 and was generally a highly competent governor. It's just that I don't think many people think of him as "one for the record books." I'm not even sure that many people remember he was once our governor.)

Yes, Governor Andrew managed to get the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate to agree to an on-time budget (once an exceeding rarity in NYS political life), but his claim to have restored responsibility and bipartisanship to the legislative process is undercut by the actual budget that was passed. In fairness, it's a budget very much along the lines candidate Andrew said he would enact during the campaign, which is one reason many progressives were so unenthusiastic about his candidacy. It's a budget that, as Ian Welsh puts it, "put[s] the cost for the financial meltdown on ordinary people, rather than the bankers who caused it. He is impoverishing people as a result; people will die as a result. People will lose their homes as a result."

That's from the second of a series of three posts Ian put up yesterday, "Basics: anyone who will sell you out is on 'your side.'" a follow-up to the earlier, hearteningly titled "Less Cuomo fellation please":
Cuomo’s still busy destroying unions and crushing standards of living in New York. I’m so pro-gay marriage I once didn’t talk to my father for 6 months because of an argument over it, but it is not the only issue, and it does not make Cuomo a good governor any more than any other single issue does. He is still the enemy of anyone who believes economic justice, a fair wage or a good economy.

This, by the way, is another example of the shiny and how “progressives” get distracted by it. The corporate financial interests, aka. the people who are destroying your standard of living and denying you universal health care, are cool with gay marriage and other socially progressive issues. They don’t care whether you’re black, red, white, brown, pink with purple polka dots, or married to a man, woman, or someone in between, all they care is that you’re a debt slave or wage slave, squished firmly under their feet. Cuomo firmly follows the policies of that class of people, he has nothing against gays, he has everything against making bankers and rich people pay for destroying the economy and intends to force the poor and middle class to pay the entire freight.

But hey, you’ll be married to the man or woman of your choice when you get kicked out of your house or apartment after you lose your job.


In the second post he amplified:
Look, if a special interest that is nominally on the left is willing to sell out other parts of the left in order to get its little item, they are not on your side. Period. End of sentence. An alliance, coalition or ideological movement’s first and most important rule is solidarity:

Anyone who is willing to do so is not your friend, is not on your side, is not an ally and is no longer due support, and should be run out of town, absolutely destroyed. The only thing worse than an enemy is a traitor.

Any member of the left who is willing to make a separate peace is a traitor.

I’m too used to this sort of strategic and moral stupidity to cry, but the fact that people don’t understand this most basic of facts would make me weep if I had tears left. It is beyond pathetic that so-called members of the left don’t understand this.

The governor is still, Ian writes, "an evil fuck who's breaking unions, who are a core part of the left, and whose destruction will mean a significant decline in standards of living in the middle and working class because they are what pins wages at a higher level." And so --
the correct response to him signing the gay marriage bill is "good first step, but you still don't have our support as long as you are attacking key parts of the coalition and protecting our enemies." (And if you don't have the stomach to call bankers your enemies, you are a coward or a fool or your revenue stream comes from the oligarchy.)

In the final post, "One more note on the New York Gay Marriage, Cuomo and the Gay Rights Movement," gave a grudging bit of ground to groups on the left who would negotiate a "separate peace":
1) The left sells each other out for either small tactical gains, or nothing at all (hello national NARAL) all the time, so why shouldn’t the gays promise to help Cuomo in his next election for giving them gay marriage, even if it screws unions and helps an austerity governor?

2) The reason gays get anything is that unlike the rest of the left, they did two things: they cut off the donations, and they got ugly in people’s faces. They stopped playing nice. They stopped playing by the rules. They stopped worrying about whether people in power “liked” them (hello National NARAL) and started playing rough.

3) Given that the left doesn’t hang together, which means that the choice is “gay marriage + austerity”, or “no gay marriage + austerity”, well, why not gay marriage plus a shitty economy?

It remains true, however, that the Left's failure to hang together --
is going to cost a lot of people lives, jobs, health and so on. More and more as time goes on. There is only one cardinal rule to effective alliances, no separate peace. Those who are making a separate peace with Cuomo because they got what they care about more than anything else, are not allies of the rest of the left.

But when rats are deserting the ship, when everyone would rather hang separately, because they won’t hang together, perhaps a separate peace is all that can be hoped for. Let those few who think they can make it, do so, the rest can suck on the shitty economy, war and so on, that are coming down the line. “Every interest for itself” can be the battle cry of the left, I guess, the ultimate repudiation of the foundational beliefs that give, er, gave, the left moral authority.


It was hardly surprising that the Court struck down -- by the now-usual 5-4 thugmajority -- a part of Arizona's public campaign-finance law. (The ruling can be found here.) That outcome seemed pretty clear both from recent Court rulings and from the tenor of questioning during oral arguments, which confirmed the radical rightists' belief that the First Amendment guarantees your right to all the free speech you can buy.

However, the Brennan Center for Justice (at the NYU School of Law), which played a major role in the defense of the Arizona law, while regretting the decision, notes: "Public financing remains Constitutionally strong. The Court recognized public funding can 'further significant governmental interest[s], such as the state interest in preventing corruption.' These voluntary systems strengthen democracy."

And The New Republic's Rick Hasen manages to find "three pieces of unexpected good news [for] those of us who believe that reasonable campaign finance regulation is not only constitutional, but essential to prevent corruption and ensure fairness in our democracy."

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