Monday, November 10, 2014

Are We Going To Condemn Ourselves To Voting For The Lesser Of Two Evils For Eternity?


New York State has 62 counties. A majority of voters in only 16 of them backed Andrew Cuomo's reelection as governor last week. He beat Republican Rob Astorino 1,919,225 (53.96%) to 1,443,713 (40.59%)-- with 173,606 votes (4.88%) for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.

In September Cuomo spent $60.62 per voter to win a 62-35% victory over staunchly progressive icon, Zephyr Teachout, who managed to win 30 counties, several-- like Ulster, Sullivan, Columbia, Schoharie, Saratoga, Otsego, and Tompkins-- with over two thirds of the vote. She took 77.9% of the vote in the Hudson Valley's Columbia County. Tuesday that county voted for obscure Republican Rob Astorino, 48.9- 39.6%. Almost 11% of the voters opted for Hawkins, which is why Cuomo lost it. Hawkins also kept Cuomo from winning in Ulster County, where he polled 41.7% to Astorino's 46.6% (with Hawkins at 11%). In Tompkins County Cuomo won 58.5% to 24.7%, but Hawkins won 16.2% of the vote.

Cuomo raised $45 million for his campaign. Astorino raised just $4.8 million. Cuomo’s average donation was $70,723; the average donation to Hawkins' campaign was $77. Cuomo raised so much money that his campaign account earned $104,000 in interest, almost as much as the $126,425 Hawkins raised in contributions!
As of last month, Mr. Cuomo received 81 percent of his contributions from donors who gave him at least $10,000, according to the Nypirg analysis. Donors giving less than $1,000 accounted for only seven-tenths of 1 percent of his total haul.

Mr. Cuomo has raised money from many businesses and individuals who have a stake in the activities of state government, including real estate interests like Extell Development and the Related Companies, as well as big corporations like Cablevision and Comcast.

New York also has some of the most porous campaign fund-raising laws in the nation, and Mr. Cuomo has proved a master at availing himself of those openings.

In particular, he exploited a loophole that allows donors to sidestep contribution limits by giving donations through a series of limited liability companies. The real estate magnate Leonard Litwin has given $1 million to Mr. Cuomo through limited liability companies tied to his firm, Glenwood Management, according to Nypirg.
When polling for the race began last year, Cuomo was leading 63-24%. As voters focused on the race and their governor's subservience to the finance, real-estate, and fossil-fuel industries, Cuomo kept sinking-- all the way down to the 53% he wound up with. The maximum contribution in progressive New York is $60,800 and that's where Cuomo got most of his money.

New York school teacher Brian Jones was the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor. He did a perceptive post-election analysis that sounds a lot like what we;'ve been talking about here at DWT in regards to Democrats nationally.
Everything about this election points to widespread dissatisfaction with a rightward-moving Democratic Party. Democratic voters stayed home. The turnout was a record low in New York State, with Cuomo receiving nearly a million fewer votes than he did in 2010. The Working Families Party (WFP) deployed all their resources to maintain their ballot line, but their campaign literature didn’t mention their candidate for governor: Cuomo. Only the Green Party significantly increased their vote.

Our gubernatorial candidate, Howie Hawkins, got 5 percent and 175,000 votes-- nearly triple the number that voted for him in 2010 and quadruple the percentage. Instead of just voting against the Republicans or for a lesser evil, countless people expressed glee at the prospect of voting for someone running on a progressive platform.
Hawkins himself did an exciting and inspiring OpEd, America Just Took A Wrong Turn. It's Time To Take A Hard Left, for The Guardian that lays out a path forward for progressives who see nothing hopeful in what either evil Beltway party is offering.
Sometimes it feels as if Sarah Palin won the last two presidential elections. We’re not quite living in “Drill Baby Drill” America, but by co-opting the other Republican energy slogan, a meaningless plan literally called “All-of-the-Above," President Obama has opened up vast new areas to offshore drilling and pushed hydrofracking for oil and gas onshore. Even as the president says that “we are closer to energy independence than we’ve ever been before”, sometimes it seems like the US is becoming a repressive petrostate.

And then some days, like the day after the midterm elections, it feels like a complete victory for Palinite politics. The Republicans took back the US Senate, and the only Democrats who won major races were those like Andrew Cuomo, who defeated my Green Party campaign for governor of New York with a $45m campaign war chest provided by a few hundred super-rich donors-- Democratic and Republican ones.

But there were real victories this week for progressive alternatives on clean energy, economic security and social justice. The extremist blood bath may have painted the country more red, but there were more than a few important-- and extremely promising-- tea leaves of green. It was even enough to suggest a new, independent, hard-left turn in American politics is still very much possible.

Fracking bans just passed in cities from California to Ohio and even in Denton, Texas-- the town at the heart of America’s oil-and-gas boom. In Richmond, California, progressives beat back a multi-million dollar campaign funded by Chevron to defeat Green and allied candidates. Voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington DC joined Washington State and Colorado in legalizing marijuana, adding to the growing momentum to call off the failed “war on drugs” that has given the US the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Republicans like Mitch McConnell have already warned that “we will be voting on things the administration is not fond of”-- citing a sure-to-be-caustic conservative energy agenda of which the Keystone XL pipeline is "only part." But true progressives will be using our local political leverage in a continuing campaign for a Green New Deal. We are putting back on the public agenda the economic promises that President Franklin Roosevelt called for back in 1944 but which the Democrats have long since abandoned. Those rights provide the foundations for what FDR called “the true individual freedom [that] cannot exist without economic security and independence”-- rights like a useful job, a living wage for doing it, plus affordable housing, healthcare and education.

The US needs to revive a New Deal-style public jobs program to put unused labor to work, meeting unmet community needs-- like the repair of a crumbling infrastructure for water, sewage, roads and bridges. But the centerpiece of the Green New Deal-- to ban fracking and build a 100% renewable energy system by 2030-- is itself a program for full employment. A peer-reviewed study by Cornell and Stanford researchers found that the 15-year clean energy buildout would create 4.5m middle-income jobs in construction and manufacturing-- in New York state alone.

As Greens educate, demonstrate and lobby during the next legislative session here in New York, we will be preparing to run more progressive candidates across the country. And if Cuomo opens New York to hydrofracking, as we expect he will, we’ll demand that legislatures everywhere keep pushing fracking bans and running new and bolder clean-energy candidates against legislators in 2016.

With Democrats repealing the New Deal and Republicans more or less repealing the Enlightenment with their anti-science stands on climate change and teaching evolution, the independent left is certain to mount a third-party presidential campaign beginning next year. I recently joined Kshama Sawant, the independent socialist elected to the Seattle city council last year, in calling for meetings across the country to begin laying the foundation for a strong left challenge to both parties of big business in 2016.

It may be disruptive-- but disruption is exactly what progressive America is asking for right now.

Public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans support social, economic and energy policies that veer left if not all the way green. The well-documented problem of American politics is that these progressive values do not get turned into progressive policies. It will take a party independent of corporate money and influence to change that. Or else we will be stuck with the Palinites.
If you liked what Bernie Sanders had to say to Bill Moyers up top, think about pitching in here. It can be done... one step at a time.

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At 6:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until American voters stop thinking that their only voting options are the two lying faces of the corporatists, voting for the lesser of evils will continue.

At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No one sees the "irony" of Hawkin's post election pep talk having to be published in a UK paper?

If Hawkins assumes, as it appears, that all jobs are "useful" ones, then needs to think a bit more about jobs in the global neo-liberal miasma.

Full employment is one thing, eradication of not only useless, but genocidal, jobs is quite another.

From Ding-Dongs, to financial industry wet dreams, to half the US government discretionary expenditure used for perpetual war and domestic spying: there are a lot of people actually getting good pay for "product" that is destroying individuals, countries and the physical environment that supports our species.

On a related issue: Ms McConnell "revealed" a bit of the GOP agenda: push Keystone, kill the EPA.

John Puma


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