Governor Andrew Cuomo made the wrong kind of headlines this week by decreeing that “extreme conservatives have no place in New York.” He defines this endangered species as people who “are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay.”
Being not-quite all of the above in neighboring Massachusetts — the state that Governor Cuomo wants New York to become when it grows up — I can’t say that his assessment is totally off. Merely announcing oneself skittish on judge-decreed gay marriage, free abortions, and the dismissal of the Second Amendment as an anachronism leaves fellow northeasterners perplexed at my lack of a drawl and the presence of shoes over my feet.
Surely conservative New Yorkers knew the truth of their governor’s statement before he uttered it. Andrew Cuomo wasn’t wrong. He was redundant.
New York has laid out the unwelcome mat for all sorts of people independent of their affinity for the Tea Party. Five state legislators wish to shoo out football players through a ban on the game for kids. The Empire State tax code pushes away the industrious with a 9 percent top income-tax rate. The recently retired mayor of New York waged war on fatsos and sweet-tooths through a ban on delicious fizzy drinks.
Lady Liberty may tell everyone, “Give me your tired, your poor...” But New York keeps giving office to their preachy, their moralistic. As a result, New York’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” end up inhaling freer air in the New Yorker diaspora. The Yankees travel well not because their fans follow them but because the Yankees follow their fans — to Tampa, Dallas, Seattle, and other cities that former Big Apple denizens now call home.
The scolding, we-know-best sermonizing stands as a substantial reason why the world’s top landing spot for migrants has become one of America’s top places from which to flee. In 1944, when two New Yorkers vied for the presidency, the state boasted 47 votes in the Electoral College, double the number of Texas and nearly eight times the tally for Florida. The declining Empire State — a bit like the Ottoman Empire prior to the Great War — now possesses just 29 votes in the Electoral College, surpassed by Texas and equaled by Florida.
The rule or ruin strategy has given liberals rule and ruin. People don’t require the governor’s verbal prodding to leave. They’ve been imitating Snake Plissken in escaping from New York for many decades.
The most peculiar aspect of a governor of a major U.S. state encouraging an exodus involves the ingratitude. Andrew Cuomo owes his political position to a New York politician who once upheld the right to life. Would Andrew Cuomo have banished his father from New York back in the 1970s for his pro-life stance?
I’ve never thought of Andrew Cuomo or his dad as Fred Phelps disciples. But the gutter politics employed by both in Mario’s failed 1977 runoff election against Ed Koch for mayor surely earns that “anti-gay” label that Andrew projects upon his adversaries. When yard signs began appearing in Cuomo’s Queens stronghold that read “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo,” father and campaign-manager son denied responsibility. The mean-spirited lawn signs certainly meshed with commercials that played up Cuomo’s role as a “family man.” The bachelor Koch told the New York Times a few years before his death, “I always held it against him. I also held it against his son, Andy Cuomo.”
Andrew Cuomo, and his courtiers in the press, contend that his words were taken out of context. Rather than all so-called “extreme conservatives” — citizens holding ideas vaguely to the Right of the governor — he meant just elected officials harboring such heretical thoughts. Surely this ranks as a distinction without much of a difference. Do such “extreme conservatives” inhabiting his state, however sparsely, have the right to vote for representatives who represent their views?
Conservative New Yorkers may still sing along with the jingle, “I love New York.” But New York, or at least its governor, doesn’t reciprocate.