In the wake of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement that “extreme conservatives” have no place in New York State because “that’s not what New York is about,” Mayor Bill De Blasio quickly agreed.
But Cuomo and de Blasio are not only proving their own prejudice, but also their ignorance of history. New York State and New York City have been home to some of the most extreme, misfit, rebellious, groundbreaking, status quo-shaking right-wingers in American history.
Libertarianism owes as much to New York City as it does to the rugged individualism that came out of the West. Ayn Rand, the mother of objectivism, moved to New York City in 1926. She wrote both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in New York. She lived here and died here.
Another notable New York libertarian is the father of Austrian economics Ludwig Von Mises. It was in New York that he wrote his landmark work Human Action. Murray Rothbard and Milton Friedman, two other economists whose opinions and theories totally reject the tax-and-borrow policies of Cuomo and de Blasio, are products of New York.
Dorothy Day, another New Yorker, famous for her works of charity and her organization, The Catholic Worker, was profoundly opposed to the sexual revolution of the 1960s and was vehemently pro-life. Likewise, Susan B. Anthony, who fought for women’s suffrage, deplored abortion and has a pro-life PAC in her name. Anthony called New York State home for more than half a century.
Outside politics, many conservatives who influenced our culture came from New York. Johnny Ramone was the father of American punk rock music, creating the Ramones from his hometown in Queens, New York, and going on to influence an entire genre of music. Ramone was also a staunch conservative, citing Ronald Reagan as “the greatest president of my lifetime.”
Other pop-culture icons who are conservative and native New Yorkers include daytime TV queen Susan Lucci, comedian Adam Sandler, and actor Sylvester Stallone.
Conservative opinion writers and pundits like Jonah Goldberg, Michael Savage, Peggy Noonan, Samuel Huntington, Sean Hannity, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, and Bill Kauffman all trace their origins to the Empire State.
Nonetheless, if the governor and mayor do not want us, maybe conservatives and libertarians who are considered too extreme should leave.
If conservatives who voted for a right-wing candidate for president—Romney, Gary Johnson, or Virgil Goode—left the state, they would number 2,544,026 strong, resulting in New York losing four more congressional districts. If they were to move to the states that border New York—New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts—those would all become Republican states. Conservatives are plentiful enough in New York that we could turn the liberal Northeast red.
If conservatives left the state, they would take with them some of the largest donors to charity and culture. Central Park’s famous Wollman Rink would not be in operation if it were not for Donald Trump who built it in three months, after the city had failed to open it in nearly three years.
The Koch brothers, who are vilified by liberals on MSNBC, are some of the largest donors to the arts, education, and medical research in New York City. They gave $100 million to the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, $30 million to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, $25 million for the Hospital for Special Surgery, $20 million to the American Museum of Natural History, $65 million for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and $100 million to the Lincoln Center. They’ve given millions more to the New York City Ballet and New York City Opera, though the exact amounts aren’t public information.
So despite the fact that the mayor and governor might wish we were gone, we are New York—from the farms and towns of Upstate and Western New York to the affluent neighborhoods of the Upper East Side and all the various ethnic enclaves of the five boroughs.
This writer’s family came to New York more than 150 years ago. As a born-and-raised New Yorker my beliefs and philosophy do not negate my sense of place and heritage. To quote Muley Graves from The Grapes of Wrath, “That’s what make it ours, being born on it, and working on it, and dying on it.”