(Bright) Things

Newly, angstily graduated from college. One day I will look back at this blog and edit out all the embarrassing parts. Things I care about on this blog: movies, awards for movies, season distractions like figure skating and elections, and that SJW shit (u know the drill).
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New York progressives have recently felt emboldened to challenge centrist Democrats in primary elections. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito all swept into office after handily defeating their more conservative opponents. Their success led, in part, to the rise of Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor, Yale graduate, and formidable primary challenger to Andrew Cuomo. Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu, is a law professor at Columbia and a fellow at the New America Foundation.

Teachout and Wu are not perennial “activist” candidates. They have the expertise and experience to lead New York State into an era of reform. Their chances of victory are not outstanding. Indeed, a primary victory over Andrew Cuomo would perhaps be as unexpected as Eric Cantor’s ouster. But every vote cast for Teachout and Wu serves as a warning to the governor and to the Democratic Party that habitually disappointing Democrats  will no longer be tolerated.

There are many things that Andrew Cuomo has done or failed to do, both as governor and as a gubernatorial candidate, that should discourage New York Democrats from supporting his re-election. Depending on one’s priorities, some of his trespasses may seem more distressing than others. The following is an incomplete (but hopefully sufficient) list of reasons why Cuomo is undeserving of another term as governor.

1. He failed to support a Democratic majority in the state Senate in 2012.

The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) is a faction of conservative Democrats in the state Senate who are allied with Republicans. In 2012, voters wanted a state Senate controlled by Democrats but instead got one controlled by Republicans and the duplicitous IDC. This alliance has prevented a number of progressive initiatives from becoming law, including the Women’s Equality Act. Not only did Cuomo fail to endorse important Democratic Senate candidates, but he also endorsed two Republicans and failed to prevent a Democrat from caucusing with the Republicans.

2. He needed to be coerced into explicitly supporting a Democratic majority in the state Senate in 2014.

The Working Families Party (WFP), a powerful labor-backed organization that aims to push Democratic candidates leftward by endorsing and campaigning for progressive Democrats, almost denied Cuomo their support this year. But Cuomo and WFP favorite Bill de Blasio were able to broker a last minute deal. The WFP officially endorsed Cuomo and in exchange, he called for the dissolution of the IDC and said he would campaign for a Democratic majority in the Senate. But some of Cuomo’s subsequent actions seem to indicate that he wants to punish the WFP for challenging his authority. A politician supporting his or her own party is something that should occur automatically. It’s absurd that anyone had to force Cuomo to back his own allies.   

3. He created a sham “Women’s Equality” party in an attempt to take away votes from his female primary challenger and from a powerful progressive third party.

Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act failed to pass in the state Senate because of the Republican-IDC alliance but the governor is so pumped about women’s rights that he created a wholly unnecessary third party that immediately endorsed him. He doesn’t want anyone getting the idea that a female governor might be a better advocate for women’s equality than him and he wants to punish the Working Families Party for failing to instantly bow before him. Cuomo will appear on the Democratic, Working Families, and Women’s Equality party lines this November (assuming he secures the Democratic nomination). The less votes for Cuomo on the Working Families Party line, the weaker the WFP could become.

4. He has refused, thus far, to debate his primary challenger.

A debate with Cuomo would legitimize Teachout’s candidacy, publicize her agenda, and further expose Cuomo’s weaknesses on progressive issues. As a result, Cuomo is understandably uneager to share a stage with her. He clearly perceives her as a threat to the resounding, unchallenged re-election victory he craves. If Cuomo were confident in his chances for re-election (as he should be) and if he genuinely valued the democratic process, he should have no objections to debating Teachout.

5. He twice attempted to get his primary challenger tossed off the ballot.

Cuomo’s legal team alleged that Teachout hadn’t been a New York resident for 5 years, which is a necessary condition for running for governor. Repeated attempts to kick her off the ballot failed. There’s no reason why someone who values the democratic process should be so intent on destroying his only notable primary challenger.

6. He has never taken a firm stance on fracking, despite repeatedly promising to do so.

An official decision on whether or not to allow fracking in New York was supposed to be made in the spring of 2012. That didn’t happen. In February of 2013 a decision was expected. That didn’t happen. In May of 2013, Cuomo said a decision would arrive “in the next several weeks.” That didn’t happen. Then Cuomo said he’d make a decision before this year’s election. That hasn’t happened. Last anyone heard, a decision won’t be made until April of 2015. Fed up with the governor’s dithering, the Sierra Club endorsed Teachout.

7. He interfered with a supposedly “independent” commission tasked with investigating public corruption.

New York Times investigation exposed Cuomo’s inability to complete what he once called “job #1,” cleaning up Albany. The governor who swore to fight corruption wound up seeming dishonest, if not corrupt, himself. The Times recently refused to endorse Cuomo for re-election because of his “failure on ethics reform.”

The list of Cuomo’s faults could continue. His conservative tax policies, his plan to litter upstate New York with casinos, and his unbridled enthusiasm for charter schools are all causes for concern. Teachout and Wu are untested as politicians but Cuomo has been thoroughly tested with disastrous results. A bold change in New York’s political landscape has already occurred in many of its cities. A genuinely progressive governor, coupled with a Democratic majority in the state senate, could usher in a progressive era of reform unseen since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. Such a reality is within grasp, but only if New York’s Democrats boldly select Zephyr Teachout as their next governor.

Primary is on September 9th. For those of you registered in New York, vote for Zephyr Teachout in the election. We can do better than Cuomo. 

Also, google Cuomo’s running mate Kathy Hochul, who is a piece of work. She once suggested that undocumented immigrants be allowed to register for drivers’ licenses so they could then be caught and deported. 

(Teachout’s running mate Tim Wu, on the other hand, coined the term “net neutrality” and would be the first ever Asian-American lieutenant governor of New York.)

Signal boost, please

Jonathan Krohn is pictured. | David Tulis/POLITICO

Jonathan Krohn took the political world by storm at 2009’s Conservative Political Action Conference when, at just 13 years old, he delivered an impromptu rallying cry for conservatism that became a viral hit and had some pegging him as a future star of the Republican Party.

Now 17, Krohn — who went on to write a book, “Defining Conservatism,” that was blurbed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett — still watches that speech from time to time, but it mostly makes him cringe because, well, he’s not a conservative anymore.

“I think it was naive,” Krohn now says of the speech. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.… I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia.… The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

Krohn won’t go so far as to say he’s liberal, in part because his move away from conservatism was a move away from ideological boxes in general.

“I want to be Jonathan Krohn,” he said, “and I’m tired of being an ideology, and it’s not fun and it gets boring and it’s not who we are as individuals.”

But a quick rundown of his current political stances suggests a serious pendulum swing away from the right.

Gay marriage? In favor. Obamacare? “It’s a good idea.” Who would he vote for (if he could) in November? “Probably Barack Obama.” His favorite TV shows? “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” His favorite magazine? The New Yorker. And, perhaps telling of all, Krohn is enrolling this fall at a college not exactly known for its conservatism: New York University.

Can I just add, that regardless of his past political affiliation, that I am so proud of him?  I don’t believe in 13-year-olds burying themselves into ideological holes either, even if they’re ultimately right about it, because at that age, they can’t properly assess a belief in context or understand its functionality. His CPAC speech from 2009 saddened and disgusted me and not because it upheld Republican mantras, but because he spoke with such certainty and confidence, spoke so dogmatically, that I was certain that this boy was headed towards lifelong narrow-minded, intellectual inertia, doomed to parrot partisan talking points he didn’t actually understand for shit. The fact that at 17, he has undergone such a radical transition and emphasized intellectual curiosity and inquiry over ideology, insisting that he wants to approach each “substantive” issue independent of party line and arrive at his own conclusion, makes me want to hug him.

It’s far, far more important to think flexibly and critically and understand that you rarely know the whole picture, than it is to be right. 

Also, I checked out his Twitter and he likes Dr. Who, X-Men, Harry Potter, and is going to NYU to study filmmaking and philosophy. Um, someone get this kid a Tumblr.