I’m voting for the best Governor; not the best manager.


Please Note: MYD does NOT endorse any candidate in a Democratic Primary. The views expressed below are solely those of the author.

First things first – views stated here are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the opinions of any organizations or other individuals. You should vote your conscience tomorrow, Tuesday 9/9 (find your poll site here).

If you’re a progressive you should be voting for Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu with no qualms.

Sadly, this is not the case for many. The most common and deceptive argument I’ve heard is that Andrew Cuomo is an effective governor while Zephyr Teachout has no experience. That the Governorship is not a trivial job and running New York State is not a job for anyone – it is a job for Andrew Cuomo so suck it up.

This insidious argument is one of the most common false dichotomies in politics and one of the roots of voter antipathy. In America, our leaders – especially our executives – are more than functionaries. The Governor IS a non-trivial job. They appoint agency heads, who are responsible for the day to day management of public services; they set the agenda and work to pass legislation so they can execute their vision of government; and most importantly they play a pivotal role in creating the budget, turning our ideals and beliefs in financial reality.

But understand, elections are not primarily there for us to decide who we think will turn ideals and beliefs into governing practices the best, they are there for us to decide on our ideals and beliefs. Implementation is a matter for the civil service but policy is a matter for the people. That’s the real idea of democracy.

Zephyr Teachout has been a professor of government for a long time. She specializes in government corruption – which essentially means how to keep government in the hands of those it is meant to serve. I have no doubt that she understands what it means to be a manager and has what it takes be a Governor. Because ultimately, a one term Senator and community activist can manage the pants off a predecessor who has an MBA and ran an oil company, a major league sports team and a state.

But even if Andrew Cuomo could Governor her into the ground, I don’t care. I don’t care about the bipartisan support he built to lower taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year during the recession. I don’t care how on-time his budget was in slashing $10 billion in services – $5 billion of which came from his own millionaire’s tax cut. And I don’t care about how politically suave he is at keeping his poll numbers up while wriggling his way out of promises or demands on campaign finance reform, corruption, hydrofracking, redistricting and women’s rights. I would honestly prefer a Governor who did ALL of those things late, never or with complete incompetence than the studied quagmire Andrew Cuomo has brought us.

The cynics have one thing right. This election and this position are too important to make a single-issue vote. Which is why I’m not voting for the best manager; I’m voting for the best Governor.