Keep On Keepin’ On, Governor!

Calls for the resignation of the Empire State’s uniquely imperious overlord, Governor Andrew Cuomo, continue to proliferate. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the chorus on Thursday, saying Cuomo “can no longer serve” following the latest charge that he groped a female aide under her blouse.

For years, conservatives have been groaning under Cuomo’s pedantically progressive (mis)rule. I am no exception. And yet, for both principled and thoroughly partisan reasons, I find myself hoping that Cuomo digs in and refuses to leave.

Why? First, the principle: Cuomo says calls for his ouster are “anti-democratic.” He reasons that the people of New York chose him as our governor. Ergo, the people should decide when he leaves office, not journalists, not a Twitter mob, and certainly not Albany insiders.

He has a point. Andrew Cuomo is a terrible governor and a terrible man. He’s also the bonehead New Yorkers elected as, well, king of the boneheads. Isn’t the essence of democracy the idea that the people get to decide such questions?

In addition, the campaign to blacken the name of Andrew Cuomo and compel him to turn tail and flee elective politics follows the same obscene playbook the press and Democratic Party activists used against Donald Trump in 2016, against Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and against countless other (male) politicians and celebrities since the #MeToo movement began. Accusations seem to acquire “credibility” based on their timeliness and their frequency, and only secondarily on their seriousness or the degree of substantiation supporting them. And that, in case anyone remembers or cares, is the antithesis of American justice. 

We are all, last time I checked, innocent until proven guilty. Even the contemptible Cuomo. The fact that no one, possibly not even his own mother, likes him is irrelevant.

Arguably, the charges that Cuomo directed a cover-up of COVID-related nursing home deaths are more serious. I don’t prejudge Cuomo’s guilt or innocence regarding those charges, either. And that is the point, surely. Until proper investigations of Cuomo’s actions are completed, it would be premature and irresponsible to call on him to resign in response to allegations that could prove, to borrow a phrase from our friends in the Fourth Estate, “baseless.”

These are all good reasons to hope Andrew Cuomo will have the courage of his convictions and will not let himself be bullied out of office.

But I have a second set of reasons why I am rooting for Cuomo’s survival that are, let’s say, less lofty and more selfish.

Given the controversy that swirls around Cuomo and the long list of Democratic politicians who have abandoned “America’s governor” in his hour of need, the fact is he is now among the “walking wounded” of American politics. Even that may be an optimistic gloss on his predicament. He might be better compared to a gubernatorial zombie, staggering jerkily and mindlessly through a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with hard-boiled adversaries eager to deliver the perfect headshot that will drop him to the tarmac once and for all.

That’s a florid way of stating the obvious: politically, Andrew Cuomo is a dead man walking.

As a New York Republican, I must say: Zombie Cuomo is a beautiful sight! He gives the Empire State GOP hope that in 2022 we might mount a comeback, after many dark years in the political wilderness. Frankly, our state has turned such a deep shade of blue that only a self-destructive, thoroughly obnoxious, and potentially indictable Democratic governor could breathe new life into New York’s Republican Party and its anemic conservative movement. 

Should Cuomo hang on into 2022, he will at least complicate matters for his fellow Democrats, as they navigate a midterm election season in which one would expect Democrats to struggle anyway, as the party in power. The best-case scenario for Republicans, however, would be if Cuomo endures in office and wins renomination as his party’s candidate for governor. Then, assuming the New York GOP puts forward a credible candidate, Cuomo could go down like a sack of potatoes. We’d be rid of him forever and in the most “pro-democratic” way possible.

That’s my hope, anyway: that Cuomo maintains his death grip on the governor’s office just long enough to drag his party down with him.

There’s no question that he should go, but let’s send him packing the right way.

About Nicholas L. Waddy

Nicholas L. Waddy, an associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred, blogs at www.waddyisright.com.

Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

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