Who Knows the Future?

Who Knows the Future?

Who Knows the Future?
November 17, 2014

Fans of the BBC adventure series Doctor Who like me know that “the Doctor always lies” about what the future holds. But we Whovians are also well aware that it isn’t just the good Doctor who lies about what is to come. As it stands, journalists and pollsters should understand by now that New York voters lie as well about what they are going to do.

How else do we explain the apparently stunning upsets in the state Senate races and the record-breaking low voter turnout? Perhaps voters know that whomever they elect will do little to affect their individual fortunes (although Jerry Skurnik theorizes that upstate gun owners turned the tide for Buffalo Democrat Marc Panepinto as well as for Senate Republicans).

Maybe that explains why in New York and across the country upwards of 70 percent of enrolled and eligible voters voted with their feet and stayed away from the polls on Nov. 4.

Statewide 81,000 voters opted to leave their preference for governor blank. In Essex County a remarkable 5.5 percent of voters picked nobody over the choices on the ballot for governor. Were that category of voters a political party, it would have outpolled the total of the established Independence Party, as well as the two phony, self-serving ballot lines: Women’s Equality and Stop Common Core.

Choosing to stay away from the polls or casting no vote for a gubernatorial candidate are legitimate actions by voters, whether they admit it or not. Recently, a national poll revealed that voters cited lack of time as their No. 1 reason for not voting in the midterm elections.

If voting is a social activity, one can escape peer pressure by claiming you would’ve voted but you were too busy. But what was Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s excuse for running away from the Democratic Party brand?

Gov. Cuomo’s real running mate in 2014 was Wilson-Pakula. The cross-endorsements of the Working Families, Independence and Women’s Equality parties carried him across the 50 percent threshold.

Cuomo’s earlier pledge to abolish the Wilson-Pakula Act of 1947 went by the wayside, along with campaign finance reform and rooting out systemic political corruption. One political wag tweeted that Cuomo should have been a magician because he is so good at misdirection.

Given all of the constituencies he has alienated, I can’t help but wonder how Cuomo will reign. Does he govern in a way that wins back his liberal constituency? Or does he continue down the centrist path using his unique sense of expediency?

One Latino Democrat suggested that moving forward Andrew Cuomo should re-engage the Hispanic communities in places such as Rochester, Buffalo and Kingston. Bringing jobs to those places and passing the DREAM Act would go a long way toward improving relations with Latinos.

Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin, a frequent Cuomo critic, believes that a GOP-controlled state Senate is good for the governor because it “allows him to triangulate.”

“Andrew Cuomo isn’t a fan of Mayor de Blasio’s ultra-liberalism, and he can blame the Republicans when he wants to,” McLaughlin opined.

My hunch is that Cuomo doubles down on the brand of politics and governance he has practiced in office to date. He’ll thwart his critics and rivals (that’s you, Mayor de Blasio). And he’ll continue to court business executives and moderate Republicans who may give him cover on the DREAM Act and raising the state minimum wage. And he’ll make deals with his black and Hispanic supporters in the Legislature.

And he won’t have the worry of an airplane sitting on the tarmac at Albany airport ready to ferry him to New Hampshire. He can fully focus on on-time state budgets in 2015 and 2016.

But Who knows what the future holds?

Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (@SquarePegDem on Twitter) represented the Bronx for eight years.

Michael Benjamin