Everyone wants New York governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. The New York Times editorial board. Both of the state’s senators. President Joe Biden. A new report finding that Cuomo sexually harassed numerous women has reignited a crisis that erupted earlier this year, but the governor managed to survive.
Cuomo is not going to resign. The problem isn’t just that he is a narcissistic bully like Donald Trump and is thus unable to express contrition. It’s that being governor, and one-upping his father by winning a fourth term (who served three terms as governor), is the basis of his entire personality. Demanding Cuomo resign is akin to demanding he commit suicide.
The legislature is all but assured to move forward with impeachment. But while Republicans see an opportunity to strike a blow against Democrats, and socialist and progressive lawmakers are eager to take down a centrist governor, removal isn’t certain. For one thing, the judges on the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, would join senators in the trial. Guess which governor appointed them.
Still, Cuomo could go down, and if he does go down, it will be because of the sexual harassment revelations. And justifiably so: his deplorable behavior is cause for impeachment and should be a reminder of what many women workers have to put up with from power-obsessed bosses.
Yet we shouldn’t allow the new report obscure the fact that Cuomo’s decade as governor has been horrendous from the beginning. Cuomo has acted as an attack dog for the state’s elite and business class against public-sector unions, tenant organizers, and anyone else seeking pro-worker policies.
Here’s just a partial sampling of Cuomo’s corrupt, regressive record:
- He strongly supported the draconian Taylor Law, which forbids public employees from striking.
- He resisted calls to institute a tax on the state’s wealthiest, likening such a measure to the death penalty.
- He lied about the state’s nursing home deaths during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to paint the false image that he had the crisis under control.
- His Committee to Save New York, a business backed coalition, relentlessly attacked public sector workers.
- He threatened public sector workers with layoffs if they did not accept wage freezes.
- He froze out the press, holding calls where questions were vetted in advance.
- He curbed the work of an anti-corruption panel, the Moreland Commission, because its investigations were getting too close to him and his associates.
- He forced out Andy Byford, who worked hard to improve New York City’s subways and buses, out of the top transit position.
- He further privatized in-home care for the elderly and disabled.
- He signed an executive order barring any state investment in any entity that advances the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.
- He fought to subsidize a giant headquarters for Amazon (a battle that he lost thanks to community and labor organizing).
- He attempted to end the state’s fusion voting system in order to seek retribution against the labor-backed Working Families Party after it endorsed his primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon, in 2018.
- His most trusted associates were convicted in the notorious Buffalo Billion construction bid-rigging scandal.
These sordid episodes will not be the main focus of press coverage as the crisis for Cuomo continues. But we must remember them, along with the sexual harassment revelations. Because the plaudits he received from the Democratic establishment were bestowed upon him not simply due to the false image of competence he gave during the COVID crisis, but because he is the embodiment of elite-driven politics, a man who fights labor, tears apart public services, and sees democracy as a nuisance.
Andrew Cuomo is not just a bully or a scumbag to women, but a scumbag to all of working New York. Both are legacies the state needs to bury.