Twentieth-century journalist H.L Mencken was notoriously cynical, particularly when it came to the virtues of democracy. One of Mencken’s more colorful comments on the topic came when he offered the following observation, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” Over one hundred years after that statement was made, there is arguably no better example of its occasional accuracy than the situations we currently see unfolding in New York and California.
New York and California are two of the bluest of all blue states. They’re both run by Democratic Governors with legislatures dominated by Democratic majorities, and are two of the most populous states in the nation. They’re also both states with an electorate that currently appear to be suffering from buyers’ remorse. If you’re a resident of New York or California, however, and if you vote Democrat every November without giving the decision a second thought like so many do, you’ve got no one to blame but yourselves. If you voted for Gov. Gavin Newsom in California, or Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York, or any of the scores of other Democrats that have been handed the keys of power throughout your states, you shouldn’t be surprised: this is what you get.
Visitors from outer-space arriving last November without any previous knowledge of New York politics would no doubt conclude that Governor Cuomo’s precipitous fall has come totally out of left field; unexpected and shocking. But they would be incorrect.
In November, Cuomo appeared to be riding high. Cuomo’s book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” was a New York Times bestseller, and the governor was undoubtedly raking in the cash. On November 23rd, Cuomo appeared to be double-jointed as he profusely patted himself on the back while accepting an Emmy Award for his handling of press conferences during the pandemic. Only months earlier, dozens of members of the left and their media were pushing for then-candidate Joe Biden to step aside and allow Cuomo to replace him on the ballot to run against President Trump. And even though Cuomo’s approval rating had slipped somewhat, it was still at a very comfortable 56% approval in November.
But Cuomo was never really riding as high as he appeared, or at least he shouldn’t have been. Only four months after his apex, the publishers of Cuomo’s book have stopped promoting it, and his Emmy Award is nothing more than a punch line for late-night television hosts. Those who had been calling for him to run for president are presently whistling while their eyes wander upwards, hoping no one remembers their idiotic idea. And Cuomo’s approval rating has been in freefall, with the latest numbers at only 38% approval. One could be excused for concluding these recent developments are worthy of shock, but anyone who was paying attention should have seen them coming from a mile away.
Governor Cuomo currently has two competing scandals he’s trying to quell. The scandal surrounding the deaths in New York nursing homes, and the Cuomo Administration’s apparent subsequent cover-up, is by far the most serious of the scandals, but the snowballing sexual improprieties scandal is getting more of the media’s attention. Both of these scandals could have been easily predicted.
Andrew Cuomo is a bully, and that’s what sexual harassers are: bullies. Up until recently, reports of such bullying may have been largely ignored by the press, but they were still out there to any New Yorker who genuinely wanted to know more about their governor. In a 2015 biography titled The Contender, author Michael Schnayerson detailed several of Cuomo’s character traits, including his fondness for intimidating and tormenting subordinates and political opponents. Coverage of Cuomo’s 2005 divorce from Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, included some eyebrow-raising accusations of cruelty. And various political rivals, such as New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, haven’t been shy over the years in calling out Cuomo’s tactics. But New York voters shrugged off the reports, and they reelected Cuomo to a third term in a 2018 landslide.
The nursing home scandal wasn’t only predictable; it was obvious from the beginning. While the mainstream media behaved like Jeffery Toobin on a Zoom call every time Cuomo stepped towards a microphone, the nursing home data and accompanying reports were there for all to see. In mid-May, the Albany Times Union covered the unfolding story in detail, including calls by lawmakers for investigations. Cuomo’s administration avoided reporting the actual results at nursing home facilities, but it was obvious that the numbers were horrendous. Thousands of New Yorkers were dying in New York nursing homes while Cuomo avoided accountability, but the leftwing media dismissed the story and New York Democratic voters played right along.
In July, as Cuomo’s nursing home incompetence as well as his cover-up was becoming obvious, Cuomo was still enjoying a 60% overall approval rating in his state. Even now, as mounting evidence suggests that Cuomo was not just a practitioner of sexual harassment, but in fact a sexual predator, many remain steadfast in their support of Cuomo. The majority of New York state legislators, and an increasing number of prominent Democrats including New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, have now called for Cuomo’s resignation. Yet as of last Tuesday, Cuomo still has an inconceivable approval rating of 64% among females in New York City.
Meanwhile in California as Governor Newsom tries to fend off a recall effort, most of his dismal results were entirely foreseeable. Newsom was elected in 2018 in a landslide with over 60% of the vote. His campaign platform had promised not only to keep many of the failed leftist policies of his predecessor Jerry Brown, but to expand upon them. Unsurprisingly, Newsom has continued to run the state into the ground, with a record number of homeless, over $3 trillion in government debt, and a mass exodus of Californians fleeing the state for more sane options.
Additionally, Newsom has thoroughly botched his response to the COVID pandemic; there’s no denying it. He implemented lockdowns with some of the most draconian rules in the country. He shut down his economy, which led to 9% unemployment, yet he has little to show for it. California still has the most COVID deaths of any state in the union, and the deaths/million ratio puts it only in the middle of the pack. Meanwhile states such as Florida and Texas took a much more pragmatic approach to lockdowns, kept their economies intact, and have seen virtually identical results with COVID deaths/million.
Perhaps Newsom’s greatest sin, and the sin that has driven the recall effort, was his refusal to follow his own rules, as evidenced by his infamous episode at the highfalutin restaurant the French Laundry. Newsom, as you may recall, was caught dining indoors while fellow Californians were forbidden to do so. Logic would therefore suggest that California’s voters are accepting of ineptitude, so long as that official practices what he preaches. It wasn’t until recently that Newsom began seeing his approval ratings drop despite his ineptness, reaching a peak of 64% approval last May, then dipping to the current level which is just below 50%
Newsom isn’t the only public official in California who’s staring a recall attempt in the face. Prosecutors in California are elected, and there are recall efforts underway against at least two of them. District Attorneys George Gascón from Los Angeles and Chesa Boudin from San Francisco have both overseen skyrocketing crime rates as they’ve implemented lax approaches to prosecutions and sentencing. However, Gascón and Boudin are largely doing what they promised to do. Focus on fairness and equity for criminals as opposed fighting crime and protecting citizens.
Both California and New York have only had one Republican governor this century, and in the case of California that governor was Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the most liberal Republicans we’ve ever seen. These states, like many others, continue to put Democrats in control of their governments for no other reason than the party to which they belong.
Andrew Cuomo may be a bully who screwed the pooch with COVID, but New Yorkers liked his father and the way he talked during his press conferences. Accordingly, he’s been elected governor three times, and was given absurdly high approval ratings in the midst of his COVID buffoonery. Similarly, not only is Gavin Newsom a lousy governor, he’d probably be a lousy dogcatcher. But Californians apparently like his suave appearance and GQ-style, and they only began to turn on him once his duplicity became too obvious to ignore. You get what you vote for California and New York Democrats.
As ridiculous as it sounds, there’s still a good chance both Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsome survive their current firestorms. Will Cuomo resign or be impeached? Perhaps. Will Newsom be officially recalled and replaced? It’s possible, but unlikely. More importantly, will Democratic voters in New York and Californian learn their lessons and consider genuine qualifications – and not just the “D” that stands next to a candidate’s name- the next time they cast their votes? Don’t bet on it.