One-Party Rule: When corruption and radicalism collide
New York and California are glaring examples of one-party rule gone bad, resulting in tyrannies of the hard left. They are also contrasts of how the populace in one state is impotent to reject corrupt, one-party rule and how the populace of the other has availed itself of a constitutional pressure valve, the recall petition, for political self-correction.
Each state demonstrates the extreme dangers of one-party rule recognized 250 years ago by America's Founders and addressed by the U.S. Constitution through federalism at the national level. However, the Founders were uncertain how to institutionally protect minorities in individual states and municipalities from the tyranny of the majorities, ultimately leaving it to the discretion of each state's own constitutional structure along with the voters.
As of September 2021, there are 23 Republican-controlled states, in which the Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the Legislature. Democrats hold 15 of these trifectas, and the remaining 12 states are divided. The political disruptions occurring in two of the Democrats' largest trifectas, New York and California, may provide some answers for the future American political landscape, particularly just how much hard-left policy the public is willing to endure.
In New York, Andrew Cuomo's dramatic decline in fortune from the "Luv Guv" and potential 2024 presidential candidate to disgraced ex-governor had nothing to do with his alleged sex harassment, his executive order to place COVID patients in nursing homes, his gross mismanagement of COVID, the multiple incidents of corruption, or his incompetence. New York's politicians knew how he treated female staffers. Many condoned and benefited from the cesspool of corruption. They couldn't care less about Cuomo's executive incompetence.
Cuomo's crime was standing in the way of many of the left's most destructive policies, like increasing taxes on the high income–earners, legalizing marijuana, and instituting no bail for most crimes. Hard-left radicals, nearly all of whom are from New York City and constitute about a third of each legislative body, engineered Cuomo's ouster.
But Cuomo's removal from office has brought New York's citizens no relief from the tyranny of one-party rule and the political power of the hard-left partisans. The new governor, former lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul, immediately capitulated to New York City's partisans. Her new lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, a former member of the state Senate from the Bronx, is a defund the police advocate.
Hochul quickly announced that one of her top priorities is to make sure illegal aliens get up to $15,600 in cash payments under the state's $2.1-billion Excluded Workers Fund. She unilaterally extended the no-eviction moratorium until January 2022, ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. She hopes placating the New York City radicals will forestall a primary challenge from the state's attorney general, Letitia James, another radical New York City politician.
New York's constitution does not allow the right of recall. Citizens are stuck with the policies of the New York City cabal until 2022. Only then will voters be able to decide whether to rebalance the political scale with likely Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County Executive, or Lee Zeldin, a Long Island congressman.
In contrast, Californians exercised their constitutional right to recall the unpopular Governor Gavin Newsom. The September 14 election will determine whether Newsom stays or is replaced by a Republican, most likely talk show host Larry Elder.
The reasons why Californians are giving Newsom an up-or-down vote are several: huge encampments of the homeless, gasoline prices at $5 a gallon, fires raging, water scarce, drug use rampant, and schools among the worst in the nation. Newsom also grossly mismanaged COVID shutdowns, hurting many small businesses.
The outcome of California's recall election will provide answers to how much taxation, regulation, and mismanagement voters are willing to tolerate, with implications for the 2022 elections.
Circling back to America's Founders, in Federalist No. 10, James Madison addressed the "People of New York," warning them of the dangers to public safety and property rights from an "overbearing" majority. With great prescience, he pointed out that democracies that fail to consider the beliefs of the minority, the public good, and the primary responsibilities of government, such as making sure the streets are safe, ensuring that criminals are punished, and providing good public education, will come to bad ends.
Democracies that are "spectacles of turbulence and contention," he observed, "have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths." While his reference was to ancient Athens and Rome, which placated the hoi polloi with bread and circuses, it could equally well apply to New York, California, and our federal government, each of which is trying to distract Americans from the erosion of constitutional rights with freebies.
Linda R. Killian is a local New York Republican chairman and a retired financial analyst.
Image: N.Y./California Democrats.
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