Andrew Cuomo, Governor of my home state of New York, was speaking in Manhattan on Wednesday, signing a bill to make sex trafficking a felony in the state. He made a now-famous gaffe, which says a great deal about the state of the modern Democratic Party
But first, just a word about sex trafficking.
Kidnapping vulnerable young girls and renting them out for sex is a flourishing business down among the urban underclass. The Pakistani pimps of Rotherham and other English cities are the best-known cases, but plenty of it goes on here in the U.S.A., too. As in England, it’s very much an ethnic affair here, although news reports tie themselves in pretzels trying to obscure the fact. [Inside New York’s silent sex trafficking epidemic, NYPost, April 17, 2018]There’s an immigration angle, too; a lot of the women being trafficked here are illegal aliens from Mexico, Central America, and Asia.
It’s a problem in New York, and our legislators figured we need a new law to deal with it. I find it hard to believe that the laws we already have on kidnapping, prostitution, and abuse of minors are not adequate to deal with the issue; but hey, it’s an election year, Cuomo’s up for re-election as governor, and signing a new law is good show business.
But I should say that the phrase “Democratic Party” in my last sentence refers to the oldDemocratic Party, the party of FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton and John Kerry. Andrew Cuomo, like those other names, is a white guy of European ancestry. Like other white guys in his party, Cuomo has the uncomfortable feeling that the ground is moving under his feet—that the Democratic Party is turning into something different from what it has been though his, and my, lifetime.
As a result, the Governor is nursing some serious political insecurities. Is the Democratic Party still a party for him, for white guys? Or is it on its way to being a party for women, blacks, mestizos, and sexual eccentrics?
Naturally the guy is nervous. He is, as I said, up for re-election in the fall; and before that, next month, he faces off in a Democratic primary against TV actress Cynthia Nixon.
Nobody thinks Ms. Nixon has much of a chance of becoming the Democrat nominee for Governor in the fall, but that’s not really the point. The point is that in Andrew Cuomo’s eyes, and the eyes of old white male heterosexual Democrats like him, Cynthia Nixon looks like the future while he looks like the past. Ms. Nixon is female, homosexual, and wa-a-a-ay out on the political Left. She makes our poor governor feel like a relic.
Don’t place any bets against Cuomo. He’s a skillful politician with the state party in his pocket. He’ll get the nomination, then he’ll win re-election in November. Our state is mostly Republican; but the wee bit that isn’t includes New York City, which has close to half the state’s population … enough said.
Still the guy’s nervous. He was also a little rattled, earlier this week—before the Wednesday bill-signing event—he was a little rattled by President Trump having been in the state on Monday, at a fundraiser for the state Republican Party. At that event our President speculated that maybe Cuomo wants to run for President in 2020. “Please do it, please,” said the President mockingly. [Trump dares NY Gov. Cuomo to run against him in 2020, says 'anybody that runs against Trump suffers', By Alex Pappas, Fox News, August 13, 2018] The Governor doesn’t like to be mocked, any more than you or I do.
So when Cuomo stepped up on Wednesday to sign this bill against sex trafficking, he was both suffering from chronic existential anxiety about the direction of his party and rattled by Trump’s Monday remark. Under those stresses, his self-control slipped, and he spoke unwisely.
What he actually said was:
We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness, we will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged, we will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women, 51 percent of our population, is gone and every woman’s full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution.
[Andrew Cuomo shocks crowd, says America 'was never that great', by Adam Shaw, August 1, 2018]
Now, taken on face value, that’s gibberish. Men and women are biologically different; they are never going to exhibit identical profiles on every kind of behavior, achievement, or social outcome. As for “discrimination”: Well, someone should ask the governor why, if women are “51 percent of our population,” they are 56 percent of college students but less than seven percent of federal prison inmates.
But that’s giving the Governor’s words more respect than they deserve. He’s not making observations about real things in the real world; he’s a politician sending out signals to likely voters. The signal there was: “I’m not a part of that rotten old patriarchy trying to keep women down. I am cool and up-to-date with the new Democratic Party, which is absolutely not a party of straight old white guys.”
But Cuomo just went a bit too far, saying that America “was never that great.” It’s a logical thing for a Progressive to think. American society in the past had imperfections and injustices; therefore we shouldn’t talk about it having been great; that’s the Progressive mentality.