Cynthia Nixon should not be the next Governor of New York. She is not qualified for the position, nor does she have the ability to deliver on the promises she makes. While Andrew Cuomo is not significantly better and I urge New Yorkers to vote for Stephanie Miner in the general election, it is essential that the Democratic Party sends a message that we want qualified progressives. I want a good challenger to Andrew Cuomo, someone who will bring hon- or back to Albany and move our state forward. If Stephanie Miner or Zephyr Teachout challenged him in the primaries, I would vote for one of them. As neither of them are, I am forced to choose between two choices I find unpleasant. Of those, Cuomo is the least bad option.
If Nixon had opted to seek a seat in the House of Representatives, I may have supported her. Throughout her career, she has done excellent work for education and equal rights, such as when she lobbied state lawmakers in Albany to legalize same-sex marriage in New York in 2011 (Time, “Here’s What You Need to Know About Cynthia Nixon’s History of Political Activism,” 03.19.2018). In addition, she has been a strong advocate for women’s health care and has fought aggressively for reproductive rights. Nixon has every right to be proud of what she has accomplished.
With that said, Nixon has always served as more of a mouthpiece than as a central organizer. As someone new to the realm of politics, she lacks experience drafting policy or serving public office. Even in her own advocacy group, there is very little evidence that she has taken a significant leadership role within the movements she sup- ports aside from serving as a figurehead (AQENY, “Cynthia Nixon & AQE”). Compare Nixon’s political background to that of Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in 2014 and is currently one of four Democrats running for Attorney General. Like Nixon, she has never served in public office. How- ever, Teachout has other kinds of executive leadership experience, including serving as the first national director of the Sunlight Foundation and co-founding “A New Way Forward,” a campaign to protest the current bailout plan (ZephyrforNY, “Meet Zephyr”).
However, the problem is not that Cynthia Nixon has never served in public office. There are a variety of other ways in which a person can demonstrate executive leadership. Nixon, however, has not been a part of any. That concerns me, even as she faces off against a governor that I strongly dis- like. I worry how Governor Cynthia Nixon would handle a crisis. If another major hurricane or snowstorm hit New York during her time in office, could she respond adequately? Perhaps she could, with the right staff. But, I am unsure, and this lingering doubt matters. There is more to serving in public office than supporting policies with which I agree: A strong candidate has to be ready to fulfill all the responsibilities of the positions. I’m far from convinced that Nixon is.
Frankly, that was not helped by her performance at the gubernatorial debate. Cuomo and Nixon both came across as petulant children, constantly bickering and pointing fingers at each other more than offering their own solutions. Cuomo remained unable to speak about anything other than Donald Trump and failed to put forward his own vision of what his third term would entail. He frequently blamed every failure of his governorship on the state legislature and even claimed that, in regard to filing tax returns, the only person less transparent than Nixon is Trump (The Independent, “New York primary debate: A look inside the claims made by Nixon and Cuomo during their only direct face- off,” 08.03.2018).
Clearly, this isn’t a good look for him. He has spent this entire primary season on the defensive, allowing Nixon to push him increasingly leftward. While I do not think that her momentum will cost him the nomination, it leaves him vulnerable, especially if Cynthia Nixon decides to challenge him in the general on the Working Families Party (WFP) line. Nixon is running a decent campaign, and probably a better one than Cuomo. However, as demonstrated in the debate, she is a worse candidate. There is one moment in particular that sticks out to me. About 15 minutes into the debate, Nixon was asked about how she plans to enact and pay for her single-payer healthcare in New York State. The moderator pointed out to her that this proposal would double the state budget, require tripling the tax rate for an average family and lead to significant cuts in other areas. Instead of answering, she defended her proposal in principle, repeatedly ignoring the question posed to her (CBS New York, “NY Democratic Gubernatorial Debate – Andrew Cuomo v. Cynthia Nixon,” 08.29.2018).
This scares me. I want single-payer health care in the United States. I think it is absolutely necessary. However, if we enact single-payer healthcare in New York State without a plan to pay for it and it fails due to that very reason, then this misstep may prevent such a system from ever being implement- ed on a national level.
That’s the problem with Nixon: She has a lot of good ideas and no knowledge of how to execute them. I would rather vote for a status-quo corporate Democrat with whom I agree on most issues, even if he will not follow through on a lot of the ideas he proposes, than someone with whom I agree on most issues, but is unable to fulfill them to such an extent that she sets back the progressive movement. I don’t know if Nixon is the latter, but there is a good possibility that she could be. New York Democrats cannot take that chance.