Teachout, Cuomo & the Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy

When I think of Zephyr Teachout, I am specifically mindful of the fact that she’s a protest vote for the liberal wing of the statewide Democratic Party.  Most of them in and around the 5 New York City Boroughs. When I think of Zephyr Teachout, I think of this classic scene from Annie Hall: 

Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu are bright and, as far as anyone can tell, beyond reproach. Both of them are Manhattan intellectuals, and Teachout has adopted statewide political corruption as a platform plank, and Wu is known for his work on behalf of net neutrality.  Indeed, he coined the phrase. 

Andrew Cuomo has disappointed a lot of left activists. While the right assail him for the mild additive restrictions on guns via the “NY SAFE Act”, the left is sick and tired of continued Albany corruption, the constant, unchecked abuses of power, the power of incumbency, the insidious poisoning of the process by money and electoral fusion, and – above all – the comical overnight dismantling of the Moreland Commission just as soon as it started really doing its job. 

The New York Times declined to endorse Teachout due to her rookie non-credentials and her ignorance on anything going on north of Poughkeepsie and west of Nyack. It also declined to endorse Cuomo because of his fumbling of corruption. I think this is something of a cop-out. 

I have no idea whether Teachout can win the primary – I highly doubt it, but stranger things have happened.

Here in WNY we have a unique position unlike other parts of the state. There’s no Billion for Binghamton; no Assets for Albany, no Riches for Rochester or Silver for Syracuse.  Yet Buffalo and WNY have come under special Cuomo attention for two reasons: 1. he lost to Paladino here in 2010, and he wants badly to win; and 2. if he can show the world that Buffalo underwent a turnaround under his watch, he can sell that to the rest of the country in some future run. Fix Buffalo and the world is your political oyster. 

So, it’s tough to ignore the attention that the state has heaped on our fair city and region and simply dismiss Cuomo out of hand. Indeed, it’s about damn time an Albany pol tried to un-fuck Buffalo. 

But from a less selfish point of view, Albany politics are just as ugly and problematic as they’ve ever been. Efforts to change that have not only been stymied – Cuomo has actively prevented them.  Our Democratic governor, whom gun nuts liken to Karl Marx, actively supported the notion of a Republican majority in the feckless State Senate. It took Teachout to get him to actually support the idea that Democrats should win elections. 

Last night, I received a call from a Cuomo phone bank asking for my support. I bluntly told them, “ordinarily I would, but this Moreland thing has really thrown me for a loop”.  She marked me down as “undecided”, but seriously – it’s tough for me to support a governor who so casually dismisses the root of all state evils – Albany dysfunction and corruption.  This is especially true given the clean mandate that Cuomo has had to do just that. Cuomo’s inaction and outright refusal to address these issues is disappointing to me as a Democrat, but should be disappointing to all New Yorkers. 

Bluntly put, you can take your “REPEAL NY SAFE” sign and shove it, because the size of your magazine isn’t the assault on liberty you should be concerned about.

Instead, get angry about Albany’s multipartisan conspiracy with the dictatorial bureaucracies to commit managerial and legislative malpractice. This perverse system ensures that state government works for the tri-state area and no one else. Manhattan’s own Teachout and Wu aren’t going to fix that. Neither is Cuomo from Queens or Rob from Mount Pleasant (really). 

There’s nothing new here. The Brennan Center’s blueprint for reforming Albany is a decade old. No one pushes it because it’s heady and complicated and not as shiny as a gun. 

You won’t do anything about it. Your village, town, city, Assembly, and state Senate won’t do anything about it. Andrew Cuomo won’t do anything about it, and neither will Rob Astorino. Zephyr Teachout is at least talking about the right things, but there’s zero chance that she would get elected in November.

So, suck it up, New Yorkers. No matter whom you vote for in September’s primary, you’re in for another 4 years of bureaucrats running the state for their own benefit.  Unfortunately, short of a governor with some balls or a Constitutional Convention, it’s never going to change. 


  • This all goes back to the fact that the majority of voters out there really have no clue who it is that they are voting for. Recent polls tell us that less than 10% have ever heard of Teachout and a mere 7% have heard of the Moreland issue. Who’s really to blame here?

  • Well said. That Ghaddafi pic is frighteningly accurate.

  • Ghaddafi looks frighteningly like David Paterson 😀

  • Alan: While Teachout is far from my ideal candidate, I agree with the NYT that the best recourse in the primary is to vote for her. Don’t sit back and lament. GET DOWN THERE AND VOTE FOR TEACHOUT. *** BLOW IT UP!!! *** Tell Albany that the issue of corruption outweighs that of other things. By doing so, a far greater amount of NYers will learn about what’s important.

    • I’m NOT the Far Left, yet the corruption thing is my most important issue. I agree. Blow it up. After the election, Cuomo will only get worse unchecked.

  • Anyone who votes for Cuomo in the primary, or general election, is tacitly endorsing corruption.

  • I remember the reward for the last time Democratic voters were in high dudgeon and punished a candidate for insufficient fealty to Democratic principles.
    8 years of that idiot cowboy George W. Bush

    • Yes but bush brought us Obama. Gore would have never brought us healthcare reform and would probably been like Johnson on war

      • Thank God Bush brought us Obama…unless you enjoyed the cratering of the global economy, 800,000 jobs lost per month and endless wars in multiple engagements.
        I love that you use “healthcare reform” as a pejorative. 20 million previously uninsured citizens now have access to quality, affordable health care….booo! That you and your ilk cannot see that the ACA is the greatest achievement for the middle class since Medicare is proof positive that the GOP (and its tea bagger splinter groups) ALWAYS puts party before country.
        Tough to say what Gore would have done as CIC, but one thing we know for certain…he would have implemented the airport security plan he created as VP, as well as pay attention to the daily security briefings…and a certain 19 hijackers would not have had the opportunity to achieve AQ’s greatest victory.

  • My take on this is while I admire both Teachout and Wu I can imagine some incredibly horrible results if either was elected.

    People that intelligent and capable should be advisors and Department Commissioners but once they are elected they become hostage to unachievable goals and antagonistic political and bureaucratic processes prevent implementation of anything worthwhile.

    We must get real in this current political process. Its a tough, tough rugby match occurring at the State and Federal levels. It is unrelenting partisan politics on steroids. This is an area that Cuomo types can analyze, backtrack and revise while standing in place with legs appearing to move furiously.

    I am afraid neophyte political talents would be chewed and spit out in shreds. I dislike the Moreland mess as much as anyone but I know steel edged political sense produced it and expect to see more of the same.

    As a WNY’er who has witnessed being ignored for decades I may even post a Cuomo sign in my yard.

    • Boy I have to agree with you. While it might seem fanciful for someone to come in and rock the boat, the truth is factions would just hunker down and wait him/her out. At least Cuomo gave us a second look and didn’t he make some positive moves with pensions?

  • Why is it a “protest vote” to vote for the candidates whose policies you favor? It’s perfectly possible to support a candidate in good faith, even though you may suspect she will lose. To act otherwise is to let the poles and somebody else’s idea of inevitability decide the election for you.

  • This article is almost as much of a cop-out as the one in the NYtimes.

    If you want less corruption, less old-school NY sleaze, more ideas and policy driven debate, vote from Teachout/Wu. Lets just say it.

    Anti-corruption is also motivating me this election cycle. And I think if you lift that rock of corruption, you will find a network of big money interests with ties to Wall Street.

    The TWC-Comcast merger is just one of the many examples of government rolling over and letting big business screw consumers. Tim Wu (the guy running against Hochul) actually coined the phrase “net neutrality”. I want intellect like that in government. Teachout is originally from Vermont…and I would welcome the vermont-ization of NY State is a New York minute.

    • David. Wu did a lot more than coin the phrase net neutrality. His work with the FTC was a driving force behind it. There is an excellent book by him called “the master switch”

  • Too bad NY doesn’t have open primaries. Conservatives could pull off a Thad Cochran. Local conservative talk radio are urging disaffected democrat gun owners to vote for her

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