I saw on The Daily Show that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said that “extreme conservatives” don’t belong in the state. This has caused a firestorm in the right wing media. It’s a great moment for them. Conservatives always knew that liberals were non-inclusive snobs and now they have the proof. It’s typical of the Ring Wing Outrage Machine, and that’s probably why whole thing happened over two weeks ago without my noticing it.
But I’m curious how Cuomo defines “extreme conservatives.” It is very telling. They are people who are anti-choice, anti-gay, and pro-assault riffle. What stands out there is that there are no economic issues. That doesn’t surprise me, of course. In general, liberalism in the United States is defined by these kind of social issues. And Cuomo is the ultimate example of the New Democrat. On economic issues, he’s a Wall Street marionette.
I’m almost to the point of giving up. The Democratic Party has ceded so much ground on economic issues that it is now a conservative party. It is true that the Republicans now hold economic views that would fit right into a Bizarro comic. But this is what happens when the “liberal” party takes over the position of the conservative party. There is no ideological oxygen on the right and so its policies have become brain damaged.
I don’t so much see the conservative positions Cuomo mentioned as all that extreme. At least they have a reasonably large constituency, unlike many of Cuomo’s Wall Street economic policies. Gay rights is great, but I have to say, the Democrats are only about ten years ahead of the Republicans on the issue. There are still a lot of conservative Christians who have a problem with it for religious reasons—or so they’ve been told. Regardless, this absolutely will not be an issue in 20 years.
Abortion is a very similar thing, although the argument against rights is a whole lot stronger. Regardless, no one likes abortion. Americans’ opinions on the issue are nuanced to say the least. So again, there are a lot of people who are anti-choice. And a smaller, but still large, set are absolutists. As with gay rights, I think these opponents are profoundly misguided. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist—even in New York.
The assault weapon issue is just laughable. We have a huge gun problem in this country. But that problem is with handguns, not assault rifles. The focus on them is the Democratic Party desperate to do something about guns and thrashing about looking for any legislation that they might be able to pass. Look, if we liberals want to do something, we should be talking seriously about what needs to be done and not making largely symbolic legislation that motivates conservatives to come out and vote against us.
I’m sure that among the Wall Street bankers with whom Cuomo spends a lot of time, these issues are beyond the pale. But that doesn’t make them extreme. What Cuomo is doing is what New Democrats have been doing for decades: signally that he is liberal with selected social issues to distract from his economic conservatism. That’s the real story about what Cuomo said, not that such anti-gay politicians don’t fit in with New York voters. That is largely true of the bright blue state.