Are Faux Feminists in New York Trying to Screw Working People on Election Day? Ask Andrew Cuomo


As a New Yorker, my mailbox has seen quite a bit of action this week. Amid the bills and credit card offers, I've received no less than three shiny, colorful mailings from something called the Women's Equality Party, a new party which has not yet officially established itself. Interestingly, it was not a woman but a man—none other than incumbent Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo—who founded the party. The Women's Equality Party has endorsed — you guessed it! —Andrew Cuomo.

The WEP brochures are splattered with peppy photos of women, little girls and a handsomely coiffed Cuomo, along with with inspiring quotes about woman-power. Now, I'm all for getting a better deal for women. But is this the party I want to align myself with in order to do that? When I look over the mailer, things start to feel odd.

One quote, from Planned Parenthood New York, describes the awesomeness of Governor Cuomo in his efforts to improve women's health and well-being. Now, Governor Cuomo has certainly been Santa Claus to rich people in the state, a minority of whom are female, but that doesn't really jazz me up. He has repeatedly thrown the interests of working women under the bus, as he did in trying to prevent a meaningful raise in the minimum wage. On economic issues, Cuomo has been a downright foe to most women. I also notice that the quote comes from the same NYC Planned Parenthood group which, along with the National Organization for Women, actually teamed up with Wall Street to defeat Eliot Spitzer in his run for NYC comptroller a little over a year ago. This prevented New Yorkers from getting the only comptroller with the know-how and brass to challenge Wall Street predators who feed on the pensions of teachers, among other things, that we were ever likely to get.

The mailings include instructions on how I should vote next Tuesday for Cuomo on the WEP ballot line. The Women's Equality Party needs 50,000 votes on Tuesday to make this new party a reality.

WEP. Hmmm. On the ballot, that looks an awful lot like WFP, the name of the New York political party that most clearly supports the interest of working-class people in the state. Formed in the late 1990s, the Working Families Party has dedicated itself to such tasks as getting better conditions for workers like paid sick days and battling for better public schools. Stuff that is really good for women and girls.

Compared with the Women's Equality Party's three mailers, I've received one this week from the Working Families Party, which showcases the concerns of the ordinary people who actually keep the state running: "Making it on $8 an hour? It's tough as hell." WFP wants to raise the minimum wage, an idea that would be a pretty good thing for women, seeing as how they make up the majority of low-wage service workers.

But the Women's Equality Party does not want me to vote on the Working Families Party ballot line. Maybe that's because the people involved with WEP are on the fancy, faux side of the feminist spectrum. Former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who was defeated in her bid to be NYC's mayor when she lost to Bill DeBlasio, has been a major supporter of the initiatve. Quinn's reputation is that of a pro-business Democrat who has been very close to billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who supported her run for mayor. She's known for being cozy with real estate developers and has shown great energy in protecting New York's richest citizens from paying their fair share of taxes. Not exactly a poster child for championing the rights of working women.

All this ballot-frenzy is happening because New York has something weird called "electoral fusion" that allows one party to support another party's candidate when they feel that person aligns with them. The idea is that voters can support a minor party without "wasting" their vote. In reality, what we ended up with are bizarre, totally confusing ballots hardly anyone can make heads or tails out of, and it's super-easy for someone like Andrew Cuomo to come along and create a party with letters that look very much like those of another party and get everybody even more confused. Both WEP and WFP endorse Cuomo (many are not happy that WFP did not endorse Zephyr Teachout, who ran to the left of Cuomo but was defeated in the primaries). But the establishment of WEP would potentially siphon support away from WFP, which would seem to be Cuomo's goal in all this. A party dedicated to working people is not good for the gov.

You'd have to be a pretty cynical Democratic man to make a faux call for feminism while attempting to screw over working people. Governor Cuomo appears to be just that man.

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