Election 2018

In past years I’ve voted straight down the Democratic Party ticket. The exception was when the Democratic candidate was also running as a candidate for a minority party (e.g., Working Families); then I vote for them under the minority ticket in an attempt to give greater voice to those who feel underrepresented.

This year, I feel I’m obligated not to be so lazy. If partisan politics are tearing this country apart, then part of the repair process is for individuals to look at people and policy, and not just vote for one party as if you were supporting your favorite baseball team.

With that in mind, here are the races that appear on my ballot on November 6, 2018, courtesy of Ballotpedia. As I go down the Ballotpedia list, I’ll check out the candidates’ web sites, go over their positions, and choose. Perhaps my choices will be same as if I voted in my usual way, but at least it will be a measured decision.

US Senate: Kirsten Gillibrand (D) vs. Chele Farley (R). This race is tough for me to view dispassionately, since the thought of potentially contributing to a Senate that’s in lock-step with the President causes my gorge to rise. Fortunately, I can supply a rationalization I can live with: according to her web site, Ms. Farley is heavily associated with big business, which I feel already exerts an undue influence on our political process. Senator Gillibrand states that she’s in favor of stronger unions and raising the minimum wage. My vote will be for Gillibrand.

House of Representatives District 17: Nita Lowey (D) vs. Joe Ciardullo (Reform Party). Mr. Ciardullo is basically running on a platform that taxes are too high. I don’t agree; I just think they’re misspent or unfairly allocated. Representative Lowey’s platform agrees with my views on many issues, in particular improving math and science education for children. I will vote for Lowey.

Governor of New York: Andrew Cuomo (D), Marc Molinaro (R), Larry Sharpe (Libertarian), Stephanie Miner (Independent), Howie Hawkins (Green). First, an observation: the minority-party candidates go into much more detail on their policies than Cuomo’s and Molinaro’s sites, Sharpe’s site in particular; kudos to them! I went over the candidates’ positions on their web sites. I’m not fond of Cuomo, but my vote will go to him. The other candidates focus on doing more “good things” while lowering taxes, and my math tells me that’s not possible. I’m not looking for a tax break, I’m looking for the money to be spent more responsibly.

Lieutenant Governor of New York: Kathy Hochul (D), Julie Killian (R), Andrew Hollister (Libertarian), Michael Volpe, Jia Lee (Green). I note that, except for Lt. Governor Hochul, the chain of web links for the remaining candidates all point to the sites for the gubernatorial candidate of the same party. I don’t see that it’s necessary for a lieutenant governor to be of the same party as the governor; in fact, Mayor Miner (D) picked Mayor Volpe (R) to be her running mate. But as it stands, I have little information about the lieutenant governor candidates that distinguishes them from their counterparts in the same election. Given that, it appears my vote goes to Hochul by default.

If I’m being honest, there’s another reason I’m voting for the Cuomo/Hochul ticket: By voting for a minority-party candidate, I increase the chance that a supporter of the current US President might become governor. I’m strongly tempted to vote for the Miller/Volpe ticket on the basis of the non-partisan unity it potentially represents, but I’m weaseling out.

Attorney General of New York: Lititia James (D), Keith Wofford (R), Nancy Sliwa (Reform), Christopher Garvey (Libertarian), Michael Sussman (Green). Strangely, this is the race for which I’m writing this blog post, because I was inspired by this segment from John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. I note that all the AG candidates vow to fight the corruption of the current state government, which I heartily support, but this gives me no basis to choose between them. The minority-party candidates have only skimpy statements on their positions. Mr. Wofford’s web site blames problems on “ultra-liberal politicians,” which suggest to me that he’d take a partisan approach to the job. So my vote will go to James, not just by process of elimination but because she speaks to the issues in greater detail than the other candidates and I generally agree with her positions.

New York Comptroller: Thomas DiNapoli (D), Jonathan Trichter (R), Cruger Gallaudet (Libertarian), Mark Dunlea (Green). Given my general political ignorance, you can correctly assume that my first question was “What the heck is a comptroller?” Once I learned that, I could assess the positions on the web sites: Gallaudet isn’t even trying, Dunlea echos the Green Party positions, and Trichter seems too closely tied to big business for my taste. Again, by process of elimination, I will cast my vote for Comptroller DiNapoli.

New York State Senate District 38: David Carlucci (D) vs. C. Scott Vanderhoef (R). Neither is campaigning much, at least not on the web. If I were going with “partisan” loyalty, I might have gone with Vanderhoef since he also went to Columbia University and was a Rockland County Executive. But I’ve been typing this blog post for two hours in an effort to try to be non-partisan and failing miserably, and so I’m going to vote for Carlucci. I have to hope that the promises of reform in Albany (yes, I know these promises are made every election cycle) will help keep him honest.

New York State Assembly District 97: Ellen Jaffe (D) vs. Rosario Presti Jr. (R). Presti doesn’t seem to be trying. Also, I think I’m distantly related to Jaffe. So I’m voting for her.

Final results: For all my efforts, I wind up voting down the party line anyway. That’s politics for you!

New York Primary Elections

The New York Primary Elections are on Thu, Sep 13th. We’ve learned in recent years that primary elections are very important; the results of those elections bear on issues like who the superdelegates are at the Democratic National Convention.

I’ve been doing some web research on the candidates. I found Ballotpedia to be a very useful resource, in that it let me know who’s running. This district finder let me identify for the first time which are my Congressional and Senate districts, both Federal and State. Hey, I’ve only been living here for 30 years. How did you expect me to know?

What follows are my current impressions of the candidates who will appear in contested Democratic Primary elections on my district’s ballot. Feel free to (politely) disagree with my views and reasoning.

The Democratic Gubernatorial Primary is between Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon. For me, it’s a tough choice. I like Nixon’s policy positions, even if they’re a bit focused on NYC issues. However, recent events have soured me on voting for inexperienced politicians solely on the basis of their celebrity. On the other hand, I don’t like Cuomo going to bed with the IDC.

Verdict: At this moment I’m slightly more in Nixon’s favor. I wish she’d run for a lesser office than Governor to gain political experience; if she wants improvements in the NYC subway, why not run for Mayor? I’ll follow the news for the next month and see if the balance shifts.

New York Attorney General: This is certainly an election I should know more about, especially with four candidates competing for the nomination.

Verdict: Again, a tough call given my general ignorance of the politics involved. After reading Ballotopedia’s links, I plan to vote for Zephyr Teachout, mainly for her anti-corporate stance.

New York State Senate: I’m in NYS Senate District 38; the race is between David Carlucci and Julie Goldberg

Verdict: Another tough call. I think I’ll go with Goldberg, as education is an important issue for me. Also, I don’t like Carlucci’s IDC connection, even if he says he’s trying to end it.

All the other elections in this upcoming Democratic Primary are uncontested, at least in my district.

Argh! Am I making the right choices? Are there any right choices? Argh!

Our new form of goverment

A friend of mine recently posted that the incoming administration was going to be a:

kleptocracy = government by theft

I agreed with the spirit, but disagreed with the specifics. I did a teeny bit of googling, and came up with this term:

pseudocracy = government by lies

I thought it appropriate, given the statements made by the president-elect in various media, and the influence of fake news sites on the current politics of our nation.

In attempting to promote “my” new word, I had another idea to describe the current political landscape, given the political appointments by the president-elect. This one already existed:

kakistocracy = government by the worst

In response, Russ Heller came up with the perfect word, far better than any of my attempts. In his words:

The Greek prefix “Chryso-“: Forming compound words pertaining to gold or, by extension, gold-like colours. Specifically, chrysophobia is the fear of the color orange. Chrysocracy means government by the rich, and also government by the orange.

We’ll have to live through it. At least we now know what to call it.