Just like Foreman, Cuomo's vulnerable on his left
Forty years ago this October, Muhammad Ali relied on right-hand jabs and the ropes to recapture the heavyweight title from George Foreman in Zaire, Africa. Ali goaded Foreman into punching himself out while pummeling the champion's left with a series of right-hand leads. Though powerful and unexpected, right-hand leads also exposed Ali to retaliatory left hooks from the 25-year-old Foreman, but the 32-year-old Ali—recently removed from boxing exile—had little to lose except his pride. Foreman fell in the eighth, and Ali flew home from the Rumble in his Forefathers' Jungle to a country which had also tried to put him in chains for evading the Vietnam draft, a conviction which the Supreme Court overturned in 1971.
Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout was an even bigger underdog than Ali in her recent Democratic primary battle against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, running on the passions of populists versus the purse strings of plutocrats. Unlike Ali, however, Teachout bruised her opponent's left with left-hand leads, questioning Cuomo's propensity for quid pro quo, trickle-down economics, and his unwillingness (a la Ernie Terrell) to utter her name in public. Cuomo is likely still asking what a zephyr is.
Cuomo floated like sludge and slunk like a slug when Teachout walked within a handshake’s length of the Lobbyist for the Students at a Labor Day parade in midtown Manhattan. The man who called political debates a “disservice to democracy” brazenly turned his back on Teachout, evidently in desperate need of a hug from New York City mayor and part-time progressive Bill DeBlasio. Teachout, whose campaign was outspent nearly 40 to 1, took 34% of the vote on primary night and won over half the counties in the state, a clear rebuke of a Democrat who likes to feed the rich so they can shit on the poor.
With the governor of the nation's third-largest state refusing to articulate his visions in public or even say his opponents' names, the future of American democracy looks bleak. Corporate money has lulled many voters into both apathy and cynicism, continually casting their ballots for candidates who are ascending to power on rungs made out of $1,000 bills.
Rather than bowing before the devils they know, voters must comb the moral high ground for more candidates like Teachout, unafraid to confront issues of social, economic, and planetary justice.
Cuomo will only skip around these issues should he ever agree to debate his Republican challenger Rob Astorino, however. Unlike Foreman, Cuomo will easily block Astorino's right-hand leads with a limp left glove. What Cuomo cannot defend, however, are blows to his left from the left, and Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and his running mate Brian Jones remain the only candidates who can engender the transparent, 3-dimensional debate New Yorkers deserve.
Thus far throughout the campaign, voters across the state have been subjected to discussions on unicorns and the faux Women's Equality Party, and that's just the way Cuomo wants it.
Hawkins will ask and answer the questions both political parties and the corporate-controlled media ignore like metastatic tumors.
Teachers and workers across the nation have an obligation to vote for issues over parties. After all, parties will only erode if their members don't understand or care to understand the issues.
Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones line up with New York's workers on the issues that matter, leaving no doubt with whom their loyalties lie.
What teacher would pull the lever for Astorino over Hawkins, for example, when Astorino wants to make Cuomo's insolvency-inducing tax cap permanent, while Hawkins wants to repeal it?
Rather than demonizing public sector unions—a tactic of Republicans and Democrats alike—Hawkins wants to expand the public workforce to meet a community's needs, reducing class sizes instead of millionaires' taxes by hiring more teachers. Teachers should support the hiring of more teachers.
On the issue of tenure—which Cuomo has prodded and poked through his disastrous APPR—Astorino wants to open due-process up for bargaining by offering teachers "renewable contracts." As a former public school teacher himself, candidate for Lieutenant Governor Brian Jones understands the need for fairness in a system that could easily be overrun by nepotism and self-serving administrators and school boards.
Hawkins will also defend and expand workplace justice with a $15 minimum wage while upholding the Triborough Amendment and Scaffold Law, which Astorino wants to reform and repeal, respectively. The Triborough Amendment protects workers from bosses ripping up their contracts during an impasse, while the Scaffold Law protects workers from bosses ripping apart their scaffolds. Much like his stance on fracking, Cuomo has been ambivalent on these issues, perhaps waiting for the right-sized donation before whipping his Republican-controlled state senate into a fight against the will of workers everywhere.
Cuomo has governed like a Republican throughout his first term, feigning to his left on issues like gay marriage and gun rights. Unlike Ali, Cuomo did not realize how his own reliance on right-hand leads could open up his left to jabs from the left. Howie Hawkins is the only candidate who can lead this barrage, and therefore must be allowed in the ring to debate Cuomo.
And if by the will of common sense this happens, will Cuomo even address him by his proper name?