As a New York native, I’ve seen firsthand how fusion voting, which allows multiple parties to endorse the same candidate, has failed to deliver on its promise of more choice at the ballot box. In practice, fusion has become a game for the political elite, with endorsements by “paper parties” like the Working Families Party, Conservative Party, and Independence Party usually earned in back room deals with implicit – or explicit – trades of political favors and campaign cash (a recent NYPIRG investigative report found that the Working Families Party gets most of its money from the Democratic Party).
Democrat Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign – endorsed by the Working Families Party, Independence Party, and Women’s Equality Party (created for this election cycle by pro-Cuomo interests) – has drawn unprecedented attention to the fusion system’s shortcomings.
From Diane Ravitch, author of “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools”:
“[Cuomo’s] name will appear on four different party ballot lines — but all four are still a vote for Cuomo. I refuse to vote for privatization, fracking, and corruption… on any ballot line.”
From Arthur Schwartz, Democratic Party District Leader, Greenwich Village:
“I cannot, in good conscience urge my neighbors to vote for Andrew Cuomo on any line. He is not a true representative of the progressive spirit of the Democratic Party, much less the Working Families Party, and his Women’s Equality Party is a fraud.”
From Richard Kim of The Nation magazine (which strongly supports the Working Families Party), on the WFP’s endorsement of Andrew Cuomo:
“I normally despise it when left critics use the term Stockholm Syndrome to describe progressives’ relationship to centrist Democrats, but—hello, Stockholm Syndrome! Having missed a potentially transformational moment, the WFP is now handcuffed to a governor who has only proven to be untrustworthy, who connives to destroy the party at every turn and over whom the WFP has no demonstrable bargaining power to pressure him into keeping his promises.”
From Rebecca Fuentes, Workers’ Center of Central New York:
“I used to be a Democrat but then started looking elsewhere. I noticed that Working Families Party was just a front for the Democratic Party.”
“Well it’s a new wrapper for the old package. You open that wrapper and it’s the same old Cuomo inside the box. In terms of women’s equality he’s said nothing about childcare, or paid family leave or raising the minimum wage—most minimum wage workers are women. So his women’s equality agenda doesn’t address the problems particularly of working class women.
He’s got other packages, he’s on the Independence line but he’s not independent of those 331 people that gave him 22 million dollars.And the Working Families Party, just because he’s got that wrapper doesn’t make him a champion of the working class. His whole term in office has been an attack on working people.”
And lastly, a perspective on the issue from Josh Feintuch of the New York Green Party:
You probably already know about the unprecedented level of support and endorsements the Green Party statewide candidates are attracting, and if you’re like me you’ve been impressed by one of the most serious and credible statewide campaigns the Greens have seen yet. But we are being bombarded with another set of messages.
If you have an e-mail inbox, a Facebook account, a postal mailbox, a TV, or open eyes as you walk down the street, you’ve probably seen a flashy ad campaign asking you to vote to reelect Andrew Cuomo. But strangely enough, these ads seem to be competing with each other! That’s because four different political parties are vying for your vote for the same candidate, promising discontent but complacent voters the ability to “send a message” while still voting for the winning candidate.
Meanwhile Working Families candidate Cuomo told the Daily News this week that public schools are the “last public monopoly,” and that he plans to continue pushing the divisive high-stakes testing, charter schools, and privatization that are disenfranchising working families. Green candidate Howie Hawkins said that this is just the latest episode in Cuomo’s ongoing attacks on public education and teachers. “Andrew Cuomo is turning New York’s schools into the Hunger Games. He pushes a game of competitive grants, charter schools, and high-stakes testing. This type of competition leaves a lot of losers. But our children’s education is not a game.”
Voting for Cuomo, no matter which ballot line, will only send the message that our elected leaders can walk all over us with no accountability. Fortunately the Green Party has a diverse and brilliant set of candidates we can feel proud to support:
- Howie Hawkins is a working teamster and lifelong environmental and labor activist; he is a walking encyclopedia of political knowledge and history with original, practical, and ambitious ideas to approach every issue under the sun.
- Brian Jones, Howie’s running mate, is a veteran New York City schoolteacher who has successfully organized against charter school co-locations, budget cuts, and school closings. His addition to the ticket brought throngs of enthusiastic supporters who have been impressed by his good heart, charisma, and tireless energy.
- Ramon Jimenez, our candidate for Attorney General, is a people’s lawyer from the South Bronx who speaks with fire from his belly against the racial and social injustices in New York, and who is renowned for his leading role in saving Hostos Community College.
- Theresa Portelli, our Comptroller candidate, is a tireless civil servant with experience managing multimillion dollar statewide budgets and with big ideas about managing the state pension fund with an eye toward ethics, morality, and sustainability.
We want to ask you to use your people power to spread the word about our inspiring candidates, and counter the message of the other party lines acting as fronts for one of the most conservative and corrupt Democrats in a generation. Spread the word that there is a candidate fighting for the 99%, for fully funded public schools, 100% clean energy by 2030, $15 an hour minimum wage, and who is not accepting corporate contributions:
- Post to social media with the hash tag #VoteGreen, and a message about why you are supporting the Hawkins/Jones campaign!
- Invite your friends to the #VoteGreen Facebook event.
- Come to one of the get out the vote rallies and other campaign outreach events in the final few days.
- We are seeking volunteers in the lead up to Election Day to help Get Out the VOTE. Check out ourGOTV Action Center to sign up to volunteer!
Have you figured out when during the day and where you will vote? Do you know your polling place? You can find it here: http://www.elections.ny.gov/
Let’s build an independent left alternative that can win more and more local seats and build a real base of power to challenge one of the last public monopolies – the corporate political parties!
Thanks for all you do,
Josh Feintuch, Brooklyn
Green Party of NY Executive Committee