Election Discussion: the PSC and the WFP
In the aftermath of the recent election, I’ve decided to abandon the Working Families Party (WFP) and I think the PSC should do the same. The WFP’s decision to endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo demonstrates that there is no possible Democrat that they wouldn’t endorse: it’s hard to find a more anti-labor Democrat than Cuomo. Press reports that Cuomo was working covertly to protect the Republican majority in the Senate are not surprising. We all knew that Cuomo could not be trusted. He believes that running as a Democrat and governing as a Republican will be his path to the party’s presidential nomination. I won’t be fooled into supporting that plan, and neither should the PSC.
The Democrats understand, now, that the WFP will endorse their candidate – no matter what. They will keep lining up more of the same if progressives focus outside the party. It makes more sense for progressives to work within the Democratic Party to nominate better candidates – and the WFP does not add leverage to that effort.
Ultimately, we need a labor party in New York State. We need a party that will nominate only candidates supporting the interests of working people, not the 1%. But it is clear that WFP is not that party.
Until we build that new, genuine labor party, we can work with the Democrats and even WFP on specific progressive issues, such as an end to discriminatory policing and the fight for a living wage. But from now on, I’m going to do that from outside the WFP and I hope the PSC will do the same.
I appreciated the factors behind the Working Families Party’s endorsement of Governor Cuomo – not least, Cuomo’s concessions on issues from the DREAM Act to the minimum wage – and I voted the WFP ticket. Nevertheless, I was disappointed that the party did not run its own candidate for governor in this unusual election year. Tactical caution won over strategic risk-taking, and so the WFP did not raise its profile, build its activist base, or worry the powerful as much as I (and many other PSC members) would have liked.
The question now is how the PSC can support those within the WFP who want the party to strike a different balance in the future, more “outsider” and less “insider.” There are WFP leaders and member organizations – including those who would have preferred the party to run its own candidate for governor this year, and who almost got their wish – who think that the party can afford to be bold and to think creatively about what it does next.
How to hold Cuomo to his new policy commitments? How to develop a New York City agenda beyond the paid sick days and universal pre-K victories? How to define an active role for party members outside election season? The people in the WFP who are asking these questions need allies. Let’s be there with them. After all, the PSC knows something about political gumption, broad social justice agendas, and active membership. We have something valuable to contribute to the WFP.