Andrew Cuomo, Governor of my home state of New York, was speaking in Manhattan on Wednesday, signing a bill to make sex trafficking a felony in the state. He made a now-famous gaffe, which says a great deal about the state of the modern Democratic Party
But first, just a word about sex trafficking.
Kidnapping vulnerable young girls and renting them out for sex is a flourishing business down among the urban underclass. The Pakistani pimps of Rotherham and other English cities are the best-known cases, but plenty of it goes on here in the U.S.A., too. As in England, it's very much an ethnic affair here, although news reports tie themselves in pretzels trying to obscure the fact. [Inside New York’s silent sex trafficking epidemic, NYPost, April 17, 2018]There's an immigration angle, too; a lot of the women being trafficked here are illegal aliens from Mexico, Central America, and Asia.
It's a problem in New York, and our legislators figured we need a new law to deal with it. I find it hard to believe that the laws we already have on kidnapping, prostitution, and abuse of minors are not adequate to deal with the issue; but hey, it's an election year, Cuomo's up for re-election as governor, and signing a new law is good show business.
But I should say that the phrase "Democratic Party" in my last sentence refers to the old Democratic Party, the party of FDR, JFK, Bill Clinton and John Kerry. Andrew Cuomo, like those other names, is a white guy of European ancestry. Like other white guys in his party, Cuomo has the uncomfortable feeling that the ground is moving under his feet—that the Democratic Party is turning into something different from what it has been though his, and my, lifetime.
As a result, the Governor is nursing some serious political insecurities. Is the Democratic Party still a party for him, for white guys? Or is it on its way to being a party for women, blacks, mestizos, and sexual eccentrics?
Naturally the guy is nervous. He is, as I said, up for re-election in the fall; and before that, next month, he faces off in a Democratic primary against TV actress Cynthia Nixon.
Nobody thinks Ms. Nixon has much of a chance of becoming the Democrat nominee for Governor in the fall, but that's not really the point. The point is that in Andrew Cuomo's eyes, and the eyes of old white male heterosexual Democrats like him, Cynthia Nixon looks like the future while he looks like the past. Ms. Nixon is female, homosexual, and wa-a-a-ay out on the political Left. [Cynthia Nixon calls ICE a ‘Terrorist Organization’ Led by ‘Egomaniacal’ Donald Trump, by Alexandra Hutzler, Newsweek, June 22, 2018] She makes our poor governor feel like a relic.
Don't place any bets against Cuomo. He's a skillful politician with the state party in his pocket. He'll get the nomination, then he'll win re-election in November. Our state is mostly Republican; but the wee bit that isn't includes New York City, which has close to half the state's population … enough said.
Still the guy's nervous. He was also a little rattled, earlier this week—before the Wednesday bill-signing event—he was a little rattled by President Trump having been in the state on Monday, at a fundraiser for the state Republican Party. At that event our President speculated that maybe Cuomo wants to run for President in 2020. "Please do it, please," said the President mockingly. [Trump dares NY Gov. Cuomo to run against him in 2020, says 'anybody that runs against Trump suffers', By Alex Pappas, Fox News, August 13, 2018] The Governor doesn't like to be mocked, any more than you or I do.
So when Cuomo stepped up on Wednesday to sign this bill against sex trafficking, he was both suffering from chronic existential anxiety about the direction of his party and rattled by Trump's Monday remark. Under those stresses, his self-control slipped, and he spoke unwisely.
What he actually said was:
We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great. We have not reached greatness, we will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged, we will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping against women, 51 percent of our population, is gone and every woman's full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution.
[Andrew Cuomo shocks crowd, says America 'was never that great', by Adam Shaw, August 1, 2018]
Now, taken on face value, that's gibberish. Men and women are biologically different; they are never going to exhibit identical profiles on every kind of behavior, achievement, or social outcome. As for "discrimination": Well, someone should ask the governor why, if women are "51 percent of our population," they are 56 percent of college students but less than seven percent of federal prison inmates.
But that's giving the Governor's words more respect than they deserve. He's not making observations about real things in the real world; he's a politician sending out signals to likely voters. The signal there was: “I'm not a part of that rotten old patriarchy trying to keep women down. I am cool and up-to-date with the new Democratic Party, which is absolutely not a party of straight old white guys.”
But Cuomo just went a bit too far, saying that America "was never that great." It's a logical thing for a Progressive to think. American society in the past had imperfections and injustices; therefore we shouldn't talk about it having been great; that's the Progressive mentality.
What it misses is, that all societies everywhere have imperfections and injustices, and this will always be so. The U.S.A. was, and is, great because it had, and has, fewer imperfections and injustices than other nations. That's why so many people—so many millions, tens of millions of people—wanted, and want, to come and live here.
I got to know the U.S.A. during its Golden Age—the third quarter of the 20th century—and mostly from outside: I grew up in England, didn't actually get here until 1973. Boy, America was great! —free, rich, victorious, generous, creative…Britain was in imperial decline, half of Europe was under the Soviet yoke, Africa was sinking into post-colonial chaos, India and Pakistan were at loggerheads, South America was run by buffoons like Juan Perón, and in China tens of millions were starving to death under the crudest, cruellest kind of totalitarian dictatorship.
America was great—with very restricted immigration and men mostly running things. We had imperfections, sure; but by comparison with any other country at that time…Well, there was no comparison. We were the greatest.
The Progressive vision is narrow, provincial, and present-centric. The past, according to them, was bad; the present is just tolerable; the future will be radiant.
That is no basis for policy. There are good reasons to think that if we don't get a grip on mass immigration, America's future will be Venezuela. There are good reasons to think that if the insulting and belittling of men under labels like "toxic masculinity" keeps going, the things that men do better than women—leadership, risk-taking, science, engineering—won't get done, or will get done elsewhere, not in America.
Whether Andrew Cuomo understands any of that, I don't know. He has to pretend not to understand it because of the threat from his Left—from people like Cynthia Nixon, who surely don't understand it.
That is the dilemma of white men in the Democratic Party today. They deserve it.