The New York Political Circus by Murray N. Rothbard
From the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, September 1994.
For political junkies like myself there is nothing quite so bracing as the tangle, the complexity, the ethnopolitics, the back-stabbing, and the downright sleaze of New York politics in an election year.
The state elections law establish, for each primary, a state convention in late May, or early June, followed by a primary in September. A party convention endorsement carries more than moral or financial clout; one crucial clause mandates that a losing candidate for a state post gets automatically on the ballot in the party’s September primary, provided that he gets at least 25 percent of the vote at the convention.
Getting anything less than the magic 25 percent means that the poor candidate can only get on the primary ballot via petition, a route which, in New York, has been deliberately made arcane and extremely difficult by the state’s ruling political class. Going the petition route costs a great deal of time, money, and energy, and only someone with the unlimited funds or support of Ross Perot in 1992 never has to worry about the process.
1994 is an election year for all the major New York posts: governor and lieutenant-governor, comptroller, and attorney-general in the executive branch, and U.S. senator. All these plum jobs are now in Democrat hands, and the Republicans, rising up throughout the nation in this horrible Age of Clinton, have been feeling their oats this year. Unfortunately, as usual, the New York Republicans quickly began their traditional mode of shooting themselves in the foot.
There have long been not two but four major (or at least quasi-major) parties in New York. In addition to the Democrats and Republicans, there is the Liberal Party, founded by Jewish Social Democrats in the Ladies Garment Workers and Hat Workers Unions after World War II to provide a left-Democrat alternative to the Communist-dominated (now defunct) American Labor Party; and the Conservative Party, founded by the Buckley family to form a principled conservative opposition to the then Rockefeller-dominated, leftist Republican party. Ever since, the Conservative Party, now dominated by Brooklyn Conservative head Michael Long, has been struggling between principle and pragmatism, with the latter, of course, all too often winning out.
This year seemed to present a golden opportunity to topple the famed three-term governor: the smart, eloquent, witty, alert, thin-skinned pretend-philosopher and left Catholic lay theologian Mario Cuomo. A disciple of the late left-heretical French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, Mario is the well-known expounder of the view that America (the world?) is an organic “family.” The result is the sort of collectivist ideology one might expect from that kind of world-outlook.
Mario, however, has palled in office; New Yorkers are tired of Mario, of his lousy performance, the rampant crime, the high taxes and spending, the visible decay of New York in his twelve years of office. His coy and evasive performance in every national election finally irritated and exhausted his supporters after he finally pulled out of the presidential race in 1992. The Republicans sensed victory, and their theme at this year’s convention is the plausible “It’s all Mario’s fault.”
In 1988, however, Mario seemed vulnerable too, and the Republicans kicked away any chance of toppling him by alienating their natural allies, the Conservatives, by nominating the unknown and tom-fool leftish economist and former adviser to President Nixon, Pierre Rinfret. Rinfret, the only Nixon adviser who actually believed in price controls, proved to be a clown and a disaster on the stump, and as a result he barely edged out the Conservative nominee, Jewish academic Dr. Herbert London.
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