One of the great political canards of the last couple of decades is the notion that centrist technocrats are more effective at governing: when faced with a crisis, reality is often very cruel. One of the criticisms of challenger Cynthia Nixon NY governor Andrew Cuomo will try to raise is her lack of experience–he will make the argument that he ‘can get things done’, while she’s just a dilettante. Unfortunately, that argument requires the demonstration of competence, or, at least, a lack of incompetence (boldface mine):
Of course, she has little direct experience, as an actress who has never held elected office. But that’s not much of a disadvantage against an opponent who has gobs of experience but remains a fumble-fingered incompetent. To be better than Cuomo on the subway, for example, all she has to do is not demonstrate boiling hatred of public transit, and admit frankly that the governor is responsible for the MTA, which she has done. Indeed, she is a regular subway rider — which while it sounds silly, is actually very rare for elite politicos, most of whom are chauffeured around. For a governor, attention and commitment matter more than granular understanding of details, as she will of course have to hire staff to actually run the MTA.
Nevertheless, to take full advantage of the subway crisis, Nixon would be wise to put out a detailed proposal outlining a clear understanding of what’s wrong and how it could be fixed.
If I still lived in New York, I would definitely be pulling for Nixon (the article has a lot more about Cuomo–he’s awful and has been for a long time). Not only does she actually use mass transit–and if you don’t use it, you really aren’t in a position to govern it effectively–but, to return to the post title, Nixon seems to understand its problems, while Cuomo is a mile off-base:
But it turns out that when it comes to the subway — whose Metropolitan Transit Authority is controlled by the governor, and without which New York City could not possibly function — Andrew Cuomo is an inept dolt. The ongoing crisis of delays and abysmal service could be seen coming a mile off, but Cuomo has spent half his governorship ignoring the onrushing disaster and the other half raiding MTA funds for his own stupid pet projects — like a $5 million ski resort bailout.
Indeed, as this Village Voice investigation demonstrates, many of the delays are likely the simple result of rule changes mandating ludicrously conservative train speeds. The fact that Cuomo hasn’t yet grasped that he could sharply ameliorate the subway crisis without spending much money suggests he does not have a clue how the system works at all — and worse, doesn’t have anyone who can inform him either. As usual for self-professed “pragmatic experts,” Cuomo is not only intensely ideological (on transit issues, favoring automobiles above all else), he is also incompetent.
One of the constant agonies of being a lefty type is that your candidates often lose: the reason mediocrities are able to maintain power is that they are very good at holding on to power, even if they suck at making their constituents’ lives better. So the odds aren’t good for Nixon, but here’s to hoping she wins.