Cuomo Governs Well With A Majority

At its essence, Government is about getting things done. Once all the balloons have fallen on election night, politics is no longer about what you say, what you promise, or what you believe. It is about using the power of office to enact change.

The federal government has ground to a halt. There is no clear end in sight. Ideally, divided government would produce great compromise and inspire optimism in the democratic process. Instead, two co-equal branches are engaged in a vicious stand-off, leaving 800,000 workers unpaid. It would not be unreasonable to suggest that this current shutdown is the most appalling consequence of partisan dysfunction in our republic’s history save The Civil War.

The President made promises while campaigning that are plainly not viable now with a Democratically controlled Congress. He had two years with a friendly majority in both the House and Senate where he could have accomplished many of his goals including “The Wall.” Instead he waited until he lost the mid-term to make a stink and is now suffering the consequences. Spare us the complaints for what cannot be done. Show us what can.

New York state by contrast is off to a fast start in their legislative session. Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from Governor Cuomo. Like the President’s first two years, he now has a majority in both houses of the legislature. Unlike Mr. Trump, he is capitalizing on it in the policy arena. Not without controversy of course, but if we’ve learned anything from 2016 elections have consequences. He is wielding his power in tandem with the legislative branch to enact policy, pass laws, legislate. In a word: govern.

GENDA, a bill that adds transgender individuals to the list of protected classes in the state is now law. Sure, there are opponents to equal rights for the LGBTQ population, but they lost in November.

Voting rights have expanded drastically because of a law that will now give access to early voting, no excuse absentee ballots and same day registration. Believe it or not, there are opponents to broadening access to the ballot too, but they also lost. There has been some grumbling about potential costs or inconveniences with implementing these provisions, though they are tiny prices to pay for the critical ability to vote.

The Reproductive Health Act was signed that will increase women’s access to life-saving healthcare services and protect their constitutional right to privacy in NYS regardless of what the federal government does. There are very powerful forces hell-bent on limiting women’s decisions concerning their reproductive healthcare. They proved to be no match to the newly elected majorities.

The Governor and the President both laid out broad, aggressive agendas in their campaigns and various speeches. Governor Cuomo is displaying his governing bona fides more clearly by far. He has already checked off a few boxes and the progress train is not slowing down. Don’t be surprised when opponents to legalized pot and plastic bag bans get steamrolled in the coming months.

The late Governor Mario Cuomo had a quote, “You campaign in poetry, you govern in prose.” His son is proving that theory before our eyes. Like him or not, no one could complain the Governor isn’t getting anything done. He has proven his intent to govern effectively. That is why we elect leaders. Residents of the state should appreciate that we have a functioning system which is more than we can say for the federal government.

Derek Smith is a Frewsburg native.