Skip to main content

Cynthia Nixon's Team Is Complaining About High Voter Turnout. This Is a Serious Problem

When your movement depends on less voter participation, there's something going wrong.

Thursday night, Cynthia Nixon lost her bid to oust incumbent Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo by a decisive 65-34 margin. Having learned nothing from 2016, Nixon spent the evening railing against Cuomo and the Democratic Party, creating as much bad blood as possible between progressives and pretty much everyone else:

Some will say that since New York is such a solidly blue state, there's no harm in bashing establishment Democrats because there's no way they'll elect a Republican governor. But Nixon's anti-establishment vitriol will carry far beyond NY's borders and she knows it, making her words reckless and irresponsible leading up to a midterm that will decide whether or not we put a stop to the fascism consuming our country. Then again, like Susan Sarandon, Nixon is a wealthy white woman who will be quite safe from the continued depredations of the Trump regime so I suppose that's a risk she's willing to have other people take.

But a more troubling note came from Nixon's campaign when they tried to explain why she lost so badly.

In a memo sent to reporters as polls closed, Nixon's campaign sought to justify their candidate's performance while blaming high voter turnout advocated by Cuomo as one reason she fell so far behind the incumbent Democrat.

I had to read that twice to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding it. Then I had to doublecheck to make sure it was real. Hearing a Republican talking point come out of the mouth of a progressive was, frankly, nauseating. Anyone lamenting that too many people voted should think very hard about calling themselves part of the left.

Where other people are drooling at the dramatic increase in voter turnout and what it portends for the blue wave that's coming for the GOP (don't forget, Democrats tend not to vote in midterms, much less midterm primaries), Nixon and her team see only an obstacle they couldn't overcome. That suggests they are not so much "for the people" but for a very specific group of people that feel entitled to power they haven't earned.

But this is actually an ongoing problem for a certain segment of the progressive movement. In 2016, when it became clear that Bernie was not performing well in primaries, open or otherwise, progressives started demanding more caucuses because that's where Bernie did well. But caucuses are, by their very nature, anti-democratic. They keep tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people from voting because it takes several hours to hold a caucus and most people don't have that kind of time. Caucuses also allow the loudest and most hostile voters to bully others into voting against their will. 

If your movement requires the ability to coerce voters and to shut out the majority, there's something fundamentally wrong with your movement. This is not to say that their goals are bad (cause they're not. At all), but their methods are deeply problematic. 

At the same time, Nixon's team was complaining about high turnout, they were also claiming that other areas had low turnout allegedly due to cheating on the part of the Democratic Party. The immediate return to claims of "rigging" the primary has less to do with anything real (progressive candidates walloped incumbents all across the bottom of the ticket) and more to do with returning to a tactic that works. Nothing solidifies support to the cause than hatred of the Democratic Party. This is the entire business model for people like Glenn Greenwald, H.A. Goodman, David Sirota, and Jimmy Dore.

Again, the calculus will be that New York is safely blue so who cares but Nixon and her team should know that there's no such thing as local politics anymore. The irresponsibility is breathtaking. They're injecting poison into the discourse less than 60 days before the most crucial midterm election in American history. If the Democrats do not take back at least the House, the 2020 election will be a sham, with Trump's political enemies being arrested if not simply disappeared. If that sounds insane and hyperbolic, I'd remind you that it took less than 18 months for the United States government to begin committing crimes against humanity on children with the explicit intent of terrorizing Latino immigrants and for roughly 60 million Americans to lustfully cheer it on. If you're not afraid, you're not paying attention.

Or you're a rich white woman like Cynthia Nixon who doesn't have to worry about the horrors another 2, 4, 6, 20 years of Republican rule will inflict on you.

Progressives need to learn how to lose with some fucking dignity and move on. Yeah, it feels great to lash out and throw temper tantrums but that's part of how we got Donald Trump. How's that working out for the progressive causes we all want to see advanced? Not so good last time I looked. Maybe Nixon can come down off her privilege, stop being so divisive, and focus on the real battle before it's too late for everyone not protected by money and status.