Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic Governor of New York, has resigned, effective August 24, after a report from the New York Attorney General was released stating that he had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.
Why was Cuomo forced to resign? The mood of public opinion has swung decisively against the systematic harassment of women in the workplace. This is connected to the general mood in society to no longer accept racist and sexist based abuse. However, as long as we live under the present system, the capitalists hold the power, and their misogynist system continues—from time to time somewhat curbed—but ever present.
The earliest of the allegations dates back to the year 2000. This poses the question: how was Andrew Cuomo able to harass women for a period of over 20 years? Capitalism is a system that was built on foundations of sexism and misogyny, which it inherited from prior class societies. Naturally, these foundations are especially pervasive in the halls of power where connections, money, and influence are used to intimidate women into silence.
Cuomo is just the latest to get exposed. In recent years there have been allegations against dozens of politicians, billionaires, and celebrities. He is not even the only New York politician to face these types of accusations. Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner are both his predecessors in this regard. However, both of these politicians enjoy great success after stepping down from office. Stepping down from office in order to save the prestige of the entire system is handsomely rewarded by the capitalist system. Elliot Spitzer has gotten book deals, while Anthony Weiner enjoyed a successful consulting career, continuing his abusive practices, until he was finally jailed. We can only assume that Cuomo will likewise be rewarded. President Joe Biden has already started the rehabilitation process by stating that, sexual harassment allegations aside, “the Governor has done helluva job.”
Cuomo’s rapid fall from power is a reminder that politics is not a static thing. Sometimes people lament that what is true today, will be true tomorrow. Less than a year ago, Andrew Cuomo was a darling. The media made him out to be tough acting in tackling COVID-19 and a beacon of hope in a country ravaged by the pandemic. This in spite of Cuomo’s policies which led to more deaths in convalescent homes. In less than a year’s time, Cuomo is universally hated with an approval rating of just 28%. It is events like these that produce a rapid shift in consciousness. Sadly for the capitalists, these sorts of events are unpreventable, because their entire system is unstable and is prone to similar shocks.
A year ago, the bourgeois media and politicians gushed over Cuomo’s pedantic press conference communiques, where he lectured New Yorkers on subjects like how to properly wear masks. He provided a useful narrative that COVID is the fault of millions of individuals failing to socially distance and wear masks—ignoring the reality that the billionaires effectively were sacrificing and continue to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives by forcing people to work in unsafe conditions, so the economy can keep chugging along, and profit can continue to be made. For the capitalists, all good things must come to an end. When enough anger built against Cuomo, the bourgeois decided he had outlived his usefulness and he was pressured by the leading members of his own party to “take one for the team.”
It is likely that the details of the recently released report detailing the extent of his misconduct were circulated in the halls of power before the report itself was released. This explains the rapid rate in which Cuomo’s former allies suddenly turned on him. This gave the establishment ample time to line up against him. Cuomo, who was quite powerful, was found alone and without allies. The ruling cliques were given time to get their ducks in a row to condemn him, before the report surfaced. Just months after Cuomo was the hottest name in national politics, he became a persona non grata. Like rats abandoning a sinking ship, his allies abandoned him to preserve the entire rotten culture of bullying and sexual harassment, in which Cuomo thrived. This is indicative of the opportunism and lack of principles that is rife within bourgeois politics. People are happy to get along with politicians like Cuomo as long as it is politically expedient, but when the tide turns, they line up against them.
Even then, it is an anomaly for a politician to be slapped on the wrist. Joe Biden and Donald Trump have both been accused of sexual assault and have gone on to be supported by their parties and the media to win the presidency. It is also worth mentioning that Jeffrey Epstein, the known child sex trafficker, had connections all throughout the upper strata of society. Known associates like Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Gates, and Prince Andrew go uninvestigated. You would think that a known child sex trafficker would have every connection thoroughly investigated for wrongdoing, but this has not happened. This is the crux of the issue: the ruling class is not interested in fighting sexism, sexual assault, or even child sex trafficking. They have an interest in saving face. This is why they had Cuomo fall on his sword, while they leave the associates of Jeffrey Epstein alone.
Cuomo serves begrudgingly as a sacrificial lamb for the legitimacy of the entire rotten system. He stated in his speech announcing his resignation: “This situation, by its current trajectory, will generate months of political and legal controversy. That is what is going to happen. That is how the political wind is blowing. It will consume government … This is one of the most challenging times for government in a generation.”
These words sum up the situation. The prestige of the capitalist system and its institutions is being battered month after month. The US ruling class used to boast institutions that seemed above reproach. Its politicians used to be pillars of stability, but have now turned into a liability. From the lack of confidence in the healthcare system and the related scientific institutions—which allows COVID to spread like wildfire—to the growing frustration of the youth, as indicated by the record popularity of the ideas of Marx, this system is in crisis. Andrew Cuomo is just a symptom; the rot goes deep. The powers that be are more eager to move against the symptom so the disease can continue.
Throughout his career, most of the labor leaders supported Cuomo when he ran for Governor, but he is no friend of the working class. Cuomo’s anti-worker track record includes attacks on public workers’ wages and pensions, refusal to repeal anti-labor laws, opposition to state-wide universal healthcare, and lack of funding for education, new housing construction, and mass transit. There were many additional reasons for workers to not support him, and to instead strive for a party that represents our class.
The building of a mass working-class socialist party and the fight for a workers’ government will change everything. When the working class has control over the workplace and all of society, we can start to deal real blows against the sexism, racism, and every other form of harassment and humiliation we face at every level of society. No more slaps on the wrist! Only a workers’ government can fight sexism tooth and nail!