Two GOP stalwarts are hurting New York with their relentless criticism of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
On this page, we’ve often pointed out where he’s been in the wrong. The ramped-up rhetoric against him, though, appears to be doing more harm than good.
State Assemblyman Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, and his colleagues believe it’s time for the state Legislature to reclaim some of the authority ceded to Cuomo last year at the outset of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Democrats in the Assembly and state Senate approved emergency powers for him to use.
He’s issued numerous executive orders implementing measures designed to ensure the safety of residents, and he was given control over revising the 2020-21 budget as he saw fit. Republicans are calling for Cuomo’s emergency powers to be scaled back, and we’ve supported this proposal.
However, Walczyk crossed the line of reasonable opposition with a silly campaign. Called Kick the Crown, it advocates for lawmakers to once again become engaged in the decision-making process.
“We believe the power of the government rests in the people, not the crown,” according to information on the Kick the Crown website launched by Friends of Mark Walczyk, the assemblyman’s fundraising enterprise. “Symbols matter. The 2020-21 New York state budget included adding ‘E Pluribus Unum’ to the state seal, a Latin phrase [that] translates to ‘Out of many, one.’ The governor’s message of changing the state flag wasn’t about unity. To him, the phrase represents the theft of power from the citizens and the representatives they elect, to one person, himself. Out of many, one decision maker.
“That very same flag includes another important symbol — the crown. At the time our state seal was designed, governmental crests in Europe often depicted a crown, representing the supreme authority of the country’s monarch. In New York state’s seal, the crown is shown dejected, by the left foot of Lady Liberty as she kicks it. The crown is kicked. Out of 19 million New Yorkers, one man wants to make all the decisions. One man has symbolically picked up supreme authority and placed it on his own head. It’s time for us to Kick the Crown.”
This is not a serious attempt to restore legislative power. Walczyk should find a more effective way to persuade Democrats to listen to Republican proposals.
U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, began her own campaign of criticism against Cuomo. She regularly sends out messages in emails and on social media about “The Worst Governor in America.”
She’s made much of Cuomo’s controversial plan last year to send coronavirus-infected senior citizens back to their nursing homes, a policy believed by many to have cost thousands of lives. Stefanik has also pilloried him on the major problems the state has encountered in its vaccination rollout plan.
But Stefanik also has spread falsehoods about Cuomo. She released a statement responding to his call for her to resign following the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol (he never made any such demand), and she criticized him for a proposed state constitutional amendment regarding the redistricting process (the governor has no say in whether these amendments are placed on referendum ballots).
Rather than merely working to rile up their base of supporters, Stefanik and Walczyk should return to civil discourse. There are more effective ways to demonstrate where state policies can be improved.