NYC-DSA Statement on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Endorsement of Andrew Cuomo and "All Democratic Nominees"

NYC-DSA is proud that our members' work on socialist electoral campaigns, in conjunction with our political allies, has yielded so much already. Class politics and socialist ideas have been forced into the mainstream.

Julia Salazar's massive upset will make her the first socialist in our State Senate for nearly a hundred years. Our support for Cynthia Nixon helped her to open conversations the Democratic Party establishment didn't want to have, like the right of public sectors workers to strike. And like in New York, DSA chapters across the country are building mass struggles and helping socialists win federal, state, and local races. Much of this electoral  success was made possible by the spotlight on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after her stunning victory this year. Millions of people learned about socialism from her — and they loved what they heard. Ocasio-Cortez's enduring popularity has given her considerable power to continue shaping the popular perception of what it means to be a socialist.

Given this, it was unfortunate to hear Ocasio-Cortez proclaim her support for Andrew Cuomo in a nationally televised interview with CNN by saying that she “look[s] forward to… us rallying behind all Democratic nominees, including the governor, to make sure that he wins in November."

Ocasio-Cortez's campaign did so much to show us who our allies are: workers of all ethnicities, races, and genders. But socialists also have a responsibility to name our enemies, and high on that list is Andrew Cuomo. His two-term record reveals a critical lack of support for healthcare for all New Yorkers, or ambitious climate and jobs programs, or protection for immigrants from deportation. Meanwhile, he governs like an old-time political boss, endlessly plagued by corruption scandals. An endorsement for Cuomo suggests that working people across New York should accept him as an ally, when the opposite is true.

Further, "rallying behind all Democratic nominees" erases the real distance between insurgent socialist candidates and the Democratic Party establishment that we must continue to fight against. It suggests that electing anyone involved with the Democratic Party will automatically help secure a better future for the oppressed, exploited, and marginalized.

NYC-DSA will undoubtedly continue to make important inroads through insurgent socialist candidacies. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped create that space and for that we are grateful. But we reject the illusion that the Democratic Party is, or will become, an institution serving the interests of the U.S. working class.

After generations at the margins, a mass socialist movement is beginning to emerge. This movement can successfully challenge capitalism only if we clearly understand where our power lies — and where it doesn’t. We must expect at least as much from those who seek to speak on behalf of working people.

September 28, 2018.