The New York Times had an editorial today on the prospect of one-party rule in Albany, and what it could or couldn’t mean for meaningful reform. No more Three Men in a Room… but what comes after?
The trouble is, the Democrats need a counterweight. The ideal way to achieve that would be for moderate Republicans to adopt a mop and a broom as official symbols and become the party of reform. They could vow to clean up campaign finance and put in place tough new rules about legislators’ outside employment.
Simon St. Laurent, posting at TAP, argues that the Democrats need to take the high road before November, thus ensuring that power and reform are seated together. Given the way that Spitzer squished around his own campaign fundraising guidelines (the “unilateral disarmament” he spoke of last year) in order to secure a win in the 48th, that might be too much to expect. Reform is no longer the superficially hot topic it was four years ago, but the GOP becoming the Opposition Party would give them a perfect opportunity to embrace reform and find some sort of new life after death. Although Joe Bruno was last seen rambling on crazily about how John McCain is going to come to New York during the presidential campaign and help them keep the Senate (yes, I’m sure that’s his top priority, Joe), I think that there must be saner heads in the GOP who are thinking of matters other than jockeying for internal position. The situation for the Republicans is that serious, and even they are openly admitting that their ancient “Upstate strategy” may no longer be working. (“Our weapons are useless!”)
Spitzer is still showing signs of being blindsided by the unfolding economic situation. He didn’t look too on the ball this week when Sheldon Silver proposed a tax on millionaires (with the WFP piling on with their own tax cut ideas). That kind of flashy proposal would be scanned, but it’s still the sort of thing that gets strapped New Yorkers worried about the economy to take notice. Sigh. How’s Spitzer going to handle various reforms when he’s so overwhelmed with changing conditions? Maybe we should let the GOP handle the role of loyal opposition? (a GOP that’s swept away a lot of its dead weight?) After all, they can’t really play the Upstate card any more. Can they be trusted with custody of such a delicate and important issue as Reform?
Perhaps it is just more important that it just get done. But after decades of stalemate, what really are the differences between these parties when it comes to the democratic process?