There is no more dysfunctional, morally bankrupt political party in America than the Republican party of New York, which having hit bottom somehow manages to wallow in futile irrelevance. It is often said that New York, is after all, a “Democratic” state, which is true on paper in terms of party registration. But the state has often been as likely to elect Republicans in the past to statewide office, be it Governor or Senator, so the party argument doesn’t hold up. It is also suggested that it is a “liberal” state, which is another myth, at least outside of Manhattan and some other city neighborhoods. In fact because the registration is so Democratic there are a large number of conservative Democrats in the state. So there is no reason why Republicans cannot win elections at least some of the time, yet they do not hold a single statewide office at present. They have become irrelevant, largely due to incompetence, mismanagement and stupidity.
I say this as one who once directed the state Republican Policy Committee and struggled to get ideas and solutions in the forefront, but when I persisted the highest elected official at the time told me “You want policy? How much money can you raise? That’s the policy,” and so it was and still is. This is a party that is focused on one thing: money, to fund itself, maintain the party apparatus, and go through the motions of trying to win an election. Thus they have a special soft spot for billionaires or millionaires that are willing to fund their own campaign and a long history of effectively “renting out” the line to whoever comes along with the cash, no matter how inept, politically illiterate, and tone deaf they are. This has happened time and again and will certainly happen in the future. While there rarely may be a competent dud like Michael Bloomberg, he’s a perfect example of how low this party has sunk. First he was a Democrat who became a “Republican” and rented the line to get elected. Then he left the party and ran as an Independent, but the spurned Republicans gave him the line again anyway. But the typical candidate, if not for their money, would be dismissed as a nonentity, and there are more former Democrats in the pipeline with cash.
Even at the local level it is a disaster. Suffolk County on Long Island was once the most Republican county in the country. It leaned so much to the right that the Conservative Party of New York used to come in second, outpolling the Democrats. Now Democrats regularly elect the County Executive and Town Supervisors. The apologists will tell you it’s due to a demographic shift, but that is nonsense. The party overplayed its hand, behaving like the corrupt political machines that used to dominate New York City and eventually lost the confidence of the electorate, while the local Democrats wisely ran conservative campaigns. Virtually the entire congressional delegation from Long Island was once Republican. Now there is just one left.
You would think that given the dismal state of the Republican party that the Conservative Party would rise as it once did in the past and keep the Republicans honest. Instead they have settled for making deals for their endorsement and are overly obsessed with a single issue, abortion, even though there is already a separate “Right to Life” party based solely on that.
So there’s not much here to give genuine conservatives and remaining Republicans much hope, given the moribund party state and the total lack of effective leadership. Under the present circumstances they are likely to continue to falter and put up dopey candidates, we will hold our noses and vote for these fools, who don’t have a prayer of winning and wouldn’t know what to do, if by some miracle, they did win. Unless and until there is a reform movement that can muster enough support and financing to shake things up, actually stand for something, and field serious, articulate candidates, the New York Republican party will continue to be for rent.