By Eli Levi
Andrew Cuomo was the governor of New York from 2011 until he resigned on August 23, 2021. Conservatives will disapprove of what Cuomo accomplished and liberals will love what he achieved. Both parties will probably agree that he accomplished much in his career. Cuomo legalized same sex marriage, in New York, and the medical and recreational uses of marijuana. He enacted the NY SAFE Act of 2013 which authorized the strictest gun laws in America. He also expanded medicaid and raised the minimum wage to $15.
Cuomo was a competent governor and got things done. I believe that Cuomo’s resignation was largely due to ‘cancel culture’. The best definition for cancel culture is this: “Cancel culture or call-out culture is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. … Those subject to this ostracism are said to have been ’cancelled’.” Generally speaking I am not a fan of cancel culture, but I can accept that sometimes it is appropriate and sometimes even necessary to “cancel” people that are in positions of power. This can primarily be because people in power can abuse the authority they’re given and they can influence people negatively. They have connections in the government and the courts which can lead to a conflict of interest. Therefore, I recognize that sometimes it may be necessary to cancel people that have that type of inappropriate influence.
One appropriate example of cancel culture that comes to mind is the former president Donald Trump. Trump was a person in a position of power, the president of the United States, who was accused by 26 women of various sexual misconducts ranging from groping to rape. This is a case where it was necessary to use the power of cancel culture. That being said, if we as a society are going to go down the path of cancel culture, it is a slippery slope and we must be very careful before we cancel anyone. In the case of Governor Cuomo, I believe we slipped. Cuomo is not like Trump and I do not think it was correct to “cancel” him. Cuomo has a different nature from people like Trump. Politico said, “he acknowledged that his behavior and mannerisms might be perceived differently due to ‘generational or cultural perspectives.’” Cuomo is an older generation Italian and it is perfectly plausible that much of the alleged harassment was simply due to differences in “generational or cultural perspectives.” Additionally, Cuomo denied the clear accusation of groping altogether. There very well could have been wrongdoing on Cuomo’s part, but to turn the power of cancel culture on someone like him, is something I do not think was correct as of right now. Cancelling someone should be reserved for people like Trump and people who have demonstrated a willingness to abuse their power.
Another example that comes to mind is Roger Ailes, the former CEO of Fox News. To quote Gabriel Sherman a writer for New York magazine, “I interviewed 18 women who shared accounts of Ailes’ offering them job opportunities if they would agree to perform sexual favors for him.” Roger Ailes is someone who committed many horrible acts and revealed a clear willingness to abuse his power as CEO when he offered job opportunities in exchange for sexual favors.
There are many people who deserve to be “canceled,” but as of now I do not believe Cuomo deserved to be one of them. It is important to recognize that even though it is possible that in a court of law Cuomo would have been found innocent of any wrongdoing, nevertheless he personally chose to resign. I think that speaks to his sense of duty to the people. Cuomo recognized that staying in office would cause a prolonged fight and would have led to a waste of time and resources in his office. Cancel culture is an extremely powerful tool that has the ability to knock people who would abuse their power out of the public sphere, but with great power comes great responsibility, and in this case I think the people abused their power.