I've heard some soul-searching in recent days about whether to vote on the Working Families Party (WFP) line this year. I have none. I will proudly be voting the WFP line for statewide offices, and I hope you'll join me. I wanted to explain why.
Let's be honest: politics can be messy business. We're not always thrilled with the choices. Sometimes, the compromises feel unsettling. That has certainly been true for me in this electoral cycle (in New York and far beyond).
But I believe it's important to keep our eyes on the prize: What helps us to best advance the goals we share for a more just, equal, and sustainable New York, in a concrete and meaningful way?
For me, with this question in mind, there's no doubt the WFP has delivered in the past (think paid sick days, the last minimum wage increase, green homes/green jobs, and more). And I am confident WFP will deliver in the future. A New York State with a strong Working Families Party is the best chance we have to move progressive goals forward. (If you agree, you can pledge to vote WFP here.)
It is not easy to build a political force that combines the institutional strength of labor unions, community-based organizations, and the energy of grassroots activists. It is not easy to pull the Democratic Party toward its better self, and away from corporate interests.
But that's what the WFP has done over the past 10 years.
Let me say it this way: without the WFP, I don't know whether I would have run in the first place. I don't think I would have won. We could not have built the Progressive Caucus in the New York City Council. And we would not have been able to build the strength needed for the progressive change taking place at City Hall.
In just the first ten months, we've been able to significantly reform the Council's rules, cover New Yorkers with paid sick days, expand NYC's living wage policy, strengthen NYC's campaign finance system with better disclosure of independent expenditures, and expand participatory budgeting. And much more is on the way. That is real, hard-fought change.
Do I understand the appetite of some people to vote on the Green Party line, or to write someone in, or just to stay home? Of course. Did a protest vote have value in the primary? Sure. Am I certain that Governor Cuomo will deliver on the commitments he made at the WFP convention? Of course not.
But I know this: Those are the right goals. To raise the minimum wage (and let NYC adopt a local minimum wage that reflects the higher cost of living). To pass the NYS DREAM Act. To pass the Women's Equality Act. To enact real campaign finance reform.
The WFP has helped make them the core issues of this election cycle. And the WFP is strongest and most effective political force moving them forward.
The stakes are high. The WFP only keeps its ballot line -- its most important tool in the push for progressive public policy -- with 50,000 votes on its line.
So I'm asking you to join me in doing something that has long-term value, beyond this election cycle, as part of strengthening the progressive institutions that we need for change.
If you disagree with me, let me know. Political strategy for advancing our goals for a more just, equal, and sustainable New York is a great topic for conversation. And I believe we can do it without rancor or recrimination, but with honest dialogue. But I'll want to hear how you think we can better unite progressive labor, community groups, and activists in a coalition to make real change.
For me, the answer is clear: I hope you'll join me in voting on the WFP line for statewide offices on November 4th (and pledge to do so now).
P.S. One important note: In the Assembly race in my district, the 52nd AD, it's important to vote on the Democratic line for JoAnne Simon, who won the Democratic primary. (For technical reasons, Pete Sikora remains on the WFP line, even though he has dropped out of the race and endorsed JoAnne).
So even if you vote WFP for the statewide office (and I hope you will), switch back to the Democratic line to vote for JoAnne Simon.