The 2017 election is in the rearview mirror and fading fast. The next session of the State Legislature looms in January.
It’s not too soon to have great expectations. The forces that animated the political campaign were impressive, so why not? And we anticipate that they will continue to work hard in the new year to make New York better.
Specifically, the many foes of the constitutional convention should continue to lobby on behalf of principles they expressed during their vigorous opposition. That includes the labor unions, the environmentalists, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the state Conservative Party and every other group that said it supported various needed reforms but also argued that a process to make those reforms already exists — namely, passage by the State Legislature of amendments to the state constitution.
We must try legislation
Almost all state legislators also opposed a constitutional convention on similar grounds. With the con-con spectacularly rejected by voters in a rout of 83 percent to 17 percent, there is clearly a big demand for legislative action. It’s the only way left. So let’s get to work.
To all the groups that campaigned so strenuously under the brilliant banner of New Yorkers Against Corruption, don’t let your passion dissipate. Keep putting your actions and your money where your voices just were, and start actively campaigning for reform. Lobby your state legislators as vigorously as you lobbied the public to vote no. We expect to see millions of dollars spent on this effort, too.
We want to see lawn signs and bumper stickers and social media campaigns against the corruption that’s endemic in New York, and in favor of modern voting procedures, simplification of the process for candidates to get on the ballot, ethics reforms, independent redistricting and streamlining our maze of a judicial system to make it more effective and less costly. And to those opponents who specifically said it would be simpler to just amend the constitution via the legislative process, let’s get started on those amendments and enshrine the fundamental rights of all New Yorkers to clean air, clean water and protection from gender and sexual discrimination.
Channel your passion toward change
To state lawmakers who claimed it was their responsibility, not that of the citizens, to modernize our government and make it more just, you now know you have a mandate. Seize the power you rightly noted that you have. Surely, you will want to do what you have said is within your power to do. Pass reforms. Even ones against your self-interest, like term limits. To Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who was concerned about elected officials taking over the convention process, propose a law that would bar them from being involved, and put to rest this silly argument when it comes up again in two decades.
To every engaged person who worked so hard spreading the disinformation that pensions would be stolen in the con-con effort, we expect you to be just as relentless. And we expect it to result in real change.
Otherwise, your opposition to the constitutional convention was just hypocrisy. And we know it wasn’t that.