Kathy C. Hochul is now officially the Governor of New York.
When the former Congresswoman from Buffalo was sworn in on Tuesday, she was making history as the first woman to ever hold the State’s highest office.
And indeed, her governorship is a historic moment that deserves to be celebrated. New York has been home to a passionate feminist movement since even before the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, yet somehow the State has never had a woman governor.
Yet Hochul’s term begins as that of her predecessor — Andrew Cuomo — ends in absolute disgrace. So while it is worth celebrating her achievement and the achievement of the State as a whole, the beginning of this new governorship is a time for New Yorkers to reflect on how we got here.
To put it lightly, Cuomo went down in flames. But even before his astronomical fall from grace, there were plenty of red flags. Cuomo was a classic, egotistical, old-school type of New York politician. That was clear since day one.
However, the former Governor’s capable response to the COVID-19 pandemic — at least compared to the absolutely abysmal leadership of governors from other, mostly republican, states — quickly earned the otherwise lackluster politician a new degree of national celebrity.
His daily press conferences about microbes and masks took the television slot of daytime soap operas, and became a strangely comforting cottage industry during the pandemic’s early days. Appearances on national TV shows soon followed. Then a book deal.
And just like that, Andrew Cuomo was becoming a hero to people. What a terrible mistake.
No matter how much we agree with a politician’s policy’s or beliefs, we should never put them on a pedestal so high that we can’t hold them accountable for their actions. The fanfare surrounding Cuomo’s leadership during the pandemic was too much for a public servant, but as is too often the case, service is the last thing we think about when we discuss politicians. Look no further than No. 45 himself, a former reality TV star turned twice impeached president who used the nation’s highest office to fuel his ego and do little else…that is an opinion piece (or two, or three) for another time though.
So as Kathy Hochul enters office, we as voters must not forget the role politicians are supposed to play in our society. Elected officials should be serving us, their constituents, rather than using our attention to serve their own egos.
Now is a time to celebrate. New York has a woman governor, which is a historic moment too long in the making. However, we must not repeat our own history of deifying the politicians who are supposed to serve our needs.