"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, but people who believe in the rights of the partially born and the United States Constitution had better stay the hell out!"
Perhaps this is how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would like to edit Emma Lazarus’s famous Statue of Liberty poem. I have always considered myself a proud New Yorker. However, given Governor Cuomo’s recent comment about “extremists” like myself, it appears that he wishes I didn’t.
In a recent public radio interview, Gov. Cuomo said "extreme conservatives" have "no place in the state of New York." His idea of "extremists" included people who are "right-to-life, pro-assault weapon, anti-gay." His comments have gone viral, angered conservatives everywhere and ignited quite a serious debate.
What makes me an extremist according to Governor Cuomo? I believe in the United States Constitution and that it affords me the right to keep and bear arms to protect my family. Further, although I struggle with what role the government should have in regulating abortion, I do not believe that the state should allow most late term or partial birth abortions. Pennsylvania's Dr. Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder last year for delivering three babies and then cutting their spinal cords with scissors. According to Governor Cuomo’s worldview, Dr. Gosnell was only sixty seconds away from being an esteemed New Yorker instead of a convicted murderer.
And I am the extremist?
My objections with Governor Cuomo’s idiotic statements are that he didn’t go far enough. He was actually showing restraint. His list of people who have no place in New York goes far beyond the extremists that he listed. New York may be ranked 47th for job growth in 2014, but it led the nation in population loss of American citizens from 2012 to 2013. It can’t be just identified extremists like me who are leaving. There must be other “enemies of the state” fleeing before being labeled as pariahs by Governor Cuomo.
As I pondered who these people might be, I wondered whatever happened to Tom Golisano.
For the dozen or so people who swam against the tide and moved to New York within the past four years, Tom Golisano is the owner of Paychex. He is number 296 on Forbes 400 and is worth about $1.9 billion. He moved to Naples, Florida in 2009 to get away from New York’s high taxes. Rather than invest the money he saved on taxes on expanding his business pursuits, he instead spent approximately $5 million per year on charities. In 2012, he donated $20 million to a Children’s Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida. It seems to me we have a Children’s Hospital in Buffalo that could use a bit of help. However, I do not begrudge Golisano for moving to a new state with a more respectful tax structure and being a giving and active part of that community.
Despite his new residence, Golisano continues to donate considerable sums to New York not-for-profits. I commend his dedication to the state that turned its back on him. However, Golisano, like me, has no place in New York.
Is he an extremist like me? I don’t know, you would have to ask him. However, he is equally an enemy of the state.
You may recall that he ran for Governor of New York in 1994 and received 4% of the vote. That year, George Pataki beat Andrew’s father 49 percent to 45 percent. Would Mario have won if Golisano was not in the race? My Magic 8-Ball says "All signs point to yes." And that is precisely the point when self-made businessman and philanthropist Tom Golisano became unwelcome in New York State.
Governor Cuomo has a right to his opinions, as stupid as they may be. I may disagree with him. I may (and do) think he should not lead our State. However, I would never ask him to leave because he disagrees with me.
New York cannot grow by stifling thought, by hampering innovation and by marginalizing diverse ideas. New York should not have to pay the consequences of a thin-skinned Governor who uses public office to dictate thought and settle family feuds. We deserve better and should demand better. Hopefully there are enough other fellow extremists out there who agree.
Comments? Please email me at email@example.com. I am also known to occasionally babble on Twitter @PRLivingston.