Little-known Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino recently upset high-profile NYC-area shoe-in Rick Lazio in the primary election for New York's Republican gubernatorial candidacy. It sounds like it could be a charming tale of the underdog persevering to come out on top, but this is no fairytale. It is the troublesome outcome of a political climate ablaze with stinging polarity.
Paladino, a fiery hero of the Tea Party movement, holds strongly conservative views on the Park 51 project, abortion, fiscal policy and in other areas. His website reveals a controversial plan to temporarily house welfare recipients in converted prisons, where they will be required to work in park or military service in order to continue receiving the funding on which they depend.
Furthermore, Paladino has sent or forwarded numerous e-mails containing highly offensive content, some with racist and sexist overtones. Even in an era where it seems every other politician is hiding a closet full of skeletons, the implications of Paladino's views both on and off the record are disconcerting to say the least.
By no means is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo a godsend; his father served as governor from 1983 - 1994 and he is already entrenched in the state government as the state's attorney general. Albany may not benefit from the status quo that Cuomo may well represent, but neither does it need an extremist candidate just because he may be an "outsider."
It is imperative, then, that the good people of New York consider Paladino, Cuomo and other gubernatorial candidates with reference to their viewpoints, their quality of character and their plans for confronting the serious financial challenges that New York faces. Elections should serve not as a referendum on the past but as a decision for the future.
If your vote is cast in momentary frustration, over four years of incompetence and not after levelheaded thought about how to make positive change and solutions, you are doing a disservice to yourself; don't be surprised when you're just as frustrated four years from now.