Bob Lonsberry

Bob Lonsberry

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LONSBERRY: Cuomo's Depopulation War On Upstate NY

Since the start of the decade, a million people have moved out of New York.

For Andrew Cuomo, that’s not a problem, that’s a victory.

It has solidified his party’s hold on power, and it has reshaped the state and its culture in a fashion more congenial to his interests and agenda.

The subject comes up because of new Census Bureau numbers which show, yet again, that more people decide to move out of New York than any other state in the nation. Those move outs are so numerous that they outstrip population growth and leave the state with fewer total people.

From the summer of 2017 to the summer of 2018, New York had a net loss in population of more than 48,000. Illinois, another Democrat state, was the second-most abandoned state, with 45,000 net reduction in population. Of the seven other states which had a net loss of population – all but one of them Democrat states – the total number of people moving out of them all combined was just under 34,000.

That means that, if you set aside Illinois, New York lost more residents than all the other losing states combined. If you don’t set aside Illinois, more than 40 percent of all the net population loss in America took place in New York.

Under Andrew Cuomo.

And that’s a win for him.

Because almost all of New York’s net population loss took place upstate, where values and party enrollment are in conflict with the governor and his progressive agenda.

Forty-two of New York’s 50 upstate counties have had a net loss of population in the last year. All of them were counties that voted against Andrew Cuomo in the recent gubernatorial election.

And those upstate counties have been losing population, prosperity and pull for years on end.

Even in the years when birthrate and high immigration rates put New York as a net-positive state, most upstate counties were net loss. In recent years, that loss has grown to such an extent that it out tallies the growth from birth and immigration.

There is a decade-long depopulation of upstate New York underway, and it is hard to conclude that that is anything other than a policy objective of Andrew Cuomo. In this dramatically bifurcated state, Cuomo’s efforts to make New York – in his words – “the progressive capital of the nation” require a weakening and suppression of conservative, rural and Republican upstate.

So he declared war.

He allowed the state’s suffocating taxes, regulations and land-control rules to work like a spreading cancer against the financial interests of rural upstate counties. He harassed upstate culture with measures like Common Core and the Safe Act, and delayed and ultimately destroyed the potential for prosperity offered by fracking.

Further, his upstate economic-development measures have been gambling, which flopped; yogurt, which flopped and has put the state’s dairy industry in critical condition; and microbreweries,which are subsidized and about to be marginalized by legalized marijuana.

His help has invariably hurt.

And that’s not an accident.

That’s a plan. That’s a war.

Andrew Cuomo is and has been at war with that part of New York which disagrees with him and didn’t politically support either him or his father.

It’s a personal grudge for him that pays off for his party. As the Democrats celebrate their now-complete control on all parts of New York government, they should realize that they owe that to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the million New Yorkers who fled were Republicans. The growth of Democrat power in formerly conservative areas is significantly a factor of Republicans – or their children – moving away.

The depopulation of upstate solidifies Democrat control of New York and its seats in the federal Congress. It also advances the disdain urban progressives feel for the rural culture and people who predominate over the vast geographic stretches of upstate.

New York Democrats have shown for decades their attitude toward the interests and governance of their upstate neighbors by the oppressive policies imposed on the Adirondacks. The Andrew Cuomo era is merely a step in the process of putting all of upstate in that same colonial basket.

The intolerance of this governor for people who are different from him has hardened into policy. When he said “there is no room in this state” for people he called “extreme conservatives” – people who differed with him on abortion and gun control – he wasn’t using a figure of speech. He was expressing a policy priority of his administration. 

And these Census Bureau numbers prove it.

In the governor’s mansion, news that New York has shrunk yet again is neither a surprise nor a disappointment.

It is a success.

The proof of a plan coming together.

What upstaters have to decide is are they going to continue to let themselves be chased away, or are they going to stand and fight.

(Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)

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