OPINION: Nixon giving up salary misses point of Socialism

Alex Thornhill

Last week, the two Democratic candidates in the New York gubernatorial election, challenger Cynthia Nixon and incumbent Andrew Cuomo, held their first debate. During the debate, Nixon was asked, since she describes herself as a democratic socialist, if she would give up the governor’s salary if she were elected.

“Sure,” she responed

The response to this has been mixed, with some praising it as a progressive, caring decision while others say this idea goes against the socialist ideology that workers deserve their pay.

It’s understandable why some see this as a good policy. An elected official doing their job without any kind of financial reward sounds like a

good practice. After all, positions like governor are public offices.

If we do not allow public officials to get paid, then only the well-off would be able to run and hold public office — and that’s a dangerous precedent to set. How are officials supposed to be working for the public, when they themselves are unable to afford the necessities of life?

If we look at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist who recently unseated a powerful democrat in New York, we see a former bartender who grew up in a lower income household.

Ocasio, unlike Nixon and Cuomo, does not come from wealth. Without any salary, Ocasio would have to work both as a member of Congress and whatever job she was holding before getting elected. The amount of work required to be a member of Congress is stressful enough, can you imagine having to remember someone’s drink order?

As a member of the Undergraduate

Student Government, I am given a leadership scholarship to hold this position. Without this scholarship, I would be unable to hold this position.

Coming from a lower income household, I need to work all the time in order to survive over the semester. Without that scholarship, I would not be able to serve the students of Kent State.

By forgoing salaries, public officials are closing the door on anyone from the largest portion of the population from running for office. Instead, it would allow for wealthy, corporate backed individuals to run for office and in their interests.

Nixon is a celebrity with a net worth of $60 million. She will be able to survive without the salary. Ocasio, on the other hand, cannot.

For the individuals to say that, as a democratic socialist, she should forgo it because of that do not understand the key principle of socialism: Pay your workers.

Alex Thornhill is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].