Monday, January 5, 2015

Remembering Mario Cuomo, Liberal Beacon Who Challenged Reaganism

Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York who recently passed away at 82, was a liberal beacon who was right on so many issues. He spoke against the weakening of the separation of church and state, the arms race and the death penalty. Cuomo reaffirmed liberalism when he said, "We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need." In his Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention, 1984, Cuomo challenged the rhetoric and ethos of Ronald Reagan, stating, "Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a 'Tale of Two Cities' than it is just a 'Shining City on a Hill.'" Watch Cuomo's speech, which remains a source of inspiration:

CUOMO: Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a “Tale of Two Cities” than it is just a “Shining City on a Hill.”

Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places; maybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds; maybe if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe—Maybe, Mr. President, if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn’t afford to use.

Maybe—Maybe, Mr. President. But I’m afraid not. Because the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is how we were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from the very beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. “Government can’t do everything,” we were told, so it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer, and what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.

You know, the Republicans called it “trickle-down” when Hoover tried it. Now they call it “supply side.” But it’s the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers.

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