Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo Has Died. Here’s the Speech That Made Him a National Figure.
But the moment that made him a national figure was his keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, one of the most forcefully and unapologetically liberal speeches that any major Democratic politician has given since the 1960s. Responding to President Reagan’s reference to America as a “shining city on a hill,” Cuomo declared, “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.’”
Democrats, he said, “believe in a government strong enough to use words like ‘love’ and ‘compassion’ and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.” The party speaks, he claimed, for those who “work for a living because they have to, not because some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval between birth and eternity.” Cuomo attacked the Reagan administration on everything from social issues to welfare policy to foreign affairs: “We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and then we lie about it.”