Before I betray my feelings about a particular portion of Mario Cuomo’s keynote to the 1984 Democratic convention, please read it. This passage in particular sticks with me.

It’s an old story. It’s as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans — The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. “The strong” — “The strong,” they tell us, “will inherit the land.”

We Democrats believe in something else. We Democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees — wagon train after wagon train — to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans — all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America.

Cuomo characterizes Democrats with courage and confidence and, by comparison, he characterizes the Republicans as non-inclusionary jerkwads.

The Democrats will lift their fellow neighbor into the wagon of progress, be he black or white, hard-working or lazy. The Republicans expect you to climb in on your own recognizance. The Democrats want to improve the nation by helping individuals to lead better lives, while the Republicans want the improve the nation by letting individuals try. Each side accuses the other of being cynical, and each side praises itself for having faith in America. But the editorial we digresses.

Cuomo praises his party for being inclusionary, but, after a certain point, how much value really exists in being inclusionary? Universities, community colleges and technical schools are already inclusionary, and, once we work out the kinks in the system, every American will be on a level playing field in all the ways that matter.

If, after that level playing field, I find that my steak is rare and I wanted it to be cooked medium, I don’t care whether it was cooked by a white guy or a lesbian Asian-Pacific Islander. It wasn’t cooked correctly, and he-and-or-she had his chance.

In practical matters, and after school is done with, diversity cannot be the end-all and be-all. Yet, even today, Democrats echo that same, tired calling card of pluralism, and they echo it to exclusion.

It’s rather short-sighted for party that claims to have such vision.


  1. Keep in mind that any argument on this subject, although appreciated, is essentially moot. The two political parties aren’t meaningfully different, they aren’t united, they are consistently inconsistent with their professed ideology and having an ideology to begin with is just another way for that party to retain control.

    If they were, they were, they weren’t and it wasn’t, the national debate between progress in diversity versus progress in skill might be relevant, rather than just interesting. Too bad, too. I have all this spiel.

  2. TJS

    Ahhh,…Mario Cuomo. I was 10 years old when he gave this keynote speech. I vaguely remember watching this speech. Yes, a 10 year old actually followed politics. I’ve always been an old soul. An immature old soul, but an old one. All I really remember from the early-mid 1980’s Cuomomania is adults getting a big hard on for Gov. Cuomo. He was suppose to be president. The Dude never even ran. However, he gave birth to Howard Dean who gave birth to Barack Obama.
    What’s the point of my reply? There is none. Just babbling out loud.

  3. I’m not sure Dean fits in with that lineage.




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