Thirty-six years ago, then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo took center stage at the 1984 Democratic National Convention and delivered perhaps the most forceful of all plainly partisan speeches in American history. With all the attention that his son, the current Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has received during the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s easy to forget that the elder Cuomo once held the public’s attention even tighter.
As both parties gather for their conventions and seek the right tone in rebuilding our economy, they’d be smart to watch that speech again. They’d be reminded of how central work is to the ultimate American ambition and how unifying it is as a political message.
In the last five years, many barrels of ink have been spilled on the right and left about forgotten workers in forgotten places. That’s why you need not sympathize with the substance of Cuomo’s speech to appreciate that his message of two Americas captured our current cultural flashpoint 30 years ahead of time.