Cuomo: Democrats are in fight for soul of America this presidential election

New York Democratic Party
Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Cuomo: Democrats are in fight for soul of America this presidential election

Cuomo: Democrats are in fight for soul of America this presidential election
July 28, 2016

Proclaiming that the upcoming presidential election is a battle for the soul of the country, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a stadium packed with Democratic delegates that Hillary Clinton understands what he and his father learned firsthand in their home state of New York the value of empowering all Americans.

Cuomo began by pointing to the keynote address of Gov. Mario Cuomo at the 1984 Democratic National Convention as another time where the two major party nominees reflected two clashing ideologies. Just as  the elder Cuomo contended that President Ronald Reagan's vision of a shining city on a hill overlooked the poor people, immigrants and other Americans who struggled their way to success, Cuomo said Democrats today were fighting for an America that values citizens of all backgrounds. Republicans, he argued, were exploiting anxieties by encouraging Americans to fear those who practice a different religion, speak another language or have a different complexion.

“The 1984 election was important because it was more about two opposing philosophies, more than two people. Even more profoundly, at stake this November, is not which person or party wins or loses at stake in this election, my friends, is the very soul of America,” Cuomo said. “Fear is a powerful weapon. It can excite and motivate, and it can get people to yell and scream. Fear can even bring you into power. But fear has never created a job, and fear has never educated a child, and fear has never built a home, and fear has never built a community, and fear will never build a nation.”

Cuomo said that Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, grasped the country’s motto, “Out of many, one,” printed in Latin on U.S. currency as “e pluribus unum,” saying, “That is our goal for this nation, and Hillary Clinton is the person to make that goal a reality.”

The New York governor highlighted Clinton’s adopted home state as evidence that diversity works, and that Democrats, particularly progressive Democrats, are not just dreamers. Citing the recent passage of a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, a ban on hydrofracking and gun control legislation, Cuomo said New York was emblematic of the product of other left-leaning politicians.

“FDR lifted a nation from its knees, JFK launched our mission to the moon, LBJ enacted voting rights for all Americans, President Obama delivered health coverage for 20 million uninsured Americans. And Mario Cuomo was a dreamer, too,” he said. “Our progressive government is working in New York.”

Seated directly in front of the stage, the New York delegation responded enthusiastically to Cuomo’s address. Several elected officials, including New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Public Advocate Letitia James, rose and gave standing ovations during the speech. It was unclear where Mayor Bill de Blasio may have been sitting, given that he was not visible in the first few rows and nobody asked seemed to know his whereabouts.

The mayor also left a New York delegation breakfast, where he had been scheduled to speak, before he was able to address the gathering on Thursday morning. After attendees heard the governor talk and saw Rep. Charles Rangel and state Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins receive awards, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the state party chairman, announced that de Blasio had to leave to get to another event (he was scheduled to participate in a forum on inequality). It was unclear exactly what miscommunications or slights may have been at play when it came to the breakfast program. De Blasio and Cuomo have feuded over several issues, including mayoral control of New York City’s public schools and homeless services in the boroughs.

During the morning event, Cuomo boasted that his prime-time speaking spot after 7 p.m. on Thursday was an honor for New York. Meanwhile, de Blasio, who declined to endorse Clinton for months while attempting to position himself as a national progressive figure, spoke around 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, when swaths of the Wells Fargo Center arena were empty.

Sarina Trangle