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Mario Cuomo, once called "Hamlet on the Hudson" when Democrats wanted him to run for President, while as Governor of New York, he appeared to be brooding. He was actually just focused on the job he had been elected to do. Still, how different things might have been.

Remembering Mario Cuomo

In the midst of the Reagan rhetoric about America as "a shining city on a hill," Mario Cuomo reminded us of the truth, that America was much more "A tale of two cities."

In that same speech, Mario Cuomo said plenty that is resonant and relevant to us today.

Hugh Schmidt notes that at 6 minutes, 15 seconds in, we get this:

"Democrats need to unite so that the entire nation can unite. Because surely the Republicans won't bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble, treating that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division 'recovery'."

Take the time to watch all of it. It's at least as true and applicable today as it was when he delivered it.

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Here's what former US Secretary of Labor, now UC Professor Robert Reich said today about Mario Cuomo:

"Mario Cuomo was one of the kindest and most dedicated politicians I even knew, right up there with Teddy Kennedy and Paul Wellstone in my pantheon of the greats. Cuomo lived his values, and those values were almost always in the direction of social justice. I’ll never understand why he decided against running for president. He could have been elected – no one could give a speech as well – and he would have made a terrific leader for the nation. May he rest in peace."

Read the New York Times obit (the source of our photo).

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Take a little more than seven minutes and watch Mario Cuomo's full speech. It remains a compass for progressives, even after three decades.

Larry Wines