The late former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo’s most famous speech was his keynote address at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. It became famous for its criticism of the severe disparity between the rich and poor living in different parts of the U.S., with Cuomo mocking then President Ronald Reagan’s reference to America as a “shining city on a hill.”
“In this part of the city there are more poor than ever. More families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it,” 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.”
Cuomo’s speech on equality was known for its attack on Reagan’s laissez-faire economic policies as much as it was for its defense of the poor.
“Maybe Mr. President if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn’t afford to use,” he said to roaring applause.
Cuomo believed no one should be left behind in his “family of America,” saying that “at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another. That the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems. That the future of the child in Buffalo is our future.”