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Quotes of the day: Mario Cuomo

Published Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 6:11 AM EST
Jan 03 2015

Mario Matthew Cuomo (June 15, 1932 – January 1, 2015) was an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. He served as the 52nd Governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994, Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1979 to 1982; and Secretary of State of New York from 1975 to 1978. Cuomo was known for his liberal views and public speeches, particularly his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention where he criticized Ronald Reagan's policies. The speech brought him to national attention, and he was widely considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for President in both 1988 and 1992, but he declined to seek the nomination in both instances. His legacy as a reluctant standard-bearer for the Democrats in presidential elections led to him being dubbed "Hamlet on the Hudson." (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


All around us we have seen success in the world's terms become ultimate and desperate failure.

Decide exactly what you want to achieve. Do you want to help people, or do you want to be powerful?

Entertainers and sports figures achieve fame and wealth but find the world empty and dull without the solace and stimulation of drugs.

Every time I've done something that doesn't feel right, it's ended up not being right.

How simple it seems now. We thought the Sermon on the Mount was a nice allegory and nothing more. What we didn't understand until we got to be a little older was that it was the whole answer, the whole truth. That the way- the only way- to succeed and to be happy is to learn those rules so basic that a shepherd's son could teach them to an ignorant flock without notes or formulae.

I have no plans, and no plans to plan.

I protect my right to be a Catholic by preserving your right to believe as a Jew, a Protestant, or non-believer, or as anything else you choose.

I said I didn't want to run for president. I didn't ask you to believe me.

I talk and talk and talk, and I haven't taught people in 50 years what my father taught by example in one week.

I think it's already apparent that a good part of this Nation understands- if only instinctively- that anything which seems to suggest that God favors a political party or the establishment of a state church, is wrong and dangerous.

If you can manipulate news, a judge can manipulate the law. A smart lawyer can keep a killer out of jail, a smart accountant can keep a thief from paying taxes, a smart reporter could ruin your reputation- unfairly.

In this life, you should read everything you can read. Taste everything you can taste. Meet everyone you can meet. Travel everywhere you can travel. Learn everything you can learn. Experience everything you can experience.

Most of us have achieved levels of affluence and comfort unthought of two generations ago. We've never had it so good, most of us. Nor have we ever complained so bitterly about our problems.

Our public morality, then- the moral standards we maintain for everyone, not just the ones we insist on in our private lives- depends on a consensus view of right and wrong.

People expect Byzantine, Machiavellian logic from politicians. But the truth is simple. Trial lawyers learn a good rule: 'Don't decide what you don't have to decide.' That's not evasion, it's wisdom.

The American people need no course in philosophy or political science or church history to know that God should not be made into a celestial party chairman.

The closed circle of materialism is clear to us now- aspirations become wants, wants become needs, and self-gratification becomes a bottomless pit.

The Republicans believe the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of our old, some of our young, and some of our weak are left behind by the side of the trail. We Democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact.

The secret to contentment is reducing your needs and aspirations.

The values derived from religious belief will not- and should not- be accepted as part of the public morality unless they are shared by the pluralistic community at large, by consensus.

The vice presidency is a neglected positive. It is like the word 'inept.' Nobody ever says 'ept.'

There are few things more amusing in the world of politics than watching moderate Republicans charging to the right in pursuit of greater glory.

There are only two rules for being successful; one, figure out exactly what you want to do, and two, do it.

Unless people like you give us a new generation, willing to take on the challenge of self-government, willing to accept its responsibilities, to reform it, to change it, to make it fairer and more responsive- unless you do, the very rich will get richer, the poor will become fired in their desperation, violence will increase and here, as in so many places around the world, the purpose of government will be reduced basically to a matter of maintaining order instead of improving conditions.

Way down deep the American people are afraid of an entangling relationship between formal religions- or whole bodies of religious belief- and government. Apart from constitutional law and religious doctrine, there is a sense that tells us it's wrong to presume to speak for God or to claim God's sanction of our particular legislation and His rejection of all other positions. Most of us are offended when we see religion being trivialized by its appearance in political throw-away pamphlets. permalink

We believe in a government strong enough to use words like 'love' and 'compassion' and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.

We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.

We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need.

We know that the price of seeking to force our beliefs on others is that they might some day force theirs on us. This freedom is the fundamental strength of our unique experiment in government. In the complex interplay of forces and considerations that go into the making of our laws and policies, its preservation must be a pervasive and dominant concern.

We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship, to the reality, the hard substance of things

You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.

Categories: Mario Cuomo, Quotes of the day


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