Mario Cuomo: ‘Speech about fairness’ (2)

Mario Cuomo :: Mario CuomoMaybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds, and to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel while we surrender their dignity to unemployment and to welfare checks, maybe if you stepped into a shelter in Chicago and talked with some of the homeless there: maybe Mr President, if you asked a woman who’d been denied the help she needs to feed her children because you say we need the money to give a tax break to a millionaire or to build a missile we can’t even afford to use – maybe then you’d understand. Maybe, Mr President.

But I’m afraid not. Because, the truth is, this is how we were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from the beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism, survival of the fittest. ‘Government can’t do everything,’ we were told, ‘so it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer and what falls from their table will be enough for the middle class and those trying to make it into the middle class.’ The Republicans called it trickle-down when Hoover tried it. Now they call it supply side. It is the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded – locked out – all they can do is to stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers.

It’s an old story. As old as our history. The difference between Democrats and the Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. 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. The strong will inherit the land! We Democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact. We have. More than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees, wagon train after wagon train.


a small building, often made of wood, used especially for storing things :

a tool shed
a cattle shed
we found two old bill hooks in the shed and proceeded to become cavalry.
trestles have been set up in the shed, sheets of plywood laid over them.
they might have been garages and they might have been sheds.
jimmy was sitting in the shed sharpening a scythe.

steel worker noun
someone who works in a factory where steel is made

subsidize verb
if a government or organization subsidizes a company, activity etc, it pays part of its costs :

Farming is  heavily subsidized  (= subsidized a lot )  by the government.
heavily subsidized agricultural exports
many companies subsidize meals for their workers.
many day care facilities are subsidized by the city.
the city council subsidizes the local orchestra.

steel noun
strong metal that can be shaped easily, consisting of iron and  carbon :

a steel bridge
stainless steel (= steel that does not change colour )  knives
the concrete is reinforced with steel.
according to Gardner, she has the steel to succeed.
Plate steel is used in the construction and machinery markets.
the best type of lock to use is one made from a loop of solid steel.
two other bodies are still in the ship, lodged in twisted steel.

ambition noun
a strong desire to achieve something

an ambition to do something
She had always had an ambition to be a pilot.
sb’s ambitions of doing something
An injury ended his ambitions of becoming a professional footballer.
“Your problem,” said Arthur, “is that you have no ambition.”
what can you do with a kid who has no ambition?
my teachers always told me that I lacked ambition, and would never get anywhere.
Kasich is thought to have grand political ambitions.
her ambition was to go to law school and become an attorney.
getting to the top hadn’t been easy, in spite of his burning ambition and will to succeed.
Eric wasn’t particularly intelligent but he had plenty of ambition.

glimmer noun
a small sign of something such as hope or understanding

glimmer of
a  glimmer of hope  for the future
there is a glimmer of a smile.
the latticework of branches reveals glimmers of a fading sky.

inherit verb
to receive money, property etc from someone after they have died

inherit something from somebody
He inherited a fortune from his grandmother.
inherited wealth
she inherited the money from her mother.
the ten richest woman in the UK all inherited their wealth.
who will inherit the house when he dies?