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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Says America Was Never Great. That's Concerning But Not For the Reason You Think

We should be skeptical of all politicians who want to make America great, whether "again," or for the first time

JMF/WENN/NewscomJMF/WENN/NewscomAnyone who was milling around the counter-protesters at Sunday's "Unite the Right 2" rally in Washington, D.C., might have overheard the incessant chants from a small group of Revolutionary Communist Party members, one of which concluded with the line "five, six, seven, eight, America was never great."

It's the kind of commentary one would expect from Marxist demonstrators. It's more surprising to hear it come from the mouth of a sitting governor up for re-election, and who might well be mulling a 2020 run for president.

"We're not going to make America great again," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday at a bill signing ceremony. "It was never that great. We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged."

The line drew a mix of gasps and claps from the audience, some of whom clearly appreciated Cuomo's #resistance bravado. Others were likely a little offended at the governor ragging on the entire country.

The comment has naturally torn through conservative media as well, earning write-ups at Foxnews.com, The Federalist, and The Free Beacon, as well as a number of sarcastic jabs on Twitter from people who suggested the governor use the line for his own, much-speculated-about 2020 presidential run.

Cuomo has since tried to walk back his comment with a statement saying that while America is in fact great, it could also be a lot better.

I think few people would disagree that a lot of things in America are not quite reaching their "maximum potential," and it's surely no sin to criticize the bizarrely nationalistic and backward-looking slogan of our current president, especially when it is invoked to justify pointless trade wars and immigration restrictions.

Nevertheless, Cuomo's statement does deserve a little bit of piling on, if only because I see in it the same dangerous, illiberal idea that undergirds all of Trump's #MAGA shouting. Both statements are predicated on the idea that it is the role of politicians to make America the right amount of great. For Trump, that means reclaiming an idealized past that never actually existed for white people and was actually a lot worse for most non-white Americans. For Cuomo, making American great means something seemingly more anodyne, but also way less specific. (Really, what is engagement? What is "full equality"?)

The latter might sound a bit better were it not for the fact that Cuomo—in full campaign mode as he fights off primary challenger Cynthia Nixon—can't help but tie making America great again to his own political fortunes. Reelecting Cuomo gets you the greatness. No Cuomo, no greatness.

Whether they want to make American great again or the first time, every politician who believes your and my success depends on theirs generally wants to prove it to us by doing something upon assuming office. Often times, they want to do many somethings. Cuomo, while hardly as left-wing as those chanting RCP members, has never shied away from using the government to shape New York in his image, whether that involves banning plastic bags, giving out tax credits for every activity under the sun, preserving net neutrality, cracking down on fraternity initiation rituals, or doing "something" about gun violence.

These are small potatoes compared to Trump's MAGA-inspired trade wars, but American politics are trending towards upping the intervention ante. Both parties are pushing for increasingly more government, not less. We should all be worried about any politician who says they'll make things great. Chances are they won't.

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  • Juice||

    What the hell does "fully engaged" mean?

    Now witness the firepower of this fully engaged battlestation.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I assumed it never that every man, women, and cold should be rushed l engaged to be married. Is that not it?

  • TangoDelta||

    Given the t'ick Neu Yawk(?) axe-scent and that it was Cuomo I assume he was mispronouncing "fully enslaved". Either way, that is exactly what he meant.

  • FreeRadical||

    You caused me to have a big chortle.

  • FreeRadical||

    I think he means "fully engorged".

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Anyone who was milling around the counter-protesters at Sunday's "Unite the Right 2" rally in Washington, D.C

    By 'anyone' you're referring to the thousands of journalists that arrived on scene to see what 18 unfuckable white guys were going to do?

  • Yellow Tony||

    unfuckable
    Unfuckable on average? Sure. But I'd totally pound their white poop-soup assholes with my proud PANSEXUAL cock!

  • Fancylad||

    I've attended neighborhood HOA meetings about Dutch Elm Disease* that had three times the attendees.
    It's creepy and disturbing how much your national media oversold the event. It's like they're desperate to prove Trump was right about them.

    *I had to as a city rep.

  • Yellow Tony||

    What does it mean for a country to be great?
    Its culture?
    Its economy?
    Its government?
    Is that relative to other countries?
    And to echo Juice, what the fuck does "fully engaged" even fucking mean? Engaged in electing Cuomo to office?
    I'm so pissed off that I have to live in a dimension where this bullshit still happens (in America.) I want to go home!

  • IceTrey||

    It achieves maximum individual negative liberty.

  • Entelechy||

    National greatness proceeds from surplus of goodness, which is whay we should worry about Trump's bad hat.

    https://tinyurl.com/yc9kgffk

  • The Last American Hero||

    If you want citizens to be fully engaged, make them pay their income tax, in person, monthly, at a government office. You will see a level of political activism unheard of since the Revolutionary War.

  • perlchpr||

    While I do like this idea, I think I'm going to stick with my plan to eliminate withholding, so everyone has to actually write out a check for the full amount of their taxes, and move tax day to October 15, so it's right before election day.

  • Eddy||

    America has been great to the extent that Americans achieved greatness on their own terms, not on the terms set by asshole would-be "leaders."

  • sarcasmic||

    As Hayek observed "of human action, but not of human design."

    People on the left hate that with a passion. People need to be controlled. To be guided. They need to ask permission and obey orders. Because they just aren't able to be trusted to their own devices.

    These very same leftists are always willing to hand more power to people in government because they can be trusted with the power to use force.

    People who seek voluntary cooperation can't be trusted, while those who seek to enforce their will through the use of violence can.

    Um.... yeah. Sure.

  • mtrueman||

    "People need to be controlled. To be guided. "

    You still have a thing or two to learn about leftists and what they believe. People can be left to themselves. It's herds that need to be controlled and guided.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|8.15.18 @ 9:26PM|#
    "People need to be controlled. To be guided. "

    "You still have a thing or two to learn about leftists and what they believe. People can be left to themselves. It's herds that need to be controlled and guided."

    Cite missing, asshole.
    See below; Stalin made clear humans are to be herded. It is only your abysmal ignorance which allows you to post such hogwash.

  • BYODB||

    So, if the herd needs to be controlled but the people can be left to themselves, one might ask what individual units the herd is comprised of.

    But, that said, mtrueman is a non-sequitur generator so the answer is probably 'purple'.

  • sarcasmic||

    Really, what is engagement?

    I think it means community organizing. You know, getting the rabble all riled up and demanding more stuff from government. Politicians love that shit because it amounts to handing them power on a silver platter.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    #Resisting is essentially a pep-rally for more government. Strange.

  • wreckinball||

    Just "resisting" someone is a petty personal cause. What are you resisting? And please no virtue signals and general platitudes like "racism" or something. What political initiatives are you "resisting" ?

  • IceTrey||

    Making a country great is simple, just prohibit the government from initiating force.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I would hazard most Reason writers would agree with Cuomo. After all, what is a nation anyways? Just some land circumscribed by a bunch of lines. Some amorphous idea to our haughty faux intellectuals. They are too cultured for such uncouth thoughts to enter their brains.

    I have traveled a good deal and I will say America is great because it is my home, that simple. If someone wants to think their country is greater, good for them, but it will never be greater for me because it is not my home.

  • esteve7||

    If your home is shit, then it is shit. How many people F-up a place, then move and don't change their value system. How many Californians (I'm one of them), move to Texas and keep their lefty politics, even though they are fleeing the 'paradise' that their politics created

  • ||

    It's a little more than than just being 'your home' to be a great nation.

    America is a great nation. Among the greatest in world history.

    Howard Zinn really did a job on the psyche of Americans who can't appreciate their exceptional nation.

  • JoeBlow123||

    There are a lot of great things past Americans have done, I just do not want to pretend I did those great actions. My generation has to simply try to expand on what great people like Nimitz or a Chesty Puller or Truman or Lincoln or Ford or even Bill Gates have done and keep our great little democratic experiment moving forward.

  • wreckinball||

    Wonder what people in Haiti think?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    OMG, I cannot believe conservatives are seizing and pouncing yet again on perfectly reasonable comments by a Democrat. Didn't anybody here graduate from college? If you did, you would have learned that the US was founded by rapist slave owners and built on the genocide of Native Americans. If that wasn't bad enough, this country also prohibited women from voting for much of its history, enshrined white supremacy into law (Jim Crow), and even to this day forcibly removes undocumented immigrants — a policy Shikha Dalmia has observed is similar to enforcing fugitive slave laws. No "great" country does that, I'm afraid.

    Since he's a privileged straight white cis-male and that bores me, Cuomo still admittedly lies outside my top tier of 2020 presidential hopefuls consisting of Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Elizabeth Warren. However if he keeps speaking truth to power like this, I could see him closing that gap slightly. Maybe he'd make a good VP pick.

    #LibertariansForCuomo

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    Dear Lord, you sound like my old roommate in college in the 80s. America is great because it contained communism by killing a couple of hundred thousand people in Vietnam and, similarly, contained radical Islam by killing a couple hundred thousand in Iraq. Jesus, man, be proud of your heritage.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Just because I have hair on my face and a huge Adam's apple, doesn't give you the right to call me "man." I'm non-binary. Please don't misgender me.

    And I don't know what college was like in the 1980s because I wasn't even born yet. But I can assure you people who attended more recently think the same way I do on most issues.

  • perlchpr||

    This exchange is beautiful. :D

  • sarcasmic||

    sock fight!

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Yaaaasssss

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    I used the term "man" in the vernacular— not to designate sex. You sound like a transgendered whiny wuss Millenial who thinks they know it all. Hear me now... what we need more in the age of President Trump is more White male chauvinists like me and less entitled prick Millenials like you. Jesus, man [venacularly speaking], grow up!

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    I'll grow your up!

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    And just to be clear, Millenial. Maybe when you grow up you'll find out that what real men like me want is for bigger and stronger men to police the neighborhood for scary women and 5 year olds who don't have the right documents. After all, they might hurt cute little gender confused bears like you.

  • SusanM||

    Can we just stop with the non-binary crap, please? Words is words so let's concentrate on substance, m'kay?

  • JoeBlow123||

    OBL comes swinging. You are the best at this, no one comes close. I am just glad I can witness this greatness.

  • Nardz||

    It's a shame.
    If only OBL's

  • Nardz||

    Damn it

    It's a shame.
    If only OBL's opponent understood satire, we might get some quality sparring.
    Unfortunately, all it's capable of is rephrasing its own opinions.
    OBL parodies progressivism.
    His opponent parodies... (Progressivism) itself.
    It's like watching a boxing match where one fighter hits himself instead of the other guy.

  • JoeBlow123||

    OBL comes swinging. You are the best at this, no one comes close. I am just glad I can witness this greatness.

  • perlchpr||

    I think you may have finally hit your stride, sir.

  • esteve7||

    The American people didn't want Jim Crow. Get it through your thick skull that Jim Crow did not *enable* discrimination, it *mandated* it. If discrimination was so popular, why would you need a law requiring people do it.

  • wreckinball||

    Geez please re-enter 2018

  • Juice||

    Georgia police fully engage 87 year old woman who was cutting dandelions with an assault knife

    "An 87-year-old woman with a knife still has the ability to hurt an officer," Chatsworth Police Chief Josh Etheridge told the Daily Citizen-News of Dalton.

    "There was no anger, there was no malice in this," Etheridge said. "In my opinion, it was the lowest use of force we could have used to simply stop that threat at the time."

    No anger, but plenty of amusement, no doubt.

  • SIV||

    stop that threat at the time

    The threat of an 87 y/o 5' tall Syrian great-grandmother gathering edible wild plants

  • lap83||

    I got my FIL a hori hori knife for Christmas. They are incredibly sharp and could definitely be considered a dangerous weapon, but can you find a more innocuous person than an elderly gardener? Sometimes profiling is a helpful thing but apparently police can't even do that correctly.

  • esteve7||

    He did not misspeak, this is just the mast slipping. Trump has caused my lefty friends to go so insane they arn't even hiding their radicalism anymore. In the bay area, I know several people who do think America was never great, who think less white people the better, who think Socialism is the best system.

    I literally had one of them, after saying that Socialist ideologies have killed tens of millions of people, say 'well Capitalism has killed people too.' I've had lefty people literally say that the only reason we got into WWII was to assert our dominance over the world, since like the little good Marxist they are, can only see things in terms of power relations.

    Leftism is an evil ideology, and I'm glad they are again exposing themselves for who they really are. It's like how leftists of the 20s, 302, and 40s, were so much more honest; they didn't bother to lie like the leftists after them. They openly said abortion was to keep black people from having black babies, that the minimum wage should be higher for blacks to reduce black unemployment. The New York Times was cheering Stalin as millions starved to death. This is who these people are.

    No, he did not mispeak in the slightest

  • Nardz||

    +1

    "I've had lefty people literally say that the only reason we got into WWII was to assert our dominance over the world, "

    This is a funny line because it displays so much ignorance - they'd be correct if they said WWI rather than WWII... but that would require a minimal level of knowledge.

  • Mickey Rat||

    There is also how Lil' Duce undermined republican forms of government by creating his own pet legislative body to impose a higher minimum wage in NY when the actual legislature would not vote the way he wanted. He and his family are a pox on NYS.

  • perlchpr||

    What is "full equality"?

    Diana Moon Glampers for NYC Mayor!

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    what kind of a name is "Cuomo" anyway? Sounds weird.

  • Rich||

    It used to be "Combover" but he had it Anglicized.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    Cuomo is wrong. What makes America great is the fact that it prophelactically gets rid of a million or so people every generation who might demand that an oil well or two get nationalized. Good for business. Good for you, I say.

  • JoeBlow123||

    You are really terrible at this.

  • LeaveTrumpAloneLiberal-tarian||

    Terrible at what?

  • ||

    Just how puerile are the progressive left? They define their patriotism through their hatred of a President. Which basically means they don't believe in the experiment known as the United States. I know what Cuomo said later on about his family's history and the fact America accorded them a great life but the messaging was all over the damn place. First he said American could be greater but not before he said it was never great. And he explained that it could only be great once full equality was reached and people being fully 'engaged'. More vacuous than that as a message to galvanize a people and a nation you can't get. Basically, he said America has to chase shadows and unicorns. So America, in essence, can never be great since you can't achieve those things. After, he talked about it was great because of his family's experience.

    The Democrats are in full existential meltdown.

    You have progressives who think plastic straw bans are more of a serious issue than illegal immigration (because people can't be illegal). You have a party that tolerates the state crushing Christian bakers if they don't bake some transgender or gay person a cake despite what SCOTUS recently rules (but Roe v. Wade - that people MUST adhere to). Now swap Christian with Muslim and I guarantee you Democrats/progressives come to the defence of the Muslim who refuses to bake a cake for them.

    Principals over principles. Simple as that.

  • ||

    The other part of his speech that grated was the whole immigration success stories I've heard all my life. Yes, they're awesome but put in the context of #resist it comes off as cynical and stale. Who in the hell wants to end this aspect of American life? Trump wanting to fricken bring illegal immigration under control is NOT the same as being anti-immigrant.

    There's a sense of apathy setting in within certain Americans on this issue. If you don't preserve the sanctity of your own laws, a nation can't function for long after that since, well, what's the point?

    Just look at Rome in the late empire and how immigration from the Germanic tribes eventually simply overwhelmed a tired and apathetic empire. Soon after it fell.

  • ||

    I should and want to add one more thing about the mixed bizarre messaging from the left.

    Here in Canada, that idiot running this country, in defending his policy of repatriating ISIS fighters, said they faced the same discrimination as the Italian community over 100 years ago.

    Not the same. At all.

    He compared a barbaric murderous group to a peaceful immigrant community.

    I suppose the same mindset is what leads people on the left to incomprehensibly defend MS-13 from Trump's criticism of that violent gang.

  • Longtobefree||

    This makes as much sense as Cuomo - - - -

  • Colossal Douchebag||

    Christ, what an asshole.

  • WhatAboutBob||

    What did Christ do to be an asshole?

  • Sevo||

    "What did Christ do to be an asshole?"
    Since there never was such a being, it really doesn't matter,

  • ||

    Poo flinging like this is the reason people hate the openly atheist. Just flush your shit like everyone else...

  • BYODB||

    You can say you don't believe that Jesus guy was Christ, that's what most atheists would say. Few actually doubt that Jesus the man existed though.

  • Eddy||

    What Burke said of "the state" I would say of the country instead (a slight difference):

    A man "...should approach to the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude. By this wise prejudice we are taught to look with horror on those children of their country who are prompt rashly to hack that aged parent in pieces and put him into the kettle of magicians, in hopes that by their poisonous weeds and wild incantations they may regenerate the paternal constitution and renovate their father's life."

    Burke was, of course, referring to the legend of the Greek witch Medea (not the Tyler Perry character), who tricked some kids into chopping up their aged, sick father in hopes of magically restoring him to life and restoring his youth.

    Cuomo and people like him are like the gullible kids in the legend, who "love" their country to the extend of wanting to kill it and put it in the magic pot to make it (the country) truly great - and only then will the country be worthy of their patriotism!

  • Sam Haysom||

    That's a wonderful quote. It's also interesting how leftist don't ever apply their "I criticize what I love" approach to things they actually love.

  • Eddy||

  • DajjaI||

    The country is flirting with socialism and Cuomo rightly senses the enthusiasm behind the movement, even if he failed miserably to catch the wave. However I think this is just the country's rebound fling after the Trump Dump® and it will be over by the fall elections. The candidates will tilt centrist and America will grudgingly return to them. Great opportunity for libertarians to hammer socialism and reiterate the basics of freedom and capitalism.

  • Sevo||

    "We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged."
    -------------------
    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!"
    "freedom from want!"

    Do NY lefties ever make honest comments? They all sound like turd and Tony.
    BTW, haven't seen Tony in a several days. If it makes me a bad person, tough. I hope he has had real problems; dishonest lefties deserve nothing better.

  • Sevo||

    mtrueman|8.15.18 @ 9:26PM|#
    "You still have a thing or two to learn about leftists and what they believe. People can be left to themselves. It's herds that need to be controlled and guided."
    This is the fucking ignoramus who assured us (absent cites, since Parade Magazine isn't available on line) that Stalin really didn't murder that many people.
    As it happens, I'm reading Conquest's "The Great Terror, A Reassessment", and while I didn't note the quote directly aimed at truman's claim: "It's herds that need to be controlled and guided.", Stalin agreed, and made sure the population of the USSR were treated as herds. Check the pages prior to 20, dumbass, assuming you can read.

  • Sevo||

    And then we have the fucking idiot's claim that (absent cites, since Parade Magazine isn't available on line) Stalin really didn't murder that many people. REALLY! It wasn't his fault! REALLY!
    We find, (pgs 19, 20)
    "The peasants remaining in the villages were now subjected to demands for amounts of grain which they were unable to produce. In 1932 and 1933, the Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and the Lower Volga suffered a terrible famine. There was enough grain, but it was taken away to the last kilogram. As recent Soviet accounts put it, "This famine was organized by Stalin quite consciously and according to plan
    [...]
    The death toll among the peasantry over the whole period 1930 t0 1933 is given in recent Soviet literature as around 10 million".
    You slimy piece of shit, that is three years of Stalin's murderous reign, supported by Soviet records. Are you thrilled to be among the Holocaust deniers?
    Fuck off.

  • WhatAboutBob||

    "For Trump, that means reclaiming an idealized past that never actually existed for white people and was actually a lot worse for most non-white Americans. "

    You say that like it's a bad thing!

  • Sevo||

    Sorry, but that is a bad thing.

  • wreckinball||

    What? Dumb ass injection of race into something that is non racial. 4% growth equals low unemployment and lowest black unemployment ever, so yea that's racist or something

  • Nardz||

    Make America Great Again is the best campaign slogan of my lifetime.
    It's wonderful branding.

    1) it's an exhortation to the audience to take action into their own hands
    2) it calls to mind of the listener what their own conception of American greatness is

    The interpretation of MAGA doesn't reveal anything about Trump - it reveals everything about the person who's telling you what it means.

  • Eddy||

    If a progressive can't think of at least a few times when America was great - 1869? 1945? 1965? - then (s)he's never going to admit that any actual existing version of America, on this plane of reality, is great.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Plus its fun to say.

    Lefties getting upset about MAGA, just illustrates how awesome Trump is at manipulating the Lefties and the media.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why hasnt Cuomo been arrested yet for that Eagle feather violation?

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    About 98% of what comes out of the mouth of leftards is a lie, but when they say "America is not and never was great", it's one of those very rare moments when they're being 100% honest.

    Block Yomomma feels this way, Sfaccim junior feels this way, and by the way many of the Professional Fake Libertarians who have hijacked Reason over the last decade feel this way too.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Well of course, when using very subjective words like "great", Cuomo is both right and wrong at the same time. In some respects, America has been "great" (its free speech doctrine, for instance). In other respects, America has not been "great" (its historical treatment of women and minorities, for instance). I think we can all individual list at least 10 ways in which America truly sucks. It's not wrong or unpatriotic to criticize America when she is doing something wrong. What the real difference here is that the way in which Cuomo thinks America is not great - because not every citizen is tuned in 100% to the political discourse - is very debatable from a libertarian point of view. If someone just doesn't care about politics at all, then that person has every right not to, and it isn't any sign of "greatness" or lack thereof either way if that happens.

  • wreckinball||

    My daily comedy/Onion read is Reason. I mean the dumb-fuckery is 11 on a scale of 1-10.

    So we should beware of politicians who want to make America "Great"? WTF are we electing them to do! Geez I guess no one reads this crap before its published.

    A libertarian perspective would be they follow the very limited boundaries of the constitution which gives all of us the opportunity to make America great.

    And it is relatively great.

    Reason always falls all over itself with th e"both sides" stuff when its not true,. When it is true like Charlottesville violence they defy reality and say only one side is at fault.

    Faux libertarian website.

  • wreckinball||

    My daily comedy/Onion read is Reason. I mean the dumb-fuckery is 11 on a scale of 1-10.

    So we should beware of politicians who want to make America "Great"? WTF are we electing them to do! Geez I guess no one reads this crap before its published.

    A libertarian perspective would be they follow the very limited boundaries of the constitution which gives all of us the opportunity to make America great.

    And it is relatively great.

    Reason always falls all over itself with th e"both sides" stuff when its not true,. When it is true like Charlottesville violence they defy reality and say only one side is at fault.

    Faux libertarian website.

  • wreckinball||

    My daily comedy/Onion read is Reason. I mean the dumb-fuckery is 11 on a scale of 1-10.

    So we should beware of politicians who want to make America "Great"? WTF are we electing them to do! Geez I guess no one reads this crap before its published.

    A libertarian perspective would be they follow the very limited boundaries of the constitution which gives all of us the opportunity to make America great.

    And it is relatively great.

    Reason always falls all over itself with th e"both sides" stuff when its not true,. When it is true like Charlottesville violence they defy reality and say only one side is at fault.

    Faux libertarian website.

  • Dillinger||

    gots the right to disengage too, Cuomo - there's the greatness.

  • Duelles||

    "Fully engaged," ? Like #8 in the Commie Manifesto? Everyone has a job. It's called forced labor for the State. Hooray for Andy he got to the left of Bernie/Warren!

  • vek||

    Since humans are fucked, and our societies are all fucked... All societies must be judged on a sliding scale for their grade. If any sane person does this, America surely comes out #1 in all of human history. This is not to say we haven't had our problems... But all the problems we had were the same ones most other societies had, and we eliminated a crap ton of problems the other had. Hence Murika #1!

    Anyone who doesn't get this is a moron, and probably knows nothing about history.

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