Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who died Thursday in Manhattan, was not only one of the most well-known Democrats in the country, he was also one of the most quotable. I thought a fitting tribute to this great man would be to take a look at some of his most inspirational and enlightening quotes from over the years.
1. “We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship, to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we’ll do it not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that bring people to their senses.”
2. “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.”
3. “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.”
4. “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.”
5. “I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands work fifteen and sixteen hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example.”
6. “In the end, I’m convinced we will all benefit if suspicion is replaced by discussion, innuendo by dialogue; if the emphasis in our debate turns from a search for talismanic criteria and neat but simplistic answers to an honest — more intelligent — attempt at describing the role religion has in our public affairs, and the limits placed on that role.”
7. “We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another’s pain, sharing one another’s blessings — reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.”
8. “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.”
9. “Decide exactly what you want to achieve. Do you want to help people, or do you want to be powerful?”
10. “There are only two rules for being successful; one, figure out exactly what you want to do, and two, do it.”
Looking at these quotes, I cannot help but be amazed by the simple logic and beautiful truth that guided Mario Cuomo each and every day. All of us can learn from the words and example of this amazing man who had so much to teach us as Americans and human beings. May he Rest in Peace.