Andrew Cuomo: ‘We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great’

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If we survive the Trump autocracy, I’m sure there will be several books devoted simply to analyzing the dog-whistle motto of “Make America Great Again.” The implication was, at the time, that America was no longer great and that an ignorant white-supremacist jingoist was needed to steer the SS Murica back to greatness, back to her former glory, back to the days when black folks could be lynched and brown folks weren’t even allowed in the country. The “MAGA” motto was always hate-speech to me, because it was so vividly about the Obama presidency and the reaction among millions of white people that Obama had made America “less great.” What was weird is that the Republican Party’s bread and butter was never gloom and doom about America – their brand was always militant patriotism, and no one could ever say one word about how America was and is imperfect, or still a work in progress.

Well, I guess things are shifting back? Or something. Trump’s re-election motto is KAG, Keep America Great. So obviously, America is back to being great now that a white supremacist is in charge. Which caused New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo to say this at an event yesterday: “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”

Just… no. This is not the way to react to Trump and Trumpism. It’s bad messaging and of course the Deplorables are having a field day:

I mean, when you put it that way, Cuomo’s statement wasn’t any more or less offensive than what Trump says and tweets on a daily basis. But that’s not where we should be, with both sides agreeing that America was and is a sh-thole and there’s no point to any of this. America is worth fighting for, however imperfect. God, does that make me sound like an optimist? Yikes.

Cynthia Nixon chimed in too:

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88 Responses to “Andrew Cuomo: ‘We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great’”

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  1. Tiffany says:

    Yeah, no lie stated by Cuomo. It’s been said time and time again, by black and brown people and ignored.

  2. Peanutbuttr says:

    My prediction. There will be a huge signal malfunction that causes big subway delays on the day of or before the election.

  3. Darla says:

    I get his point, I do. But “america was never that great” is not a winning campaign message. If we get an R governor under Trump I will have to leave and move to across the sound to Connecticut. This was incredibly stupid of him say. I’m quite angry with him.

    • Kitten says:

      It was a dumbass thing to say, particularly by a white man in that forum, with that audience, and during this time (i.e. pre-midterm elections).

      Sometimes Dems are their own worst enemy I swear…

    • Jane says:

      It’s sad that Americans are so focused on idealizing the past instead of focusing on the future.

    • INeedANap says:

      Nixon’s reply was dead-on. She didn’t get all jingoistic on him, she just pointed out that he’s out of touch which is in line with the rest of her comments about him.

      I was skeptical about her candidacy, but after following her platform and public statements I kinda wish I was in NY so I could vote for her.

      • Kitten says:

        Yeah I appreciated the way she handled her reply. I follow her on Twitter and I like her very much.

        That being said, she doesn’t stand a chance. My BF always gets pissed at me when I say that, but it’s true. The people I know in NY want someone who has experience and credentials. It’s understandable considering what a powerful job that is.

        I do like her though–more so that Cuomo, if I’m being honest.

        NY Celebitches–please weigh in. Curious about your thoughts.

      • Louisa says:

        I’m voting Cuomo. He’s very strong and has a record of acting on issues that are important to me. Abortion rights, equality, gun control. Honestly I feel secure having him as my governor. Like he has my back. I don’t mind Cynthia Nixon but I feel she’d be better off running for mayor to start as she seems to know and understand NYC well but not so much the rest of the state.
        I swore last year I would always vote for a (Dem) woman over a white man going forward but I really feel strongly about Cuomo.

      • JeanGrey says:

        Sorry. I don’t want another celeb with no political experience running my state. I like Cynthia the person and actress well enough, but not for Governor. I’m team Cuomo, especially with the way he handled Hurricane Maria and how in touch he was with Puerto Rican community during that time and still is.

      • Kitten says:

        Thanks for replying, NYC C/Bers. Interesting stuff. I like Nixon but I do think she’s a wild card. I also understand that now isn’t exactly a comfortable time to roll the dice or to bet on an unknown.

      • Laure says:

        I don’t want Nixon as the gov of my state. She has extremely limited experience in politics and what she does have is NYC based. There’s a LOT more to this state than the city and she has absolutely no handle whatsoever on what we need in western, northern, central NY, which is vastly different from the city issues. Historically we have been forgotten in favor of the city but at least with Cuomo he has people who work for him who remind him about us. Do I like him? No. Do I think he’s neglecting the true issues of NYS in favor of this pre-emptive presidential campaign he’s running? Yes. But Nixon has given no indication she’s even aware that there’s a state outside of the city she’s centered in and to vote for her will do us no favors.

      • j says:

        I was impressed by her reply, it was spot on. I didn’t give her much credit at first as another celebrity going into politics, but I think I’m going to pay a bit closer attention to her.

      • Mac says:

        I like Cynthia’s politics, but governors have a real impact on people’s lives, especially poor people, and they need to be qualified.

      • Darla says:

        I considered Nixon, but I need to know for certain we have someone very qualified and strong to fight trump in NY. At another time I may have taken a chance on her, but now is not that time.

      • sa says:

        I’m conflicted. I generally like Cynthia Nixon more than Cuomo, and I don’t think she’s at all comparable to what we have in the White House. She has a background of being politically active, I do think she would work hard, put the people first, listen to her advisers, and try to do right by NY. Having said that, being politically active is not the same as having any government experience. But then I think that Arnold Schwarzenegger was at least successful enough as Governor of California to get reelected…which all leaves me being not sure.

        In terms of Trump comparisons, I find a comparison to Cuomo to be a little more apt, in that he seems to hold petty grudges and retaliate against his “enemies.”

        But, I’ll probably vote for Cuomo. In the end, I do value experience and know-how.

        * while I don’t love our current Governor Cuomo, I found Mario Cuomo inspiring in every way and I’m really bummed that I never got to vote for him.

    • I am still angry with him due to his (large) hand in the 2008 housing crisis…Cuomo will never, no how no way get my vote.

  4. Becks1 says:

    I understand his point and think he’s right, but that line is going to haunt him and he needs to find a better way to make that point.

    America wasn’t that great for a lot of people (and still isn’t.) but admitting that is going to turn off a lot of voters, even anti-Trump people.

    • Darla says:

      No it was never that great for many, many people. But he was speaking before a very friendly audience and they all gasped and there was a big stir. We cannot risk an R governor at this time, so yes, he needed to find a better way to say it, but it’s out there now and there’s no taking it back.

    • Esmom says:

      Yeah, that line will haunt him, unlike Trump who can spew garbage 24/7 for years and not miss a beat. My blood is boiling. I really wish he’d chosen his words more carefully.

    • BELLE EPOCH says:

      So far no one has mentioned what happened when Michelle Obama said something like “for the first time I’m proud of America.” All hell broke loose and it appeared she would never be allowed to speak in public again. Everybody knew what she meant, but just hinting that Amurca wasn’t perfect was a body blow to the Obama campaign. Look what came along next!!!

  5. OriginalLala says:

    The US was never “great” unless you were a white man – it was created by subjugating Indigenous peoples and then literally built by slavery. There is no greatness in oppression….

    Similar things can and have been said about my country (Canada). It’s not un-patriotic to accept the dark parts of your history, it’s a necessary step to work towards a fairer and more just society.

    • Jane says:

      Even in Canada we have idiots like Ford and Bernier with the same mind set

    • Veronica S. says:

      Honestly, it wasn’t even that great for all white men, either. Just the wealthier landholders. The Irish were treated just as badly as Mexicans when they first came over. The problem is that the elites are very effective at turning the working classes against each other and letting us tear each other apart with racism, sexism, and classist propaganda.

    • Lynn says:

      I disagree and find America great for those other than the white man. My great grandpa immigrated here in the early 1800s with nothing. He came because the oldest brother automatically got the family money and he had no hope. It wasn’t easy, but he became a policeman (govt job) and did well. He married an American woman and they had 8 kids. My grandpa was the oldest, and here I am. America has been wonderful for immigrants like my great grandpa. He was a proud patriot.

  6. Laur says:

    No lies detected. Greatest country on earth is one of the most ridiculous phrases I’ve ever heard.

    • weathergirl says:

      100% ther is no such a country…

    • Nic919 says:

      Many Americans say that without irony and for a country that doesn’t have universal health care or mandatory extended maternity leave it sounds idiotic.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      That sentence infuriates me. It’s just so appallingly arrogant that it turns me off of whatever that person is saying.

      My mom was visiting Philadelphia recently and did the Constitutional Museum tour and she was disgusted by how ill-informed and jingoistic it was. Basically, the guide said, America invented freedom and democracy, and nowhere else is as free and perfect.

      She was appalled, especially because field trips of children take this tour, and get indoctrinated with this nonsense. Which kills me because American history IS genuinely fascinating and the creation of the country WAS a revolutionary thing at the time. But instead it’s just “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

  7. ks says:

    Where’s the lie?

    I used to be patriotic until I realized that the America I experienced was not the America everyone experienced.

    I’m so sick of Donald Trump I could cry.

  8. Sunnee says:

    F*{< that bullshit about messenger/message. He’s telling the truth. I’m grateful for the honesty. It never was, and it isn’t now. I’D like Cynthia Nixon or the orange fool to name a time when it was great. (During Obama’s administration. Doesn’t count.)I hate when people who have never set foot outside the country act like it’s the best thing ever. Mmm, nope. You can only ever improve, if you admit your shortcomings.

    • BaronSamedi says:

      Yeah, I wish I didn’t understand why this statement is problematic for. I mean even in this thread people are outright admitting he’s not wrong but at the same stating without irony that this is bad for him.

      And it’s like, why are Americans so willing to keep going along with this asinine idea that any form of criticism of US is wrong? And HOW is this NOT the exactly right, realistic message to counteract Trump?

      How is the rationally thinking part of the US not interested in finally getting off the completely irrelevant question of how great America is when there are so many obvious problems to solve. It honestly shouldn’t even be a discussion. And bursting Trumps bubble and bringing the debate back down to earth seems like the exactly right approach to me.

      • Darla says:

        Well, it’s like when Obama said people who are bitter cling to their guns and religion. And when Hillary called half of them a basket full of deplorables. Now, Obama was correct, and Hillary was being generous when she said “half”. But did those comments help them? No.

        It’s idiotic to think for one moment that America “is the greatest country” since all you have to do is look at measurements for health care, happiness, etc, and we are not even close. But we need people to be elected or else we will have all trump mini-mes, and who’s that going to help?

  9. Beth says:

    He’s right, and I understand what he means, but it probably wasn’t the best thing to say during midterm campaigns
    He sure does look like and sound like his brother!

  10. weathergirl says:

    But ist is simply true, and by the way the us-american nation is, was and never will be the greatest (i don’t mean by number) nation, saying so is pure nationalism, that’s not quite good considering the actual political climate in the us…..

    And Cynthia Nixon, oh my….go away…

  11. Veronica S. says:

    He’s right, but that’s not what people what to hear. Americans have been raised on jingoism long enough to forget that making a nation better means personal engagement and a capability for critical self-examination.

  12. Floydee Mercer says:

    Superb commentary by Kaiser. She boils it down so succinctly. (I especially enjoyed Celebitchy overall today. )

  13. adastraperaspera says:

    Terrible speech writing. And if it was off-the-cuff, that’s just as bad. There are better ways to express that our nation has made grave mistakes, yet must aspire to form a better union.

    “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
    ~Winston Churchill, 1947 speech in House of Commons

    • Kitten says:

      Yes exactly this. People who are applauding him aren’t seeing the forest for the trees. It’s like people forget the importance of political messaging during such a crucial time. You have to toe the line between hard truths and idealism.

  14. Cay says:

    Been listening to a series on NPR about women’s health. Did you know American women are 3 times more likely to die from childbirth complications than in Britain or Canada? Three times more likely. Grasp that staggering statistic. Yet another example of how we aren’t the greatest country in the world. (He was inarticulate in his message, but so is our current POTUS.)

    • Veronica S. says:

      We actually have one of the worst (if not the worst) maternal mortality rates in the industrialized world. Hell, China’s was lower than ours last I checked, and it has three times the population and isn’t fully developed.

      And nearly all of it can be linked back to a lack of accessible healthcare to the poor and working classes, as well as post-partum complications from lack of maternity leave and other social support mechanisms. For minorities, it’s a double dose of systemic racism – black women, in particular, are far less likely to receive the care and consideration they need from OBGYN providers.

  15. SJhere says:

    I remember when Fritz Mondale was running for POTUS w/Geraldine Ferraro as VP candidate and in a speech he said something along the lines of “The Republicans will tell you they will not raise taxes. I WILL raise taxes because serious items need funding, like SSI, etc. I WILL Raise taxes.” My beloved Father looked at me and said … “Well, that’s gonna cost him the Election, nobody wants the truth, ya know.”

    And sure enough, it did.

    The Dems need to get their messages across in a better way!
    This country is going to hell under Trump and Cuomo is correct that America has never been a level playing field but, we can not have a re-election of Trump.

    I have zero idea how anyone ever voted for that fool Trump in the first place.
    IMO, the Dems should be working 24/7/365 to find a well spoken, intelligent, Candidate to take 2020. For once, put aside in fighting and get it done.

  16. Valiantly Varnished says:

    He wasn’t wrong. And anyone who doesn’t understand that needs to brush up on their history. And not the white-washed version taught in American schools. No one is saying America CAN’T be great. But our history isnt. The very foundation of this nation is built on genocide and slavery. Until we deal with that honestly and acknowledge it we won’t ever be great.

    • B n A fan says:

      Totally agree with you. He’s saying America is good and can be great when everyone has the same opportunity. I’m not going into it, people need to read up on their history. Some people believe when we had slavery ect, arerica was great and we should go back there. Don’t understand all the hate on Andrew Cuomo, for speaking the truth although he could have framed it better.

  17. KNy says:

    That was dumb of him to say. He holds tremendous power as Governor of NY. He was the son of a previous Governor of New York. America has been good to him. It has not been good to huge sections of people – for so many, America was never great. It’s not a statement for him to say, it’s a statement for him to support when said by someone else.

    I think Cuomo should use his white privilege to check trump’s: in what way has America harmed trump? America has bailed him out, bankruptcy after bankruptcy. America has given citizenship to *two* of his wives (and not to mention Melania’s parents *cough cough* chain migration *cough cough*). America has done NOTHING but bolster trump through his failures. America has done him no wrong. His whole case for making America “great” again is making America “white” again. Taking the air out of his argument shines the light on what he really means.

    • B n A fan says:

      You have to read the history of the Italian who came to America, they were treated very badly, just like the Irish but because of their skin color they moved up. He was trying to say America is not great until everyone has the same opportunity. His words just came out wrong, he’s human.

      • KNy says:

        Excuse me, I know my history. And I know what the republicans will do with this statement. He just gave them ammunition.

      • B n A fan says:

        @KNy, sorry, I did not mean to sound snarky. We worry what they will do with Andrew’s misstep, but they don’t care when the dotard call a black woman a “dog” 🐕 or men kneeling to bring attention to police brutality “son of a bitch”.

      • KNy says:

        It’s okay – I totally appreciate you are trying to see the bright side of his statement. And it’s not like his statement wasn’t factual. He was correct. America – for all its good points – has NEVER been great for all of its citizens. It was built on Native genocide and slavery. But the republicans have a knack for taking one thing and twisting it and spinning it and running with it. They managed to take Hillary’s e-mails and make that their main message – despite the fact that, after the inauguration, basically everyone in the administration (Jared, Mike Pence, etc.) was found to be using their own private e-mail accounts. We have to be smart. We have to pummel them about things like calling Omarosa a dog or targeting peaceful protesters like football players while giving them NOTHING to use against us. It was such a clumsy statement that we will hear now for ages.

    • Kitten says:

      “It’s not a statement for him to say, it’s a statement for him to support when said by someone else.”

      THIS!

      • Daz says:

        Completely disagree. Tell me who should say it? If say one of the poc politicans like Kamala Harris or Cory booker says something like this they will be attacked even worse and accused of race baiting. Fact is poc politicians on that level have to run on a cumbaya message. Only a white male like cuomo can get away with this.

  18. Enn says:

    POC have been saying this for a long time. He’s not wrong.

  19. Enormous Coat says:

    Andrew Cuomo is just trying to rack up progressive points. He’s a tyrant and a would be despot who only speaks to issues of race and gender, he doesn’t actually do the work. He’s only trying to position himself for 2020.

    Admittedly, I have a bias against this man as I live in NYS and witness the harm his policies have done – his economic development initiatives have largely benefitted middle-class and upper middle-class white communities. And his housing policies are resulting in gentrification and displacement in low-income communities. Just say no to Truomo.

    • B n A fan says:

      All that aside, even if he’s “trying to rack up points” he’s not wrong. America will not be great until everyone have the same opportunities. We are good but must work to be great. We will never be great when a white president in the year 2018 called a black woman a “dog”. Young men who kneel during the National Anthem to draw awareness to police brutality, “son of a Bitch”, I can go on but if you don’t understand what’s happening you are not paying attention.

      Btw, I liv be in New York and I agree with Andres, not the dotard who said he “does not want black man counting his money”or had to pay a fine for racial discrimination for housing discrimination violations or fine because of workplace discrimination at his casinos.

  20. Renee says:

    I don’t live in NY so my opinion on their politics is irrelevant, but I follow Cynthia Nixon on Twitter & really like what she has to say. She would have my vote. She’s pointed out Cuomo’s weaknesses & cozy relationship with big corporations too.

    • B n A fan says:

      All that aside, even if he’s trying to rack up points he’s not wrong. America will not be great until everyone have the same opportunities. We are good but must work to be great. We will never be great when a white president in the year 2018 called a black woman a “dog”. Young men who kneel during the National Anthem to draw awareness to police brutality, “son of a Bitch”, I can go on but if you don’t understand what’s happening you are not paying attention.

  21. Starryfish29 says:

    This is probably the most honest thing he’s ever said. Makes sense that it was unintentional.

  22. Darla says:

    You know one of the things I love about it here? It’s like two different places. I love the political threads (don’t get me wrong, I definitely comment on some of the celeb threads), and sometimes I peak into the brange threads, and I’m like, gah, I’m scared. Two different groups of people are here. It’s very interesting.

  23. Reef says:

    Cynthia Nixon has been running my favorite campaign since Obama 2008. She has her foot on Andrew Cuomo’s neck. She’s forcing him to go uncomfortably (for him) left and in doing so he’s making these missteps. I’m here for it.

    • Daz says:

      She’s ok, but let’s not compare her to obama who was an exceptional political talent and speaker and highly educated. She’s an actress, good at communicating naturally and although her message is way better than cuomo I am tired of people from the entertainment industry running for high office. Doesn’t matter if they are dems or republicans, do not want.

  24. Aang says:

    He should just say he misspoke and he meant to say it wasn’t never great. Works for Trump. This aside I’m a NY’er and don’t really like him, lots of corruption in Albany. The economic revitalization plans have been a waste of money with contracts going cronies. But he is taking a very progressive turn which I love. He is also a brawler and won’t shy away from a fight and I think the democrats need that.

  25. SM says:

    Yet, he is not wrong. It never was, America was a dream, a project to be realised anew, away from the despair, oppression and imeprialsm of Europe by imigrants. It is based on truly great ideas of equal opportunity and personal liberty. In reality it never was that great, but with Trumpthe those great ideas are being replaced by white supremacy, thr institutions that should have upheld the freedoms and rights are being corrupted and replaced by a cult of a leader.

    • indian says:

      The ideas generated alone were great and responsible for the freedom of billions around the world. It’s the first true democracy in the world! Yes, it’s never been great historically for POC, but the very founding ideals make us fight for it.

  26. Daz says:

    Not sure why Nixon says he’s missing by a mile because hes absolutly right on this. Even if you dont like him what he says is true. At least for POC.

  27. SJhere says:

    America has never been a level playing field. Ever.
    My family is generations of working class poor. Yes, we are white but no education past high school.
    The only advantage we had was being white and having a work ethic of “We are gonna have to work to survive, period.”
    Ask any poor person with kids to feed.
    USA is full of lots of families who it takes 3 to 4 generations of hard, continual labor to get ahead.
    IMO, the difference is in America people at minimum have the chance to bust their butts at work and make a living without fear of being attacked by their own government openly.
    I’m not saying this very well but, I’m thankful my children live in America. We have so much to fix in this Government. #1. Trump OUT! #2. Universal healthcare. #3. Ease back on the constant social media and help each other out , Be Kind! Kindness and decency would be a hell of a good start.

  28. Nicegirl says:

    Yes!!! sjhere, I’m hearing you

  29. NIKKI says:

    He is right. He didn’t mask it with creative flair, so for those who want to pretend it isn’t true what he’s saying, they are aghast at his ‘boldness’. But when did it become bold to say the truth? We all know this country was built on the backs of slavery, indentured and forced. We all know only the rich truly reap the benefits of American society. We all know it was never great, but for the few privileged. I could go on and on.

    And for those here saying the US was built on great ideologies, don’t forget those were only to benefit the white privileged. I mean while all this great ideology was being cultivated, slavery was the number one business keeping the country afloat. I mean, come on, let’s not pull the wool over our eyes.

    His statement was succinct. He shouldn’t have to say it any other way.

    -N