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The liberal legacy of Mario Cuomo

Ex-governor Mario Cuomo at the American Museum of Natural History on November 3, 2009 in New York City.
Ex-governor Mario Cuomo at the American Museum of Natural History on November 3, 2009 in New York City.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

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He served three terms as governor of New York; after seeing the state through so many of its most tempestuous times, he became a liberal icon and democratic rallying point. Last night, the legacy of gubernatorial legend Mario Cuomo came to a close, when he passed away at his home in Manhattan at the age of 82.

Rising to prominence at a time when liberal policies were widely defamed, Adam Nagourney with the New York Times says Cuomo forever endeared himself to democrats after “challenging Ronald Reagan at the height of his presidency with an expansive and affirmative view of government and a message of compassion, tinged by the Roman Catholicism that was central to Mr. Cuomo’s identity.” Cuomo’s unrestrained demeanor and dedication to liberal principles led democratic leaders to press him twice to run for president; Cuomo declined each time.

The political landscape in the nation has changed considerably since Cuomo’s heyday, and while liberal ideals are more widely accepted across the political landscape, the nation’s most recent elections indicate an increasingly more powerful GOP will continue to challenge the continuance of many policies that Cuomo championed over three decades ago.

Today on AirTalk, we examine the impact that Mario Cuomo has had on American politics, and discuss the challenges faced by both parties in light of the recent election.

Does any other democratic politician have as much influence as Cuomo? What does the future look like for American politics in 2015, when Washington seems increasingly polarized?


Ken Rudin, host of the radio show, Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie

David Mark,  former senior editor at Politico, co-author of "Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs, and Washington Handshakes: Decoding the Jargon, Slang and Bluster of American Political Speech" (ForeEdge, 2014).