By Dave Andrusko
No one involved in American politics since the 1980s would ever confuse Mario Cuomo, who was thrice governor of New York in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with his son, Andrew Cuomo, who has been governor of New York since 2011.
Both were/are pro-abortion. Mario Cuomo fine-tuned the “personally opposed” argument to an almost perfect pitch. But he went much further. He cleared the way for pro-abortion Catholics politicians, most of whom were Democrats, by insisting that for them to publicly oppose abortion was akin to imposing Catholic thinking on the American people. The onus was on Catholic politicians who sought to save the babies to prove their commitment to democracy.
His arguments sounded profound (he was very smart) but weren’t, as the late great Rep. Henry Hyde exposed in his book, “For Every Idle Silence.”
Andrew Cuomo makes up in volume what he lacks in intellectual firepower. While both Cuomos had tempers Mario was quick-witted enough to follow his barbs with pretend humility. Andrew just shouts, bullies, and preens like an adolescent with too many muscles.
Why do I bring this up now? For two reasons.
First, to illustrate how far down the slippery Democratic Party has raced.
When he died January 1, 2015, Mario Cuomo was venerated by pro-abortionists for having cleared the way. First Things Editor R.R. Reno told the National Catholic Register’s Joan Frawley Desmond that Cuomo’s argument—that in the absence of a clear-cut consensus “legal interdicting of all abortions by either the federal government or the individual states is not a plausible possibility and, even if it could be obtained, it wouldn’t work”—had the impact of “empowering abortion rights advocates to silence what remained of Catholic dissent in the Democratic Party. Bob Casey could be prohibited from speaking to the 1992 Democratic convention in large part because Cuomo had provided the ‘official’ Catholic Democratic pro-abortion position.”
Mario Cuomo opened a convenient line of defense for pro-abortionists that lingers to this day. If right policy coincides with the values of a given religious community, it should be, by definition, suspect. That this is specious, on the one hand, and irrelevant on the other (people of faith oppose murder and bank robbery—should laws again those crimes be in the docket?) gets lost in the shuffle.
Yet here was at least a pretense that abortion was a “tragedy,” a “last resort.” Abortion in general, let alone late, late, late term abortion was not female “empowerment,” but a difficult choice, reluctantly made.
None of those cautionary notes, however insincere, exists anymore among Democrats. Abortion until birth? But, of course! Optional whether you treat a baby who survives an abortion? Naturally. Surely you wouldn’t want to treat an abortion survivor as you would any other child delivered prematurely. The baby was supposed to be dead.
I can’t imagine had he been governor today, Mario Cuomo would have ordered (as his son did) the One World Trade Center to be bathed in pink to “celebrate” the passage of the Reproductive Health Act which obliterated what minimal protections still existed in New York. As pro-life Vice President Mike Pence reminded us in an op-ed in National Review:
After all, at the base of the same One World Trade Center that was bathed in pink last week to mark the passage of New York’s law, is the September 11th memorial. There, the names of all who died in the horrific terrorist attacks 18 years ago are etched in stone — including the eleven unborn children we lost along with their expectant mothers.
Beyond the descent of a once great party into madness, the second reason I bring up the Cuomos is I happened upon an essay Mario Cuomo wrote in 1986 for the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association titled, “Abraham Lincoln and Our ‘Unfinished Work’.” It is a reference to a famous passage near the conclusion of in the Gettysburg address:
It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that, government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Here’s the paragraph from Mario Cuomo’s essay I would like you to ponder:
Lincoln came to believe that the great promise of the founding fathers was one that had only begun to be realized with the founding fathers themselves. He understood that from the beginning it was a promise that would have to be fulfilled in degrees. Its embrace would have to be widened over the years, step-by-step, sometimes painfully, until finally it included everyone.
That was his dream. That was his vision. That was his mission. With it, he defined for himself and for us, the soul of our unique experiment of government: the belief that the promise of the Declaration of Independence — the promise of equality and opportunity — cannot be considered kept, until it includes everyone. For him, that was the unifying principle of our democracy. Without it, we had no nation worth fighting for. With it, we had no limit to the good we might achieve.
The Declaration of Independence’s “promise of equality and opportunity,” Cuomo argues, “cannot be considered kept, until it includes everyone.”
Everyone includes every one, including the littlest Americans. But try saying this to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Kathy Tran and Ralph Northam. You might as well be speaking in ancient Greek.
Today’s Democrat Party has ruthlessly extirpated respect for unborn life, lock, stock, and barrel. Instead its leaders and wannabe leaders compete to be the most in thrall to NARAL and Planned Parenthood and EMILY’s List.
A sad, sad day.