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Old 08-20-2018, 05:47 PM
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Gov. Cuomo: America "was never that great" - is this a common sentiment on the Left?


Recently Gov. Cuomo (D-NY) said America "was never that great." Is this a common sentiment among those on the Left?
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Old 08-20-2018, 05:57 PM
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Context.
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"We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great," Cuomo, a Democrat, remarked at a bill signing event in New York City. The comment was met by an audible reaction from the crowd.
His comments were a response to President Donald Trump's campaign catchphrase -- "Make America Great Again."

"We have not reached greatness. We will reach greatness when every American is fully engaged," Cuomo added. "We will reach greatness when discrimination and stereotyping of women, 51% of our population, is gone, and every woman's full potential is realized and unleashed and every woman is making her full contribution."
Let's throw in that we were one of the last nations to eliminate slavery and Jim Crow laws existed until relatively recently.
That's just scratching the surface of what keeps the nation from true greatness.
Trump's idea of greatness is a huge step backwards.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:10 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
Recently Gov. Cuomo (D-NY) said America "was never that great." Is this a common sentiment among those on the Left?
What he was trying to say is that Donald Trump's vision of "greatness" is deeply flawed. America shouldn't want to be great the way Donald Trump defines great.

Cuomo expanded on his original comment the next day:

https://www.politico.com/states/new-...nartful-562925


Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Cuomo, via Politico link above


“The expression I used the other day was inartful, so I want to be very clear: Of course America is great and of course America has always been great. No one questions that,” Cuomo told reporters on a conference call. “When Trump started talking about the slogan called ‘Make America Great Again,’ that what he believes establishes American greatness is not greatness at all.”

The governor explained that on Wednesday, he was emphasizing that the nation’s history on women’s rights and civil rights for minorities and LGBT people leave much to be desired, and much progress to be made.

Cuomo was specifically addressing Trump's disdain for minorities or the ways in which America has not always respected diversity. In truth, the way America has treated minorities is, not specifically, too good.

Last edited by Merneith; 08-20-2018 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:10 PM
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I think in Trumpland declaring something to be great makes it great. It's like a magic trick involving a blindfold.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:13 PM
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I think in Trumpland declaring something to be great makes it great. It's like a magic trick involving a blindfold.
Or doing the vanishing doorway trick in front of dogs.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:40 PM
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Speaking for myself as a liberal, the greatness of America is in certain American ideals and in its potential, not in its past.

There is no point in America’s past that is good enough to go back to, so in that sense “make America great again” is a nonsensical statement. There is no “great” in the past that can happen “again.”

What makes America great is its capacity to become better than it is.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:42 PM
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Yes, America was the greatest. But what made us great in the past is not what will make us great in the future. Natural resources and the room to exploit them, a relatively homogeneous majority population with ample immigration to continue the expansion, and a democratic system of government. Was it perfect? Of course not. Native Americans and minority groups were openly discriminated against. Pollution and environmental degradation were rampant. Political corruption would regularly rear its head. But we tried to rise above those things with the rule of law. We were making great strides in all of these areas. Until recently. Now public lands are being sold for political favors, asbestos is the newest thing and oh yeah, we should probably start making cars inefficient again. Far right groups are now openly espousing their hatred because their leader says they are very fine people.

What could make us great again would be to have the happiest, healthiest population in the world. We could lead the world in the things we used to lead in. Technology, invention, charity, democratic ideas. Leadership.

But instead we have the Me First ideas of the republican party. "Why should I have to pay taxes so that you can eat? . Why shouldn't my beliefs be yours? Why shouldn't we pollute the country? White people really are better. You shouldn't have insurance if you work as a cook."

All of those things are what the Republican party has become. They point to the current economy as justification for dismantling what has taken decades to achieve. They forget that the economy was doing just fine with all those taxes and rules and regulations in place.
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Old 08-20-2018, 06:52 PM
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Honestly I though this was a common opinion of the right. Conservatives (especially Trump) are always talking about how screwed up America is while the left seems to think it is a pretty great country. This is just my opinion from listening to stump speeches and the like.
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Old 08-20-2018, 07:06 PM
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It's now become an annual tradition for me to reference Peter Beinart's article The War over Patriotism, which was published in Time Magazine back in 2008. I've never seen another explanation of this fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals that is as simple and as eloquent.
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...conservatives tend to believe that loving America today requires loving its past.

***
When evaluating America, they're more likely to remember that for most of human history, tyranny has been the norm. By that standard, America looks pretty good. Conservatives worry that if Americans don’t appreciate—and celebrate—their nation’s past accomplishments, they’ll assume the country can be easily and dramatically improved. And they’ll end up making things worse.
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If conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past, liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past.

***

For liberals, America is less a common culture than a set of ideals about democracy, equality and the rule of law. American history is a chronicle of the distance between those ideals and reality. And American patriotism is the struggle to narrow the gap. Thus, patriotism isn’t about honoring and replicating the past; it’s about surpassing it.
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Old 08-20-2018, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
Recently Gov. Cuomo (D-NY) said America "was never that great." Is this a common sentiment among those on the Left?
I think America has always been great in its ideals, not so great in its execution. "...all men are created equal..." was a great ideal in its time, but Americans still owned slaves. The Civil War wasn't great, neither was, for example, the Vietnam War, nor how we were basically suckered into it. But, we've always had great goals and seemed to (mostly) sincerely strive for those goals. Women's suffrage, the end of Jim Crow were all great stepping stones that moved us toward our stated goals.

Now, it's certainly the case that there have always been many, many nations much worse than us, either on purpose (through strongmen, corruption, dictatorships) or through circumstance (abject poverty, lack of resources, civil war).

All that said, I think the important thing is to remove all context and try a back-handed accusation that liberals think America isn't great. I'm sure that's what Fox News, for example, is doing. "You didn't build that" all over again. What a crock.

When the president says Make America Great Again, was he agreeing with Cuomo, that America is not great? Are we great now, according to him? When weren't we?
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Old 08-20-2018, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Fun Ball View Post
Honestly I though this was a common opinion of the right. Conservatives (especially Trump) are always talking about how screwed up America is while the left seems to think it is a pretty great country. This is just my opinion from listening to stump speeches and the like.
That's what people should have been asking Trump when he was running, "Mr Trump, are you saying America is not a great country?"

Because isn't that a necessary prelude to Making America Great Again? Saying it isn't currently great?

Reagan said the same thing when he was running; "Let's Make America Great Again". So I guess Reagan didn't believe America was a great country either.
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Old 08-20-2018, 09:04 PM
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Here's my impression of the common leftist sentiment, as brief as possible.

"America has done many great things. It has also left people out of those great things and done some absolutely horrible things. We celebrate past greatness while demanding - not wishing for or idly parroting patriotic slogans about - everybody get included equally in its greatness."

That sentiment does not seem to be common on the right. It is perhaps the one thing that separates left and right the most. The left feel, to greater or lesser degrees, that those who don't accept that sentiment can't be accepted as decent human beings. So the left will undoubtedly continue to demand that the right live up to the words they mouth - and expect that they will fail to do so.

That said, Cuomo's phrasing was as stupid as Guliani's "Truth isn't truth." In the world of memes and ripping words out of context, both statements will come back to haunt them.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:14 PM
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This Facebook diarrhoea is unworthy of this forum.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:22 PM
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This Facebook diarrhoea is unworthy of this forum.
Facebook diarrhea? The link in the OP is from CNN. The video is a segment of a speech by the Governor of New York. Hardly some rando off Facebook (although I sincerely wish he were just some nut spewing his nonsense on Facebook).
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:29 PM
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Honestly I though this was a common opinion of the right. Conservatives (especially Trump) are always talking about how screwed up America is while the left seems to think it is a pretty great country. This is just my opinion from listening to stump speeches and the like.
If you were to hazard a guess, which party do you think currently has more of its members believing that America is "on the wrong track"?

Last edited by HurricaneDitka; 08-20-2018 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:32 PM
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Facebook diarrhea? The link in the OP is from CNN. The video is a segment of a speech by the Governor of New York. Hardly some rando off Facebook (although I sincerely wish he were just some nut spewing his nonsense on Facebook).
You "carelessly" removed all but the out of context part of the quote that was most damning.
Not to worry, I supplied the context upthread.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:36 PM
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What he was trying to say is that Donald Trump's vision of "greatness" is deeply flawed. America shouldn't want to be great the way Donald Trump defines great.

Cuomo expanded on his original comment the next day:

https://www.politico.com/states/new-...nartful-562925





Cuomo was specifically addressing Trump's disdain for minorities or the ways in which America has not always respected diversity. In truth, the way America has treated minorities is, not specifically, too good.
You call this "expanded on"? It sounds more like a reversal.

One day: America "was never that great."

Another day: "Of course America is great and of course America has always been great. No one questions that."
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:37 PM
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You "carelessly" removed all but the out of context part of the quote that was most damning.
Not to worry, I supplied the context upthread.
I posted a link to the video from CNN's website. I didn't feel like trying to transcribe all the "context". Feel free to supply as much as you like.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
You call this "expanded on"? It sounds more like a reversal.

One day: America "was never that great."

Another day: "Of course America is great and of course America has always been great. No one questions that."
Again, it's not a reversal of the ACTUAL CONTEXT that you left out of the quote, both in the OP and again here.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by HurricaneDitka View Post
I posted a link to the video from CNN's website. I didn't feel like trying to transcribe all the "context". Feel free to supply as much as you like.
Post 2. Or do you not read threads?
No need to transcribe. There's a neat function that nay computer can do. It's called "copy and paste".
Works on quotes of any size.

Last edited by running coach; 08-20-2018 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:44 PM
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Again, it's not a reversal of the ACTUAL CONTEXT that you left out of the quote, both in the OP and again here.
I think you'd be be hard-pressed to convince anyone familiar with the English language that going from "never" to "always" isn't a reversal. You're certainly failing to do so with me.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:46 PM
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In some ways I think so. And its nothing to be ashamed of.

America has a lot of flaws. Lots of us would rather be honest about those flaws and try to fix them rather than just resort to jingoism.

Also on a wide range of important metrics, the US lags the rest of the developed world and is now starting to lag behind some middle income nations.

Health care, womens rights, journalist freedom, income equality, medical leave, crime, police behavior, infrastructure, race relations, etc.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:46 PM
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I think you'd be be hard-pressed to convince anyone familiar with the English language that going from "never" to "always" isn't a reversal. You're certainly failing to do so with me.
Are you just blind to the word "context"? Or allergic to it?
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:50 PM
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I’m one who thinks “both sides” can be accused of blaming America. Sure, there are liberals who will agree that America is not great (as it can be) because it fails to implement the ideals it espouses - too much bigotry and unfair discrimination. But there are certainly plenty of right wingers who love to lament how America has deteriorated. Whether it’s the quality of our products, the toughness or integrity of our people, or the fate of our society, there is plenty of disappointment expressed by the right. In fact, Fox News is predicated on peddling fear in our time, which presupposes that things are not great.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:55 PM
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You call this "expanded on"? It sounds more like a reversal.

One day: America "was never that great."

Another day: "Of course America is great and of course America has always been great. No one questions that."
Thats because he got negative reactions so he got afraid and backed off.

When Trump says 'make America great again' he means return America to an age when white christian men were the peak of the socioeconomic totem pole and everyone else accepted it. Trumps MAGA is a rejection of egalitarianism and multiculturalism and an embrace of white nationalism.

Its sad. Trump can offer all the white nationalist dog whistles he wants and nobody blinks an eye. But be honest and say 'America is a deeply flawed nation and always has been, but we can work to make it better' and people recoil, so Cuomo has to offer simplistic pablum for the masses the next day.

Needing to be spoonfed simplistic propaganda shouldn't be a positive trait. But sadly in America it is.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:56 PM
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Are you just blind to the word "context"? Or allergic to it?
Neither, but I don't believe the word magically turns a reversal into something else.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:58 PM
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Thats because he got negative reactions so he got afraid and backed off. ...
Sure, which is why I called it a "reversal". It amazes me that some here would dispute something as obvious as that, but here we are.
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Old 08-20-2018, 10:59 PM
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HurricaneDitka, several of us have answered your question. Do you have any response to that?

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Old 08-20-2018, 11:00 PM
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What was it that Michael Kinsley said? A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. An obvious truth he isn't supposed to say.

The problem with arguing whether America is "great" or not, or was "great" or not, is that nobody ever defines what great means. Don't we need some sort of definition first? Otherwise, it just becomes boilerplate cheering.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:01 PM
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Neither, but I don't believe the word magically turns a reversal into something else.
Post 2. I quoted what he followed his first remark with, not the so-called reversal that came much later.
You don't need to transcribe, it's quoted in the text of the article.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:06 PM
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HurricaneDitka, several of us have answered your question. Do you have any response to that?
Yes, several posters gave sincere and thoughtful responses (I consider yours among them) that ran the gamut from some agreement to disagreement. Thank you. I particularly liked the "War Over Patriotism" article.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:09 PM
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What was it that Michael Kinsley said? A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. An obvious truth he isn't supposed to say.

The problem with arguing whether America is "great" or not, or was "great" or not, is that nobody ever defines what great means. Don't we need some sort of definition first? Otherwise, it just becomes boilerplate cheering.
How would you define it?
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:15 PM
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I have to admit that I was taken aback. Not over the sentiment, but over the political ham handedness. Sure, you can argue that it was taken out of context and that there's a valid point about the failure of America to live up to its ideals. But this isn't Cuomo's first rodeo. He's as savvy a politician as there is, and he had to know as soon as those words left his mouth that he was going to get hammered for it and any more complicated point he was trying to make would be lost.

It reminded me of W.'s bumble where he said, "fool me once, shame you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again." In the middle of saying it, he realized that the quote that opponents would play over and over again was him saying, "shame on me." And so he improvised -- poorly. Politicians simply have to know that their words will be taken out of context and comport themselves accordingly.
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Old 08-20-2018, 11:17 PM
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Great for whom? Clearly not the natives who were already here, or the slaves, or many of the women.

What a simplistic way to dredge up a controversy.
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:14 AM
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There does seem to be a double standard. When a Republican like Reagan or Trump says America isn't great, everyone accepts it as a statement directed specifically against their political opponents. But if a Democrats says America isn't great, some people want to claim it's an unpatriotic attack on the entire country.
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:36 AM
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There does seem to be a double standard. When a Republican like Reagan or Trump says America isn't great, everyone accepts it as a statement directed specifically against their political opponents. But if a Democrats says America isn't great, some people want to claim it's an unpatriotic attack on the entire country.
You really can't see the difference between "Make America Great Again" and "[America] was never that great"? Those statements are essentially synonymous in your mind?
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Old 08-21-2018, 01:48 AM
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I see one as a super simplistic, appealing to the white moronic masses, campaign slogan. And I see the other as ham fisted attempt to explain how stupid the first is. And I still see you completely ignore the context of the 2nd.
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Old 08-21-2018, 02:30 AM
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I see one as a super simplistic, appealing to the white moronic masses, campaign slogan. And I see the other as ham fisted attempt to explain how stupid the first is.
This. "Make America Great Again" implies (a) that the US used to have certain characteristics that it no longer has, and (b) that those characteristics made it "great". And maybe, just maybe, if we critically interrogate that proposition, we'll find that the characteristics that Trump invokes with this slogan were not characteristics that ever made the US "great".

So, it's not well-expressed. "America was never that great" doesn't mean that America was never great; just that it was never great in that way, i.e. the way that Trump's slogan attempts to suggest.

Is this a common attitude "on the left"? I'd imagine it's a common attitude among the rational. Quantifying the overlap between those two groups is left as an exercise for the student.
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:02 AM
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You really can't see the difference between "Make America Great Again" and "[America] was never that great"? Those statements are essentially synonymous in your mind?
"Make America Great Again" assumes that this nation had greatness at some point in the past. If you believe that America, due it's serious flaws like ethnic cleansing of the Natives, slavery, and so forth was never that great then yes, I could see someone seeing those two as largely synonymous.

Personally - I think America has great ideals and has done great things, but we also have deep flaws and have done terrible things. I don't want to return to the past, I want to build a better future.
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Old 08-21-2018, 04:34 AM
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OP reminds us of the simplistic insistence by right-wingers on simplistic soundbites. The detailed meaning of Cuomo's comment was irrelevant to OP — he just hoped these five words would impress the impressionable.

(I am reminded of a recent thread where I tried to explain that it is misleading or disingenuous to include pension transfers from workers to retirees as "government spending" — one might as well include rent as "food budget" if one pays the rent bill via an ATM machine located inside a grocery store. All I got in response was some flippant sound-bite about simple arithmetic.)

If sound-bites are to be the be-all and end-all of modern American political "thought" I am not sure the Republicans will come out ahead!
Let me ask OP what he thinks about "Truth isn't truth".
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Old 08-21-2018, 05:28 AM
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I think in Trumpland declaring something to be great makes it great. It's like a magic trick involving a blindfold.
And eventually a firing squad.
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Old 08-21-2018, 05:47 AM
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Heck, a right-wing member of the board just flounced away, seemingly forever, on the basis of "you didn't build that". I'm not sure this is a good era in American politics for context.
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Old 08-21-2018, 05:48 AM
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Sure, which is why I called it a "reversal". It amazes me that some here would dispute something as obvious as that, but here we are.
I'm going to ask some questions, but I think my posts are invisible, so I don't really expect answers.

I think we agree that the phrasing was quite poor and that's why he backtracked the very next day. Right?

Do we also agree that the actual context is a response to Trump's Make America Great Again, implying a return to, uh, when? What era are we trying to return to? Cuomo's response seems to me to be, well, pick your era, but America wasn't living up to its ideals. There was Jim Crow, rampant sexism, anti-gay laws, serious drug crises, spikes in crime. So, "America wasn't that great" in that context may mean, hey, so many people were left out of the American experience, it's hard to call it great. What do you think?
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Old 08-21-2018, 06:30 AM
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Here we go again.

“We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Those were some radical sentiments for their time. The founders of our country came out of a time where it was believed that your place in society and the world was the divine manifestation of God’s will and plan and it was not your place to try and change it. It was believed that your husband, your king, the lord of your manor was inherently better than you and that this hierarchy needed to be accepted. The idea of pursuit of happiness was also radical - the prevailing idea was that your life was the property of your king and your God. Personal happiness had no place in the equation.

But our forefathers changed that. Our country was built on an idea, not a race, religion or ethnicity.

The Declaration of Independence is more aspiration than declaration. It took us ,as a country, time to implement this idea. And it’s a continuing process.

We fought a war over slavery, and our ideals triumphed over race, culture and heritage.

It was still a slow process, but we continued

We changed the country’s attitude towards war. We fought against the mass slaughter of unwilling soldiers in Vietnam. We still have war, but this country no longer has tolerance for the kind of casualties we saw in Vietnam. And all military service is now elective.

We also took part in eliminating the legalized racism that ran directly counter to the Declaration of Independence and hampered so many of our citizens in their pursuit of happiness.

We took further steps towards achieving these ideals by making marriage legally available to all couples.

We still aren’t there yet. But we’re getting there. And I’m proud to be part of it.

Because asking people how much they love their country is like asking men how much they love their wives. It’s, at best, a meaningless question because what counts is not how much you profess to love, but how you express that love.

And frankly, a lot of “patriots” are like the guys that love their wives so much that they would rather kill them then see them with another man. They embrace anti-governmental hierarchical ideals that run directly counter to the vision set forth in the Declaration of Independence. These “patriots” are exactly like the guys that project a fantasy image onto an exceptional but not perfect (because she’s real) woman and then kill her because she doesn’t live up to their fantasy.

Yes, I love my country. I love my country the way a parent loves their child. A good loving parent doesn’t insist that their child can do no wrong. A good loving parent doesn’t believe her child if he tells her that everyone in the school system and police department is out to get them. A good and loving parent doesn’t try to make her child’s misbehavior a societal norm

Like a good parent, I have a vision of what ai want my country to be in 10 years, 20 years, 50 years. That vision is laid out in our founding documents. And I want to help guide my country towards achieving that vision in whatever small way I can.

Because I love my country.
  #45  
Old 08-21-2018, 06:31 AM
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OTOH, us liberals don’t literally hump the flag the way Trump does. For the simple-minded, this is what loving America means.

https://www.thecut.com/2018/06/donal...ican-flag.html
  #46  
Old 08-21-2018, 07:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpoilerVirgin View Post
It's now become an annual tradition for me to reference Peter Beinart's article The War over Patriotism, which was published in Time Magazine back in 2008. I've never seen another explanation of this fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals that is as simple and as eloquent.
Excellent, thanks.
  #47  
Old 08-21-2018, 07:36 AM
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OP, it seems clear to me that you seem to agree that Cuomo didn't really mean that. In fact, you know this because you pointed out that he walked back his comments the very next day. In that case, isn't this whole thread disingenuous?

Let's look at Giuliani's "Truth isn't truth" statement. Would it be fair for someone to start a thread that said, Giuliani said that "truth isn't truth" -- is this a common sentiment on the right? That there is no objective truth? I think that wouldn't be fair, because the statement is taken completely out of context -- he was talking about how Comey said Trump asked him to lay off Flynn and Trump said he did no such thing. In a high stakes interview with the Feds where you could be charged with perjury or obstruction, it's dangerous to go into that situation with that sort of he-said-he-said out there. In that specific case, what is the truth? Would Mueller believe his friend Comey or the president he's investigating? He should have said, "what is the truth in that situation", not "truth isn't truth". It's distressing to me to see people I follow and respect taking that quote out of context because it's bullshit to do that. (Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" was, in fact, the whole context and utter bullshit).

Giuliani can get even more of a pass because he said it during a television interview, not during a speech. It doesn't change the fact that Cuomo's statement was taken out of context, and, as you admit, he walked it back immediately with better phrasing and better context.

Given that, why start this thread?
  #48  
Old 08-21-2018, 08:02 AM
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HD, do you believe America was great during the period of Jim Crow laws?
  #49  
Old 08-21-2018, 08:03 AM
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Yeah, the War Over Patriotism article was pretty good. My opinion on left v right on patriotism in a nutshell:

Left: America is good, but it can be great when all are equal under the law, equal opportunity exists for all and we achieve human rights, environmental protection, health care, and economic justice for all.

Right: America was fucking perfect until these uppity minorities, females, and environmental extremists starting pissing all over the sacred Constitution as written by our forever infallible founding fathers. Either you display unquestioning patriotism as we demand and that you do so whenever and however we demand it or you are an enemy of the people and you should be eliminated.

Last edited by BobLibDem; 08-21-2018 at 08:03 AM.
  #50  
Old 08-21-2018, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Ann Hedonia View Post
OTOH, us liberals don’t literally hump the flag the way Trump does. For the simple-minded, this is what loving America means.

https://www.thecut.com/2018/06/donal...ican-flag.html
This clip really captures the buffoonishness, the utterly pathetic hypocrisy, of our Orange Mistake in the White House. (And he's one the same flag hug 3 or 4 times by now.)

I wonder if any Republicans here will deign to comment on that stupefying display.
Nah ... I didn't think so.
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