Chapter 17: The Liberals Strike Back

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Speeches

Governor Mario Cuomo – “A Tale of Two Cities”

Reverend Jesse Jackson – Rainbow Coalition Speech: 1984 Democratic National Convention

Walter Mondale – Acceptance Speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention

At the beginning of the 1984 race for the White House, the Democratic Party found itself in a true crisis, caught between the traditions of the past and the political realities of the 1980s. The urgencies of the New Deal, which sparked Democratic political dominance throughout much of the 20th century was now running headlong into growing concerns about crime, welfare, taxes and, above all, holding on to the economic gains that so many American had achieved. The economic populism and calls for social justice that had once driven Democrats’ electoral success was now seen, by many Americans, as reserved for the poor. When given a choice between what they perceived as big and unresponsive government and the Republican philosophy of limited government they were choosing the latter.

No event would provide American with a better contrast between these two choices, while also reinforcing the reigning stereotypes of the Democratic Party as a party beholden to its liberal special interest groupw, than the 1984 Democratic convention in San Francisco and the speeches of Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson and party nominee, Walter Mondale.

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