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April 21, 2017      2:28 PM

Smith: Donner Party or City Upon a Hill?

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that the vision of America of today’s dominant GOP leadership has more in common with the doomed Donner Party than with a “Shining City Upon a Hill.”

In 1984, then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo gave the keynote address at the Democratic Convention. Cuomo spoke of Americans’ shared vision of the nation as “a shining city upon a hill.” It’s a favorite metaphor of our politicians, from John Winthrop in the 1600s to John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan in the 20th Century.

Cuomo, however, used the reference to point out that in America, there is a part of the city that does not shine, places where the elderly huddle in unheated basements, where the young can’t afford college, where people can’t get health care. The New York governor received a lot of attention for his “Tale of Two Cities” talk.

But there’s another part of that speech that’s even more powerful. In it, Cuomo uses the great U.S. Western migration of the 1840s to paint a vivid picture of Democratic moral values and hopes for America:

The full column by Glenn W. Smith is in the R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith

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