KOKOMO - Recently, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo let slip his feelings on the United States of America. While bashing President Trump at a bill signing ceremony in New York City, Cuomo said, "We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great."

I’m sure that Cuomo and his band of like-minded spiritual advisors will attempt to walk this back by saying it was taken out of context, it was a statement that needed greater elaboration or that Trump’s vision of America was what he was talking about. Given enough time and the support of fellow leftists in the media, Cuomo may just be able to get most people to forget he ever said, "We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great."

Unfortunately for Gov. Cuomo, this graphically offensive statement sounds to the vast majority of patriotic, loyal and proud Americans as nothing other than a direct attack on all that we hold dear.

As the grandson of both Italian and Sicilian immigrants, you might have expected Cuomo to be the biggest flag-waving proponent of the United States. After all, granny and grandpa could have immigrated to Spain, France, Austria, Greece or North Africa if life in Italy wasn’t giving them a fair shake. But no, they chose the United States as their dream because it was and still is the beacon for freedom and opportunity the entire world over. Maybe Cuomo has just had it too good to remember why his grandparents came to this country.

Perhaps it is because I am a student of history that I tend to well up when I think back at the many great things that the United States has done for its people and the people throughout the world over the course of its existence. We have been and are to this very day what President Ronald Reagan referred to as “a shining city on a hill.”

The liberties enshrined in our Constitution have enabled the citizens of the United States to achieve untold marvels. In every category of achievement, be it business, literature, music, science, the arts, technology or engineering, the United States has been a world leader. In the process, our nation has amassed great material wealth. Other nations are understandably envious and some in our own country harbor guilt at the inequality of the world. We have nothing to apologize about. We chose our system of laws and governance and we have fought to protect them over the years.

Even though I hold Gov. Cuomo and most of the leadership of the Democratic Party in contempt for their historical ignorance and utter lack of appreciation for the greatest country on earth, I do understand where they may be coming from in their misguided contempt.

The growth of the United States from sea to shining sea was an unstoppable force that ran over everything in its path. The American Indian and Mexico both were crushed by Manifest Destiny. Much of the agricultural progress and strength of the southern states was fueled with slave labor. These are stains on our country’s history; we cannot deny them nor explain them away; they happened and they can’t be undone. We cannot undo the sins committed against people 150 years ago by lavishing government benefits on their great-great-grandchildren today. We only prolong the enslavement.

Freedom, liberty and equality are funny things. People view them differently. Take equality for example. Most Americans believe in equal opportunity for all people. Gov. Cuomo and the Democratic Party have tried in vain to substitute equal outcomes for equal opportunity. They have failed to realize that equal outcomes cannot be achieved without the surrendering of freedoms and liberty in the process.

We all know about the Cuomo family: Immigrants from Italy. Mario Cuomo, Andrew’s father, elected twice as governor of New York. Andrew, the grandson of immigrants, elected as New York attorney general and as governor of New York, twice. Chris Cuomo, grandson of immigrants, broadcast personality on CNN. Sounds to me like the American Dream worked pretty well for this family.

But how about the Dunn Family? Grandfather Dunn was a poor sharecropper who lived on someone else’s farm and received 50% of what he produced each year. His son, Leander, walked down the railroad tracks from Oakford to Kokomo each day to go to school – no school bus back then. Leander graduated from Kokomo High School in 1928 and went to work cleaning up new cars for the local Ford dealership. He learned how to be an auto-body repairman. After World War Two, dad scraped every cent of savings he had together and started his own auto-body repair shop. Without government help, dad grew his business to a shop with five repairmen. (I remember when dad had a car slip off a jack and it broke his leg. No disability payments. Dad wrapped a drycleaner’s plastic bag around his full-length leg cast and went back to work.)

Along the way, mom and dad had seven children. Mom fully understood the benefits of an education. She relentlessly pushed all seven children to keep their noses clean, be careful who you associate with and get the best education that you can. I don’t know how they did it, but mom and dad put six of us through college. All of us went on to prosperous careers and produced great grandchildren who are now captains of commerce and industry. All of this spawned by a poor Oakford sharecropper.

Do I believe in the greatness of America? You bet I do! My family has lived the American Dream. Was it easy? No! Was it always fair? No! Are there ways to make the American Experience fairer, but not rob anyone of their freedom or fortune in order to accomplish it? Yes.

Most people completely miss the source of the Trump phenomena. Most people I speak with don’t condone his personal behavior or mannerisms. They reject his brash boorishness. They hate his tweets. They don’t particularly like the circus sideshow carnies that he brought with him to Washington. What they do absolutely love is that Donald Trump believes in America. He intuitively knew that Americans longed for the days of yore. No, not the days of discrimination, bigotry and unequal opportunity, but the days when the United States was the most respected and most proud country in the world. In his own bull-in-a-china-shop manner, Donald Trump tapped the innate love of country that rested in the hearts of Americans.

The Democratic Party has struggled in recent times to find a foothold in relevancy. Its candidates have largely focused their efforts on telling the American people what is wrong with their country. I suggest that the key to the revival of the Democratic Party is in speaking to the American Dream and how the greatness of our country can make it happen for all people. The future of the Democratic Party rests with the people in our nation who believe in the shining city on the hill and not with the disaffected who sap the lifeblood of our society. 

Andrew Cuomo, the denigration of your country may play well in New York, but your words will haunt you in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Virginia. Get used to being a governor.

Dunn is the former chairman of the Howard County and 4th CD Republican parties.