A Tale of Two Brothers

The Cuomo family is putting a face on the American response to COVID-19. It's not perfect, but it goes beyond politics.

By: Basil M. Russo, ISDA President 

An epiphany? A meltdown? A moment of reflection? An existential crisis?

The side of the aisle you’re on will likely guide your reaction to Chris Cuomo’s charged up radio show on Monday.

The commentary is a continuation of the tale of two brothers: one who caught the disease and is rethinking his future, and one who is fighting it on the front lines with New Yorkers’ lives in the balance.

Either way, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Chris show how the virus is affecting Americans’ calculus on what’s most important, and like with many of us, it comes down to family.

Folks on both sides continue to express their opinions—sometimes colorfully, as any family will do, but when the governor speaks, there’s a collective sense that his work is guided by heritage and principle, and not partisan politics.

Marianna Gatto, a historian and co-founder of the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, writes:

“I’m particularly struck by the degree to which Gov. Cuomo’s italianità shapes his statesmanship and bolsters his emotional relatability, from naming a protective order for people over the age of 70 after his mother (Matilda’s Law) to providing comfort and calm through his warmth-infused anecdotes. Cuomo’s description of the Sunday dinners of his childhood conjured an image of his family seated around one big table while also evoking memories of my youth, when we made lasagna from scratch at my father’s house.”

There are still plenty of issues to shout about and disagree on, but as we wade through this period of uncertainty, we get the sense that we, like our ancestors, are journeying together in uncharted waters for the sake of our loved ones—and there isn’t anything more American than that.


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