Bill Clinton’s 1985 SOTU Response

Since 1966, the Response of the party opposite to the State of the Union has become almost as large a tradition as the speech itself, and it has been used by both parties very effectively. The response has been well known to mint rising stars within party politics, and they typically go on to have a great future within the party. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Republicans have chosen Marco Rubio to give their response tonight in 2013… they see him having a bright, and perhaps Presidential future.

So let’s flash back to 1985, when the shoe was on the other foot. Democrats had just suffered an historic loss with the reelection of Ronald Reagan. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at the numbers.

Reagan won 525 electoral votes to Mondale’s 13. Talk about “Red State”… WHOA.

So clearly, Democrats were down for the count, and had some serious work to do. In that moment, the party turned to a little-known Governor from a small state to catch the eyes and ears of millions of national viewers. That Governor was William Jefferson Clinton. With an entire nation clearly behind the Republican vision for the country, Clinton and the Democrats had a huge job to do that night. If you’re a Democrat, this speech will conjure up some serious deja vu. What amazed me the most is that the values that are at the heart of the Democratic party are still the very same today… bringing people together, recognizing the important role of government while promoting efficiency and accountability, and the sense that “we’re all in this together”.

Perhaps the best quote from Clinton was the following…

“Our critics have said we are for too much government, while they want the government off our backs. Well, we want the government off our backs too, but we need it by our sides.”

Simple and effective. A President in the making. Like this clip, Democrats can make an even bigger comeback in 2014 if they do just what Governor Clinton did here. Keep is simple and relatable. Here’s hoping that President Obama will do that tonight.

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