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.
Regardless of the actual results on November 6th, former President William Jefferson Clinton made history on September 5th. He gave a speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that will be talked about for years to come. The brilliant man that has traversed every corner of the USA and the globe delivered a speech last night that was as down home as an Arkansas watermelon. And yet, he countered the falsehoods of the GOP and Romney/Ryan campaign in one 48-minute swoop. He was able to not only give a speech about policy details (Ezra Klein even referred to him as the “Wonk-In-Chief“), but also that landed on the very pulse of the American people. Simple. Direct. Genius.
But even beyond the budget specifics, perhaps the most effective thing President Clinton’s speech happened in the first 20 minutes. He reminded the American people that bi-partisanship is a two-way street. As many attempts as President Obama made to reach out to the GOP, they would have none of it. He also did something that few Democrats today are willing to do… told us that the GOP of 2012 has been taken over by its extremes. Try as they might, this is not the party of Ronald Reagan, or even Bush 43. They have lost their ability to compromise, and to GOVERN. Time and again this was evidenced through House GOP mutiny from Speaker John Boehner over the debt-ceiling fight, to the incessant repetition of 33 votes to “repeal Obamacare”. The Republican Party in Washington has a real problem.
Of course you don’t need masterful Clintonian rhetoric to figure out that the current iteration of the Republican Party is a mess… just ask a Ron Paul supporter. Ask them why the party went from state to state to change their party rules and ensure that Paul would be flushed out of the primary. Ask them why Mr. Ron Paul got 190 delegates (which even that is up for debate, based on whether the Paul supporters would be willing to sue) but wasn’t even allowed to speak at the Convention. If they can’t unite the inner factions of their party, why should we trust them to be able to unite and govern the country?
Here’s the full video of President Clinton’s speech…
So first of all, we want to deal with the obvious “duh” here. This is FAR from an exclusively Republican issue. Politicians… whether Democrat or Republican… have BIG issues with lying. Bill Clinton, Anthony Wiener, Eliot Spitzer… Major Democratic politicians that were all caught in some pretty major lies.
The common theme amongst the three Democrats listed above… Bill Clinton lying about his indiscretions with Monica Lewinski and other women, Anthony Wiener lying about posting nude pictures of himself to another woman, and Eliot Spitzer lying about sleeping with a prostitute… all three are deplorable, terrible lies. They are unbecoming of those that should be public stewards of our tax dollars. But as bad as they are, in all three cases… the lies that these men told are PERSONAL… it has to do with them, their families, and obviously their careers.
Now scandals plague both parties… they always have and always will. But with the Republicans of 2012, new levels of lying that has emerged far beyond personal implications. Instead, they use these lies to advance a Right-Wing agenda. Some of these heavily marketed lies reach so far down into the GOP’s lexicon that they become the basis of party policy, and even law.
Here’s how the basic process works. Take the current “liar of the week” Republican Congressman Todd Akin. He revealed the GOP’s long-held position that there is somehow a dinstinction between a “legitimate” rape, and other types of rape? Yeah, it’s a ridiculous mess to even think about. But the point of using that language is because it validates Republican and Pro-Life policy about why they want Roe v. Wade struck down. Something as insane as “legitimate” rape or “forcible” rape has to be codified into law so they advance their agenda that life… no matter how or what circumstances around it… begins “at conception”. So that’s the main point… The GOP is Anti-Abortion. But the subliminal part of that is that they are also Anti-Women. If they have to legislate for women when and how rape is determined as “forcible”, it means that they don’t trust the women of America to make their own decisions, or to understand how their bodies work. Even worse, it suggest that women are somehow incapable of making their own decisions, and that the law must do it for them.
Another recent example… Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield (Republican, of course) is best known for his authorship of the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill which tried to force public schools to just pretend homosexuality doesn’t exist. As reported on RawStory.com, Mr. Campfield believes that HIV is only a gay problem, saying that it’s virtually impossible to contract the disease through heterosexual sex.
Here’s his full quote:
“Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community,” he told Michelangelo Signorile, who hosts a radio program on SiriusXM OutQ. “It was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.”
“My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.”
The main lie is obvious… HIV and AIDS are definitely being spread through various forms of sexual contact, both heterosexual and homosexual. But he goes way out on a limb by saying that patient zero contracted HIV by having sex with a monkey. This is to link ALL homosexuals together and to further separate them from the rest of the “normal” human race. He wants to imply that maybe all gay people just have sex with animals. Translation… they are evil, they are foriegn, and they shouldn’t be allowed around good, decent families. That’s his subliminal message… to make the gay community seem different than everyone else. As we see with the “Don’t Say Gay bill and others like it, these crazy lies are being used to create actual LAW that affects our nation.
This system of lying has permeated every corner of the GOP, and there’s no better evidence than the 2012 Party Platform. It should be no surprise that the Republicans have swung so far to the right, they have adopted what some call the most Conservative major Party platform seen in a century. In fact, Examiner.com reports that 95 percent of the official party platform is taken directly from the TEA Party backed coalition FreedomWorks. There is no support for gay marriage or gay rights, a strengthening of Anti-Choice legislation, and even suggestions of returning to the gold standard.
So perhaps the GOP’s biggest lie is the GOP itself. What used to be a big-tent group that crafted balance policy between it’s moderate and conservative wing is now entirely devoid of Moderates. If a party is in line with its fringe on almost all issues, then the fringe is only thing left. So in 2012, the GOP is lying… even down to its very name. Let’s hope they don’t lie their way into government control.