Mike Drop: State of the Union Reaction

How sick was Obama’s mike drop when Republicans started clapping after he said he wasn’t running anymore: “I know because I won both of them.”


I was impressed at Obama’s subtle trolling tonight–but I was even more impressed with his message. So to sum up:

  • A childcare tax cut to help families.
  • Paid sick and maternity leave for every American.
  • A raise in the minimum wage.
  • Universally free community college.
  • Reduce student loan debt.
  • Rebuild and reinvest in U.S. infrastructure.
  • Sign a trade deal with Southeast Asia (boo).
  • Free and open internet.
  • Reform the tax code to incentivize business investment in America.
  • Climate change is a reality: let’s do something about it.
  • Politicians need to stop bickering and start cooperating.
  • Reform the justice system to better serve cops and citizens.

These are the policy proposals President Obama made in tonight’s State of the Union Address, and my guess is, with the Republican Congress, not one of them will get done.

Yes, these proposals (excepting number seven—that one’s a stinker) are practical, modest, and would help hundreds of millions of ordinary Americans. No, none of them are complete game changers, but together they represent a raft of very good and necessary policies—and, even better, they would be paid for by tax reforms that would eliminate loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations that send jobs overseas. Overall, I was really impressed: these weren’t reaches… they were just really sound, logical policies—policies so common sense that with reasonable politicians, they’d all be no brainers.

But they won’t get done. Probably none of them, even despite Obama’s very passionate call for bipartisan cooperation. Why? Because the Republican Party doesn’t give a damn about ordinary Americans. No, all they care about are their corporate donors and maintaining power, which is why the first, and really only point of policy Joni Ernst brought up in the GOP response (one of five GOP responses, actually), after lying about Obamacare, was the Keystone XL pipeline. Then it was just a bunch of vagaries; the typical, practiced rollout of Republican bullshit.

My questions are twofold:

  1. What possible, rationale arguments could Republicans make in response to Obama’s proposals? Because we’re going to hear them… That if we tax millionaires and billionaires at a slightly higher tax rate, the sky will fall? That if we help middle class Americans pay for childcare, they won’t have the opportunity to live in abject poverty and shod their children with plastic bread bags? That if we reduce student loan debt, they might not have to work two jobs to survive and could therefore vote, which would endanger the Republican majority? That if we raise the minimum wage, workers at Walmart would be able to use less food stamps at a relatively small cost to their employers, four of the ten richest humans in the country? Because those are the realities for why they won’t happen, and also why—if the news pundits in the corporate media remember to ask them—Republicans will lie like bandits to explain how they couldn’t get any of it done.
  2. WHERE THE FUCK WAS THIS IN THE FALL ELECTION OF 2014?!!! Note that this is how Democrats lose elections: they forget why they’re elected and try to stake out conservative positions in order to win independent votes, which is dumb and never works. What they should have done was come out with some of the very same proposals the President came out with tonight. Because the Republican response then would’ve been the same as it was tonight, the three V’s: vacuous, vague, and valueless. Honestly, watching Joni Ernst tonight, I felt—just felt in my gut—like I was being talked down to by a programmed robot complete with hollow corporate-sounding female voice. Indeed, for those Potter fans out there, I felt like I was listening to Professor Dolores Umbridge. That’s what happens to Republicans when they aren’t spewing hate or lying and distracting their followers from what’s really going on. And by coming out with sound and reasonable policy proposals, Democrats could have forced almost every one of their opponents into becoming the blatant fraud that Ernst was tonight. But instead, as usual, the Democrats ran away from Obama and the basic Democratic platform of trying to help ordinary Americans, and they lost. Now the nihilists are in power.

Most importantly, I’d like to point something out to everyone who says Democrats and Republicans are both at fault, that both parties are too extreme, that both parties are incapable of governing the country, or compromise, or whatever, because there’s too much money in politics and everyone’s just looking out for themselves… tonight is a clear example of why that is complete bullshit.

Sorry dad, and sorry to everyone else—including the corporate press and NPR—who likes to cling to this fantasy, but there’s a clear difference between the parties, and anyone who was paying attention saw it tonight.

On one hand, we have President Obama, Democrat, who outlined more than 12 different policy proposals, almost all of which were aimed directly at expanding opportunity for ordinary Americans. In addition, he outlined a foreign policy approach that relies on cautious, careful analysis, building coalitions, and using diplomacy instead of the military to solve problems. Finally, he sought to bring Americans together politically, by suggesting that even if we disagree about politics, there are a lot of places where we do agree, and we should start there. His speech was specific, candid, honest, and inspiring.

On the other hand, we have Joni Ernst, Republican, whose most specific policy proposal was to allow the Keystone XL Pipeline to go forward—a pipeline that will reap tremendous financial benefits for the Koch brothers, who just so happened, by the way, to have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help get Republicans elected in 2014. Other than that, I can’t even remember what she said, because I’ve heard it all before: vague promises of jobs and policies and proposals, with zero specifics about how all these wonderful things will happen, and lies that have become a litmus test for anyone who belongs to the Republican Party. Her speech was meaningless. And disingenuous.

Look, there is no denying that money in politics is a problem, and it’s a problem for both parties. But even so, we have one party—the Democrats—who consistently put forth policy proposals that will benefit the vast majority of Americans, especially those who aren’t rich enough to buy political influence, and one party—the Republicans—who so rarely put forth policy proposals that will help ordinary Americans, that so far no one I’ve encountered in the last few years since I’ve been making that point, can name one.

The difference between the parties could not be more stark: the Democrats recognize the real challenges that face Americans in the 21st century: wage/wealth inequality, healthcare, childcare, education, infrastructure, immigration, and climate change. Republicans don’t. And until we get a viable third party, it really is that simple.

So next time someone says something that starts with, “both parties blah blah blah,” just point out what President Obama proposed in this State of the Union, versus what Republicans in Congress have done with their majority in terms of legislation.

Then drop the mike.

About The Author: Jay Scott


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