I was a very disappointed with the Democratic response to the Bush's State of the Union speech, so this is the message that I sent to Buzzflash.
Cross-posted to liberal_bias
Do you remember when Nancy Pelosi was first suggested as the House Democratic Leader? There were shrill cries from Republicans that this "far left liberal" was too out-of-touch with mainstream America. They were right that she's "out-of-touch", but not that she's a "far left liberal". Her response to Bush's State of the Union speech, like Senate Democratic Leader Daschle's, was tepid. It's clear that they carefully planned these speeches, too. Ms. Pelosi focused on foreign affairs and terrorism, while Mr. Dashcle focused on economic issues. They had a chance for a strong indictment against Bush and his divisive policies. Instead, they went with carefully scripted, bland speeches that were read with little enthusiasm.
As I listened to the Democratic response to "President" Bush's State of the Union speech, it was with a growing sense of dismay. Pelosi's speech perfectly mirrored what we see in the Democratic party today: generalities and gestures. She wasted no time expressing her love of our troops, love of our military, and love of our people. She criticized the Bush administration's foreign policies, but offered no alternative aside from vague platitudes about "forging agreements and coalitions".
Then it was Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's time to speak. He opened with "Let there be no doubt: the state of our union is strong".
Our economy is in shambles. We've lost millions of jobs. Poverty is increasing and Americans are increasingly divided over the loss of our civil liberties and troops dying abroad for this administration's lies. We've alienated many of our traditional allies and we see massive fraud committed by global corporations going unpunished. Bush threatens to divide the nation even further with a Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage and funneling federal funds to religious groups.
I would like to know how the Democratic Leadership defines "state of the union" and how they can claim it's strong. We are living in a house divided against itself, but our political leaders ignore some of our most painful problems.
After Mr. Daschle's opening comment (thanks for giving Bush the ability to say "even the Democratic leadership admits the union is strong"), Mr. Daschle gets down to business and puts together a somewhat better speech than Ms. Pelosi's. He wonders when the American people's priorities become the American government's priorities. He gets more specific about how we should address our economic problems and talks a bit about education, and then he cuts to an issue that is near and dear to the Democrats: the elderly. The retired vote could seriously hurt Bush this year. The Republican Medicare plan, their lack of action on health reform and their desire to turn your Social Security money over to corporations are all strong issues that can not only move the elderly into action, but are real, solid issues that the Democratic party should be focusing on.
Unfortunately, like Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Daschle couldn't be bothered to discuss the PATRIOT act. Neither of them discussed how the Bush administration managed to sneak pieces of PATRIOT II into the law. Clearly, my having a job and having access to medicine is important to the Democrats, but my civil liberties are not.
The Democratic response to Bush was not a complete failure, but neither did it inspire. So many key issues were sidestepped. While Bush, who admittedly had much more time, specifically dealt with many Democratic objections, the Democratic response was frequently vague, and this points to the central problem with the Democratic party. They don't know who they are. Ask a Republican what her party stands for and she can tell you. State's rights, traditional family values, individual responsibility and smaller government would easily come to her lips. Never mind what the Republicans are actually doing. They at least have a clear message.
Where is that message from the Democrats? Find me people who can articulate, in a few words, what the Democratic party stands for. Then find others who will agree. The Republicans, whether you like them or not, have their act together and communicate well. The Democratic message seems to be "anything is better than Bush" I have a message for the Democrats: Bill Clinton's nudge and wink "who else you gonna vote for" attitude doesn't cut it when you have the personality of a pile of damp peat moss.
I want something clear. I want something I can articulate and understand. I don't want a hodgepodge of half-baked ideas. Give me a central theme or two and build your policies off of them. I realize that the Republican's simplistic solutions to complex problems often don't work, but at least I know what they are!
Curtis "Ovid" Poe