The Weekly Democratic Party Address was delivered by Rep. Andy Kim from New Jersey speaking about H.R.1 – the For The People Act – an historic reform package to restore the promise of our nation’s democracy and return the power to the people.
(Congressman Andy Kim of New Jersey delivered the Weekly Democratic Address. In this week’s address, the Congressman highlighted the passage of H.R.1, the For The People Act, an historic reform package to restore the promise of our nation’s democracy, end the culture of corruption in Washington, and reduce the role of money in politics to return the power back to the American people.)
“Our nation needs a government of service.
“It was this sense of service that founded our nation and built the extraordinary institutions of democracy that we have been entrusted to protect. That is the oath that we swore.
“But as we look at the stagnation and gridlock, we must be honest with ourselves that these institutions have been weakened. That we do not have the quality of public service that the American people deserve.
“The tide of dark money and special interests eroded our pillars and caused many in this country, my neighbors included, to feel that our government is no longer focused on serving the people. […]
“A government for the people requires a government of the people.
“We must help more Americans to participate in their democracy. We need to work to remove barriers to voting, encourage more Americans to step up and run for office, urge them to vote and to engage with their elected representatives.
“We need to stop gerrymandering from diluting the voice of the people, to make our system fairer and more just.
“We need a government the understands that the core unit of our democracy is the citizen, not the dollar sign.
On Friday, President Barack Obama had his year-end press conference before he began a two-week holiday vacation in Hawaii.
The president took a well deserved victory lap:
Today, understandably, I’m going to talk a little bit about how far we’ve come over the past eight years.
As I was preparing to take office, the unemployment rate was on its way to 10 percent. Today, it’s at 4.6 percent — the lowest in nearly a decade. We’ve seen the longest streak of job growth on record, and wages have grown faster over the past few years than at any time in the past 40.
When I came into office, 44 million people were uninsured. Today, we’ve covered more than 20 million of them. For the first time in our history, more than 90 percent of Americans are insured. In fact, yesterday was the biggest day ever for HealthCare.gov. More than 670,000 Americans signed up to get covered, and more are signing up by the day.
We’ve cut our dependence on foreign oil by more than half, doubled production of renewable energy, enacted the most sweeping reforms since FDR to protect consumers and prevent a crisis on Wall Street from punishing Main Street ever again. None of these actions stifled growth, as critics predicted. Instead, the stock market has nearly tripled. Since I signed Obamacare into law, our businesses have added more than 15 million new jobs. And the economy is undoubtedly more durable than it was in the days when we relied on oil from unstable nations and banks took risky bets with your money.
Add it all up, and last year, the poverty rate fell at the fastest rate in almost 50 years, while the median household income grew at the fastest rate on record. In fact, income gains were actually larger for households at the bottom and the middle than for those at the top. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly two-thirds and protecting vital investments that grow the middle class. […]
In other words, by so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started. That’s a situation that I’m proud to leave for my successor. And it’s thanks to the American people — to the hard work that you’ve put in, the sacrifices you’ve made for your families and your communities, the businesses that you started or invested in, the way you looked out for one another. And I could not be prouder to be your President.
Then he settled in to answer some tough questions about the recent presidential election, Russian interference in our democracy, Syria, China, and the future of the Democratic Party. His critique of the press was particularly scathing as he pointed out how they tilted the coverage away from policy issues and towards gossippy tidbits:
When we had a consensus around what had happened [the hacking], we announced it — not through the White House, not through me, but rather through the intelligence communities that had actually carried out these investigations. And then we allowed you and the American public to make an assessment as to how to weigh that going into the election.
And the truth is, is that there was nobody here who didn’t have some sense of what kind of effect it might have. I’m finding it a little curious that everybody is suddenly acting surprised that this looked like it was disadvantaging Hillary Clinton because you guys wrote about it every day. Every single leak. About every little juicy tidbit of political gossip — including John Podesta’s risotto recipe. This was an obsession that dominated the news coverage.
Now, hold on a second. I can already tell some of y’alls assholes are clenching just based on my title alone. And I know full well that everyone and their brother’s got an opinion as to why Hillary Clinton lost, and Donald Trump won, the Presidential election, blah blah blah. But I think we all know the old ditty about opinions, and … so howabout we just skip it?
Instead, today, I’d like to opine on why the Democratic Party now holds the least power it’s held in… I dunno, forever? Maybe. And how a resurgence of real Blue Dogs- real ones, not the corporatist folk you saw go extinct around 2010- can save the Democratic party.
But first, I gotta tell you a big reason why I think things have gotten where they have- and it boils down to just one word. And that word, ladies and gentlemen, is “stigginit”.
We don’t always see eye to eye, Democratic Party. Some of the choices you have made over the years have left me shaking my head.
But in my lifetime you have never once nominated someone completely unsuited, someone who rejects Democratic Party values, someone who I would be unable to vote for over concern that my country, and the world, would be damaged if they were to win the election.
Oh, you flirted with it: Strom Thurmond (actually before my time) and George Wallace come to mind. You sometimes allowed single issues to take priority over electability, leaving us out of power while Republicans hurt us and our causes, but you never nominated someone who I couldn’t vote for.
On Sunday, President Obama addressed graduates and guests at the Rutgers University commencement.
President Obama Delivers the Rutgers University Commencement Address, May 15, 2016, Piscataway Township, NJ
The “good old days” weren’t that great. Yes, there have been some stretches in our history where the economy grew much faster, or when government ran more smoothly. There were moments when, immediately after World War II, for example, or the end of the Cold War, when the world bent more easily to our will. But those are sporadic, those moments, those episodes. In fact, by almost every measure, America is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even eight years ago. (Applause.)
… set aside 150 years ago, pre-Civil War — there’s a whole bunch of stuff there we could talk about. Set aside life in the ‘50s, when women and people of color were systematically excluded from big chunks of American life. […]
Since I graduated, crime rates, teenage pregnancy, the share of Americans living in poverty — they’re all down. The share of Americans with college educations have gone way up. Our life expectancy has, as well. Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks in business and politics. (Applause.) More women are in the workforce. (Applause.) …
Meanwhile, in the eight years since most of you started high school, we’re also better off. You and your fellow graduates are entering the job market with better prospects than any time since 2007. Twenty million more Americans know the financial security of health insurance. We’re less dependent on foreign oil. We’ve doubled the production of clean energy. We have cut the high school dropout rate. We’ve cut the deficit by two-thirds. Marriage equality is the law of the land. (Applause.)
And just as America is better, the world is better than when I graduated. Since I graduated, an Iron Curtain fell, apartheid ended. There’s more democracy. We virtually eliminated certain diseases like polio. We’ve cut extreme poverty drastically. We’ve cut infant mortality by an enormous amount. (Applause.)
Now, I say all these things not to make you complacent. We’ve got a bunch of big problems to solve. But I say it to point out that change has been a constant in our history. And the reason America is better is because we didn’t look backwards we didn’t fear the future. We seized the future and made it our own. And that’s exactly why it’s always been young people like you that have brought about big change — because you don’t fear the future.
The president also went right at the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, actually, the entire party – so many of them take pride in their embrace of ignorance:
But if you were listening to today’s political debate, you might wonder where this strain of anti-intellectualism came from. (Applause.) So, Class of 2016, let me be as clear as I can be. In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. (Applause.) It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. (Applause.) That’s not keeping it real, or telling it like it is. (Laughter.) That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about. (Applause.) And yet, we’ve become confused about this. […]
… when our leaders express a disdain for facts, when they’re not held accountable for repeating falsehoods and just making stuff up, while actual experts are dismissed as elitists, then we’ve got a problem. (Applause.)
And an important recurring theme from President Obama this year: the need to vote in order to have a say in our democracy:
… We can raise the minimum wage. (Applause.) We can modernize our infrastructure. We can invest in early childhood education. We can make college more affordable. (Applause.) We can close tax loopholes on hedge fund managers and take that money and give tax breaks to help families with child care or retirement. …
Now, the reason some of these things have not happened, even though the majority of people approve of them, is really simple. It’s not because I wasn’t proposing them. It wasn’t because the facts and the evidence showed they wouldn’t work. It was because a huge chunk of Americans, especially young people, do not vote.
In 2014, voter turnout was the lowest since World War II. Fewer than one in five young people showed up to vote — 2014. And the four who stayed home determined the course of this country just as much as the single one who voted. Because apathy has consequences. It determines who our Congress is. It determines what policies they prioritize. It even, for example, determines whether a really highly qualified Supreme Court nominee receives the courtesy of a hearing and a vote in the United States Senate. (Applause.) […]
And, yes, big money in politics is a huge problem. We’ve got to reduce its influence. Yes, special interests and lobbyists have disproportionate access to the corridors of power. But, contrary to what we hear sometimes from both the left as well as the right, the system isn’t as rigged as you think, and it certainly is not as hopeless as you think. Politicians care about being elected, and they especially care about being reelected. And if you vote and you elect a majority that represents your views, you will get what you want. And if you opt out, or stop paying attention, you won’t. It’s that simple. (Applause.) It’s not that complicated.
If it hadn’t been for DailyKos front-pager Greg Dworkin’s link the other day, I would never have known about a statement in that diary. As a rule I don’t have time to read the APR when it’s fresh and hot; on this particular morning, however, Younger Son was late bringing the baby to my house, so I had time to look around the site and read whatever caught my fancy.
And this statement in a diary about Hillary and Bernie definitely caught my fancy:
Meanwhile, it is difficult for him [Bernie Sanders] to make inroads among women who are understandably excited about finally getting a woman president.
As much as I like Bernie Sanders—in fact an online test showed me that I agree with his policy positions 94 percent of the time—I plan to vote for Secretary Clinton in the primary (if we can call George W. Bush by his previous title of “President,” I can certainly call her “Secretary Clinton”) . If you’ll bear with me for a few minutes I’ll tell you why.