The Perfect Democratic Stump Speech (sl538)
February 19, 2016 12:57 AM   Subscribe

We asked Democratic speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum to write a totally pandering stump speech for an imaginary Democratic presidential candidate — one who espouses only positions that a majority of Democrats agree with (we also did the same with Republicans). Here’s the speech he wrote, including notes to explain his phrasing, behind-the-scenes tips on appealing to Democratic voters and the data he used to decide which positions to take.
posted by Going To Maine (8 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
We dodged a somewhat lazy Martin Luther King Jr. reference earlier, but no Democratic stump speech can dodge one forever.

posted by chavenet at 3:38 AM on February 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thank you, Metafilter.

Every election is a decision. Even more than a choice between parties or personalities, it's a choice between philosophies. And although Republicans and Democrats often disagree, today I would like to mention some of the things we can all agree on, the common ground that binds this great nation together.

We look at our country and plainly see that everything we hold sacred is under threat from terrorists and evil-doers. We know that our intelligence agencies need to be given free reign to spy on everyone in the world, at all times, to the greatest extent technology allows. We accept that from time to time they may need our help in weakening computer security in order to do so. We must get people used to the rituals of security theater in the airports and border crossings, so that our children will not be unduly alarmed by the metal detectors and surveillance cameras already in use at their schools.

On the "over there" front, we must continue to send flying death robots to kill people at random in the third world. If there's a civil war in a strategically important country in the middle-east, it is probably going to be our God-given duty to drop bombs on at least one side, if not both. Some of us may be more reluctant than others to accept this duty, but you know we'll get around to it. Running a large military prison in Cuba, keeping it outside any political or legal limitations that might come with having it in the United States, even if a few dissenters complain about it from time to time, is something we still need to do. We will always defeat our enemies, as our enormous military force, even larger military budget, and permanent bases all around the world continue to keep us safe.

Some of us recognize that income inequality has risen to the point where it might be a problem; but we can all agree that doing anything about it that would stop the trend, let alone reverse it, would be impossible. Instead we will continue tinkering with taxes (making the income tax code ever more complicated in the process) and regulations, and hope for the best. Perhaps this new "free trade" treaty will help.

Some of us think that climate change may be on the way to becoming inconvenient; but we can all agree that doing anything about it that would be effective is politically impossible, if not physically impossible. The sort of "carbon tax" that the more naive of the economists propose would not be nearly complicated enough to maximize the ratio of apparent effort to actual effect, and would never get through the Senate.

We do all agree that putting people in jail for the simple possession of recreational drugs is a policy that has served our country for the past hundred years, and should continue. Prisons are, as they should be, miserable places and sometimes even profitable, for maximum rehabilitation of these non-violent criminals.

So in this election, you have a choice. A choice between two political parties who both know that America is exceptional, strong, and the greatest country on earth. I ask you to stand with us. Join us. Together we’ll build the even greater country we know we can be.

Thank you, and may God bless America.
posted by sfenders at 4:33 AM on February 19, 2016 [17 favorites]

I noticed the speech includes a variant of the P.J. O'Rourke quote I've cited here on the Blue several times:
You have a choice between a party that — to a man, and yes, it is almost entirely men — says government can’t do anything, and then they get into office and set out to prove it.

As I've pointed out before, the O'Rourke quip dates back to the '90s.
posted by Gelatin at 4:38 AM on February 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

By the way, if the speech has a flaw, it's that the health care section is too short. Here it is in its entirety:
Health Care

And when it comes to making things more affordable, here’s another something we can do: We can tell Republicans to stop trying to repeal Obamacare.

Sixty-one times, they’ve voted to repeal a health care law that the Supreme Court says is constitutional, and that 15 million Americans who now have health care can attest is working. It’s this simple: Costs are coming down. Coverage is going up. And it’s time for Republicans to get over it.
In his infamous memo from when the Clintons tried health care reform, William Kristol predicted that its passage would be seen as a vindication of the things Democrats stand for. It's high time Democrats reminded the nation that for once in his life, Kristol was right.
Republicans predicted disaster, even though a similar plan was drafted by a conservative think tank and successfully implemented by a Republican governor. Not a single Senate Republican voted for the plan. As many times as they've tried to repeal it, Republicans still don't have an answer for how to replace it, except "you're on your own."

They were wrong then, and they are wrong now -- and they know it, since they try so hard to pretend that Obamacare's success is an illusion. They're wrong to try to take health insurance away from millions of Americans. And they're wrong to imagine that the American people won't come to recognize Obamacare as a success, and remember that Republicans wanted no part of that success.
posted by Gelatin at 4:50 AM on February 19, 2016 [4 favorites]

Ironically, the MLK Jr call-back is a paraphrase of a line that MLK Jr paraphrased from Theodore Parker.

Also, this reaffirms for me why I'm no fan of stump speeches whether or not I agree with the underlying values.
posted by meinvt at 6:37 AM on February 19, 2016

[That is, the speech overall re-affirms it. I adore the sentiment in that line and encourage it's use in any related conversation.]
posted by meinvt at 6:39 AM on February 19, 2016

everyone remember to vote #1 quidnunc kid
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:30 PM on February 19, 2016

Matt Miller did an interesting centrist stump speech a while ago, that predictably went exactly nowhere. [WaPo porous paywall]
posted by Gotanda at 7:06 PM on February 19, 2016

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