Democratic Response to the 2007 State of the Union

Newly-elected Senator Jim Webb from Virginia gave the official Democratic Response to the State of the Union last night. I’d like to break down what he said here.

First, a slight omission: Bush did not give Katrina one sentence; Webb gave it gave it one phrase. I guess that is better than nothing, but it still sucks.

It would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the President’s message, nor would it be useful. Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and health care for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.

This was a good opening statement, and I agree with all of it it except for the last phrase, which doesn’t make any sense. To say that the Democrats hope “that this administration is serious about…addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans” is not needed because it is clear that this is not a priority. It would have made more sense to phrase this part as a challenge followed by a Democratic plan for the Gulf Coast.

The fact that Webb said “it would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the President’s message, nor would it be useful” is good because it says “we don’t want to argue, we want to act.” I pray that that is more than just rhetoric.

When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries…In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.

This was the strongest part of the speech. It focused on the need to remember that the Middle Class is critical to the success of our nation for both economic and emotional reasons. The economic reasons are relatively obvious in terms of the amount of money that these people can spend. The emotional reasons should be relatively obvious too because this gives those who are poorer something to aspire to. Unfortunately, as Webb points out, there are people in this country who want to eradicate the Middle Class by engaging in class warfare, using the weapons of high education and health care/insurance costs to push those who are currently middle class down to a lower level of economic vitality.

With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years…they owed us – sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

Though obvious to some, this statement cannot be repeated enough: we made the wrong choice when deciding to invade Iraq, and we are continuing to make the wrong choice by staying there. The voters made this clear in November, and the government must pay attention. The Congress must do everything within its constitutional mandate to protect us from a heavy-handed, non-thinking executive. This was not happening when everyone was a Republican. Perhaps that will change now that a different party is running the House and Senate.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction…an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

Note the words “immediate” and “short order.” These can be translated to mean “Get out, and get out now! No ‘surge.’ No ‘staying until we achieve [the yet-to-be-defined-state-of] victory.” This is what voters told their government in November that they wanted. The government needs to respond to the will of the people.

One Love. One II.

State of the Union


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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