In case you didn’t see/hear or read about Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s official Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union address, it appears below.
I believe her focus here is the path the Democrats must take to win the Presidency, House, and Senate in November. It was the successful path to retaking the House in 2018, and there are many reasons to believe it will work again.
I’ve added emphases to several points, but I hope you’ll read the entire speech.
Good evening. I’m honored to be here and grateful that you’re tuning in. I’m Gretchen Whitmer, the 49th governor of the great state of Michigan. Tonight, I’m at my daughter Sherry and Sydney’s public school East Lansing high school. We’re here today with families and parents, teachers, and most importantly, students. I want to thank you all for coming.
But tonight I’m going to talk to those of you who are watching at home.
I’d need a lot more than 10 minutes to respond to what the president just said. So instead of talking about what he is saying, I’m going to highlight what Democrats are doing. After all, you can listen to what someone says, but to know the truth, watch what they do.
Michiganders are no different from Americans everywhere. We love our families and want a good life today and a better life tomorrow for our kids.
We work hard, and we expect our government to work hard for us, as well.
We have grit and value loyalty, and we still root for the Detroit Lions.
We and all Americans might be weary of today’s politics, but we must stay engaged. Our country, our democracy, our future demand it. We’re capable of great things when we work together.
We cannot forget that despite the dishonesty and division of the last few years, and that we heard tonight from the President of the United States, together we have boundless potential.
And young Americans are proving that every day by taking action. That’s what I want to focus on tonight.
Monte Scott is 13 years old and lives in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. Monte’s street was covered in potholes. They were ankle deep and he got tired of waiting for them to get fixed, so he grabbed a shovel and a bucket of dirt and filled them in himself.
During my campaign, people told me to fix the damn roads, because blown tires and broken windshields are downright dangerous, and car repairs take money from rent, child care or groceries. And we, the Democrats, are doing something about it.
In Illinois, Governor J. B. Pritzker passed a multibillion dollar plan to rebuild their roads and bridges. Governor Phil Murphy is replacing lead pipes in New Jersey.
All across the country, Democratic leaders are rebuilding bridges, fixing roads, expanding broadband and cleaning up drinking water.
Everyone in this country benefits when we invest in infrastructure. Congressional Democrats have presented proposals to keep us moving forward, but President Trump and the Republicans in the Senate are blocking the path.
When it comes to infrastructure, Monte has tried to do more with a shovel and a pile of dirt than the Republicans in D.C. have with the Oval Office and the U.S. Senate.
Bullying people on Twitter doesn’t fix bridges, it burns them. Our energy should be used to solve problems, and it’s true for health care, too.
For me, for so many Americans, healthcare is personal, not political.
When I was 30, I became a member of the sandwich generation. That means I was sandwiched between two generations of my own family for whom I was the primary caregiver.
I was holding down a new job, caring for my newborn daughter, as well as my mom at the end of her brain cancer battle. I was up all night with a baby, and during the day I had to fight my mom’s insurance company when they wrongly denied her coverage for chemotherapy.
It was hard. It exposed the harsh realities of our workplaces, our health care system, and our child care system.
And it changed me.
I lost patience for people who are just talk and no action. So as a state senator, I worked with a Republican governor and legislature to expand health care coverage to more than 680,000 Michiganders under the Affordable Care Act.
Today, Democrats from Maine to Montana are expanding coverage and lowering costs. In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly is working across the aisle to bring Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands. In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham enshrined ACA protections into law.
Every Democrat running for president has a plan to expand health care for all Americans. Every one of them has supported the Affordable Care Act with coverage for people with preexisting conditions.
They may have different plans, but the goal is the same. President Trump sadly has a different plan. He’s asking the courts to rip those life-saving protections away. It’s pretty simple. Democrats are trying to make your health care better, Republicans in Washington are trying to take it away.
Think about kids like 17-year-old Blake Carroll from Idaho, who organized a fundraiser to pay for his mom’s colon cancer treatment, or 19-year-old Ebony Meyers from Utah, who sells art to help pay for her own rare genetic disorder treatment.
No one should have to crowdsource their healthcare, not in America.
But the reality is not everyone in America has a job with healthcare and benefits. In fact, many have jobs that don’t even pay enough to cover their monthly expenses.
It doesn’t matter what the President says about the stock market. What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans or prescription drugs.
American workers are hurting. In my own state, our neighbors in Wisconsin and Ohio, Pennsylvania and all over the country, wages have stagnated while CEO pay has skyrocketed.
So when the president says the economy is strong, my question is, strong for whom? Strong for the wealthy who are reaping rewards from tax cuts they don’t need?
The American economy needs to be a different kind of strong. Strong for the science teacher spending her own money to buy supplies for her classroom. Strong for the single mom picking up extra hours so she can afford her daughter’s soccer cleats. Strong for the small business owner who has to make payroll at the end of the month.
Michigan invented the middle class, so we know: if the economy doesn’t work for working people, it just doesn’t work. Who fights for working, hard-working Americans? Democrats do.
In the U.S. House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats passed a landmark bill on equal pay, another bill to give 30 million Americans a raise by increasing the minimum wage, and groundbreaking legislation to finally give Medicare the power to negotiate lower drug prices for America’s seniors and families.
Those three bills and more than 275 other bipartisan bills are just gathering dust on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk. Senator McConnell, America needs you to move those bills.
Meanwhile, Democrats across the country are getting things done. Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf is expanding the right to overtime pay. Michigan is, too. Because if you’re on the clock, you deserve to get paid.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper are working to give hardworking teachers a raise. And speaking of the classroom, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers unilaterally increased school funding by $65 million last year.
In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis has enacted free all day kindergarten, and in 29 states, we’ve helped pass minimum wage hikes into law, which will lift people out of poverty and improve lives for families. That’s strength. That’s action.
Democracy takes action, and that’s why I’m so inspired by young people. They respond to mass shootings, demanding policies that make schools safer. They react to a world that’s literally on fire, with fire in their bellies, to push leaders to finally take action on climate change.
They take on a road filled with potholes with a shovel and some dirt. It’s what gives me great confidence in our future, and it’s why sometimes, it feels like they’re the adults in the room. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. It’s not their mess to clean up. It’s ours. The choices we make today create their reality tomorrow.
Young people, I’m talking to you. And your parents and grandparents. Democrats want safe schools. We want everyone to have a path to a good life, whether it’s through a union apprenticeship, a community college, a four-year university, without drowning in debt.
We want your water to be clean. We want you to love who you love, and to live authentically as your true selves. And we want women to have autonomy over our bodies.
We want our country welcoming, and everyone’s vote counted. 2020 is a big year. It’s the year my daughter Sherry will graduate from high school. It’s also the year she’ll cast her first ballot, along with millions of young Americans.
The two things are connected. Because walking across a graduation stage is as important as walking into the voting booth for the first time. Her future, all our kids’ futures, will be determined not just by their dreams, but by our actions.
As we witness the impeachment process in Washington, there are some things each of us, no matter our party, should demand.
The truth matters. Facts matter. And no one should be above the law.
It’s not what those senators say. Tomorrow, it’s about what they do that matters. Remember, listen to what people say but watch what they do. It’s time for action. Generations of Americans are counting on us. Let’s not let them down.
Thank you for listening. God bless America. Good night.
I will note that I do miss the voices of Cory Booker and Julian Castro, reminding us of all the folks who haven’t made it into the middle class.
What do you think?
18 thoughts on “Here’s the Path for a Big Democratic Win in November”
“Who fights for working, hard-working Americans? Democrats do.”
I agree that this is a compelling message, and she may make it better than about anyone besides Biden.
I think the most successful Democratic candidates have come from reasonably competitive locations where a good candidate from either party has a chance. I am not sure any of those are running with the possible exception of Klobuchar. Democrats from deep blue parts of the country have trouble connecting with those who are not “friendlies”. Obama may be the sole modern exception but he got the African American vote more excited than it had been in decades.
If Hillary Clinton could have identified with blue collar workers the way the Governor of Michigan does, Donald Trump wouldn’t be President right now.
I have a pet theory that if you could divide the country into 4 income brackets, Democrats used to represent the bottom 2 while Republicans represented the top two. Today I think Democrats have the top and the bottom while Republicans have the two in the middle. This is not a recipe for Democrats to connect with the working class.
Thanks for posting this as it was on too late for me.
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Interesting perspectives. Many think if Hillary had just shown up in those areas, she would have won. I’m not so sure about your income brackets theory; I really don’t see Dems having the top income bracket. I may try to find some info on that matter.
And I’m pleased that you’re thanking me for providing the Democrats’ response!
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Oh, and I failed to mention Comey and the Russians. They, too, had an impact in 2016.
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True, though it shouldn’t have been a close enough contest for those things to matter.
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I have no hard evidence on the income bracket thing, other than having seen something that the wealthiest locations also tend to be among the deepest blue, something that may not have been true a generation or two ago.
Another idea (equally unsupported) is that Democrats have gone from being the party of the outsider (think all of those ethnic laborers from the big cities) to the party of the insider. Really, is any view espoused by any Democratic candidate likely to make that person a pariah among the powerful in politics, entertainment, academia and business today? I don’t think this was always true.
Seriously? Both Bernie and Warren are pariahs, which is one reason I worry about them as the nominee ( he more than she because she’s more reasonable). Do you think her wealth tax will endear her to Wall Street? His socialism?
I think the thing with ethnic laborers is diffuse—many were Obama voters, then trump voters, and are now up for grabs—if the Dems are smart and united, which seems questionable at this point.
Did you hear former Congressman Joe Walsh (no exemplar of virtue) describe today’s Republican Party as a cult? He said when he tried to talk to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire about the importance of facts and truth, they booed him. What do you think of his characterization?
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Hi Annie & JP, though you might want to weigh in on Jill’s latest post:
She posted a very important video by Robert Reich who summarized the crux of the problem America is facing today. The challenge of overcoming political division in a rigged system.
Thanks. I’ll check it out. What do I call you, 1EarthUnited?
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Hi Annie I’m Maddie, glad we’re formally introduced. The video is most telling about the state of our gov’t and how we as citizens can take back control. Well worth watching (10 minutes).
Nice to meet you, Maddie!
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Maybe three thumbs up—one each for the Presidency, House, and Senate?
While I agree with the positions/themes enunciated by Governor Whitmer, it’s important that trump’s lies have to be dealt with in as close to real time as possible. I understand that actual real time critique is impossible and therefore I am not criticizing her positive messages. I’m disappointed that the media has not been doing the fact checking in any of the articles they publish regarding trump’s comments. There must be an ongoing process of educating the public when it comes to lies and half truths spoken by any president.
Steve, I read those all the time. The Washington Post keeps a running tally. Or are you speaking specifically of the SOTU speech?
I’m quite sure I’ve read those too. But maybe some are guilty of the fatigue so many of us are feeling due to the relentlessness of the lies and the shamelessness of trump and the Republicans. And yes, that’s something the press and all of us must guard against.
I think it’s great to emphasize the need to move forward, take action, get your shovel, your dirt, and do something constructive, So good for the governor. But in no way does this excuse this guy and his tactics. Her “get going” message is definitely important for these sad and bad times and I appreciate, as well, her cheer. As for doing something, I have to say that Speaker Pelosi’s ripping up his remarks was pretty concrete. She must be made of iron to still be standing after all this. As for me, I think I’m going to give myself 24 hours off from this political climate, pour a cuppa tea, crawl into a novel, and stay there for a while. Still, thanks for providing the speech it in full. Worth the read.
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Your self-care seems wise and important.
Nancy got a lot of flack for it, but I heard her say so much was inside her that she felt her actions were polite under the circumstances. People forget he was in “her” House, at her invitation, and yet the lies and insults flowed. I could not bring myself to watch it/him.
Encouraging numbers coming in for early caucuses, Bernie’s in the lead after Bloomberg imploded on the debate stage. Now’s the time to rally the troops, he has the best chance of beating Trump!