Democrats Pack Cobo for Fmr. President Bill Clinton Speech (video)

Democrats Pack Cobo for Fmr. President Bill Clinton Speech (video)

(Crystal A. Proxmire, April 27, 2014)

Raising over $500,000 for the Michigan Democratic Party, the 2014 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner at Cobo Hall featuring Former ctechadPresident Bill Clinton was considered “a rousing success” by Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson.

Johnson and others took time to share their views on the direction of the Democratic Party in Michigan, with support for Mark Schauer for Governor, Lisa Brown for Lt. Governor, and Gary Peters for Congress being high on their list of priorities. Johnson also said that Democrats are running in every House and Senate race through the stage.

“This election is about the future of Michigan,” said Oakland County Clerk and Lt. Governor candidate Lisa Brown. “Our current Governor is out of touch, but Mark Schauer gets it. He’s spent his entire career working to make Michigan’s economy fairer for the middle class. As the son of a high school science teacher Mark knows that education is the equalizer. It’s the best chance anyone has at a better future. It’s how we fix our seed016_goedert_familyeconomy and make it work for the middle class again. [Governor] Rick Snyder ran as a ‘tough nerd,’ but his policies are only working for the wealthy and the big corporations.”

Clinton’s speech wove connections between Michigan and his home state of Arkansas with examples of the ways the class divide has grown since the 1970s and how corporate influence has increased. He criticized the movement in the Republican party to make voting more difficult by fighting to override the Voting Rights Act and passing voter ID laws that make it easier to deny people access to the polls.

“I am both sad and angered by what is one of the greatest divides between our two great political parties. I never thought that party of Abraham Lincoln would carry into the 21st Century as its primary political goal the suppression of the right to vote.”Street-Eatzz-Ad

Clinton applauded Representative John Dingell and Senator Carl Levin, both ending lengthy careers of public service. He shared that Dingell had told him that his proudest moment in the legislature had been voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To Clinton this meant more than a political statement.

“I was a newly-minted high school graduate when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. I lived in a state where for two more years African Americans had to have a poll tax to vote and a lot of them couldn’t afford it. And a lot of those voters had those poll taxes bought by their employers, JudyPalmer01and were herded onto flatbed trucks at election time and given their poll tax receipt. And they went into the polling place – and I saw this with my own eyes – their votes were monitored and they reported back because they could lose their jobs if they didn’t vote as they were told. This is not some academic discussion; this is a real thing in my life.”

Another point of Clinton’s speech was touting the Affordable Care Act, and putting it in a broader economic and political context. The ACA has made it possible for eight million uninsured people, many working poor, to have access to care, and it has reduced the costs of healthcare overall even in its early stages. Despite its successes, Republicans have fought against it and emphasized the problems in the implementation process.

“America has the most complicated financing system on the face of the earth by light years,” he said. “We spend a couple hundred billion dollars more a year than we would if we had any other country’s finance seed021_helaine-zacksystem. So nobody, not Albert Einstein, if you could have brought him back from the departed, nobody could have designed a system to make this transition without incident, without some unforeseen consequences.

“So what do real, normal people do when they do something that’s good, but not perfect? They keep the good and fix the problems right? Nobody says I think I’ll undo all the good. What have our friends from the other party done? Think about this when you vote… What do you do in your own home? What do you do in your own business? You say, what I’m doing is good here but there’s some problems I think I’ll fix them. They said, ‘there’s some problems here I think we’ll tell everybody how awful the President is and we’ll vote to repeal it,’ 40 separate times.”

Along with healthcare access, Clinton and the Democrats hope to see an increase in the minimum wage. “This election is about whether the minimum wage is good or bad for economic recovery. We raised the seed08_jodi_bergerminimum wage when I was President. We tried to raise it twice. I raised it back home when I was Governor. I have never lived through one increase in the minimum wage that was bad for the economy. Every single one was good for the economy.”

The overall message of the nearly hour-long speech though was about getting out the vote. Clinton explained that many top officials are elected in years when there is not a Presidential race, and the key to any change in leadership is to get people to come to the polls on Election Day, especially in midterm elections. “If we don’t do it, it’ll be our fault. The people are out there. But the people that are out there haven’t had a pay raise in a decade. They’re worried about how they’re going to pay for childcare for their kids, or if they’re going to go broke because they can’t repay a student loan, or if dda_ad_06they’ll ever get another job. They showed up in the Presidential election because they knew it was the show. And we, the party of the people, have failed to do our civics work to explain to people how in our system there are no midterms.”

The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner also featured speeches by Representative Tim Greimel, Senator Gretchen Whitmer, Kim Trent, General Jerry Cannon, Pam Byrnes, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Congressman John Conyers, Senator Carl Levin, and Senator Debbie Stabenow. Southfield Lathrup High School student Asia Anderson sang the national anthem, and awards were given. Abigail Miner was selected as Young Democrat of the Year. Rosenda Rocha earned volunteer of the year. Nancy Katz was honored with the Neil Staebler Award, and Judge Damon J. Keith earned the Martin Luther King Jr. Award.

For more on the Michigan Democratic Party, see their website at

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