By Mark Wachtler
January 25, 2015. Washington. (ONN) Showing just how much America’s opposition political parties are growing, and how on top of their game they are these days, no less than 7 of the country’s 15 national opposition parties released official responses immediately after President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday. In past years and decades, we’d be lucky to have two of the parties speaking for us after the SOTU. Below is a brief recap of each opposition party’s response.
The Green Party live streamed their State of the Union response in a network-style format. Image courtesy of GP.org.
We scoured press releases, announcements and Party websites for official statements in response to President Obama’s State of the Union address this week. We apologize if we missed any, although we looked pretty hard. Below is a quick snap shot of each response from the seven parties that released an official statement. They include; the Libertarian Party, Green Party, American Freedom Party, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Veterans Party, Socialist Party USA, and the Socialist Equality Party.
The Libertarian Party showed off their capabilities by not only issuing an immediate response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, it was also immediately redistributed by independent news outlets like The Blaze and Reason Magazine. National Chair Nicholas Sarwark also issued a response to the SOTU. But the LP’s official rebuttal was delivered by the Party’s national Vice Chairman Arvin Vohra.
“Mr. President, in your State of the Union address, you propose to make Big Government even bigger,” Vohra began the Libertarian response, “You propose pouring more taxpayer dollars into another federal education program, this time for community colleges. But federal intervention has driven up the price of higher education.” The LP Vice Chair goes on to say, “We can have world-class education. The first step is defunding and eliminating the federal Department of Education, abolishing Common Core, and allowing parents to take full control over their children's education.”
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Arvin Vohra then moves onto other topics the President touched on, including the minimum wage. “Mr. President, your attempts to raise the minimum wage will destroy one of the most important forms of education in this country,” the Libertarian spokesman continues, “Many young people develop responsibility and marketable skills in entry-level, minimum-wage jobs. Those skills make workers more attractive to future employers.”
The Libertarian Party Vice Chair goes on to tout the Party’s other positions that conflict with President Obama and his Democratic Party. Vohra suggests abolishing the income tax, the war on drugs, the Dept of Education, Common Core, Obamacare, and what Vohra termed Obama’s, “surveillance state.” The Party response concluded with the words, “Let's bring liberty back to our communities and to the United States of America.”
The Green Party showed its technological savvy by live streaming the Party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address as it happened. Organizers of the effort hit a homerun with the format they chose - a live, televised, network-style round table discussion with a moderator and a half dozen experts and guests. GP 2012 Presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein was chosen to moderate the discussion and her first guest was none other than her Vice Presidential running mate Cheri Honkala.
The panel’s other guests included, in order of appearance, Rosemary Williams from Minnesota, 2014 NY Gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins, Andrea Merida from Colorado, Margaret Flowers from Popular Resistance, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin, and Shamako Noble of the Hip Hop Congress. Opposition News couldn’t find a written transcript of the telecast, but a tape of the show can be found online by following the above link.
The Green Party did summarize their reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union, and they did it in blunt and brutal fashion. “Rather than the charade, manipulative stories and lies told in the President's SOTU, these speakers hosted by Green Party Presidential Candidate in 2012 Dr. Jill Stein spoke of the realities that people in the US face with falling wages, rising poverty, environmental and racial injustice and more,” the Green Party announcement began, “The people spoke about real solutions to the crises we are facing - solutions that will not be embraced by our corrupt and plutocratic government but that must be demanded and created by an organized and mobilized populace.”
The published response goes on to say, “The theme of the President's SOTU was inequality. And while some of the solutions he presented sound great, Dr. Stein noted that he waited six years, until he had a Republican Congress that would block them before he proposed them. She urged people not to succumb to his rhetoric. A great slap in the face was the President's feigned concern about inequality while at the same time he promoted a massive trade agreement that will drive even greater inequality and injustice.”
American Freedom Party
Who says the right wing doesn’t have a sense of humor? The American Freedom Party took a novel approach to publishing their response to President Obama’s State of the Union. Instead of the typical issue-by-issue critique, the AFP republished the President’s SOTU speech after translating it from Washington-speak into a real world language the American people can understand.
The American Freedom Party begins their translated version of the SOTU with, “Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, Suckers. We are 15 years into this new century. Nearly fifteen years covering up the truth about the terror of 9/11 which gave your real rulers the excuse to drag a new generation of poor young kids and middle class taxpayers into fighting two long and costly wars; fifteen years of a vicious recession cause by my banking friends who have made ordinary people spread across our nation and the world pay for their greed and corruption. It has been a hard time for many - and it’s going to get a lot worse yet.”
The AFP manages to take a swipe at a host of establishment policies with its next couple sentences. “Tonight, after another dismal year for America, the bankers are making money again,” the political parody continues, “We’re creating low-paid, insecure jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. (Applause) So many people have totally given up on finding real work that our unemployment statistics are now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating with useless degrees and gigantic millstones of debt than ever before.”
Showing that opposition parties on the right have more in common with opposition parties on the left than either side ever wants to admit, the humorous AFP rebuttal goes on to say, “For the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over, just in time to get stuck back into Iraq. (Applause) Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands have come back in body bags or without limbs, so we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman in this 9/11 Generation who has served to make mega-profits for Halliburton.”
Party for Socialism and Liberation
The PSL response to the President’s State of the Union address picks up on the same theme the other opposition parties had - the President’s recurring dishonesty. The title of their rebuttal is, ‘State of the Union - a Socialist Answer to Deception and Liberal Self-Deception.’ The official response goes on to explain, “Without a workers’ party, a socialist party, progressive individuals are left hanging on every word of liberal capitalist politicians whose primary expertise is in creating an illusion. Progressives are the most prone to self-deception on account of the Democratic Party’s professional deception.”
The Party for Socialism and Liberation also confronts President Obama and the Democratic Party over their apparent insincerity over the core issues of the American progressive left. “In 2009, the Democratic Party led by President Obama had control not only of the White House, but also both the House of Representatives and the US Senate,” the statement reminds Americans, “They could have introduced and passed legislation to increase the minimum wage. But they did not do that.”
PSL didn’t stop there. They have a few more examples, “They could have passed Card Check legislation that would have allowed workers to more easily form unions in their work place. But they did not do that. They could have passed legislation creating and funding universal childcare that was affordable and passed legislation providing paid sick leave for all workers in the United States. But they did not do that. They could have raised taxes on the wealthiest one percent of Americans. But they did not do that. They could have alleviated the $1 trillion debt burden imposed on students simply because they wanted to go to college. But they did not do that.”
Mark Wilder, Veterans Party National Chairman, delivered the VPA’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. He took the opportunity to remind Americans that the SOTU tradition is actually given to us by the US Constitution in Article 2, Section 3, Clause 1. “This address is to present where the nation has come in the preceding 12 months, and where it is going,” Wilder explains, noting that, “What we have heard tonight is a lack of goals, direction and leadership. Congress has shown an unwillingness to work together for the common good, as well as the President has refused to work with Congress.”
The Veterans Party rebuttal goes on to give a prime example of President Obama’s apparent disconnect from reality. “Tonight’s State of the Union address reeked of campaigning, once again,” the VPA National Chair continued, “The State of the Union address also clearly demonstrated an inability to understand the reality of our nation. President Obama has touted the example of Detroit. The decline has gone too far. Detroit just completed a bankruptcy filing. The housing market has crumbled. President Obama has spoken of the thousands of jobs in the auto industry. Of these jobs, only a few are in Detroit. Detroit is not getting any better, yet President Obama is holding Detroit as the candle to guide other cities.”
Wilder picks up on a common theme throughout the opposition when he says, “We have heard the President speak of tax reform in every State of the Union address, but nothing has materialized.” He goes on to confirm the Veterans Party’s support of a consumption tax in lieu of personal and corporate income taxes. They would exempt food, medicine and other essentials, selling those products tax free.
Unlike most of the other party responses to the SOTU, the Veterans Party actually embraced a couple of the President’s goals, including the remark, “President Obama did state that we need to turn our Unemployment Offices into Reemployment Offices. By creating greater access to job banks, we can employ more people. By having the unemployed use these systems, we can re-employ more people. By matching the unemployed with jobs that meet their skills or education, we can re-employ more people.”
Socialist Party USA
The Socialist Party’s State of the Union response was delivered by SPUSA’s Vice Chair Stephanie Cholensky. Her first sentence reiterates the Party’s dedication to the principles of democracy, “The political theater of a State of the Union address, while certainly absurd in its disconnect with the struggle of the people, does serve as a reminder of our commitment to democratic socialism.”
The Party’s SOTU rebuttal uses the opportunity to answer the question, ‘What would the United States look like if the Socialist Party USA Platform was adopted?’ Stephanie Cholensky answers with a bullet-pointed list that includes; $15 minimum wage, full employment, affirmative action for women, income cap for the rich, end to US military occupation abroad, end to aid for Israel, reparations to African Americans and American Indians, and a host of similar policies.
The SPUSA response to President Obama’s SOTU address closes with the words, “President Obama is eloquent and articulate. He is well aware that a masterful spin job is vital to maintaining the capitalist status quo. Truth is the enemy of our elected officials, an enemy that is becoming increasingly apparent in the day of information-sharing. We stand to highlight that truth, and to use that truth to defeat the oppressive and brutal capitalist system and implement a humane system, a just system, a peaceful system, a democratic socialist system.”
Socialist Equality Party
As is often the case, the Socialist Equality Party’s official response to the President’s State of the Union address is from the World Socialist Web Site and is titled, ‘Obama’s State of Delusion.’ The statement from SEP takes a shot not only at President Obama, but the rest of the progressive establishment as well. Their official rebuttal begins by saying, “The delusional character of Obama’s State of the Union address” was matched only by its support within “the media and supporters of the Democratic Party.”
SEP joins many of the other opposition parties by pointing out President Obama’s apparently obvious hypocrisy and dishonesty. The Party’s response reminds Americans, “The attempt to present Obama’s remarks as a clarion call to combat social inequality runs first of all into the inconvenient fact that the individual supposedly making this call has been the head of state for the past six years.”
The SOTU rebuttal from the Socialist Equality Party concludes by pointing out that President Obama has spent the past six years proving his loyalty not to the American people or even the progressive left, but instead to Wall Street and the nation’s wealthiest 1%. The SEP statement reads, “Every major initiative by Obama in domestic policy - the 2009 stimulus program, the 2010 health care reform legislation, the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul, countless budget deals with the congressional Republicans, right up to the executive order on immigration issued a month ago - was dictated by the needs of corporate America, and, in many cases, drafted by corporate lobbyists.”
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