US partisan politics - is anything different now?

Just for a reminder, I looked up the text of Mario Cuomo’s “Shining City on a Hill” address to the 1984 Democratic convention, one of history’s finest speeches, to see what if anything had really changed in the interim. I’d like your thoughts as well.

Some excerpts:

Not any different now, really.

There’s a difference. This administration is using tariffs instead of subsidies. But the US steel industry is just as moribund.


Tried it, failed miserably, still paying for it, but it’s back anyway, as strong as ever.

Rhetoric only, not cite-able, but is or isn’t this a fair description of attitudes even today?

The enemies have changed, but the attitudes?

The 2000 GOP convention wasn’t in Dallas, but they had a “Negro Night” again anyway. The Black and Hispanic Republican Caucuses in Congress have zero members anyway.

The deficit was gone as recently as 2 years ago. Now, just change the dates and increase the numbers.

Just change a few names.

Any dissenting thoughts?

If the government were controlled by Democrats, and pursuing different policies–and, presumably, the policies you would favor would be higher taxes and more government spending–do you think it’s likely that every person in America would be able to pay their mortgage? And that every young person could afford one? Is it the norm in this country that parents watch their dreams for their children evaporate? Can you point to another country where children usually do better, relative to their parents, than they do in the United States?

Uh, Elvis, Cuomo was complaining that the US was subsidizing foreign steel, which hurts US workers and businesses. OTOH tariffs are designed to burden foreign companies and thereby help US workers and businesses. So tariffs are the opposite of subsidizing foreign steel.

On the broader question, things haven’t changed much in 200 years. Jeffersonians demonized Adams; Federalists charged, more or less, that Jefferson would throw out the entire idea of why we moved to the Constitution in the first place. Somebody started a thread, I think in MPSIMS, with 14 parallels between John and John Quincy Adams, on the one hand, and George H.W. and George W. Bush, on the other, that is really worth reading. One party charged the other with being the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion” in the 1840s. We won’t even get into the other time a President was impeached, and why. I can remember as a kid the Republicans charging the Truman Administration with being soft on Communism and coddling corrupt bureaucrats. FDR was going to sell the country to the Communists, as I recall, according to the more hard-core conservatives I knew as a child. Le plus çe change, le plus ç’est le même chose.

jklann, the point I think Cuomo was making wasn’t that the Democrats had a magic wand to wave over the problem, but that the Republican leadership was not concerned with such trifling matters at all.

december - Duh. I pointed that out as a difference.

Polycarp - Good points, all. Thanks. Perhaps one could have said, fairly recently, that the tone had risen, but it doesn’t look like it anymore.