Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Democrats

This blog will look at the achievements of the Democrats of the past 50 years, as it is said by Mario Cuomo.

"For 50 years we Democrats created a better future for our children, using traditional Democratic principles as a fixed beacon, giving us direction and purpose, but constantly innovating, adapting to new realities"

The achievements he included were:

  1. Roosevelt's Alphabet program
  2. Truman's NATO and GI Bill of Rights
  3. Kennedy's Tax incentive and Alliance for Progress
  4. Johnson's civil rights
  5. Carter's human rights and Camp David Peace Accords
"Democrats did it -- Democrats did it and Democrats can do it again. We can build a future that deals with our deficit. Remember this, that 50 years of progress under our principles never cost us what the last four years of stagnation have."

I figured I would research these events and how they all tie together to the overall theme of Cuomo's speech.

Roosevelt's Alphabet Program
During the time of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt needed to upgrade the government so there was more regulation and the federal government accepting the responsibilities of a wide variety of problems. He created regulatory agencies known as the "Alphabet Agencies". Programs included the CCC (Civilian Conservative Corp), CWA (Civil Works Administration), and the WPA (Works Progress Administration), in which these programs were designed to provide relief for the farmers and the unemployed. The NRA (National Recovery Administration) was created to manage the economy and help businesses. Labor unions were also created so that businesses could outlaw child labor, minimum wage and maximum hours of work. There was pretty much no end to these government programs and some say it was costly. In reality, in order for America to overcome the depression, there had to be regulation and support systems for the people who were suffering and eventually America was able to grow and prosper. Most of Roosevelt programs are still used today as well. Cuomo mentioning this in his speech proves his point that the Democrat can overcome the struggles that America is facing because if they did it during the Depression, they can do it again.

Truman's NATO and GI Bill of Rights
NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in which it was a military alliance peace treaty signed after WWII, between the US, United Kingdom, France, Italy,Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Portugal. The treaty served three purposes: "deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration." Truman wanted to remain isolated from communist Soviet Union, but still wanted to help European countries from the war. The GI Bill of Rights was passed after WWII, to give benefits to the soldiers that were returning home. Benefits included grants for college tuition, low interest loans, ans disability coverage. I feel that Cuomo mentioned this in his speech to show how the Truman wanted to create peace after a time of horror. He also did not want to leave out the young men who fought for the country and never be honored for their bravery.

Kennedy Tax Assentive and Alliance for Progress
In 1963, Kennedy made a huge cut in income tax and corporate tax rate for all Americans, which allowed a lot of economic growth because people were spending money and putting it in the economy. He argued that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and that strong economic growth would not continue without lower taxes.  The alliance for progress was an alliance between latin america and the US, which was proposed in fear of communistic Cuba. Aid was sent to help rebuild/reform latin america's economy and promote democracy. Also the formation of the Peace Corp was created to send young Americans to learn about different cultures and instill positive change in these 3rd world countries. Cuomo most likely mentioned this to prove a point that Kennedy made a tax cut for all of American and not just to the rich, to show that all Americans are equal and deserve a chance. The latin american was used in context to the nuns killed in El Salvador and how their was no peace involved with the situation.

Johnson's Civil Rights
Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 to end the legel discrimination of race and gender. It marked the ending of segregation by opening all public accommodation for everybody no matter what race, color, or religion.
Cuomo most likely mentioned this in his speech because the democrats are for equality and unifying America as one, and that they believe that the American dream is for everyone.

Carter's Human Rights and Camp David Peace Accord
Carter was the last democratic president since Reagan had been in office. AFter the Vietnam War, Carter felt that America embarrassed themselves because they were not following the values that American one had. He wanted to rebuild America's idea of human rights during the cold war and wanted to help countries that were violating human rights. The Camp David was an agreement between the Egypt and Israel held at the President's retreat Camp David. It was the first ever peace agreement between these two countries in which Carter supported this agreement because of his human rights policy. It proved that there could be peace in the middle east.

Looking at the historical intertexuality that Cuomo uses further proves my main thesis that the Democrats are the party to be voted in to office in order for America to continue to grow and prosper. 

Not only does Cuomo mention all of these historical events but he also mentions his immigrant roots. He explains that his father came to America and did not know any english and had to learn on his own through handwork and perseverance. He experienced the American dream with his own eyes by watching his father create a life for his family in America and how the government allowed him to work and prosper and then protected him when he needed protection.

He also mentioned at the very end of his speech about America's first women Vice President, and that this is a new frontier for America allowing women involved in the nation's politics, something that was never done before. 

Some words that he repeated was "We believe", in probable reference to the Declaration of Independence. However he used the phrase in the sense of what the Democrats believe in and what they believe for the US. The "We believe" statements were related to the republican failures. FOr example:

"We believe -- We believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world's history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death."

All in all, I think Cuomo was definitely rhetorically in his favor. He repeated certain phrases that stuck in the audiences head, the audience was engaged to what he had to say, he stories that were relative to the times and even all of the intertexuality helped him create a great speech.


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Republicans part 2

This part 2 about the Republicans will focus more of what the Republicans foreign policy was and how their polices did not work. This is another aspect Cuomo talks about in his speech, in order for the American public to side with the Democrats.

Cuomo mentions a lot about the nuclear arms race, in which he says the the Republicans "believe we can pile missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of them will frighten our enemies into submission."
He is referring to Reagan Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) that was proposed in 1983, which was mentioned in the blog before this, and how it increased the national debt.  Now looking at the foreign policy side to it, this initiative was used to protect the US from the Soviet Union. So basically this era was still the Cold War Era. It is said that before Reagan became president, he referred the USSR as an "Evil Empire". 
"He believed the United States could ill afford to sit passively while communism expanded aggressively". Therefore Reagan passed the Reagan Doctrine(1980), which pledged that America would support the "freedom fighters" who were opposing communism in other countries. 

Little background history of what was happening during this time of the Cold War. Communism was spreading all over the world. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Nicaragua was under a Sandinstia government which was backed up by the Soviets, El Salvador was being threatened by communist guerilla, and Cuba had an insurgency on Angola. 

So a lot was happening in the communist world, and Reagan felt that the US was going to be threatened by the Soviets/Communist if the US did not make itself superior in the arms race. 

"We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and then we lie about it." 
What happened in Latin America?
Reagan supplied aid and CIA training to El Salvador because of the Reagan Doctrine, which played a factor in the rising debt. There were four US nuns that were brutally murdered and raped by the guerilla armies of El Salvador. Reagan and his cabinet basically stated that the death of the nuns were their own fault. Reagan briefly lifted all aid to El Salvador, but eventually gave back the aid because he said that they were progressing in human rights. However, this was not the truth because the "Salvadoran military was engaged in a widespread campaign of terror and torture.”

The four US nuns that were killed in El Salvador
"279 young Americans in Lebanon in pursuit of a plan and a policy that no one can find or describe." 
So then what happened in Lebanon?
In October 1983, 279 Americans were killed by a suicide bomber in Lebanon in their barracks stationed in Beirut. Syria, Iran, and Libia were supposedly training terrorist groups on their own soil. The marines "were part of a contingent of 1,800 Marines that had been sent to Lebanon as part of a multinational force to help separate the warring Lebanese factions." Cuomo didn't mention other terrorist bombing that also occurred in Lebanon, and they even occurred after this speech was given. Cuomo mentions these 279 Americans killed twice in his speech, probably to put an emphasis on what happened.

"We have been less than zealous in support of our only real friend -- it seems to me, in the Middle East -- the one democracy there, our flesh and blood ally, the state of Israel."
Cuomo point about Israel was that, they were a great ally to the United States during the 80s. However, Reagan made strikes against them because they were building nuclear weapons that could threaten the US, even though they were an ally, all because Reagan wanted to be ahead of the arm's race. 

"Now our allies are as confused as our enemies. Now we have no real commitment to our friends or to our ideals -- not to human rights, not to the refuseniks, not to Sakharov, not to Bishop Tutu and the others struggling for freedom in South Africa."
Who are these people that Cuomo mentions? 
The refuseniks were soviet jews who were denied permission to emigrate. 
Sakharov was a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1975. He was a nuclear physicist and human rights activist. During the 1980s, "after he had denounced the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, he was exiled to Gorky". He was an ally to the US ans supported ending the communist regime and the nuclear arms race.
Bishop Tutu, was also a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1984. He was an human rights activist.
I think Cuomo mentioning these people was to show how unclear the Republicans are about the foreign policy and wanting peace around the world. It is important to defend our country, but also important to make sure that when the US helps other countries, it is to benefit the country who needs help and not to benefit the US to get ahead of the game.

One last thing that Cuomo mentions is the person, Ann Gorsuch Burford. She was an Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator. Reagan was accused of saying that trees pollute more than cars, so his focus on the environment wasn't a large focus. In fact Ann Burford, tried to dismantle the agency and cut its budget by 22%. Enforcement cases on the environment fell by 79% in her first year under Reagan. She tried to get rid of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and lower pollution standards, but Congress refused. 

So yeah, Cuomo mentioned a lot of things that Reagan failed at, two full blogs of history. It was just to further prove his point that the Democrats are the party to vote for during the 1984 election.