Let’s Watch the 1985 Democratic Response to Pres. Reagan’s State of the Union

1985 Dem Response

Just some primer for tonight’s State of the Union Address.



On the night that President Obama gives his State of the Union Address, why don’t we commemorate with a video. Alright it’s actually three YouTube videos on the Democratic Response to President Reagan’s 1985 State of the Union Address. But for a political junky it’s actually quite interesting. Here are a few things we noticed and you can experience it yourself here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.



  • Issues never change. Even 30 years ago they were talking about the cost of college, the level of government involvement, and the economy. We tend to remember the Reagan Era as an era of prosperity, but like any other decade, with any other president – Democrat or Republican – saying that the core issues aren’t being serviced never change.


  • It’s nostalgic when people talk about the Cold War. Unlike many other topics, how we talk about American safety (aka homeland security) has greatly changed after 9-11. The idea has become much more nuanced since “The War on Terror” isn’t specific to a nation-state but organizations against American interest. Looking back at how people talk about the dichotomous view of the Cold War is almost quaint.


  • This guy.

Bill Clinton 1985


  • How we talk about taxes has changed. If Republicans have done one thing over the years, it’s that they have changed the conversation regarding taxes. With the recent announcement of the Obama administration’s new tax policy on the very rich (1%), many conservatives have snapped back claiming the best way to help Americans isn’t to tax those doing well. Granted this is the Democratic response so you should take it with a grain of salt, but listening to the arguments from these individuals it doesn’t look like that argument would fly 30 years ago. It seems taxing the rich isn’t as cut-and-dry of an issue as it once was.


  • The fact that this thing is almost 30 minutes long! This honestly blows my mind. Can you imagine the Republican response being almost a half-an-hour? I honestly don’t know what it says about us, but having a response be over 20 minutes is considered wordy.


  • The production values. Oh. My. God. The production values are simply magical. Where to start? Maybe it’s the classic “we’re watching a movie in class today” presentation on everything or that Phil Collins’ Genesis created the music for the Democratic response, but seeing the production values from Part 1 is worth a look alone!

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