April 28, 2015

Hillary Clinton’s announcement was one for the ages – an age when we debate the great issues in 140 character bites or stare transfixed at video images.  Contrast it with how Ronald Reagan's announcement treated citizens as intelligent adults.

The only morsel of substance the public got from Clinton was that “the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top” – a bit of Elizabeth Warren insurance. Other than that, we got beautifully produced images of the Democratic coalition in all its diversity aiming hopefully toward the future. It was all amber waves of grain.

For an announcement with content read Ronald Reagan’s proclamation that he would seek the presidency in 1980: the economy, inflation, the strength of the dollar, an overspending federal government, taxes. He spoke about the Kemp-Roth tax bill (yes, he apparently expected that his audience would understand the reference). The candidate invoked the Tenth Amendment. Reagan addressed energy and as with his economic plans, didn’t leave the public wondering what his policies might be: remove government obstacles to domestic production of oil and gas, wider use of nuclear power, coal. Reagan promised a robust approach to the Soviet Union and its possible nuclear superiority. He promised a renewed long-term diplomatic strategy. He announced he would back statehood for Puerto Rico and he'd seek a new compact with Canada and Mexico. Reagan promised to uphold and revere “religion, education and, above all, family.”

Reagan left no room for doubt as to what he regarded as the major challenges facing the nation and what his approach would be toward them. Like his ideas or not, they were ideas and they were out there for the citizens to consider and debate.

A slick announcement video tells us what the candidate’s strategy is but doesn’t tell us what her presidency might be like or how the candidate views the nation. Two minute videos are cynical and insulting to the citizen, assuming that somehow we can’t handle an actual discussion of the challenges the country faces and the policies the candidate would favor in addressing them.

I suppose there are about a dozen or so more presidential announcement videos to go this cycle. I’ll be looking for the one that emulates Reagan.

Ronald Reagan, Hillary Clinton

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