Previously: Johnson County Democrats honor Ike Skelton (D) (April 2, 2011)
“…And we are all at a point where many of the people who work with us are victims of the success of the Democratic Party. Labor unions created the middle class in the United States of America. And because of labor unions salaries rose and people began to buy homes and cars and send their children to school. And some of them became so enthusiastic in their middle classness that they began to abandon how they got there. One of the most amazing things in this country right now is how Republicans are successful in getting people to vote against their own best interests…”
Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D) in Warrensburg on Saturday evening, April 2, 2011.
Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was the keynote speaker at a dinner last night in Warrensburg honoring former Congressman Ike Skelton (D) for his years of public service. The transcript of Congressman Cleaver’s address:
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D): ….If I write a book the title of my book is going to be Cleaver’s Law. Cleaver’s Law. You’ve heard of Murphy’s Law. Make ready for Cleaver’s Law. Now the subtitle would be rather lengthy. This would be it. The amount of enthusiasm at the beginning of a task is disproportionate to the amount of enthusiasm remaining at the conclusion of a task. It’s called Cleaver’s Law. [laughter, applause] Cleaver’s Law.
I have seen it played out repeatedly. I’ve dealt with five hundred weddings… When the wedding begins it is almost artistic. The beautiful bride with her expensive dress stands at the other end of the center aisle. And in front of her are flower girls and florists and twenty-three bride’s maids and, uh, all kinds of best men and second best men and third best men. And you can’t imagine the ecstasy that these two young people are feeling. And, and the groom is looking google eyed in to the bride’s and I can’t wait with his eyes to call you my wife. And they leave the church, uh, under the, uh, clouds of beauty, the sun is setting gently in the western sky. And they go off to a honeymoon. Then I visit their home five years later. [laughter] And go in. She’s sitting on one side of the room, he’s sitting on the other side. They have, go in the bathroom, his and her towels. His and her children. [laughter] His and her , uh, cars. Everything. And so you wonder, well, what happened? Well, the amount of enthusiasm at the beginning of a task is disproportionate to the amount of enthusiasm remaining at the conclusion of a task. [laughter] It is called Cleaver’s Law…
…I’ve seen it happen with people who purchase cars. They buy their car, they’re, they’re in love with this, this inanimate object. They love it. They wash it daily. They guard it to make sure that flies don’t light on it. They miss church on Sunday to wash it and, and it is almost like they would marry this car. If they could. And then four years later after they’ve paid for it, the little children in their neighborhood write in the side of it with their fingers, wash me, please. [laughter] But, what happened? The amount of enthusiasm at the beginning of a task is disproportionate to the amount of enthusiasm remaining at the conclusion of a task.
I’ve seen it happen when little children come in to the world. The little baby is born and the father goes to the hospital and he’s giving away cigars and hamburgers [laughter] and anything else. He is so delighted. He’s standing in front of the window pointing out his little darling to anybody who walks by the maternity window. And, uh, they, they take the baby home. You visit the baby in the home and they will not allow you near that baby unless you put on a mask. [laughter] Sometimes gloves and boots. [laughter] Because they are just so enamored with this little critter that they brought into the world. And then twelve years later [laughter] they have no idea where the child is at midnight. [laughter] So, what happened? The amount of enthusiasm at the beginning of a task is disproportionate to the amount of enthusiasm remaining at the conclusion of a task. It is called Cleaver’s Law.
I’ve seen it happen when people get jobs. On the first day of work they show up two hours early. They stand out in front of the place of employment just to be there early. And they go in, they take no lunch, they take no breaks. They work and work and work and ask for more work. And then, two years later, they come at ten thirty, go to lunch at eleven thirty, [laughter] and then leave for the day at one thirty. [laughter] So, what happened? Well, the amount of enthusiasm at the beginning of a task is disproportionate to the amount of enthusiasm remaining at the conclusion of a task. It is called Cleaver’s Law.
I’ve seen it happen to political parties. I’ve seen people who became a part of a movement, a political party, and then they suffer the slings and arrows that inevitably takes place at the body politic. And they become disquieted. They become apprehensive. Well, this is not the time to become affected by Cleaver’s Law.
These are some of the most difficult times we have ever faced. Only one out of five individuals looking for a job can get a job. Which means four out of five people looking for a job can’t get it. Just under nine percent unemployment. I sit on the House Financial Services Committee, the banking committee. The experts before us are predicting one million foreclosures this year. One million foreclosures and the closing of about another one hundred banks. Everybody who, who loses a job usually goes into foreclosure. And when they go into foreclosure they people on their block suffer. Your house is five point two percent less today than it was this time thirty days ago.
And we are all at a point where many of the people who work with us are victims of the success of the Democratic Party. Labor unions created the middle class in the United States of America. [applause, cheers] And because of labor unions salaries rose and people began to buy homes and cars and send their children to school. And some of them became so enthusiastic in their middle classness that they began to abandon how they got there. One of the most amazing things in this country right now is how Republicans are successful in getting people to vote against their own best interests. [applause, cheers]
About four weeks ago my wife called me while I was in Washington and she was at a meeting of a lot of women, uh, at someplace and she said, well, that told me to call you and tell you to go in there and stop these people from killing Planned Parenthood. And I said, go back and ask how many of them voted for Republicans. She came back and she said, well, yeah, some of them voted. And I said, well, go back and tell them, she didn’t do it, but I said, go back and tell them how in the world can they vote for somebody then call me to stop the people that they voted for? [applause]
You have no idea how bad it is. You probably don’t even know that an amendment was introduced in my committee to deal with the deficit by eliminating teleprompters from the White House budget. There was an amendment introduced in my committee to deal with the budget to eliminate repairing the plumbing in the residential section of the White House. We are talking about, when you turn on the news, reducing the deficit of the United States, Congress, by dealing with twelve percent of the budget. Only the human services part of the budget. Now, even a M
ethodist minister can figure out you cannot [laughter] reduce the deficit by dealing with twelve percent of the budget. Now we need to reduce the deficit. We have a seventeen trillion dollar debt. And on the fifteenth of April our debt will surpass what Congress has so far allowed, which means we’ve got to raise the debt ceiling. We probably have enough people right now in the House to vote against raising the debt ceiling to throw the United States for the first time in its history in default of its debt. And there are people around the country cheering because they have no idea what that will do. It will mean that the Chinese and the Japanese and those in Europe who are lending us money are going to raise the interest rates on the United States. And when the interest rates are raised in the United States your interest rates are going to rise because we’ve got to pay for the debt.
We are living at a time when people have absolutely no idea about what’s going on. They cannot possibly be thinking while they do some of the things they’re doing. I think people are believing that the cuts are aimed at somebody else, maybe on another planet, because when you start thinking about what’s cut. Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City will lose millions and millions of dollars next year if these budget cuts are approved. There are hospitals, VA hospitals, that will be cut.
And we’re doing the cuts in a part of the budget that doesn’t matter. Some, uh, five members of Congress said they were gonna give up their salary. In fact there are probably people who said, boy, that’s really good, we’ve gotta deal with this deficit. That doesn’t even measure up. I mean, it, it’s ridiculous. It is absolutely ridiculous. And so what we do, we start attacking public employees and unions. When I, the last time I checked teachers were the people we depended on to educate our children. And most people [applause] would say you know, what’s the most important thing in, to you with, with regard to your children? You’d say, their education. And so what do the teachers do? They get out of college, they are paid less than many other professions after going to school for four years, with a tough job, my sister’s a principal of a school, Center School District, I have three sisters, all of them are in school districts, most in Texas. It’s a tough job. What is wrong with us? We are willing to pay our worst wide receiver more than we would pay our best teacher. [applause, cheers] And we don’t think anything about it. [applause] Something has gone wrong. The amount of enthusiasm at the beginning of a task is disproportionate to the amount of enthusiasm remaining at the conclusion of a task. It’s called Cleaver’s Law.
We’ve got to turn this around. Something is wrong. You don’t attack government workers who are paid less, who could go out in the private sector and make more money. When they are fired or they lose their jobs they get hurt, too. We’re, we’re right on the edge of a government shut down like we had in nineteen ninety-five, which lasted two weeks over the Christmas holidays.
Something is wrong. When two percent of the American public took home ninety percent of the economic growth last year. Two percent. And there are people running around supporting them over folk who need help.
During the health care debate a guy, uh, out here in Lee’s Summit, uh, was screaming at me with no teeth about health care. I just wanted to pick him up and take him home, it’s something that this man needs help. I mean, I do have teeth, I think maybe I’m a Democrat and a Methodist priest, but I have teeth and, and I’m supporting health care. You need teeth. And you’re fighting health care. [laughter, applause] This is confusing. [laughter]
Turn on TV and look at the debates. What we have now are fact free debates. [laughter, applause] If an issue’s before us , uh, uh, on Libya somebody will start talking about illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants. And, and how they can bring illegal immigrants into, uh, Libyan debate? And they can figure it out. They can figure out anything. I mean, let me show you how you, how this stuff works. You, you need to pay attention. Barack Obama is a Muslim [laughter] and spent twenty years in Reverend Wright’s church. [laughter] I mean, that’s, that’s what, that’s, that’s the direction we’re going. And do, and do not even see the, what they’re saying.
The, we don’t, we don’t need any government programs. No, we need the government to leave us alone. And you start messing with my Medicare I’m gonna vote against you and I’m gonna argue. [laughter] I don’t want you touching my Medicare. [laughter, applause] I mean, what, uh, uh, in my committee two weeks ago a woman started telling me, uh, telling me, telling everybody on the committee about something that wasn’t in the Constitution. Well, the Air Force is not in the Constitution. [laughter] And we have an Air Force. [laughter] I mean, you know, it, it has become ridiculous in Washington. And if the American public, the thoughtful American public, begins to look at what’s happening and listen to what people are saying they will become alarmed. Something will happen when the election comes up in two years.
Now, if we allow, there are eighty-seven new members of Congress. Eight-seven new members of Congress. I think the number is, thirty of them are millionaires. And so, it’s easy, uh, for, for, for them to come in and talk about cutting things. It doesn’t impact them. But if we sit down on our hands or if we are not enthusiastic next year we are in trouble and our children are in trouble and will suffer. Now I still think that we can make it. I still have hope. You know why? Most of, most people don’t realize we only need twenty-five seats to win back the House. And if you listen to the news you would come to the conclusion, you know, there are about seventy or eighty seats we need. Twenty-five seats. And of those twenty-five seats that we’re targeting Barack Obama won fourteen of them. This is not hopeless. We can turn things around.
And when people begin to connect their votes with what’s happening to them every day like the people in Wisconsin, like the man I saw with the sign said, I used to be a Republican, we’re going to be able to turn this thing around. [applause] And if we really work [applause] that will be, what will be the statement we will hear all over this country, I used to be a Republican.
Look, it is true, I’m, I, I probably lean Democratic because my father and my mother and my grandmother and my grandfather leaned Democratic. But I wouldn’t have stayed Democratic if the Democratic Party was doing things to hurt me. I’m a Democrat and I’m not ashamed of being a Democrat [voice: “Yeah!”], in fact, I’m proud of being a Democrat [applause] because Democrats are gonna stand up for the people who are vulnerable. They’re gonna stand up for working class people. They’re gonna stand up for children and education [applause] and teachers. I’m a Democrat because I believe [applause] that we have been right to help and protect people in the sunset of their years. I believe that we’ve got to give attention to children in the sunrise of their years. I’m a Democrat. I’m proud to be a Democrat because Democrats stand for what is right and they stand for people who are hurting and if we don’t stand for them nobody will stand for them. [applause] That’s why I’m a Democrat. [cheers] That’s why I will not ever change my party affiliation. [applause] I am a Democrat. Will always be a Democrat. I will die a Democrat and if I come back I’ll be a Democrat. [applause, cheers]