Actual politics aside, it’s safe to say today’s world of American politics is a straight-up nightmare. We have a President publicly calling professional football players sons-of-bitches, a populace divided on whether or not it’s okay for Nazis to murder someone, and a Hillary Clinton book tour. Remember when politics were simply a candidate on the campaign trail, showing up at some random event in some random state, and giving a puffy, inoffensive speech? President Ronald Reagan speaking at Milwaukee’s annual Family Oktoberfest in 1984 remembers.
Yes, 33 years ago today, on September 26, 1984, at 5:23 p.m., Reagan sauntered into the Old Heidelberg Park Fest Hall (today the Bavarian Bierhaus), and gave a speech full of corny jokes that would make Alan Shemper blush, some relatively light jabs at those pesky tax-and-spend Democrats, and absolutely no offhand threats of nuclear war. What a time! Some highlights:
“It’s great to be back in your proud city of Milwaukee and great to be with all of you here at Old Heidelberg Park. You know, Old Heidelberg Park—I can remember when they called it just plain Heidelberg Park! Of course, that was back when if somebody said, ‘Hey, kid,’ I answered.”
“Now, we all remember how Green Bay’s beloved football coach, the great Vince Lombardi, used to say, ‘Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.’ Well, it seems our opponents [Democrats] have adopted that philosophy, but with a new twist. They’re saying, ‘Tax increases aren’t everything. They’re the only thing!'”
“Do you know that Einstein has admitted he cannot understand the Form 1040?”
Reagan was seeking a second term at the time of his Milwaukee speech, and he eventually got it: Just over a month later, the 73-year-old was re-elected, winning 49 of 50 states. (The holdout? Opponent Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.)
Say what you will about Reagan, his politics, and his legacy, but dude could make a boring and doddering speech like no other. Take yourself back to a slightly less nightmarish time below.