Polispeak: August 2008: Archives
August 28, 2008
And now the final keynote speech...the one that catapulted Barack Obama to the place he will stand tonight to accept his party's nomination for the presidency of the United States.
On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, Land of Lincoln, let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention.
Tonight is a particular honor for me because - let's face it - my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that shone as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before.
While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor my grandfather signed up for duty; joined Patton's army, marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G.I. Bill, bought a house through FHA, and later moved west all the way to Hawaii in search of opportunity.
And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter. A common dream, born of two continents.
My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or "blessed," believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren't rich, because in a generous America you don't have to be rich to achieve your potential.
They are both passed away now. And yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents' dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.
Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation - not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
That is the true genius of America - a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted at least, most of the time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations.
And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents - I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More work to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that's moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father that I met who was losing his job and choking back the tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn't have the money to go to college.
Now don't get me wrong. The people I meet - in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks - they don't expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead - and they want to.
Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted, by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.
Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can't teach our kids to learn - they know that parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.
People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all.
They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
In this election, we offer that choice. Our Party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and service because they've defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam, to his years as a prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we've seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available.
His values - and his record - affirm what is best in us. John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded; so instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.
John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.
John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren't held hostage to the profits of oil companies, or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.
John Kerry believes in the Constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties, nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.
And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.
You know, a while back, I met a young man named Shamus [Seamus?] in a VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two, six-three, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he'd joined the Marines, and was heading to Iraq the following week. And as I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he is serving us?
I thought of the 900 men and women - sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who won't be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I've met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.
When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.
Now let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued - and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this.
And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.
John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga. A belief that we're all connected as one people.
If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
It is that fundamental belief, it is that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.
E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America - there's the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America. In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope?
John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope.
I'm not talking about blind optimism here - the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.
Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.
I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us.
America! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do - if we do what we must do, then I have no doubts that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.
Thank you very much everybody. God bless you. Thank you.
I am honored to speak tonight before a convention that will nominate the favorite son of my home state to be the next President of the United States.
I recognize that I stand here tonight because of the brave men and women-- many no older than I am today-- who were willing to stand up, and in many cases sit down, to create a more perfect union.
But I also stand here representing a new generation-- a generation committed to those ideals and inspired by an unshakable confidence in our future.
In every neighborhood in my hometown of Memphis, and all across America, I see young people tutoring and mentoring, building homes, caring for seniors, and feeding the hungry.
I also see them using their entrepreneurial spirit to build companies, start non-profits, and drive our new economy.
We stand at this magnificent moment with the ability to unleash the American imagination.
I say to all those of this new generation and to all Americans who share in our spirit: if you want a future that belongs to you- if you want a future that is for everyone- then join with us to make Al Gore and Joe Lieberman the next President and Vice President of the United States.
We know there are some people who do understand the future, but too often as they gaze to the distance, they fail to know how, to make sure that it serves all of our people.
And then there are others who fight tirelessly for the people, but who don't see beyond the horizon.
Al Gore is the rare leader, who both has a vision for the future, and understands that we can only realize its full promise when all our people share in it.
I remember meeting Al Gore for the first time.
I sat across from him at my family's kitchen table back home in Memphis.
As often was the case, my brothers Jake, Isaac and I were right where we wanted to be- right beside our daddy as he discussed the issues of the day.
It was a time when, on the heels of Vietnam and Watergate, young Americans were turning away from public service.
But Al Gore didn't turn away.
He jumped feet first into public life and was elected one of Tennessee's youngest congressmen ever.
That's when he became my role model.
As a young Congressman, Al Gore didn't waste any time.
He held some of the first hearings investigating global warming and its affects on our environment, our health, and our economy.
At the height of the Cold War, when those on both sides of the aisle were stuck on how best to bring peace and security to America, Al Gore, at the age of 34, offered a comprehensive strategy to reduce the threat of nuclear war while keeping America safe and strong.
Both superpowers took notice, and Al Gore helped change the debate.
More than 20 years ago, Al Gore called for serious campaign finance reform.
You know, I was only 4 years old when I cut my first political ad.
I got on the radio and told the people of Memphis that they should support my daddy because he supported an improved economy and lower cookie prices.
Even back then it took real money to put that commercial on the air.
While I recognize the importance of political advertising-- and I still have a sweet tooth- I feel passionately that we must reform our system if we truly want to engage my generation in American politics.
Some pose for reform in photo-ops, but Al Gore is ready to sign a campaign reform bill his first day in office.
The choice before us- a choice that weighs heavier on my generation than perhaps any other- is what kind of America will we have, not in four years but forty years.
Will the amazing advances of tomorrow be fenced off for the few- or will they be tools for all of us to build better lives?
At this critical time, America needs a leader with the intellect to understand the complexities we face.
A leader with experience who can grasp the challenges of our world.
At this critical time, America needs Al Gore.
I remember the fear many of my college classmates in Pennsylvania faced when we graduated eight years ago.
For many of us, finding a good job was tough.
Well, eight years and 22 million jobs later, the future is something to get excited about again.
But some in the other party would have us go back.
Back to a past where prosperity touches only the well-off and well-connected.
Back to a past where children learn from outdated textbooks and parents can't scrape together the money to send their kids to college.
Back to a past where polluters write our environmental laws.
Back to a past where politicians run up enormous deficits, run factories out of business, and run the economy into the ground.
We have a very different vision of the future.
Al Gore and Joe Lieberman believe the future is for everyone.
Imagine a debt-free economy so strong that everyone shares in the American Dream.
Imagine a healthcare system where every American receives the medicine they need, and where no senior is forced to choose between buying food and filling a prescription.
Imagine a society that treats seniors with the respect and dignity they deserve, and where Social Security and Medicare are strengthened, not only for our parents and grandparents, but for our children and grandchildren.
Imagine a nation of clean coastlines, safe drinking water, pristine parks, and air our kids can breathe as they play in those parks.
We all recognize that no issue is more critical to our nation's continued success than how we educate our kids.
If we can find the will and resources to build prison after prison, then we can build new schools, reduce class sizes, connect every classroom up to the Internet.
Surely we can pay teachers what they are worth- surely we must hold schools accountable for results.
Imagine giving all our kids the world-class education they deserve.
Well, it is time to stop imagining.
So, tonight I call on all my reform-minded Republican and Independent friends to join us in our crusade.
To join us in making this bold imagination a reality.
When I first decided to run for Congress in 1996, many political insiders said I didn't stand a chance.
In my first campaign, I wanted to meet with every important group in my district, but as a newcomer I didn't get as many invitations as I'd hoped for.
But one place I was welcomed-- a place where I grew as a candidate-- was at kindergarten graduations.
I spoke at more kindergarten graduations than anyone in my district knew existed.
Thirty, to be exact.
I continue to attend kindergarten graduations to this day.
As I see the pride in the eyes of those 5-year-olds and their families... well, to me, it's just magical.
For those children and their families, we must continue working for a better life and a better world.
Now, as we turn our attention to the choice at hand, let us remember those children, in kindergartens in Memphis and across our nation and remember what this election is really all about:
Yes, there will be talk during the campaign of budget surpluses and tax cuts, but it is really all about them.
And so, with those five year olds in mind, our first step in encouraging their dreams and unleashing their imaginations is electing Al Gore our next President.
For their sake, we can't go back.
For their sake, we must go forward.
For their sake, we must build a future for everyone.
Thank you and God bless you.
This is a proud night for my family - and it's a very proud night for Indiana. I come from here - the heartland - a place where values run deep, and love of family and country is strong. A place where the most important title a man can have is not governor - but father, husband, son.
My parents did not start with much. But they believed in the promise of America - that this country would offer opportunity, and that with hard work they could leave their children an even better life.
My father joined the Army. America sent him to college. Indiana sent him to the Senate. He's here tonight. Dad, I want to tell you how proud of you I am - and how grateful for the guidance you have given me.
My mother was raised in the Depression's Dust Bowl. She knew the meaning of work, and the full measure of love. I miss her. Mom died of breast cancer when she was 46. I will never forget the last time we spoke. I sat at her bedside, held her hand in mine.
We talked of the future, not of the past - of faith and responsibility and love - the cords that tie one generation to the next. We talked of the girl I would marry - the girl she would never meet. And we talked of the grandchildren she longed for - but would never hold.
Nine months ago, my wife, Susan, gave birth to those grandchildren. Twin boys. Beau and Nick. When we tiptoe into their room, and look down at our sleeping children, all of our hopes and fears for tomorrow lie quietly before us.
Tonight, I stand between my father and my sons. The dreams our parents had for us are the dreams Susan and I share for our boys. The times are vastly different now; the challenges we face are new. But the values that must guide us are the same.
They are the values that President Clinton has worked to restore to meet the challenges of our time: Opportunity for all Americans; responsibility from all Americans, and a sense of community among all Americans.
He's meeting the challenge of bringing the deficit down. After 12 years of rocketing deficits and quadrupling debt, President Clinton cut the deficit 60 percent. He and Vice President Gore cut the federal workforce by 250,000 for the smallest federal government since President Kennedy.
And when his opponents threatened our values with deep cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment, President Clinton said no and our party stood with him. And when they shut the government down, the president said no again, we stood with him again - and the American people won.
Bill Clinton is balancing the budget while keeping our pledge to the elderly, the young and our future - not because it is easy - but because it is right.
And he's meeting our economic challenges. Since he took office, over 10 million new jobs have been created - 10 times the number during the previous four years; over a million new jobs in construction and manufacturing alone. And for the first time since the 1970s America leads the world in making cars - ahead of Japan.
And he's protecting our traditional value of making hard work pay. He fought for an increase in the minimum wage - and 10 million Americans got a raise. He cut taxes for 15 million families who used to get up every morning and work all day long - only to get a paycheck on Friday that still left them in poverty. Now, anyone who works 40 hours a week will not live in poverty.
But we must go beyond these historic gains because our progress has yet to touch all Americans. In quiet corners across our country, families still struggle to pay the mortgage, save for college, make ends meet. To you, our neighbors, I say the president's agenda for the future reaches these quiet corners. His agenda balances the budget to keep interest rates down and the economy strong.
It protects against wholesale cuts for the elderly, the sick, the young, the environment, the fight against crime and drugs. And it provides for tax cuts - not an election-year gimmick, but targeted tax cuts aimed at families trying to care for and educate our children, a $500 credit to care for each child, $1,500 to help pay for the first two years of college, a $10,000 deduction for education and training after high school.
We create real opportunity with these tax cuts - and, what's more - we can pay for them. That's something our opponents cannot say. They know their plan is too expensive - it will explode the deficit, raise interest rates, slow the economy, and still require deeper cuts in the things we care about.
The president is committed to balancing the budget and giving families the tools they need to build their own lives. That's what governing is all about. Getting priorities straight - and holding to them. That's just what we did in Indiana. First we balanced the budget, and then passed the largest tax cut in history and more support for education every single year.
I come from teachers. My great-great-grandfather, Christopher Bayh, arrived in Indiana with a yellow tag on his overalls that said "railroad" - and that's where he went to work - because he knew no English. But, his first grandson became a teacher. And he married a teacher - my grandmother.
No one here tonight would have traveled half as far if it weren't for our teachers - they're the real American heroes. President Clinton is meeting the challenge of improving our schools. And he starts with the basics - the values and discipline that brings students to the classroom - and brings them ready to learn: Tougher truancy laws; more drug prevention; school uniforms; higher standards so a diploma means something.
In this election, no issue more clearly defines the differences between the two major parties and their nominees than education. On that issue alone, President Clinton and Democrats who share his vision deserve the support of the American people.
And we're meeting the challenge of changing welfare, while still protecting our values. President Clinton understands that welfare was intended to be temporary, make work possible. And across America he has made that happen. Over the last three and a half years, long before Congress acted, President Clinton gave Indiana and 40 other states the go-ahead - to find our own solutions.
Today, Indiana leads the nation in moving people off welfare and into jobs - and, thanks to this president, we did it without orphanages, or cutting health care or food. Today, a million fewer Americans are on welfare than four years ago, and child-support collections are up 40 percent. We're helping families back on their feet - and into jobs.
Now, we must do more. We must ensure opportunity through jobs for all able-bodied adults - and education for their children to break the cycle of poverty once and for all. There's more opportunity in America today. More jobs. Better education. Welfare reform.
But a shadow threatens to spread over this new opportunity: Crime and violence. They prey upon our children and on our parents. Violence must be stopped. Violent criminals must be severely punished. And under President Clinton, they are.
Thanks to him, dangerous repeat offenders are going to jail for life - with no chance for parole. He is putting 100,000 more police on our streets. And that adds up. For each crime that's prevented - a victim is spared.
The president's plan is working: More police, safer streets, a violent crime rate that has dropped each of the last four years. These are programs signed into law. Laws of opportunity, of responsibility. Laws building stronger communities. The collective legacy of a presidency. But they cannot define an era. Only the heart can do that.
And we must do more - much more - to heal our nation - to bridge the divide that separates so many. That is our genius as a nation. That is our obligation as a party.
August 27, 2008
Thought Theater is currently posting new content below this "Live Blogging The Democratic Convention" posting. During the convention, I've kept this ITEM at the top of the page. Once the convention has closed, new content will again appear chronologically from the top of the page.
Live video streaming will resume Wednesday after 5:00 PM MST. Live blogging will commence after 3:00 PM MST.
Live video streaming will resume Tuesday evening after 5:00 PM MST. Live blogging will commence after 3:00 PM MST. Please feel free to join in on the conversation. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and observations.
Well the media finally has acknowledged that the Charlie Crist engagement / marriage may be a sham. In the following video, some of the folks from MSNBC have a little fun with Crist's potential selection as John McCain's VP.
The money quote comes from Chuch Todd, "After Friday the engagement might be off if he's not the running mate., right? ... I don't know!". Look, I respect the privacy of politicians...but I also find it objectionable for some of them to live one life while voting and conducting themselves in direct opposition to that life in the interest of political expediency.
It was at this time. It was at this place. It was at this event 16 years ago I presented a keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. With modesty, I remind you that that year, 1976, we won the presidency. Why not repeat that performance in 1992? We can do it. We can do it. We can do it.
What we need to do, Democrats, is believe that it is possible to win. It is possible. We can do it. Now, you have heard a lot about change tonight. Every speaker here has said something about change. And I want you to talk with me for a few minutes about change. But I want you to listen to the way I have entitled my remarks -- "Change: From What to What?'' From what to what? This change -- this is very rhetorically oriented -- this change acquires substance when each of us contemplates the public mind. What about the public mind?
There appears to be a general apprehension in the country about the future. That apprehension undermines our faith in each other and our faith in ourselves -- undermines that confidence. The idea that America today will be better tomorrow has become destabilized. It has become destabilized because of the recession and the sluggishness of the economy. Jobs lost have become permanent unemployment rather than cyclical unemployment. The public mind. Public policy makers are held in low regard. Mistrust abounds. In this kind of environment, it is understandable that change would become the watchword of this time.
What is the catalyst which will bring about the change we're all talking about? I say that catalyst is the Democratic Party and our nominee for President.
We are not strangers to change. Twenty years ago, we changed the whole tone of the nation at the Watergate abuses. We did that twenty years ago. We know how to change. We have been the instrument of change in the past. We know what needs to be done. We know how to do it. We know that we can impact policies which affect education.
We calmed the national unrest in the wake of the Watergate abuses and we, The Democratic Party, can seize this moment. We know what needs to be done and how to do it. We have been the instrument of change in policies which impact education, human rights, civil rights, economic and social opportunity, and the environment. These are policies which are embedded in the soul of the Democratic Party. And embedded in our soul, they will not disappear easily. We, as a Party, will do nothing to erode our essence. We will not.
But there are some things which outta change. We need to change them. But, the fact that we are going to change things should not cause any apprehension in our minds because the Democratic Party is alive and well. It is alive and well.
We will change in order to satisfy the present, in order to satisfy the future -- but we will not die. We will change, but we will not die. From what to what? Why not change from a Party with a reputation of tax and spend to one with a reputation of investment and growth? Change. Change. A growth economy is a must. We can grow the economy and sustain an improved environment at the same time. . When the economy is growing and we are taking care of our air and soil and water, we all prosper. And we can do all of that.
When I say something like that, I certainly do not mean the thinly disguised racism and elitism which is some kind of trickle-down economics. I will tell you the kind of economy I'm talking about. I'm talking about an economy where a young black woman or a young black man, born in the 5th Ward of Houston -- my town -- or South Central Los Angeles. I mean an economy where a young black woman or man from the Fifth Ward in Houston or South Central Los Angeles, or a young person in the colonias of the lower Rio Grande valley -- I'm talking about an economy where those persons can go to a public school, learn the skills that will enable her or him to prosper.
We must have an economy that does not force that migrant worker's child to miss school for a full day so that she can work at less than the minimum wage -- and doing that the family can still only afford one meal a day. That is the moral bankruptcy of trickle-down economics. Change. Change. Change. We can change the direction of America's economic engine and become competitive again. We can make that change and become proud of the country that we are.
Friends of the Democratic Party, the American dream is not dead. It is not dead! It is gasping for breath, but it is not dead. We can applaud that statement and know that there is no time to waste because the American Dream is slipping away from too many people. It is slipping away from too many black and brown mothers and their children. The American Dream is slipping away from the homeless -- of every color of every sex. It's slipping away from those immigrants living in communities without water and sewage systems. The American Dream is slipping away from those persons who have jobs, job which no longer will pay the benefits which will enable them to live and thrive because America seems to be better at building war equipment to sit in warehouses and rot than in building decent housing. It's slipping away. It's slipping away.
The American Dream is slipping away from those workers who are on indefinite layoffs while their chief executive officers are taking home bonuses which equal more than the worker will ever make in 10 or 20 or 30 years.
We need to change the decaying inner cities from decay [in]to places where hope lives. As we undergo that change, we must be prepared to answer Rodney King's haunting question, ''Can we all get along?'' ''Can we all get along?'' I say, I say we answer that question with a resounding ''Yes!'' Yes. Yes.
We must change that deleterious environment of the 80's, that environment which was characterized by greed, and hatred, and selfishness, and mega-mergers, and debt overhang. Change it to what? Change that environment of the 80's to an environment which is characterized by a devotion to the public interest, public service, tolerance, and love. Love. Love. Love.
We are one, we Americans. We're one and we reject any intruder who seeks to divide us on the basis of race and color. We honor cultural identity. We always have; we always will. But separatism is not allowed. Separatism is not the American way. We must not allow ideas like political correctness to divide us and cause us to reverse hard-won achievements in human rights and civil rights. Xenophobia has no place in the Democratic Party.
We seek to unite people, not divide them. As we seek to unite people, we reject both white racism and black racism. This party will not tolerate bigotry under any guise.
Our strength in this country is rooted in our diversity. Our history bears witness to that fact. "E Pluribus Unum" -- "from many, one". It was a good idea when it was founded, and it's a good idea today. From many, one. That still identifies us still identifies us. We must frankly acknowledge our complicity in the creation of the unconscionable budget deficits -- acknowledge our complicity and recognize, painful though it may be, that in order to seriously address the budget deficits, we must address the question of entitlements also. That's not easy. That's not easy. But we have to do it; we have to do it; because the idea of justice between generations. That idea mandates that the baby-boomers -- that's our ticket -- the baby-boomers and their progeny are entitled to a secure future. They are.
However, if we are going to ask those who receive benefits to sacrifice their must be equity in sacrifice. Equity in sacrifice. That idea says that we will sacrifice for growth, but that everybody must join in the sacrifice, not just a few -- everybody. Equity in sacrifice means that all will sacrifice equally...equally...equally. That is, the person who is retired on a fixed income, the day laborer, the corporate executive, the college professor, the Member of Congress -- all must sacrifice for equity.
One overdue change, which you have already heard a lot about, is already underway. And that is reflected in the number of women now challenging the councils of political power. These women are challenging those councils of political power because they have been dominated by white, male policy makers and that is wrong. That horizon of gender equity is limitless for us. And what we see today is simply a dress rehearsal for the day and time we meet in convention to nominate Madame President. This country can ill afford to continue to function using less than half of its human resources, less than half its kinetic energy, less than half its brain power.
We had a 19th-century visitor from France named de Tocqueville. De Tocqueville came to America, and he was asked, ''If I were asked" -- this is de Tocqueville -- "If I were asked," he said, "to what singular substance do I mainly attribute the prosperity and growing strength of the American people, I should reply," de Tocqueville said, "I should reply: To the superiority of their women.'' I can only say the 20th century will not close without the presence of women being keenly felt.
We must leave this convention tonight with a determination to convince the American people to trust us. The American electorate must be persuaded to trust us, the Democrats, to govern again. That's not easy, but we can do it. We can do it.
Public apprehension and fears about the future have provided very fertile ground for a chorus of cynics. And these cynics go around saying that it makes no difference who is elected President of the United States. You must say to those cynics, "You are perpetuating a fraud." It does make a difference who is president. A Democratic president would appoint a Supreme Court Justice who protects liberty, rather than burden liberty. A Democratic president would promote principals, programs, policies which help us help ourselves.
Now, there is another agenda item which has arisen. Character has become an item on the political agenda of 1992. The question of character is a proper one, but if you were to exercise a well-reasoned examination -- a well-reasoned examination of the question of character, what you discover is that the whole question falls into emotionalism rather than fact. You know how dangerous it is to make decisions based on emotion, rather than reason. James Madison, the founder of the Constitution, the Father of the Constitution, warned us of the perils of relying on passion rather than reason.
There is an editor, a late editor of the Emporia, Kansas, Gazette -- William White -- who had this to say about reason, and it's very very pertinent. The quote: "Reason has never failed man Only fear and oppression have made the wrecks of the world.'' It is reason; it is reason; it is reason and not passion which should guide our decisions. The question persists: Who can best lead this country at this moment in our history?
I close my remarks by quoting from Franklin Roosevelt -- Franklin Roosevelt's inaugural address, which he made in 1933. Franklin Roosevelt made that address to a people longing for change from the darkness and despair of the great depression. And this is what Roosevelt said: ''In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.'' Given the ingredients of today's national environment, maybe, maybe, just maybe, we Americans are poised for a second ''Rendezvous with Destiny.''
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
Buenas noches, mis amigos!
I am delighted to be here with you this evening because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like.
Twelve years ago, (former Rep.) Barbara (C.) Jordan, another Texas woman, made the keynote address to this convention - and two women in 160 years is about par for the course.
But, if you give us a chance, we can perform.
After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.
I want to announce to this nation that in a little more than 100 days, the
Reagan-Meese-Deaver-Nofziger-Poindexter-North- Weinberger-Watt-Gorsuch-Lavelle-Stockman-Haig-Bork-Noriega- George Bush era will be over.
You know, tonight I feel a little like I did when I played basketball in the eighth grade. I thought I looked real cute in my uniform and then I heard a boy yell from the bleachers, "Make that basket, bird legs."
My greatest fear is that same guy is somewhere in the audience tonight and he's going to cut me down to size.
Where I grew up there really wasn't much tolerance for self- importance, people who put on airs.
I was born during the Depression in a little community just outside Waco and I grew up listening to Franklin Roosevelt on the radio.
Well, it was back then that I came to understand the small truths and hardships that bind neighbors together.
Those were real people with real problems.
And they had real dreams about getting out of the Depression.
I can remember summer nights when we'd put down what we called a Baptist pallet and we listened to the grown-ups talk.
I can still hear the sound of the dominoes clicking on the marble slab my daddy found for a tabletop.
I can still hear the laughter of the men telling jokes you weren't supposed to hear - telling about how big that old buck deer was, laughing about mama putting Clorox in the well when the frog fell in.
They talked about war and Washington and what this country needed.
They talked straight talk.
And it came from people living their lives as best they could.
We're going to tell how the cow ate the cabbage.
A Letter From Forgotten People
I got a letter last week from a young mother in Lorena, Texas, and I want to read a part of it to you.
She writes, "Our worries go from pay day to pay day . . . just like millions of others, and we have two fairly decent incomes. But I worry about how I'm going to pay the rising car insurance and food.
"I pray my kids don't have a growth spurt from August to December so I don't have to buy new jeans. We buy clothes at the budget stores and we have them fray, and fade, and stretch in the first wash.
"We ponder and try to figure out how we're going to pay for college, and braces, and tennis shoes. We don't take vacations and we don't go out to eat.
"Please don't think me ungrateful. We have jobs, and a nice place to live, and we're healthy.
"We're the people you see every day in the grocery store. We obey the laws, we pay our taxes, we fly our flags on holidays.
"And we plod along, trying to make it better for ourselves and our children and our parents. We aren't vocal anymore. I think maybe we're too tired.
"I believe that people like us are forgotten in America."
Well, of course you believe you're forgotten. Because you have been.
'Divide and Conquer' Republicans
This Republican administration treats us as if we were pieces of a puzzle that can't fit together.
They've tried to put us into compartments and separate us from each other.
Their political theory is, "divide and conquer."
They've suggested time and time again that what is of interest to one group of Americans is not of interest to anyone else. We've been isolated. We've been lumped into that sad phraseology called "special interests."
They've told farmers that they were selfish, that they would drive up food prices if they asked the government to intervene on behalf of the family farm, and we watched farms go on the auction block while we bought food from foreign countries. Well, that's wrong.
They told working mothers it's all their fault that families are falling apart - because they had to go to work to keep their kids in jeans, tennis shoes and college. And they're wrong.
They told American labor they were trying to ruin free enterprise by asking for 60 days' notice of plant closings, and they're wrong.
And they told the auto industry, and the steel industry, and the timber industry, and the oil industry, companies being threatened by foreign products flooding this country, that you're protectionist if you think the government should enforce our trade laws. And they're wrong.
When they belittle us for demanding clean air and clean water, for trying to save the oceans or the ozone layer, that's wrong.
No wonder we feel isolated. And confused. We want answers and their answer is that something is wrong with you.
Well, nothing's wrong with you. Nothing's wrong with you that you can't fix in November.
We've been told - we've been told that the interests of the South and the Southwest are not the same interests as the North and the Northeast.
They pit one group against the other. They've divided this country. And in our isolation we think government isn't going to help us, and that we're alone in our feelings. We feel forgotten.
Well, the fact is that we are not an isolated piece of their puzzle.
We are one nation. We are the United States of America!
'To Be All That We Can Be'
Now, we Democrats believe that America is still the country of fair play, that we can come out of a small town or a poor neighborhood and have the same chance as anyone else and it doesn't matter whether we are black or Hispanic or disabled or a woman.
We believe that America is a country where small business owners must succeed because they are the bedrock, backbone of our economy.
We believe that our kids deserve good day care and public schools. We believe our kids deserve public schools where students can learn, and teachers can teach.
We want to believe that our parents will have a good retirement - and that we will, too.
We Democrats believe that Social Security is a pact that cannot be broken. We want to believe that we can live out our lives without the terrible fear that an illness is going to bankrupt us and our children.
We Democrats believe that America can overcome any problem, including the dreaded disease called AIDS.
We believe that America is still a country where there is more to life than just a constant struggle for money.
And we believe that America must have leaders who show us that our struggles amount to something and contribute to something larger, leaders who want us to be all that we can be.
We want leaders like Jesse Jackson.
Jesse Jackson is a leader and a teacher who can open our hearts and open our minds and stir our very souls.
And he has taught us that we are as good as our capacity for caring. Caring about the drug problem, caring about crime, caring about education and caring about each other.
What They Do/What They Say
Now, in contrast, the greatest nation of the free world has had a leader for eight straight years that has pretended that he cannot hear our questions over the noise of the helicopter.
And we know he doesn't want to answer. But we have a lot of questions. And when we get our questions asked, or there's a leak, or an investigation, the only answer we get is, "I don't know," or "I forgot."
But you wouldn't accept that answer from your children. I wouldn't. Don't tell me "you don't know" or "you forgot."
We're not going to have the America that we want until we elect leaders who are going to tell the truth. Not most days - but every day. Leaders who don't forget what they don't want to remember.
And, for eight straight years George Bush hasn't displayed the slightest interest in anything we care about.
And now that he's after a job that he can't get appointed to, he's like Columbus discovering America. He's found child care. He's found education.
Poor George. He can't help it - he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.
Well no wonder, no wonder he can't figure it out. Because the leadership of this nation is telling us one thing on TV and doing something entirely different.
They tell us, they tell us that they're fighting a war against terrorists. And then we find that the White House is selling arms to the ayatollah (Ruhallah Khomeini, of Iran).
They tell us that they're fighting a war on drugs, then people come on TV and testify that the CIA, and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), and the FBI knew they were flying drugs into America all along. And they're negotiating with a dictator (Panamanian strongman Manuel Antonio Noriega) who is shoveling cocaine into this country like crazy. I guess that's their Central America strategy.
Now, they tell us that employment rates are great and that they're for equal opportunity, but we know it takes two paychecks to make ends meet today, when it used to take one. And the opportunity they're so proud of is low-wage, dead-end jobs.
And there is no major city in America where you cannot see homeless men sitting in parking lots holding signs that say, "I will work for food."
Debt and Defense: 'A Bum Deal'
Now, my friends, we really are at a crucial point in American history. Under this administration, we have devoted our resources to making this country a military colossus, but we've let our economic lines of defense fall into disrepair.
The debt of this nation is greater than it has ever been in our history. We fought a world war on less debt than the Republicans have built up in the last eight years.
You know, it's kind of like that brother-in-law who drives a flashy new car but he's always borrowing money from you to make the payments.
Let's take what they are proudest of, that is their stand on defense. We Democrats are committed to a strong America. And, quite frankly, when our leaders say to us, we need a new weapons system, our inclination is to say, "Well, they must be right."
But when we pay billions for planes that won't fly, billions for tanks that won't fire, and billions for systems that won't work, that old dog won't hunt.
And you don't have to be from Waco to know that when the Pentagon makes crooks rich and doesn't make America strong, that it's a bum deal.
Now, I'm going to tell you, I'm really glad that our young people missed the Depression, and missed the great big war. But I do regret that they missed the leaders that I knew.
Leaders who told us when things were tough, and that we would have to sacrifice, and these difficulties might last awhile.
They didn't tell us things were hard for us because we were different, or isolated, or special interests. They brought us together and they gave us a sense of national purpose.
They gave us Social Security. And they told us we're setting up a system where we could pay our own money in and when the time came for our retirement, we could take the money out.
People in rural areas were told that we deserved to have electric lights, and they were going to harness the energy that was necessary to give us electricity so my grandmama didn't have to carry that old coal oil lamp around.
And they told us that they were going to guarantee that when we put our money in the bank, that the money was going to be there, and it was going to be insured.
They did not lie to us.
And I think one of the saving graces of Democrats is that we are candid. We talk straight talk. We tell people what we think.
And that tradition, and those values live today in Michael Dukakis from Massachusetts.
Michael Dukakis knows that this country is on the edge of a great new era, that we're not afraid of change, that we're for thoughtful, truthful, strong leadership.
Behind his calm there's an impatience to unify this country and get on with the future.
His instincts are deeply American, they're tough and they're generous. And personally, I have to tell you that I have never met a man who had a more remarkable sense about what is really important in life.
And then there's my friend and my teacher for many years, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen.
And I couldn't be prouder, both as a Texan and as a Democrat, because Lloyd Bentsen understands America - from the barrio to the boardroom. He knows how to bring us together, by regions - by economics - by example.
And he's already beaten George Bush once.
So, when it comes right down to it, this election is a contest between those who are satisfied with what they have - and those who know we can do better.
That's what this election is really all about.
It's about the American dream. Those who want to keep it for the few - and those of us who know it must be nurtured and passed along.
Families and the Nation
I'm a grandmother now. And I have one nearly perfect granddaughter named Lily. And when I hold that grandbaby, I feel the continuity of life that unites us, that binds generation to generation, that ties us with each other.
And sometimes I spread that Baptist pallet out on the floor and Lily and I roll a ball back and forth.
And I think of all the families like mine, like the one in Lorena, Texas, like the ones that nurture children all across America.
And as I look at Lily, I know that it is within families that we learn both the need to respect individual human dignity and to work together for our common good. Within our families, within our nation, it is the same.
As we sit there, I wonder if she'll ever grasp the changes I've seen in my life. If she'll ever believe that there was a time when blacks could not drink from public water fountains, when Hispanic children were punished for speaking Spanish in the public schools, and women couldn't vote.
I think of all the political fights I've fought, and all the compromises I've had to accept as part payment.
And I think of all the small victories that have added up to national triumphs. And all the things that never would have happened and all the people who would have been left behind if we had not reasoned, and fought, and won those battles together.
And I will tell Lily that those triumphs were Democratic Party triumphs.
I want so much to tell Lily how far we've come. You and I.
And as the ball rolls back and forth, I want to tell her how very lucky she is. That for all our difference, we're still the greatest nation on this good earth.
And our strength lies in the men and women who go to work every day, who struggle to balance their family and their jobs, and who should never, ever be forgotten.
I just hope that - like her grandparents and her great- grandparents before - that Lily goes on to raise her kids with the promise that echoes in homes all across America:
That we can do better.
And that's what this election is all about.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much.
On behalf of the great Empire State and the whole family of New York, let me thank you for the great privilege of being able to address this convention. Please allow me to skip the stories and the poetry and the temptation to deal in nice but vague rhetoric. Let me instead use this valuable opportunity to deal immediately with the questions that should determine this election and that we all know are vital to the American people.
Ten days ago, President Reagan admitted that although some people in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy, even worried, about themselves, their families, and their futures. The President said that he didn't understand that fear. He said, "Why, this country is a shining city on a hill." And the President is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill.
But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city's splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all the President sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there's another city; there's another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can't pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one; where students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.
In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can't find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn't show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don't see, in the places that you don't visit in your shining city.
In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation -- Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a "Tale of Two Cities" than it is just a "Shining City on a Hill."
Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places; maybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds; maybe if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe -- Maybe, Mr. President, if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn't afford to use.
Maybe -- Maybe, Mr. President. But I'm afraid not. Because the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is how we were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from the very beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. "Government can't do everything," we were told, so it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer, and what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.
You know, the Republicans called it "trickle-down" when Hoover tried it. Now they call it "supply side." But it's the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city's glimmering towers.
It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans -- The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. "The strong" -- "The strong," they tell us, "will inherit the land."
We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans -- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America. For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.
So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again -- this time to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of a nuclear holocaust.
That's not going to be easy. Mo Udall is exactly right -- it won't be easy. And in order to succeed, we must answer our opponent's polished and appealing rhetoric with a more telling reasonableness and rationality.
We must win this case on the merits. We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we'll do it not so much with speeches that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound; not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that will bring people to their senses. We must make -- We must make the American people hear our "Tale of Two Cities." We must convince them that we don't have to settle for two cities, that we can have one city, indivisible, shining for all of its people.
Now, we will have no chance to do that if what comes out of this convention is a babel of arguing voices. If that's what's heard throughout the campaign, dissident sounds from all sides, we will have no chance to tell our message. To succeed we will have to surrender some small parts of our individual interests, to build a platform that we can all stand on, at once, and comfortably -- proudly singing out. We need -- We need a platform we can all agree to so that we can sing out the truth for the nation to hear, in chorus, its logic so clear and commanding that no slick Madison Avenue commercial, no amount of geniality, no martial music will be able to muffle the sound of the truth.
And we Democrats must unite. We Democrats must unite so that the entire nation can unite, because surely the Republicans won't bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division recovery.
Now, we should not -- we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching at times. Remember that, unlike any other Party, we embrace men and women of every color, every creed, every orientation, every economic class. In our family are gathered everyone from the abject poor of Essex County in New York, to the enlightened affluent of the gold coasts at both ends of the nation. And in between is the heart of our constituency -- the middle class, the people not rich enough to be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare; the middle class -- those people who work for a living because they have to, not because some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval between birth and eternity. White collar and blue collar. Young professionals. Men and women in small business desperate for the capital and contracts that they need to prove their worth.
We speak for the minorities who have not yet entered the mainstream. We speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent mosaic that is America. We speak -- We speak for women who are indignant that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments the simple rule "thou shalt not sin against equality," a rule so simple --
I was going to say, and I perhaps dare not but I will. It's a commandment so simple it can be spelled in three letters: E.R.A.
We speak -- We speak for young people demanding an education and a future. We speak for senior citizens. We speak for senior citizens who are terrorized by the idea that their only security, their Social Security, is being threatened. We speak for millions of reasoning people fighting to preserve our environment from greed and from stupidity. And we speak for reasonable people who are fighting to preserve our very existence from a macho intransigence that refuses to make intelligent attempts to discuss the possibility of nuclear holocaust with our enemy. They refuse. They refuse, because they believe we can pile missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of them will frighten our enemies into submission.
Now we're proud of this diversity as Democrats. We're grateful for it. We don't have to manufacture it the way the Republicans will next month in Dallas, by propping up mannequin delegates on the convention floor. But we, while we're proud of this diversity, we pay a price for it. The different people that we represent have different points of view. And sometimes they compete and even debate, and even argue. That's what our primaries were all about. But now the primaries are over and it is time, when we pick our candidates and our platform here, to lock arms and move into this campaign together.
If you need any more inspiration to put some small part of your own difference aside to create this consensus, then all you need to do is to reflect on what the Republican policy of divide and cajole has done to this land since 1980. Now the President has asked the American people to judge him on whether or not he's fulfilled the promises he made four years ago. I believe, as Democrats, we ought to accept that challenge. And just for a moment let us consider what he has said and what he's done.
Inflation -- Inflation is down since 1980, but not because of the supply-side miracle promised to us by the President. Inflation was reduced the old-fashioned way: with a recession, the worst since 1932. Now how did we -- We could have brought inflation down that way. How did he do it? 55,000 bankruptcies; two years of massive unemployment; 200,000 farmers and ranchers forced off the land; more homeless -- more homeless than at any time since the Great Depression in 1932; more hungry, in this world of enormous affluence, the United States of America, more hungry; more poor, most of them women. And -- And he paid one other thing, a nearly 200 billion dollar deficit threatening our future.
Now, we must make the American people understand this deficit because they don't. The President's deficit is a direct and dramatic repudiation of his promise in 1980 to balance the budget by 1983. How large is it? The deficit is the largest in the history of the universe. It -- President Carter's last budget had a deficit less than one-third of this deficit. It is a deficit that, according to the President's own fiscal adviser, may grow to as much 300 billion dollars a year for "as far as the eye can see." And, ladies and gentlemen, it is a debt so large -- that is almost one-half of the money we collect from the personal income tax each year goes just to pay the interest. It is a mortgage on our children's future that can be paid only in pain and that could bring this nation to its knees.
Now don't take my word for it -- I'm a Democrat. Ask the Republican investment bankers on Wall Street what they think the chances of this recovery being permanent are. You see, if they're not too embarrassed to tell you the truth, they'll say that they're appalled and frightened by the President's deficit. Ask them what they think of our economy, now that it's been driven by the distorted value of the dollar back to its colonial condition. Now we're exporting agricultural products and importing manufactured ones. Ask those Republican investment bankers what they expect the rate of interest to be a year from now. And ask them -- if they dare tell you the truth -- you'll learn from them, what they predict for the inflation rate a year from now, because of the deficit.
Now, how important is this question of the deficit. Think about it practically: What chance would the Republican candidate have had in 1980 if he had told the American people that he intended to pay for his so-called economic recovery with bankruptcies, unemployment, more homeless, more hungry, and the largest government debt known to humankind? If he had told the voters in 1980 that truth, would American voters have signed the loan certificate for him on Election Day? Of course not! That was an election won under false pretenses. It was won with smoke and mirrors and illusions. And that's the kind of recovery we have now as well.
But what about foreign policy? They said that they would make us and the whole world safer. They say they have. By creating the largest defense budget in history, one that even they now admit is excessive -- by escalating to a frenzy the nuclear arms race; by incendiary rhetoric; by refusing to discuss peace with our enemies; by the loss of 279 young Americans in Lebanon in pursuit of a plan and a policy that no one can find or describe.
We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and then we lie about it. 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. Our -- Our policy -- Our foreign policy drifts with no real direction, other than an hysterical commitment to an arms race that leads nowhere -- if we're lucky. And if we're not, it could lead us into bankruptcy or war.
Of course we must have a strong defense! Of course Democrats are for a strong defense. Of course Democrats believe that there are times that we must stand and fight. And we have. Thousands of us have paid for freedom with our lives. But always -- when this country has been at its best -- our purposes were clear. Now they're not. 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.
We -- We have in the last few years spent more than we can afford. We have pounded our chests and made bold speeches. But we lost 279 young Americans in Lebanon and we live behind sand bags in Washington. How can anyone say that we are safer, stronger, or better?
That -- That is the Republican record. That its disastrous quality is not more fully understood by the American people I can only attribute to the President's amiability and the failure by some to separate the salesman from the product.
And, now -- now -- now it's up to us. Now it's up to you and to me to make the case to America. And to remind Americans that if they are not happy with all that the President has done so far, they should consider how much worse it will be if he is left to his radical proclivities for another four years unrestrained. Unrestrained.
Now, if -- if July -- if July brings back Ann Gorsuch Burford -- what can we expect of December? Where would -- Where would another four years take us? Where would four years more take us? How much larger will the deficit be? How much deeper the cuts in programs for the struggling middle class and the poor to limit that deficit? How high will the interest rates be? How much more acid rain killing our forests and fouling our lakes?
And, ladies and gentlemen, please think of this -- the nation must think of this: What kind of Supreme Court will we have?
Please. [beckons audience to settle down]
We -- We must ask ourselves what kind of court and country will be fashioned by the man who believes in having government mandate people's religion and morality; the man who believes that trees pollute the environment; the man that believes that -- that the laws against discrimination against people go too far; a man who threatens Social Security and Medicaid and help for the disabled. How high will we pile the missiles? How much deeper will the gulf be between us and our enemies? And, ladies and gentlemen, will four years more make meaner the spirit of the American people? This election will measure the record of the past four years. But more than that, it will answer the question of what kind of people we want to be.
We Democrats still have a dream. We still believe in this nation's future. And this is our answer to the question. This is our credo:
We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need.
We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn't distort or promise to do things that we know we can't do.
We believe in a government strong enough to use words like "love" and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.
We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.
We -- Our -- Our government -- Our government should be able to rise to the level where it can fill the gaps that are left by chance or by a wisdom we don't fully understand. We would rather have laws written by the patron of this great city, the man called the "world's most sincere Democrat," St. Francis of Assisi, than laws written by Darwin.
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.
We believe in firm -- We believe in firm but fair law and order.
We believe proudly in the union movement.
We believe in a -- We believe -- We believe in privacy for people, openness by government.
We believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights.
We believe in a single -- We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another's pain, sharing one another's blessings -- reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.
We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future of the child -- that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive and live decently is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
Now for 50 years -- 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: Roosevelt's alphabet programs; Truman's NATO and the GI Bill of Rights; Kennedy's intelligent tax incentives and the Alliance for Progress; Johnson's civil rights; Carter's human rights and the nearly miraculous Camp David Peace Accord.
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. And we can deal with the deficit intelligently, by shared sacrifice, with all parts of the nation's family contributing, building partnerships with the private sector, providing a sound defense without depriving ourselves of what we need to feed our children and care for our people. We can have a future that provides for all the young of the present, by marrying common sense and compassion.
We know we can, because we did it for nearly 50 years before 1980. And we can do it again, if we do not forget -- if we do not forget that this entire nation has profited by these progressive principles; that they helped lift up generations to the middle class and higher; that they gave us a chance to work, to go to college, to raise a family, to own a house, to be secure in our old age and, before that, to reach heights that our own parents would not have dared dream of.
That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of the shining city. And it's a story, ladies and gentlemen, that I didn't read in a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it and lived it, like many of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both his hands work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about our kind of democracy from my father. And I learned about our obligation to each other from him and from my mother. They asked only for a chance to work and to make the world better for their children, and they -- they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation's government did that for them.
And that they were able to build a family and live in dignity and see one of their children go from behind their little grocery store in South Jamaica on the other side of the tracks where he was born, to occupy the highest seat, in the greatest State, in the greatest nation, in the only world we would know, is an ineffably beautiful tribute to the democratic process.
And -- And ladies and gentlemen, on January 20, 1985, it will happen again -- only on a much, much grander scale. We will have a new President of the United States, a Democrat born not to the blood of kings but to the blood of pioneers and immigrants. And we will have America's first woman Vice President, the child of immigrants, and she -- she -- she will open with one magnificent stroke, a whole new frontier for the United States.
Now, it will happen. It will happen if we make it happen; if you and I make it happen. And I ask you now, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, for the good of all of us, for the love of this great nation, for the family of America, for the love of God: Please, make this nation remember how futures are built.
Thank you and God bless you.
Mario Cuomo - Video Excerpt
August 26, 2008
Thanks very much, Barbara Mikulski, for your very eloquent, your eloquent introduction. Distinguished legislator, great spokeswoman for economic democracy and social justice in this country, I thank you for your eloquent introduction.
Well, things worked out a little different from the way I thought, but let me tell you, I still love New York.
My fellow Democrats and my fellow Americans, I have come here tonight not to argue as a candidate but to affirm a cause. I'm asking you--I am asking you to renew the commitment of the Democratic Party to economic justice.
I am asking you to renew our commitment to a fair and lasting prosperity that can put America back to work.
This is the cause that brought me into the campaign and that sustained me for nine months across 100,000 miles in 40 different states. We had our losses, but the pain of our defeats is far, far less than the pain of the people that I have met.
We have learned that it is important to take issues seriously, but never to take ourselves too seriously.
The serious issue before us tonight is the cause for which the Democratic Party has stood in its finest hours, the cause that keeps our Party young and makes it, in the second century of its age, the largest political party in this republic and the longest lasting political party on this planet.
Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man and the common woman.
Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called "the humble members of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers." On this foundation we have defined our values, refined our policies and refreshed our faith.
Now I take the unusual step of carrying the cause and the commitment of my campaign personally to our national convention. I speak out of a deep sense of urgency about the anguish and anxiety I have seen across America.
I speak out of a deep belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party, and in the potential of that Party and of a President to make a difference. And I speak out of a deep trust in our capacity to proceed with boldness and a common vision that will feel and heal the suffering of our time and the divisions of our Party.
The economic plank of this platform on its face concerns only material things, but it is also a moral issue that I raise tonight. It has taken many forms over many years. In this campaign and in this country that we seek to lead, the challenge in 1980 is to give our voice and our vote for these fundamental democratic principles.
Let us pledge that we will never misuse unemployment, high interest rates, and human misery as false weapons against inflation.
Let us pledge that employment will be the first priority of our economic policy.
Let us pledge that there will be security for all those who are now at work, and let us pledge that there will be jobs for all who are out of work; and we will not compromise on the issue of jobs.
These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition, and they have been the soul of our Party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.
We dare not forsake that tradition. We cannot let the great purposes of the Democratic Party become the bygone passages of history.
We must not permit the Republicans to seize and run on the slogans of prosperity. We heard the orators at their convention all trying to talk like Democrats. They proved that even Republican nominees can quote Franklin Roosevelt to their own purpose.
The Grand Old Party thinks it has found a great new trick, but 40 years ago an earlier generation of Republicans attempted the same trick. And Franklin Roosevelt himself replied, "Most Republican leaders have bitterly fought and blocked the forward surge of average men and women in their pursuit of happiness. Let us not be deluded that overnight those leaders have suddenly become the friends of average men and women."
"You know," he continued, "very few of us are that gullible." And four years later when the Republicans tried that trick again, Franklin Roosevelt asked "Can the Old Guard pass itself off as the New Deal? I think not. We have all seen many marvelous stunts in the circus, but no performing elephant could turn a handspring without falling flat on its back."
The 1980 Republican convention was awash with crocodile tears for our economic distress, but it is by their long record and not their recent words that you shall know them.
The same Republicans who are talking about the crisis of unemployment have nominated a man who once said, and I quote, "Unemployment insurance is a prepaid vacation plan for freeloaders." And that nominee is no friend of labor.
The same Republicans who are talking about the problems of the inner cities have nominated a man who said, and I quote, "I have included in my morning and evening prayers every day the prayer that the Federal Government not bail out New York." And that nominee is no friend of this city and our great urban centers across this Nation.
The same Republicans who are talking about security for the elderly have nominated a man who said just four years ago that "Participation in social security should be made voluntary." And that nominee is no friend of the senior citizens of this Nation.
The same Republicans who are talking about preserving the environment have nominated a man who last year made the preposterous statement, and I quote, "Eighty percent of our air pollution comes from plants and trees."
And that nominee is no friend of the environment.
And the same Republicans who are invoking Franklin Roosevelt have nominated a man who said in 1976, and these are his exact words, "Fascism was really the basis of the New Deal." And that nominee whose name is Ronald Reagan has no right to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The great adventures which our opponents offer is a voyage into the past. Progress is our heritage, not theirs. What is right for us as Democrats is also the right way for Democrats to win.
The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures.
Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.
The demand of our people in 1980 is not for smaller government or bigger government but for better government. Some say that government is always bad and that spending for basic social programs is the root of our economic evils. But we reply: The present inflation and recession cost our economy $200 billion a year. We reply: Inflation and unemployment are the biggest spenders of all.
The task of leadership in 1980 is not to parade scapegoats or to seek refuge in reaction, but to match our power to the possibilities of progress. While others talked of free enterprise, it was the Democratic Party that acted and we ended excessive regulation in the airline and trucking industry and we restored competition to the marketplace. And I take some satisfaction that this deregulation was legislation that I sponsored and passed in the Congress of the United States.
As Democrats we recognize that each generation of Americans has a rendezvous with a different reality. The answers of one generation become the questions of the next generation. But there is a guiding star in the American firmament. It is as old as the revolutionary belief that all people are created equal, and as clear as the contemporary condition of Liberty City and the South Bronx.
Again and again Democratic leaders have followed that star and they have given new meaning to the old values of liberty and justice for all.
We are the party. We are the party of the New Freedom, the New Deal and the New Frontier. We have always been the party of hope. So this year let us offer new hope, new hope to an America uncertain about the present, but unsurpassed in its potential for the future.
To all those who are idle in the cities and industries of America let us provide new hope for the dignity of useful work. Democrats have always believed that a basic civil right of all Americans is their right to earn their own way. The party of the people must always be the party of full employment. To all those who doubt the future of our economy, let us provide new hope for the reindustrialization of America. And let our vision reach beyond the next election or the next year to a new generation of prosperity. If we could rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II, then surely we can reindustrialize our own nation and revive our inner cities in the 1980s.
To all those who work hard for a living wage let us provide new hope that the price of their employment shall not be an unsafe workplace and a death at an earlier age.
To all those who inhabit our land from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulfstream waters, let us provide new hope that prosperity shall not be purchased by poisoning the air, the rivers and the natural resources that are the greatest gift of this continent.
We must insist that our children and our grandchildren shall inherit a land which they can truly call America the beautiful.
To all those who see the worth of their work and their savings taken by inflation, let us offer new hope for a stable economy. We must meet the pressures of the present by invoking the full power of government to master increasing prices.
In candor, we must say that the Federal budget can be balanced only by policies that bring us to a balanced prosperity of full employment and price restraint.
And to all those overburdened by an unfair tax structure, let us provide new hope for real tax reform. Instead of shutting down classrooms, let us shut off tax shelters.
Instead of cutting out school lunches, let us cut off tax subsidies for expensive business lunches that are nothing more than food stamps for the rich.
The tax cut of our Republican opponents takes the name of tax reform in vain. It is a wonderfully Republican idea that would redistribute income in the wrong direction. It is good news for any of you with incomes over $200,000 a year. For the few of you, it offers a pot of gold worth $14,000. But the Republican tax cut is bad news for the middle income families.
For the many of you, they plan a pittance of $200 a year, and that is not what the Democratic Party means when we say tax reform.
The vast majority of Americans cannot afford this panacea from a Republican nominee who has denounced the progressive income tax as the invention of Karl Marx. I am afraid he has confused Karl Marx with Theodore Roosevelt--that obscure Republican president who sought and fought for a tax system based on ability to pay. Theodore Roosevelt was not Karl Marx, and the Republican tax scheme is not tax reform.
Finally, we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for a national health insurance.
We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real control over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family's health shall never depend on the size of a family's wealth.
The President, the Vice President, the members of Congress have a medical plan that meets their needs in full, and whenever senators and representatives catch a little cold, the Capitol physician will see them immediately, treat them promptly, fill a prescription on the spot. We do not get a bill even if we ask for it, and when do you think was the last time a member of Congress asked for a bill from the Federal Government?
I say again, as I have before, if health insurance is good enough for the President, the Vice President and the Congress of the United States, then it is good enough for you and every family in America.
There were some who said we should be silent about our differences on issues during this convention, but the heritage of the Democratic Party has been a history of democracy. We fight hard because we care deeply about our principles and purposes. We did not flee this struggle. We welcome the contrast with the empty and expedient spectacle last month in Detroit where no nomination was contested, no question was debated, and no one dared to raise any doubt or dissent.
Democrats can be proud that we chose a different course and a different platform. We can be proud that our party stands for investment in safe energy instead of a nuclear future that may threaten the future itself.
We must not permit the neighborhoods of America to be permanently shadowed by the fear of another Three Mile Island.
We can be proud that our party stands for a fair housing law to unlock the doors of discrimination once and for all. The American house will be divided against itself so long as there is prejudice against any American buying or renting a home.
And we can be proud that our party stands plainly and publicly and persistently for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Women hold their rightful place at our convention, and women must have their rightful place in the Constitution of the United States. On this issue we will not yield, we will not equivocate, we will not rationalize, explain or excuse. We will stand for E.R.A. and for the recognition at long last that our nation was made up of founding mothers as well as founding fathers.
A fair prosperity and a just society are within our vision and our grasp, and we do not have every answer. There are questions not yet asked, waiting for us in the recesses of the future, but of this much we can be certain because it is the lesson of all our history: Together a president and the people can make a difference. I have found that faith still alive wherever I have traveled across this land. So let us reject the counsel of retreat and the call to reaction. Let us go forward in the knowledge that history only helps those who help themselves.
There will be setbacks and sacrifices in the years ahead but I am convinced that we as a people are ready to give something back to our country in return for all it has given to us.
Let this be our commitment: Whatever sacrifices must be made will be shared and shared fairly. And let this be our confidence: At the end of our journey and always before us shines that ideal of liberty and justice for all.
In closing, let me say a few words to all those that I have met and to all those who have supported me, at this convention and across the country. There were hard hours on our journey, and often we sailed against the wind. But always we kept our rudder true, and there were so many of you who stayed the course and shared our hope. You gave your help, but even more, you gave your hearts.
Because of you, this has been a happy campaign. You welcomed Joan, me and our family into your homes and neighborhoods, your churches, your campuses, your union halls. When I think back of all the miles and all the months and all the memories, I think of you. I recall the poet's words, and I say: What golden friends I have.
Among you, my golden friends across this land, I have listened and learned.
I have listened to Kenny Dubois, a glassblower in Charleston, West Virginia, who has ten children to support but has lost his job after 35 years, just three years short of qualifying for his pension.
I have listened to the Trachta family who farm in Iowa and who wonder whether they can pass the good life and the good earth on to their children.
I have listened to the grandmother in East Oakland who no longer has a phone to call her grandchildren because she gave it up to pay the rent on her small apartment.
I have listened to young workers out of work, to students without the tuition for college, and to families without the chance to own a home. I have seen the closed factories and the stalled assembly lines of Anderson, Indiana and South Gate, California, and I have seen too many, far too many idle men and women desperate to work. I have seen too many, far too many working families desperate to protect the value of their wages from the ravages of inflation.
Yet I have also sensed a yearning for new hope among the people in every state where I have been. And I have felt it in their handshakes, I saw it in their faces, and I shall never forget the mothers who carried children to our rallies. I shall always remember the elderly who have lived in an America of high purpose and who believe that it can all happen again.
Tonight, in their name, I have come here to speak for them. And for their sake, I ask you to stand with them. On their behalf I ask you to restate and reaffirm the timeless truth of our party.
I congratulate President Carter on his victory here.
I am confident that the Democratic Party will reunite on the basis of Democratic principles, and that together we will march towards a Democratic victory in 1980.
And someday, long after this convention, long after the signs come down, and the crowds stop cheering, and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith. May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we found our faith again.
And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:
"I am a part of all that I have met....
Tho much is taken, much abides....
That which we are, we are--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
...strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
Who Then Will Speak for the Common Good?
New York, New York, July 12, 1976
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for a very warm reception.
It was one hundred and forty-four years ago that members of the Democratic Party first met in convention to select a Presidential candidate. Since that time, Democrats have continued to convene once every four years and draft a party platform and nominate a Presidential candidate. And our meeting this week is a continuation of that tradition. But there is something different about tonight. There is something special about tonight. What is different? What is special?
I, Barbara Jordan, am a keynote speaker.
When -- A lot of years passed since 1832, and during that time it would have been most unusual for any national political party to ask a Barbara Jordan to deliver a keynote address. But tonight, here I am. And I feel -- I feel that notwithstanding the past that my presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not forever be deferred.
Now -- Now that I have this grand distinction, what in the world am I supposed to say? I could easily spend this time praising the accomplishments of this party and attacking the Republicans -- but I don't choose to do that. I could list the many problems which Americans have. I could list the problems which cause people to feel cynical, angry, frustrated: problems which include lack of integrity in government; the feeling that the individual no longer counts; the reality of material and spiritual poverty; the feeling that the grand American experiment is failing or has failed. I could recite these problems, and then I could sit down and offer no solutions. But I don't choose to do that either. The citizens of America expect more. They deserve and they want more than a recital of problems.
We are a people in a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future. We are a people in search of a national community. We are a people trying not only to solve the problems of the present, unemployment, inflation, but we are attempting on a larger scale to fulfill the promise of America. We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.
Throughout -- Throughout our history, when people have looked for new ways to solve their problems and to uphold the principles of this nation, many times they have turned to political parties. They have often turned to the Democratic Party. What is it? What is it about the Democratic Party that makes it the instrument the people use when they search for ways to shape their future? Well I believe the answer to that question lies in our concept of governing. Our concept of governing is derived from our view of people. It is a concept deeply rooted in a set of beliefs firmly etched in the national conscience of all of us.
Now what are these beliefs? First, we believe in equality for all and privileges for none. This is a belief -- This is a belief that each American, regardless of background, has equal standing in the public forum -- all of us. Because -- Because we believe this idea so firmly, we are an inclusive rather than an exclusive party. Let everybody come.
I think it no accident that most of those immigrating to America in the 19th century identified with the Democratic Party. We are a heterogeneous party made up of Americans of diverse backgrounds. We believe that the people are the source of all governmental power; that the authority of the people is to be extended, not restricted.
This -- This can be accomplished only by providing each citizen with every opportunity to participate in the management of the government. They must have that, we believe. We believe that the government which represents the authority of all the people, not just one interest group, but all the people, has an obligation to actively -- underscore actively -- seek to remove those obstacles which would block individual achievement -- obstacles emanating from race, sex, economic condition. The government must remove them, seek to remove them. We.
We are a party -- We are a party of innovation. We do not reject our traditions, but we are willing to adapt to changing circumstances, when change we must. We are willing to suffer the discomfort of change in order to achieve a better future. We have a positive vision of the future founded on the belief that the gap between the promise and reality of America can one day be finally closed. We believe that.
This, my friends is the bedrock of our concept of governing. This is a part of the reason why Americans have turned to the Democratic Party. These are the foundations upon which a national community can be built. Let all understand that these guiding principles cannot be discarded for short-term political gains. They represent what this country is all about. They are indigenous to the American idea. And these are principles which are not negotiable.
In other times -- In other times, I could stand here and give this kind of exposition on the beliefs of the Democratic Party and that would be enough. But today that is not enough. People want more. That is not sufficient reason for the majority of the people of this country to decide to vote Democratic. We have made mistakes. We realize that. We admit our mistakes. In our haste to do all things for all people, we did not foresee the full consequences of our actions. And when the people raised their voices, we didn't hear. But our deafness was only a temporary condition, and not an irreversible condition.
Even as I stand here and admit that we have made mistakes, I still believe that as the people of America sit in judgment on each party, they will recognize that our mistakes were mistakes of the heart. They'll recognize that.
And now -- now we must look to the future. Let us heed the voice of the people and recognize their common sense. If we do not, we not only blaspheme our political heritage, we ignore the common ties that bind all Americans. Many fear the future. Many are distrustful of their leaders, and believe that their voices are never heard. Many seek only to satisfy their private work -- wants; to satisfy their private interests. But this is the great danger America faces -- that we will cease to be one nation and become instead a collection of interest groups: city against suburb, region against region, individual against individual; each seeking to satisfy private wants. If that happens, who then will speak for America? Who then will speak for the common good?
This is the question which must be answered in 1976: Are we to be one people bound together by common spirit, sharing in a common endeavor; or will we become a divided nation? For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future. We must not become the "New Puritans" and reject our society. We must address and master the future together. It can be done if we restore the belief that we share a sense of national community, that we share a common national endeavor. It can be done.
There is no executive order; there is no law that can require the American people to form a national community. This we must do as individuals, and if we do it as individuals, there is no President of the United States who can veto that decision.
As a first step -- As a first step, we must restore our belief in ourselves. We are a generous people, so why can't we be generous with each other? We need to take to heart the words spoken by Thomas Jefferson:
Let us restore the social intercourse -- "Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and that affection without which liberty and even life are but dreary things."
A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good. A government is invigorated when each one of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation. In this election year, we must define the "common good" and begin again to shape a common future. Let each person do his or her part. If one citizen is unwilling to participate, all of us are going to suffer. For the American idea, though it is shared by all of us, is realized in each one of us.
And now, what are those of us who are elected public officials supposed to do? We call ourselves "public servants" but I'll tell you this: We as public servants must set an example for the rest of the nation. It is hypocritical for the public official to admonish and exhort the people to uphold the common good if we are derelict in upholding the common good. More is required -- More is required of public officials than slogans and handshakes and press releases. More is required. We must hold ourselves strictly accountable. We must provide the people with a vision of the future.
If we promise as public officials, we must deliver. If -- If we as public officials propose, we must produce. If we say to the American people, "It is time for you to be sacrificial" -- sacrifice. If the public official says that, we [public officials] must be the first to give. We must be. And again, if we make mistakes, we must be willing to admit them. We have to do that. What we have to do is strike a balance between the idea that government should do everything and the idea, the belief, that government ought to do nothing. Strike a balance.
Let there be no illusions about the difficulty of forming this kind of a national community. It's tough, difficult, not easy. But a spirit of harmony will survive in America only if each of us remembers that we share a common destiny; if each of us remembers, when self-interest and bitterness seem to prevail, that we share a common destiny.
I have confidence that we can form this kind of national community.
I have confidence that the Democratic Party can lead the way.
I have that confidence.
We cannot improve on the system of government handed down to us by the founders of the Republic. There is no way to improve upon that. But what we can do is to find new ways to implement that system and realize our destiny.
Now I began this speech by commenting to you on the uniqueness of a Barbara Jordan making a keynote address. Well I am going to close my speech by quoting a Republican President and I ask you that as you listen to these words of Abraham Lincoln, relate them to the concept of a national community in which every last one of us participates:
"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master." This -- This -- "This expresses my idea of Democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no Democracy."
August 24, 2008
There was little doubt that the 2008 Democratic National Convention would see its share of protests from extremists. However, I had little expectation I would see something as disgusting as the following flyer. While leaving the Media Welcoming Party, there were a number of protesters along the walk as I returned to my vehicle. Normally, I wouldn't take a flyer from someone on the street, but I wanted to see the propaganda being distributed during the convention.
Below, I've broken the six part flyer into three pieces...the front page (panel one), the fully opened center (panels two through four), and the remaining two portions of the back of the flyer (panels five and six). You can click on the images to enlarge them.
The apparent goal of the flyer is to compel the reader to oppose abortion. To make that point, they've chosen to use slavery as their moral comparison...a decision I can't help but feel seeks to play upon the fact that Senator Obama is black and favors a woman's right to choose. Frankly, the flyer is so offensive, I can't imagine it could have changed anyones mind last night.
What amazes me the most is the degree to which some groups focus upon one issue as their defining moral consideration...seemingly ignoring all others. The fact that they simultaneously ignore the needs of other living, breathing human beings makes me question their actual commitment to the betterment of society.
I've often wondered if defending a fetus that isn't viable is an easier proposition for those who often harbor hidden hatreds and animosities towards many of the other segments of society they encounter on a daily basis...like the neighbor family that can't afford to pay their mortgage or pay their bills...the families they so easily conclude must be lazy...or from Mexico and living here illegally...or just so happens to be gay.
Last time I checked, the notion of love thy neighbor was still an important religious edict. Unfortunately, many of these lunatics are only interested in loving their hypothetical neighbors...the ones they can be sure will never live next door.
Last night, I attended the Media Welcoming Party, held at Elitch Gardens in Denver...the same venue (relocated) that played a role 100 years prior during the 1908 Democratic National Convention. The 9,000 attendees were treated to an abundance of food, drink, and entertainment. Two particular items caught my attention. The first, found near the entrance to the park, was the following painting of the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.
The second item was the appearance of the Flobots, an up and coming band from Denver. The group, steeped in powerful lyrics focused upon issues confronting our nation, delivered an impassioned performance. The following video features their song, Stand Up.
For those who may not be that familiar with the band, I've also included the music video for their song, Handlebars. The song is from their album, Fight With Tools, which was released late last year. You can find out more about the band and their efforts to make a difference at their website here. Their MySpace page can be found here.
Flobots - Stand Up
Flobots - Handlebars
August 23, 2008
Focus On The Family's Stuart Shepard Is "Makin' Stuff Up" genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Video-Philes
Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepard, fresh off of his stint as the GOP's self-anointed rain dancer, has turned his attentions to another role...that of a shrill and sophomoric stooge.
In the following video, Shepard is promoting the meme that Barack Obama's favorite answer to criticism of his positions is to assert that the opposition is "Makin' stuff up". I find it rather ironic that a religious organization is comfortable putting a rhetoric rattling GOP sycophant on its website to mimic the manufactured mantra's of the Republican Party.
Perhaps deception is part and parcel of partisan politics...but I wouldn't expect it to be the modus operandi of a group that claims to be promoting Christian values. Apparently Focus on the Family believes that the means by which they support family values is exempt from moral considerations. In other words, It's apparently acceptable to say whatever you want (facts be damned) in order to defeat the candidate you oppose. I guess the road to religious purity is paved with misrepresentations?
I'm not sure whose calling the shots at FOF, but this new video looks to be even more childish that the "Pray for rain" video. In fact, I view this pitiful propaganda piece to be little more than an attempt at retribution by a man whose fragile ego must have been fractured when he had his hand slapped for reducing God's role to that of a petulant partisan. Maybe Stuart needs to change teams...I hear Lucifer is looking for a hypocritical and hateful holier-than-thou henchman.
August 21, 2008
Bill Maher Discusses Religion & Politics On Larry King Live genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek
I realize that Bill Maher is first and foremost a comedian...but in my opinion, he's also one of the most intelligent and insightful people on the airwaves. I also realize that his blunt and outspoken style may offend some...but perhaps that's exactly what we need.
In truth, Maher, and those who embrace his views, face an obstacle that is most likely insurmountable. I say as much because it's my contention that religion's power comes from its ability to assuage the fear of mortality...even though that ability emanates from the inherent denial found in its followers.
What Maher brings to the table is a willingness to confront life as it exists; not as we endeavor to create it in our minds. Unfortunately, the number of people willing to join him in experiencing and embracing the existential angst he accepts is far too small...primarily because he resides in a place that is far too disquieting.
Frankly, the obstacles preventing the widespread adoption of Maher's perspective is the equivalent of the equation that underlies the expression, "Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't." It also brings to light the real possibility that human nature will forever wrap itself in the grandeur of godly gesticulations rather than accept the certainty of our inability to ascertain the meaning of our existence as well the unyielding uncertainty that surrounds our understanding of it's inevitable ending...death.
You see, in the end, our proclamations of a commitment to truth...in close association with our religious beliefs...is more a function of self-deceit than a demonstration of faith. Regardless, the contrived comfort this construct provides is a powerful force...one that isn't apt to be abandoned in favor of facts...especially since the facts, to the extent we know them, support a hypothesis most of us are unwilling to accept.
In the end, we're imprisoned by our own fears, and we make bargains with ourselves, and the higher beings we imagine, in order to survive the knowledge of our pending death. In this dissonance driven dichotomy, we also sacrifice the life that's available to us when we spend precious time negotiating away our self-determination in the hopes that doing so will convince our contrived gods to grant us eternal extensions.
Bill Maher On Larry King - Part One
Bill Maher On Larry King - Part Two
Bill Maher On Larry King - Part Three
August 21, 2008
Red State Update Meets Westboro Baptist Church genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek
Sometimes contrast creates nothing but conflict; other times it highlights the absurd positions some people hold. The following video is an example of the latter. This encounter, between the folks of Westboro Baptist Church and Red State Update's Jackie...
August 20, 2008
The following will be the format utilized for live blogging. Readers will be able to comment in real time. The system is remarkably easy to use. Feel free to ask any questions you may have. I'm look forward to...
First, my apologies for the limited postings the last couple days. As you might guess, putting together Thought Theater's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention has been a significant undertaking...especially for one person. OK, enough with the "poor...
August 19, 2008
Keith Olbermann Tells John McCain To Grow Up genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes
In a special comment, Keith Olbermann dissects the rhetoric of John McCain...and reminds the forgetful senator of the many instances in which he has contradicted himself. While it appears that John McCain thinks his age grants him a memory...
August 18, 2008
No doubt election years are trying times for many of us. It's easy to find oneself drawn into the dog fight...especially if one is passionate about any particular issue. Fortunately, we live in a country that allows us to...
August 15, 2008
The GOP has, for years, claimed to be the party of family values. Unfortunately, that title is more like a badge worn on one's lapel than an innate commitment to morality. Even worse, this carefully chosen description is primarily tailored...
In 1960, television likely played a part in JFK's defeat of Richard Nixon. In the 2008 election, while YouTube may be poised to play a similar role, I suspect that the debates will actually provide a level of discrimination...
August 13, 2008
I realize that partisan politics is apt to skew our views of the politicians we support or oppose. At the same time, reality should lead us to see them as they actually are. In the aftermath of the John Edwards...
August 12, 2008
When I first saw the following video by Focus on the Family's Stuart Shepard...a video in which he suggests people of faith should pray for it to rain (in Biblical proportions) at the moment Barack Obama is scheduled to...
August 11, 2008
John McCain - Four More Years Of The Accidental Presidency? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
Well how about that? It looks like the rhetoric of the straight talk express is being lifted nearly word for word...straight out of Wikipedia. If you haven't heard the news, it appears that several passages from the candidates comments...
August 10, 2008
Obama Shouldn't Be In Hawaii - Has "I Must Be Doing Cokie" Roberts Lost It? genre: Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek
While I've never been a fan of Cokie Roberts, I haven't found her to be as obnoxious as other right-leaning pundits...until today. A regular on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, today Roberts launched into a tirade about the fact...
August 7, 2008
The McCain campaign's effort to connect Barack Obama with the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears may have seemed like a good idea when the ad was first released...but over time...I suspect we'll see more and more videos...
August 5, 2008
Nothing makes Focus on the Family's James Dobson happier than having his ego stroked...and Mark Joseph does just that in an open letter opinion piece on Fox News. The only thing missing in Joseph's "adore-itorial" is a picture of Dobson's...
The McCain campaign wants us to believe that their recent attack ads are simply an attempt to inject a little humor into the 2008 election. Yes, we're supposed to conclude that a campaign with a significant fund raising disadvantage...
August 1, 2008
McCain Walks On Water While Portraying Obama As Moses? genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation
John McCain's latest campaign advertisement is designed to convince voters to view Barack Obama as a young, arrogant, messianic elitist who isn't prepared to lead. In the following video, Charlton Heston's memorable portrayal of Moses is referenced to make...
I suspect that John McCain is no longer the driver of the straight-talk express. I say as much in light of two developments. One, in the last few weeks, the McCain campaign has been retooled with a number of former...