Friday, July 29, 2016
"We the People": Obama's DNC Speech Reminds the Nation about the Meaning of Democracy
Here are some excerpts of President Obama's Speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before...After decades of talk, we finally began to wean ourselves off foreign oil. We doubled our production of clean energy. We...brought nearly 200 nations together around a climate agreement that could save this planet for our children.
And through countless acts of quiet courage, America learned that love has no limits, and marriage equality is now a reality across the land.
By so many measures, our country is stronger and more prosperous than it was when we started...yes, we’ve still got more work to do.... We need to keep making...our world more peaceful and sustainable for the next generation.
And that work involves a big choice this November. I think it's fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice -- about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.
Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s precisely this contest of idea that pushes our country forward. But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican -- and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems -- just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.
And that is not the America I know. The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous.
And most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together -- black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight; men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.
And there is only one candidate in this race who believes in that future, has devoted her life to that future; a mother and a grandmother who would do anything to help our children thrive; a leader with real plans to break down barriers, and blast through glass ceilings, and widen the circle of opportunity to every single American -- the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton.
I can say with confidence there has never been a man or a woman -- not me, not Bill, nobody -- more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.
And then there’s Donald Trump...Don't boo -- vote.
You know, the Donald is not really a plans guy. He’s not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated.
Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice?
America is already great. America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump. In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election -- the meaning of our democracy.
Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades because he’s not actually offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.
And that's another bet that Donald Trump will lose. And the reason he'll lose it is because he’s selling the American people short. We're not a fragile people. We're not a frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that We the People, can form a more perfect union.
That's who we are. That’s our birthright -- the capacity to shape our own destiny. That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny and our GIs to liberate a continent. It’s what gave women the courage to reach for the ballot, and marchers to cross a bridge in Selma, and workers to organize and fight for collective bargaining and better wages.
America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s about what can be achieved by us, together through the hard and slow, and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.
Hillary Clinton...understands that even when you’re 100 percent right, getting things done requires compromise; that democracy doesn’t work if we constantly demonize each other. She knows that for progress to happen, we have to listen to each other, and see ourselves in each other, and fight for our principles but also fight to find common ground, no matter how elusive that may sometimes seem.
It can be frustrating, this business of democracy. Trust me, I know. Hillary knows, too. When the other side refuses to compromise, progress can stall. People are hurt by the inaction. Supporters can grow impatient and worry that you’re not trying hard enough; that you’ve maybe sold out. But I promise you, when we keep at it, when we change enough minds, when we deliver enough votes, then progress does happen.
Democracy works, America, but we got to want it -- not just during an election year, but all the days in between.
So if you agree that there’s too much inequality in our economy and too much money in our politics, we all need to be as vocal and as organized and as persistent as Bernie Sanders supporters have been during this election. We all need to get out and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket, and then hold them accountable until they get the job done.
If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote -- not just for a president, but for mayors, and sheriffs, and state’s attorneys, and state legislators. That's where the criminal law is made. And we’ve got to work with police and protesters until laws and practices are changed. That's how democracy works.
If you want to fight climate change, we’ve got to engage not only young people on college campuses, we've got to reach out to the coal miner who’s worried about taking care of his family, the single mom worried about gas prices.
If you want to protect our kids and our cops from gun violence, we’ve got to get the vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, who agree on things like background checks to be just as vocal and just as determined as the gun lobby that blocks change through every funeral that we hold. That is how change happens.
That’s what happens when we try...not the timid souls who criticize from the sidelines, but someone “who is actually in the arena…who strives valiantly; who errs…but who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement.”
And if you’re serious about our democracy, you can’t afford to stay home just because she might not align with you on every issue. You’ve got to get in the arena with her, because democracy isn’t a spectator sport. America isn’t about “yes, he will.” It’s about “yes, we can.” And we’re going to carry Hillary to victory this fall, because that’s what the moment demands.
And my grandparents explained that folks in these parts, they didn’t like show-offs. They didn’t admire braggarts or bullies. They didn’t respect mean-spiritedness, or folks who were always looking for shortcuts in life. Instead, what they valued were traits like honesty and hard work, kindness, courtesy, humility, responsibility, helping each other out. That’s what they believed in. True things. Things that last. The things we try to teach our kids.
They knew these values were exactly what drew immigrants here, and they believed that the children of those immigrants were just as American as their own, whether they wore a cowboy hat or a yarmulke, a baseball cap or a hijab.
America has changed over the years. But these values that my grandparents taught me -- they haven’t gone anywhere. They’re as strong as ever, still cherished by people of every party, every race, every faith. They live on in each of us. What makes us American, what makes us patriots is what’s in here. That’s what matters.
That’s why anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.
That is America. That is America. Those bonds of affection; that common creed. We don’t fear the future; we shape it. We embrace it, as one people, stronger together than we are on our own.
And that is why I have confidence, as I leave this stage tonight, that the Democratic Party is in good hands. My time in this office, it hasn’t fixed everything. As much as we’ve done, there’s still so much I want to do. But for all the tough lessons I’ve had to learn, for all the places where I’ve fallen short -- I’ve told Hillary, and I’ll tell you, what’s picked me back up every single time: It’s been you. The American people.
Time and again, you’ve picked me up. And I hope, sometimes, I picked you up, too. And tonight, I ask you to do for Hillary Clinton what you did for me. I ask you to carry her the same way you carried me. Because you're who I was talking about 12 years ago when I talked about hope. It’s been you who fueled my dogged faith in our future, even when the odds were great; even when the road is long. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope.
America, you've vindicated that hope these past eight years. And now I’m ready to pass the baton and do my part as a private citizen. So this year, in this election, I’m asking you to join me -- to reject cynicism and reject fear, and to summon what is best in us; to elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States, and show the world we still believe in the promise of this great nation.
Thank you for this incredible journey. Let’s keep it going. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.
Posted by Richard Matthews