27 July 2004
Okay, now I've discovered two new people to admire: future Senator Barack Obama and future First Lady Teresa Kerry. Tonight I was also reminded how proud I am to have voted for Senator Kennedy when I lived in Massachusetts. And how about Ron "cast a vote for embryonic stem cell research" Reagan? On 4/13/2003", the 40th president's son said this: "The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now. Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people." That about sums it up, doesn't it?
My favorite words of this evening at the convention: "If theres a child on the south side of Chicago who cant read, that matters to me, even if its not my child. If theres a senior citizen somewhere who cant pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if its not my grandmother. If theres an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties." - Barack Obama, 7/27/2004.
No, my life is not on hold for the convention. In fact, I've been working from 7 am til 10 pm each day, then catching reruns of the convention on C-SPAN as I grade chemistry papers into the night. I'm tired and looking forward to my vacation.The people at the convention, especially those whom I've quoted, are speaking my values, which is why I'm sharing their words on my site.
On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, lets 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.
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 which stood 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 he signed up for duty, joined Pattons army and 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 GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west 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 werent rich, because in a generous America you dont have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.
I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents dreams live on in my 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 the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know 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 or hiring somebodys son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be countedor at least, most of the time.
This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and 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 AmericansDemocrats, Republicans, IndependentsI say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant thats 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 I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits 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 doesnt have the money to go to college.
Dont get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they dont 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 dont want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone cant teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children cant 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. No, people dont expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a 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. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because theyve defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, weve 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, hell offer 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 arent 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, but it should never be the first option.
A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me hed joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why hed enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved ones full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harms way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why theyre going, to care for their families while theyre 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. 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 its not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, theres another ingredient in the American saga.
A belief that we are connected as one people. If theres a child on the south side of Chicago who cant read, that matters to me, even if its not my child. If theres a senior citizen somewhere who cant pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if its not my grandmother. If theres an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. Its that fundamental beliefI am my brothers keeper, I am my sisters keeperthat makes this country work. Its what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.
Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, theres not a liberal America and a conservative Americatheres the United States of America. Theres not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; theres the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But Ive got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we dont like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. 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, thats what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. Im not talking about blind optimism herethe almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just dont talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, Im talking about something more substantial. Its 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 millworkers 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. The audacity of hope!
In the end, that is Gods greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe 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 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 I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I doif we do what we must do, then I have no doubt 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 and God bless you.
you, Christopher. Your father would be proud of you and your brothers. I
love you and all our family.
My name is Teresa Heinz Kerry. And by now I hope it will come as no surprise to anyone that I have something to say.
And tonight, as I have done throughout this campaign I would like to speak to you from my heart. Y a todos los Hispanos, los Latinos; a tous les Americains, Francais et Canadiens; a tutti Italiani; a toda a familia Portugesa e Brazileria; to all my continental African family living in this country, and to all new Americans: I invite you to join our conversation, and together with us work towards the noblest purpose of all: a free, good, and democratic society.
I am grateful for the opportunity to stand before you and say a few words about my husband, John Kerry, and why I firmly believe he should be the next president of the United States.
This is such a powerful moment for me. Like many other Americans, like many of you, and like even more of your parents and grandparents, I was not born in this country. As you have seen, I grew up in East Africa, in Mozambique, in a land that was then under a dictatorship. My fathera wonderful, caring man who practiced medicine for 43 years, and taught me how to understand disease and wellnessonly got the right to vote for the first time when he was 71 years old. Thats what happens in dictatorships.
As a young woman, I attended Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was then not segregated. But I witnessed the weight of apartheid everywhere around me. And so, with my fellow students we marched against its extension into higher education. This was the late 50s, the dawn of the civil rights marches in America. As history records, our efforts in South Africa failed and the Higher Education Apartheid Act was passed. Apartheid tightened its ugly grip, the Sharpsville riots followed, and a short while later Nelson Mandela was arrested and sent to Robin Island.
I learned something then, and I believe it still. There is a value in taking a stand whether or not anyone may be noticing and whether or not it is a risky thing to do. And if even those who are in danger can raise their lonely voices, isnt more required of all of us, in this land where liberty had her birth?
I have a very personal feeling about how special America is, and I know how precious freedom is. It is a sacred gift, sanctified by those who have lived it and those who have died defending it. My right to speak my mind, to have a voice, to be what some have called opinionated, is a right I deeply and profoundly cherish. My only hope is that, one day soon, womenwho have all earned the right to their opinionsinstead of being labeled opinionated, will be called smart or well-informed, just as men are.
Tonight I want to remember my mothers warmth, generosity, wisdom, and hopefulness, and thank her for all the sacrifices she made on our behalf, like so many other mothers. This evening, I want to acknowledge and honor the women of this world, whose wise voices for much too long have been excluded and discounted. It is time for the world to hear womens voices, in full and at last.
In the past year, I have been privileged to meet with Americans all across this land. They voiced many different concerns, but one they all seemed to share was about Americas role in the worldwhat we want this great country of ours to stand for.
To me, one of the best faces America has ever projected is the face of a Peace Corps volunteer. That face symbolizes this country: young, curious, brimming with idealism and hopeand a real honest compassion. Those young people convey an idea of America that is all about heart and creativity, generosity and confidencea practical, can-do sense and a big, big smile. For many generations of people around the globe, that is what America has represented. A symbol of hope, a beacon brightly lit by the optimism of its peoplepeople coming from all over the world.
Americans believed they could know all there is to know, build all there is to build, break down any barrier, tear down any wall. We sent men to the moon, and when that was not far enough, we sent Galileo to Jupiter, we sent Cassini to Saturn, and Hubble to touch the very edges of the universe at the very dawn of time. Americans showed the world what can happen when people believe in amazing possibilities.
And, that, for me, is the spirit of Americathe America you and I are working for in this election. It is the America that people all across this nation want to restorefrom Iowa to California, from Florida to Michigan, from Washington State to my home state of Pennsylvania. It is the America the world wants to see, shining, hopeful, and bright once again. And that is the America that my husband John Kerry wants to lead.
John believes in a bright future. He believes we can, and we will, invent the technologies, new materials, and conservation methods of the future. He believes that alternative fuels will guarantee that not only will no American boy or girl go to war because of our dependence on foreign oil, but also that our economy will forever become independent of this need. We can, and we will, create good, competitive, and sustainable jobs while still protecting the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our children, because good environmental policy is good economics.
John believes that we can, and we will, give every family and every child access to affordable health care, a good education, and the tools to become self-reliant. John Kerry believes we must, and we should, recognize the immense value of the caregivers in our countrythose women and men who nurture and care for children, for elderly parents, for family members in need. These are the people who build and support our most valuable assetsour families. Isnt it time we began working to give parents more opportunity to be with their children, and to afford to have a family life?
With John Kerry as president, we can, and we will, protect our nations security without sacrificing our civil liberties. In short, John believes we can, and we must, lead in the worldas America, unique among nations, always shouldby showing the face, not of our fears, but of our hopes.
John is a fighter. He earned his medals the old-fashioned way, by putting his life on the line for his country. No one will defend this nation more vigorously than he willand he will always be first in the line of fire.
But he also knows the importance of getting it right. For him, the names of too many friends inscribed in the cold stone of the Vietnam Memorial testify to the awful toll exacted by leaders who mistake stubbornness for strength. That is why, as president, my husband will not fear disagreement or dissent. He believes that our voicesyours and minemust be the voices of freedom. And if we do not speak, neither does she.
In America, the true patriots are those who dare speak truth to power. The truth we must speak now is that America has responsibilities that it is time for us to accept again.
With John Kerry as president, global climate change and other threats to the health of our planet will begin to be reversed. With John Kerry as president, the alliances that bind the community of nations and that truly make our country and the world a safer place, will be strengthened once more.
The Americans John and I have met in the course of this campaign all want America to provide hopeful leadership again. They want America to return to its moral bearings. It is not a moralistic America they seek, but a moral nation that understands and willingly shoulders its obligations; a moral nation that rejects thoughtless and greedy choices in favor of thoughtful and generous actions; a moral nation that leads through the power of its ideas and the power of its example. We can and we should join together to make the most of this great gift we have been given, this gift of freedom, this gift of America.
In his first inaugural, speaking to a nation on the eve of war, Abraham Lincoln said, We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Today, the better angels of our nature are just waiting to be summoned. We only require a leader who is willing to call on them, a leader willing to draw again on the mystic chords of our national memory and remind us of all that we, as a people, everyday leaders, can do; of all that we as a nation stand for and of all the immense possibility that still lies ahead.
I think Ive found just the guy. Im married to him.
John Kerry will give us back our faith in America. He will restore our faith in ourselves and in the sense of limitless opportunity that has always been Americas gift to the world.
Together we will lift everyone up. We have to. Its possible. And you know what? Its the American thing to do. Goodnight and God bless.
you. Thank you, Bob Caro, for that generous introduction. With the continuing
support of the people of Massachusetts, I intend to stay in this job until
I get the hang of it.
To my fellow delegates and my fellow Democrats Ive waited a very, very long time to say this welcome to my hometown!
To Americans everywhere whose aspirations have been kindled anew by this campaign we, who convene here tonight in libertys cradle, say: Welcome home!
Welcome home for the ideals born in Boston and strengthened by centuries of service and sacrifice. Ideals like freedom and equality and opportunity and fairness and common decency for all ideals that all Americans yearn to reclaim.
And make no mistake: Come November, reclaim them we shall by making John Kerry President of the United States.
These fundamental ideals light the fire in each of us to do all we can and then more to see that next January, John Kerry has a nice new home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It fills me with pride to have our Democratic Convention in this city this hallowed ground that gave birth to these enduring American ideals. Like my grandfather and my brother before me, I have been privileged to serve this place where every street is historys home: The Old North Church, where lanterns signaled Paul Revere; The Old State House, where John Adams said independence was born; The Golden Steps, where waves of new immigrants entered this new land of liberty and opportunity, including all eight of my own great-grandparents from Ireland.
Here in New England, we love our history, and like all Americans, we learn from it. We breathe it deep, because it sustains us, it guides us, it inspires us.
It was no accident that Massachusetts was founded as a commonwealth, a place where authority belongs not to a single ruler, but to the people themselves, joined together for the common good.
The old system was based on inequality. Loyalty was demanded, never earned. Leaders ruled by fear, by force, by special favors for the few.
Under that old, unequal system, the quality of your connections mattered more than the content of your character. Your voices were not heard. Your concerns did not matter. Your votes did not count.
The colonists knew they could do better, just as we know we can do better today but only if we all work together, only if we all reach out together, only if we all come together for the common good.
Now, it is for us, the patriots of this new century to do that, to shape our own better future and make it worthy of our past, to choose a leader worthy of our country and that leader is John Kerry.
Today, more than two centuries after the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard round the world, the ideals of our founders still resonate across the globe. Young people in other lands inspired by the liberty we cherish linked arms and sang "We Shall Overcome" when the Berlin Wall fell, when apartheid ended in South Africa, and when the courageous protests took place in Tiananmen Square.
The goals of the American people are every bit as high as they were more than 200 years ago. If America is failing to reach them today, its not because our ideals need replacing, its because our President needs replacing.
We bear no ill will toward our opponents. In fact, wed be happy to have them over for a polite little tea party. I know just the place right down the road at Boston Harbor.
For today, like the brave and visionary men and women before us, we are determined to change our government.
Ive served for many years in the Senate and have seen many elections. But there have been none more urgent or more important than this one. Never before have I seen a contrast so sharp or consequences so profound as in the choice we will make for President in 2004.
So much of the progress we once achieved has been turned back. So much of the goodwill America once enjoyed in the world has been lost. But we are a hopeful nation, and our values and our optimism are still burning bright.
Those same values and optimism are what brought our forebears across a harsh ocean and sustained them through many brutal winters that inspired patriots from John Adams to John Kennedy to John Kerry, and their strong belief that Americas best days are still ahead.
Theres a reason why this land was called "the American experiment." If dedication to the common good were hardwired into human nature, we would never have needed a revolution. If each of us cared about the public interest, we wouldnt have the excesses of Enron. We wouldnt have the abuses of Halliburton. And Vice President Cheney would be retired to an undisclosed location.
Soon, thanks to John Kerry and John Edwards, hell have ample time to do just that.
Our country demands a great deal from us, and we rightly demand a great deal from our leaders. America is a compact, a bargain, a contract. It says that all of us are connected. Our fates are intertwined. Fifty states, one nation. Our Constitution binds us together.
Yet in our own time, there are those who seek to divide us. One community against another. Urban against rural. City against suburb. Whites against blacks. Men against women. Straights against gays. Americans against Americans.
In these challenging times for our country, in these fateful times for the world, America needs a genuine uniter not a divider who only claims to be a uniter.
We have seen how they rulethey divide and try to conquer. They know the power of the people is weakened when our house is divided. They believe they cant win, unless the rest of us lose. We reject that shameful view.
The Democratic Party has a different idea. We believe that all of us can win. We believe we are one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. And when we say all, we mean all.
Today in this global age, our goal of the common good extends far beyond Americas borders.
As President Kennedy said in 1963 in his quest for restraint in nuclear arms: "We can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our childrens future. And we are all mortal."
Interdependence defines our world. For all our might, for all our wealth, we know we are only as strong as the bonds we share with others. The dangers of terrorism and nuclear proliferationour greatest challenges are shared by all nations. And our greatest opportunitiesfrom achieving lasting peace and security, to building a more prosperous society, to ending the ravages of disease and the despairs of povertycan all be seized. But only if the world works together, and only if America helps to lead in the right direction. And John Kerry has the skill and the judgment and the experience to lead us on that great journey.
The eyes of the world were on us and the hearts of the world were with us after September 11th until this administration broke that trust. We should have honored, not ignored, the pledges we made. We should have strengthened, not scorned, the alliances that won two World Wars and the Cold War.
Most of all, we should have honored the principle so fundamental that our nations founders placed it in the very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence that America must give "a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind."
We failed to do that in Iraq. More than 900 of our servicemen and women have already paid the ultimate price. Nearly 6,000 have been wounded in this misguided war. The administration has alienated long-time allies. Instead of making America more secure, they have made us less so. They have made it harder to win the real war on terrorism, the war against Al Qaeda. None of this had to happen.
How could any President have possibly squandered the enormous goodwill that flowed to America from across the world after September 11th?
Most of the world still knows what we can bewhat only we can beand they want us to be that nation again.
America must be a light to the world, and under John Kerry and John Edwards, thats what America will be.
We need a President who will bind up the nations wounds. We need a President who will be a symbol of respect in a world yearning to be at peace again. We need John Kerry as our President.
Time and again in Americas history, we as Democrats have offered new hope of a stronger, fairer, more prosperous future for all our people a society that feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, and cares for the sick so that none must walk alone.
When the elderly faced poverty and sickness that threatened their golden years, we created Social Security and Medicare.
When the voices of many citizens went unheard and their lives were blighted by bigotry, we fought for equality and justice for civil rights and voting rights and the rights of women, for the cause of Americans with disabilities.
When higher education was beyond the reach of veterans returning home from war, we created the GI Bill of Rights and we have continued ever since to make college more affordable for millions more Americans.
When men and women needed protection in the workplace, we demanded safe conditions for their jobs. We insisted on the right to higher pay for working overtime. We guaranteed the right to form a union. We pledged a fair minimum wage, so that no one in America who works for a living should have to live in poverty.
Only leaders who know this history and abide by the ideals that shaped it deserve to be trusted with our nations future. Sometimes, as in recent years, they have fooled us with their rhetoric. But we will not let them fool us twice.
In the White House, inscribed on a plaque above the fireplace in the State Dining Room, is a prayer a simple but powerful prayer of John Adams, the first president to live in that great house. It reads: "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but [the] honest and wise ever rule under this roof." In November, we will make those words ring true again.
All of us who know John Kerry know that he is a fitting heir to these ideals. I have known John Kerry for three decades. I have known him as a soldier, as a peacemaker, as a prosecutor, as a Senator, and as a friend. And in every role he has shown his strengths. He was the right man for every tough task and he is the right leader for this time in history.
John is a war hero who understands that Americas strength comes from many sources especially the power of our ideas. He knows that a true leader inspires hope and vanquishes fear.
This administration does neither. Instead it brings fear. Fear of rising costs for health care and for college fear of higher unemployment and lesser pay fear for the future of Social Security and Medicare fear of greater bigotry fear of pollutions stain on our magnificent natural heritage fear of four more years of dreams denied and promises unfulfilled and progressed rolled back.
In the depths of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt inspired the nation when he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.
John Kerry offers hope, not fear. The hope of real victory against terrorism and true security at home. Of good health care for all Americans. Of Social Security that is always there for the elderly. Of schools that open golden doors of opportunity for all our children. Of an economy that works for everyone. Thats the kind of America well have with John Kerry in the White House.
The roots of that America are planted deep in the New England soil. Across this region are burial grounds many so humble you find them without intending to. Youre in a town like Concord, Massachusetts, or Hancock, New Hampshire. Youre visiting the old church there, and behind the chapel you find a small plot. Simple stones bearing simple markers. The markers say "War of 1776."
They do not ask for attention. But they command it all the same. These are the patriots who won our freedom. These are the first Americans, who enlisted in a fight for something larger than themselvesfor a shared faith in the futurefor a nation that was alive in their hearts but not yet a part of their world.
They and their fellow patriots won their battle. But the larger battle for freedom, justice, equality and opportunity is our battle too, and it is never fully won. Each new generation has to take up the cause. Sometimes with weapons in hand; sometimes armed only with faith and hope, like the marchers in Birmingham or Selma four decades ago.
Sometimes the fight is waged in Congress or the courts; sometimes on foreign shores, like the battle that called one of my brothers to war in the Pacific, and another to die in Europe.
Now it is our turn to take up the cause. Our struggle is not with some monarch named George who inherited the crown.
Although it often seems that way.
Our struggle is with the politics of fear and favoritism in our own time, in our own country. Our strugglelike so many others beforeis with those who put their own narrow interest ahead of the public interest.
We hear echoes of past battles in the quiet whisper of the sweetheart deal, in the hushed promise of a better break for the better connected. We hear them in the cries of the false patriots who bully dissenters into silence and submission. These are familiar fights. Weve fought and won them before. And with John Kerry and John Edwards leading us, we will win them again and make America stronger at home and respected once more in the world.
For centuries, kings ruled by what they claimed was divine right. They could not be questioned. They could not be challenged. The peoples fate was not their own. But today, because of the surpassing wisdom of our founders, the constant courage of the patriots of the past, and the shared sacrifice of generations of Americans who kept the faith, the power of America still rests securely in citizens hands. In our hands.
True to our highest and noblest ideals, we intend to use that power. We will use it wisely and well. We will use it, in the poets words my brothers loved, "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." We will use it to heal, to build, to hope, and to dream again. And in doing so, we will truly make our country once more America the Beautiful.
Thank you very much.
evening, ladies and gentlemen.
A few of you may be surprised to see someone with my last name showing up to speak at a Democratic convention. Let me assure you, I am not here to make a political speech, and the topic at hand should notmust nothave anything to do with partisanship.
I am here tonight to talk about the issue of research into what may be the greatest medical breakthrough in our or in any lifetime: the use of embryonic stem cellscells created using the material of our own bodiesto cure a wide range of fatal and debilitating illnesses: Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, lymphoma, spinal cord injuries, and much more. Millions are afflicted. Every year, every day, tragedy is visited upon families across the country, around the world.
Now, we may be able to put an end to this suffering. We only need to try. Some of you already know what Im talking about when I say embryonic stem cell research. Others of you are probably thinking, hmm, thats quite a mouthful, what is this all about?
Let me try and paint as simple a picture as I can while still doing justice to the incredible science involved. Lets say that ten or so years from now you are diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. There is currently no cure and drug therapy, with its attendant side-effects, can only temporarily relieve the symptoms.
Now, imagine going to a doctor who, instead of prescribing drugs, takes a few skin cells from your arm. The nucleus of one of your cells is placed into a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed. A bit of chemical or electrical stimulation will encourage your cells nucleus to begin dividing, creating new cells which will then be placed into a tissue culture. Those cells will generate embryonic stem cells containing only your DNA, thereby eliminating the risk of tissue rejection. These stem cells are then driven to become the very neural cells that are defective in Parkinsons patients. And finally, those cellswith your DNAare injected into your brain where they will replace the faulty cells whose failure to produce adequate dopamine led to the Parkinsons disease in the first place.
In other words, youre cured. And another thing, these embryonic stem cells, they could continue to replicate indefinitely and, theoretically, can be induced to recreate virtually any tissue in your body. Howd you like to have your own personal biological repair kit standing by at the hospital? Sound like magic? Welcome to the future of medicine.
By the way, no fetal tissue is involved in this process. No fetuses are created, none destroyed. This all happens in the laboratory at the cellular level.
Now, there are those who would stand in the way of this remarkable future, who would deny the federal funding so crucial to basic research. They argue that interfering with the development of even the earliest stage embryo, even one that will never be implanted in a womb and will never develop into an actual fetus, is tantamount to murder. A few of these folks, needless to say, are just grinding a political axe and they should be ashamed of themselves. But many are well-meaning and sincere. Their belief is just that, an article of faith, and they are entitled to it.
But it does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many. And how can we affirm life if we abandon those whose own lives are so desperately at risk?
It is a hallmark of human intelligence that we are able to make distinctions. Yes, these cells could theoretically have the potential, under very different circumstances, to develop into human beingsthat potential is where their magic lies. But they are not, in and of themselves, human beings. They have no fingers and toes, no brain or spinal cord. They have no thoughts, no fears. They feel no pain. Surely we can distinguish between these undifferentiated cells multiplying in a tissue culture and a living, breathing persona parent, a spouse, a child.
I know a childwell, she must be 13 nowId better call her a young woman. She has fingers and toes. She has a mind. She has memories. She has hopes. And she has juvenile diabetes.
Like so many kids with this disease, she has adjusted amazingly well. The insulin pump she wearsshes decorated hers with rhinestones. She can insert her own catheter needle. She has learned to sleep through the blood drawings in the wee hours of the morning. Shes very brave. She is also quite bright and understands full well the progress of her disease and what that might ultimately mean: blindness, amputation, diabetic coma. Every day, she fights to have a future.
What excuse will we offer this young woman should we fail her now? What might we tell her children? Or the millions of others who suffer? That when given an opportunity to help, we turned away? That facing political opposition, we lost our nerve? That even though we knew better, we did nothing?
And, should we fail, how will we feel if, a few years from now, a more enlightened generation should fulfill the promise of embryonic stem cell therapy? Imagine what they would say of us who lacked the will.
No, we owe this young woman and all those who sufferwe owe ourselvesbetter than that. We are better than that. A wiser people, a finer nation. And for all of us in this fight, let me say: we will prevail.
The tide of history is with us. Like all generations who have come before ours, we are motivated by a thirst for knowledge and compelled to see others in need as fellow angels on an often difficult path, deserving of our compassion.
In a few months, we will face a choice. Yes, between two candidates and two parties, but more than that. We have a chance to take a giant stride forward for the good of all humanity. We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology. This is our moment, and we must not falter.
Whatever else you do come November 2nd, I urge you, please, cast a vote for embryonic stem cell research. Thank you for your time.