31 July 2004
John Kerry addresses the Democratic National Convention.
Photographer: Democratic National Convention Committee - www.Dems2004.org
Boston, MA - We are here tonight because we love our country.
We are proud of what America is and what it can become.
My fellow Americans: we are here tonight united in one simple purpose: to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.
A great American novelist wrote that you can't go home again. He could not have imagined this evening. Tonight, I am home. Home where my public life began and those who made it possible live. Home where our nation's history was written in blood, idealism, and hope. Home where my parents showed me the values of family, faith, and country.
Thank you, all of you, for a welcome home I will never forget.
I wish my parents could share this moment. They went to their rest in the last few years, but their example, their inspiration, their gift of open eyes, open mind, and endless world are bigger and more lasting than any words.
I was born in Colorado, in Fitzsimmons Army Hospital, when my dad was a pilot in World War II. Now, I'm not one to read into things, but guess which wing of the hospital the maternity ward was in? I'm not making this up. I was born in the West Wing!
My mother was the rock of our family as so many mothers are. She stayed up late to help me do my homework. She sat by my bed when I was sick, and she answered the questions of a child who, like all children, found the world full of wonders and mysteries.
She was my den mother when I was a Cub Scout and she was so proud of her fifty year pin as a Girl Scout leader. She gave me her passion for the environment. She taught me to see trees as the cathedrals of nature. And by the power of her example, she showed me that we can and must finish the march toward full equality for all women in our country.
My dad did the things that a boy remembers. He gave me my first model airplane, my first baseball mitt and my first bicycle. He also taught me that we are here for something bigger than ourselves; he lived out the responsibilities and sacrifices of the greatest generation to whom we owe so much.
When I was a young man, he was in the State Department, stationed in Berlin when it and the world were divided between democracy and communism. I have unforgettable memories of being a kid mesmerized by the British, French, and American troops, each of them guarding their own part of the city, and Russians standing guard on the stark line separating East from West. On one occasion, I rode my bike into Soviet East Berlin. And when I proudly told my dad, he promptly grounded me.
But what I learned has stayed with me for a lifetime. I saw how different life was on different sides of the same city. I saw the fear in the eyes of people who were not free. I saw the gratitude of people toward the United States for all that we had done. I felt goose bumps as I got off a military train and heard the Army band strike up "Stars and Stripes Forever." I learned what it meant to be America at our best. I learned the pride of our freedom. And I am determined now to restore that pride to all who look to America.
Mine were greatest generation parents. And as I thank them, we all join together to thank that whole generation for making America strong, for winning World War II, winning the Cold War, and for the great gift of service which brought America fifty years of peace and prosperity.
My parents inspired me to serve, and when I was a junior in high school, John Kennedy called my generation to service. It was the beginning of a great journey – a time to march for civil rights, for voting rights, for the environment, for women, and for peace. We believed we could change the world. And you know what? We did.
But we're not finished. The journey isn't complete. The march isn't over. The promise isn't perfected. Tonight, we're setting out again. And together, we're going to write the next great chapter of America's story.
We have it in our power to change the world again. But only if we're true to our ideals – and that starts by telling the truth to the American people. That is my first pledge to you tonight. As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House.
I ask you to judge me by my record: As a young prosecutor, I fought for victim's rights and made prosecuting violence against women a priority. When I came to the Senate, I broke with many in my own party to vote for a balanced budget, because I thought it was the right thing to do. I fought to put a 100,000 cops on the street.
And then I reached across the aisle to work with John McCain, to find the truth about our POW's and missing in action, and to finally make peace with Vietnam.
I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a Vice President who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a Secretary of Defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.
My fellow Americans, this is the most important election of our lifetime. The stakes are high. We are a nation at war – a global war on terror against an enemy unlike any we have ever known before. And here at home, wages are falling, health care costs are rising, and our great middle class is shrinking. People are working weekends; they're working two jobs, three jobs, and they're still not getting ahead.
We're told that outsourcing jobs is good for America. We're told that new jobs that pay $9,000 less than the jobs that have been lost is the best we can do. They say this is the best economy we've ever had. And they say that anyone who thinks otherwise is a pessimist. Well, here is our answer: There is nothing more pessimistic than saying America can't do better.
We can do better and we will. We're the optimists. For us, this is a country of the future. We're the can do people. And let's not forget what we did in the 1990s. We balanced the budget. We paid down the debt. We created 23 million new jobs. We lifted millions out of poverty and we lifted the standard of living for the middle class. We just need to believe in ourselves – and we can do it again.
So tonight, in the city where America's freedom began, only a few blocks from where the sons and daughters of liberty gave birth to our nation – here tonight, on behalf of a new birth of freedom – on behalf of the middle class who deserve a champion, and those struggling to join it who deserve a fair shot – for the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives every day and the families who pray for their return – for all those who believe our best days are ahead of us – for all of you – with great faith in the American people, I accept your nomination for President of the United States.
I am proud that at my side will be a running mate whose life is the story of the American dream and who's worked every day to make that dream real for all Americans – Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. And his wonderful wife Elizabeth and their family. This son of a mill worker is ready to lead – and next January, Americans will be proud to have a fighter for the middle class to succeed Dick Cheney as Vice President of the United States.
And what can I say about Teresa? She has the strongest moral compass of anyone I know. She's down to earth, nurturing, courageous, wise and smart. She speaks her mind and she speaks the truth, and I love her for that, too. And that's why America will embrace her as the next First Lady of the United States.
For Teresa and me, no matter what the future holds or the past has given us, nothing will ever mean as much as our children. We love them not just for who they are and what they've become, but for being themselves, making us laugh, holding our feet to the fire, and never letting me get away with anything. Thank you, Andre, Alex, Chris, Vanessa, and John.
And in this journey, I am accompanied by an extraordinary band of brothers led by that American hero, a patriot named Max Cleland. Our band of brothers doesn't march together because of who we are as veterans, but because of what we learned as soldiers. We fought for this nation because we loved it and we came back with the deep belief that every day is extra. We may be a little older now, we may be a little grayer, but we still know how to fight for our country.
And standing with us in that fight are those who shared with me the long season of the primary campaign: Carol Moseley Braun, General Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Lieberman and Al Sharpton.
To all of you, I say thank you for teaching me and testing me – but mostly, we say thank you for standing up for our country and giving us the unity to move America forward.
My fellow Americans, the world tonight is very different from the world of four years ago. But I believe the American people are more than equal to the challenge.
Remember the hours after September 11th, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up the stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us.
I am proud that after September 11th all our people rallied to President Bush's call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way.
Now I know there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities – and I do – because some issues just aren't all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn't make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn’t make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn't make it so.
As President, I will ask hard questions and demand hard evidence. I will immediately reform the intelligence system – so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics. And as President, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.
I know what kids go through when they are carrying an M-16 in a dangerous place and they can't tell friend from foe. I know what they go through when they're out on patrol at night and they don't know what's coming around the next bend. I know what it's like to write letters home telling your family that everything's all right when you're not sure that's true.
As President, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: "I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent." So lesson one, this is the only justification for going to war.
And on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.
I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a President who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden, reduce the cost to American taxpayers, and reduce the risk to American soldiers. That's the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.
Here is the reality: that won't happen until we have a president who restores America's respect and leadership -- so we don't have to go it alone in the world.
And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.
I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.
We will add 40,000 active duty troops – not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure. We will double our special forces to conduct anti-terrorist operations. We will provide our troops with the newest weapons and technology to save their lives – and win the battle. And we will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists.
To all who serve in our armed forces today, I say, help is on the way.
As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower.
In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong. Strength is more than tough words. After decades of experience in national security, I know the reach of our power and I know the power of our ideals.
We need to make America once again a beacon in the world. We need to be looked up to and not just feared.
We need to lead a global effort against nuclear proliferation – to keep the most dangerous weapons in the world out of the most dangerous hands in the world.
We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win. The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom.
And the front lines of this battle are not just far away – they're right here on our shores, at our airports, and potentially in any town or city. Today, our national security begins with homeland security. The 9-11 Commission has given us a path to follow, endorsed by Democrats, Republicans, and the 9-11 families. As President, I will not evade or equivocate; I will immediately implement the recommendations of that commission. We shouldn't be letting ninety-five percent of container ships come into our ports without ever being physically inspected. We shouldn't be leaving our nuclear and chemical plants without enough protection. And we shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in the United States of America.
And tonight, we have an important message for those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country. Before wrapping themselves in the flag and shutting their eyes and ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. Our purpose now is to reclaim democracy itself. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.
You see that flag up there. We call her Old Glory. The stars and stripes forever. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you here and all across our country. That flag flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with. For us, that flag is the most powerful symbol of who we are and what we believe in. Our strength. Our diversity. Our love of country. All that makes America both great and good.
That flag doesn't belong to any president. It doesn't belong to any ideology and it doesn't belong to any political party. It belongs to all the American people.
My fellow citizens, elections are about choices. And choices are about values. In the end, it's not just policies and programs that matter; the president who sits at that desk must be guided by principle.
For four years, we've heard a lot of talk about values. But values spoken without actions taken are just slogans. Values are not just words. They're what we live by. They're about the causes we champion and the people we fight for. And it is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families.
You don't value families by kicking kids out of after school programs and taking cops off our streets, so that Enron can get another tax break.
We believe in the family value of caring for our children and protecting the neighborhoods where they walk and play.
And that is the choice in this election.
You don't value families by denying real prescription drug coverage to seniors, so big drug companies can get another windfall.
We believe in the family value expressed in one of the oldest Commandments: "Honor thy father and thy mother." As President, I will not privatize Social Security. I will not cut benefits. And together, we will make sure that senior citizens never have to cut their pills in half because they can't afford life-saving medicine.
And that is the choice in this election.
You don't value families if you force them to take up a collection to buy body armor for a son or daughter in the service, if you deny veterans health care, or if you tell middle class families to wait for a tax cut, so that the wealthiest among us can get even more.
We believe in the value of doing what's right for everyone in the American family.
And that is the choice in this election.
We believe that what matters most is not narrow appeals masquerading as values, but the shared values that show the true face of America. Not narrow appeals that divide us, but shared values that unite us. Family and faith. Hard work and responsibility. Opportunity for all – so that every child, every parent, every worker has an equal shot at living up to their God-given potential.
What does it mean in America today when Dave McCune, a steel worker I met in Canton, Ohio, saw his job sent overseas and the equipment in his factory literally unbolted, crated up, and shipped thousands of miles away along with that job? What does it mean when workers I've met had to train their foreign replacements?
America can do better. So tonight we say: help is on the way.
What does it mean when Mary Ann Knowles, a woman with breast cancer I met in New Hampshire, had to keep working day after day right through her chemotherapy, no matter how sick she felt, because she was terrified of losing her family's health insurance.
America can do better. And help is on the way.
What does it mean when Deborah Kromins from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania works and saves all her life only to find out that her pension has disappeared into thin air – and the executive who looted it has bailed out on a golden parachute?
America can do better. And help is on the way.
What does it mean when twenty five percent of the children in Harlem have asthma because of air pollution?
America can do better. And help is on the way.
What does it mean when people are huddled in blankets in the cold, sleeping in Lafayette Park on the doorstep of the White House itself – and the number of families living in poverty has risen by three million in the last four years?
America can do better. And help is on the way.
And so we come here tonight to ask: Where is the conscience of our country?
I'll tell you where it is: it's in rural and small town America; it's in urban neighborhoods and suburban main streets; it's alive in the people I've met in every part of this land. It's bursting in the hearts of Americans who are determined to give our country back its values and its truth.
We value jobs that pay you more not less than you earned before. We value jobs where, when you put in a week's work, you can actually pay your bills, provide for your children, and lift up the quality of your life. We value an America where the middle class is not being squeezed, but doing better.
So here is our economic plan to build a stronger America:
First, new incentives to revitalize manufacturing.
Second, investment in technology and innovation that will create the good-paying jobs of the future.
Third, close the tax loopholes that reward companies for shipping our jobs overseas. Instead, we will reward companies that create and keep good paying jobs where they belong – in the good old U.S.A.
We value an America that exports products, not jobs – and we believe American workers should never have to subsidize the loss of their own job.
Next, we will trade and compete in the world. But our plan calls for a fair playing field – because if you give the American worker a fair playing field, there's nobody in the world the American worker can't compete against.
And we're going to return to fiscal responsibility because it is the foundation of our economic strength. Our plan will cut the deficit in half in four years by ending tax giveaways that are nothing more than corporate welfare – and will make government live by the rule that every family has to follow: pay as you go.
And let me tell you what we won't do: we won't raise taxes on the middle class. You've heard a lot of false charges about this in recent months. So let me say straight out what I will do as President: I will cut middle class taxes. I will reduce the tax burden on small business. And I will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in job creation, health care and education.
Our education plan for a stronger America sets high standards and demands accountability from parents, teachers, and schools. It provides for smaller class sizes and treats teachers like the professionals they are. And it gives a tax credit to families for each and every year of college.
When I was a prosecutor, I met young kids who were in trouble, abandoned by adults. And as President, I am determined that we stop being a nation content to spend $50,000 a year to keep a young person in prison for the rest of their life – when we could invest $10,000 to give them Head Start, Early Start, Smart Start, the best possible start in life.
And we value health care that's affordable and accessible for all Americans.
Since 2000, four million people have lost their health insurance. Millions more are struggling to afford it.
You know what's happening. Your premiums, your co-payments, your deductibles have all gone through the roof.
Our health care plan for a stronger America cracks down on the waste, greed, and abuse in our health care system and will save families up to $1,000 a year on their premiums. You'll get to pick your own doctor – and patients and doctors, not insurance company bureaucrats, will make medical decisions. Under our plan, Medicare will negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. And all Americans will be able to buy less expensive prescription drugs from countries like Canada.
The story of people struggling for health care is the story of so many Americans. But you know what, it's not the story of senators and members of Congress. Because we give ourselves great health care and you get the bill. Well, I'm here to say, your family's health care is just as important as any politician's in Washington, D.C.
And when I'm President, America will stop being the only advanced nation in the world which fails to understand that health care is not a privilege for the wealthy, the connected, and the elected – it is a right for all Americans.
We value an America that controls its own destiny because it's finally and forever independent of Mideast oil. What does it mean for our economy and our national security when we only have three percent of the world's oil reserves, yet we rely on foreign countries for fifty-three percent of what we consume?
I want an America that relies on its own ingenuity and innovation – not the Saudi royal family.
And our energy plan for a stronger America will invest in new technologies and alternative fuels and the cars of the future -- so that no young American in uniform will ever be held hostage to our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
I've told you about our plans for the economy, for education, for health care, for energy independence. I want you to know more about them. So now I'm going to say something that Franklin Roosevelt could never have said in his acceptance speech: go to johnkerry.com.
I want to address these next words directly to President George W. Bush: In the weeks ahead, let's be optimists, not just opponents. Let's build unity in the American family, not angry division. Let's honor this nation's diversity; let's respect one another; and let's never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States.
My friends, the high road may be harder, but it leads to a better place. And that's why Republicans and Democrats must make this election a contest of big ideas, not small-minded attacks. This is our time to reject the kind of politics calculated to divide race from race, group from group, region from region. Maybe some just see us divided into red states and blue states, but I see us as one America – red, white, and blue. And when I am President, the government I lead will enlist people of talent, Republicans as well as Democrats, to find the common ground – so that no one who has something to contribute will be left on the sidelines.
And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.
These aren't Democratic values. These aren't Republican values. They're American values. We believe in them. They're who we are. And if we honor them, if we believe in ourselves, we can build an America that's stronger at home and respected in the world.
So much promise stretches before us. Americans have always reached for the impossible, looked to the next horizon, and asked: What if?
Two young bicycle mechanics from Dayton asked what if this airplane could take off at Kitty Hawk? It did that and changed the world forever. A young president asked what if we could go to the moon in ten years? And now we're exploring the solar system and the stars themselves. A young generation of entrepreneurs asked, what if we could take all the information in a library and put it on a little chip the size of a fingernail? We did and that too changed the world forever.
And now it's our time to ask: What if?
What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and AIDs? What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives?
What if we do what adults should do – and make sure all our children are safe in the afternoons after school? And what if we have a leadership that's as good as the American dream – so that bigotry and hatred never again steal the hope and future of any American?
I learned a lot about these values on that gunboat patrolling the Mekong Delta with young Americans who came from places as different as Iowa and Oregon, Arkansas, Florida and California. No one cared where we went to school. No one cared about our race or our backgrounds. We were literally all in the same boat. We looked out, one for the other – and we still do.
That is the kind of America I will lead as President – an America where we are all in the same boat.
Never has there been a more urgent moment for Americans to step up and define ourselves. I will work my heart out. But, my fellow citizens, the outcome is in your hands more than mine.
It is time to reach for the next dream. It is time to look to the next horizon. For America, the hope is there. The sun is rising. Our best days are still to come.
Goodnight, God bless you, and God bless America.
I am a lucky man: to have the love of my life at my side. We have been blessed with four beautiful children: Wade, Cate, Emma Claire, and Jack.
My mother and father, Wallace and Bobbie Edwards are here tonight. You taught me the values that I carry with me in my heart: faith, family, responsibility, and opportunity for everyone. You taught me that there’s dignity and honor in a hard days work. You taught me that you look out for your neighbors, you never look down on anybody, and you treat everyone with respect.
Those are the values John Kerry and I believe in, and nothing makes me prouder than standing with him in this campaign. I am so humbled to be your candidate for Vice President of the United States.
I want to talk about our next president. For those who want to know what kind of leader he’ll be, I want to take you back about thirty years. When John Kerry graduated college, he volunteered for military service. He volunteered to go to Vietnam and to captain a swift boat, one of the most dangerous duties you could have. And as a result he was wounded and honored for his valor.
If you have any question about what he’s made of, you need to spend three minutes with the men who served with him then and stand by him today.
They saw up close what he’s made of. They saw him reach down and pull one of his men from the river and save his life. And in the heat of battle, they saw him decide in an instant to turn his boat around, drive it straight through an enemy position, and chase down the enemy to save his crew.
Decisive. Strong. Aren’t these the traits you want in a Commander in Chief?
We hear a lot of talk about values. Where I come from, you don’t judge someone’s values based on how they use that word in a political ad. You judge their values based upon what they’ve spent their life doing.
So when a man volunteers to serve his country, and puts his life on the line for others—that’s a man who represents real American values.
This is a man who is prepared to keep the American people safe and to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.
John is a man who knows the difference between what is right and what is wrong. He wants to serve you—your cause is his cause. And that is why we must and we will elect John Kerry as our next president.
For the last few months, John has been talking about his positive, optimistic vision for the country—talking about his plan to move this country in the right direction.
But we’ve seen relentless negative attacks against John. So in the weeks ahead, we know what’s coming—don’t we—more negative attacks.
Aren’t you sick of it?
They are doing all they can to take this campaign for the highest office in the land down the lowest possible road.
This is where you come in. Between now and November—you, the American people—you can reject the tired, old, hateful, negative, politics of the past. And instead you can embrace the politics of hope, the politics of what’s possible because this is America, where everything is possible.
I am here tonight because I love my country. And I have every reason to love my country because I have grown up in the bright light of America.
I grew up in a small town in rural North Carolina. My father worked in a mill all his life, and I will never forget the men and women who worked with him. They had lint in their hair and grease on their faces. They worked hard and tried to put a little something away every week so their kids and their grandkids could have a better life. They are just like the auto workers, office workers, teachers, and shop keepers on Main Streets all across America.
My mother had a number of jobs. Her last job was working at the post office so my parents could have health care. And she owned her own small business—refinishing furniture to help pay for me go to college.
I have had such incredible opportunities in my life, and I was blessed to be the first person in my family to go to college. I worked my way through, and I have had opportunities way beyond what I could have ever imagined.
And the heart of this campaign—your campaign—is to make sure that everyone has those same opportunities that I had growing up—no matter where you live, who your family is, or what the color of your skin is. This is the America we believe in.
I have spent my life fighting for the kind of people I grew up with. For two decades, I stood with families and children against big HMOs and big insurance companies. And as a Senator, I fought those same fights against the Washington lobbyists and for causes like the Patients’ Bill of Rights.
I stand here tonight ready to work with you and John to make America strong again.
And we have so much work to do. Because the truth is, we still live in two different Americas: one for people who have lived the American Dream and don’t have to worry, and another for most Americans who work hard and still struggle to make ends meet.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can build one America
We can build one America where we no longer have two healthcare systems. One for people who get the best healthcare money can buy and then one for everybody else, rationed out by insurance companies, drug companies, and HMOs—millions of Americans who don’t have any health insurance at all.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We have a plan that will offer everyone the same health care your Senator has. We can give tax breaks to help pay for your health care. And we will sign into law a real Patients’ Bill of Rights so you can make your own health care decisions.
We shouldn't have two public school systems in this country: one for the most affluent communities, and one for everybody else.
None of us believe that the quality of a child’s education should be controlled by where they live or the affluence of their community.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can build one public school system that works for all our children. Our plan will reform our schools and raise our standards. We can give our schools the resources they need. We can provide incentives to put quality teachers in the places and the subjects where we need them the most. And we can ensure that three million kids with a safe place to go after school. This is what we can do together.
We shouldn't have two different economies in America: one for people who are set for life, their kids and grandkids will be just fine, and then one for most Americans who live paycheck to paycheck.
And you know what I’m saying. You don’t need me to explain it to you, you know—you can’t save any money, can you? Takes every dime you make just to pay your bills, and you know what happens if something goes wrong—a child gets sick, somebody gets laid off, or there’s a financial problem, you go right off the cliff.
And what’s the first thing to go. Your dreams.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can strengthen and lift up your families. Your agenda is our agenda—so let me give you some specifics.
First, we can create good paying jobs in America again. Our plan will stop giving tax breaks to companies that outsource your jobs. Instead, we will give tax breaks to American companies that keep jobs here in America. And we will invest in the jobs of the future—in the technologies and innovation to ensure that America stays ahead of the competition.
We will do this because for us a job is about more than a paycheck—it’s about dignity and self respect. Hard work should be valued in this country and we’re going to reward work, not just wealth.
We don’t want people to just get by; we want people to get ahead. So let me give you some specifics about how we’re going to do that.
To help you pay for health care, a tax break and health care reform to lower your premiums up to $1,000. To help you cover the rising costs of child care, a tax credit up to $1,000 to cover those costs so your kids have a safe place to go while you work. And to help your child have the same chance I had and be the first person in your family to go to college, a tax break on up to $4,000 in tuition.
So now you ask how are we going to pay for this? Well, here’s how we’re going to pay for it. Let me be very clear, for 98 percent of Americans, you will keep your tax cut—that’s 98 percent. But we’ll roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, close corporate loopholes, and cut government contractors and wasteful spending. We can move our country forward without passing the bill and the burden on to our children and grandchildren.
We can also do something about 35 million Americans who live in poverty every day. Here's the reason we should not just talk about it, but do something about millions of Americans who still live in poverty, because it is wrong. We have a moral responsibility to lift those families up.
I mean the very idea that in a country of our wealth and our prosperity, we have children going to bed hungry. We have children who don't have the clothes to keep them warm. We have millions of Americans who work full-time every day for minimum wage to support their family and still live in poverty—it’s wrong.
These are men and women who are living up to their part of the bargain: working hard and taking care of their families. Those families are doing their part; it’s time we did ours.
We will do that when John is in the White House. We will raise the minimum wage, finish the job on Welfare Reform, and bring good paying jobs to the places that need them. And we will say no forever to any American working full-time and living in poverty—not in our America, not in our America.
Let me talk about why we need to build one America. I saw up close what having two Americas does to our country.
From the time I was very young, I saw the ugly face of segregation and discrimination. I saw young African-American kids sent upstairs in movie theaters. I saw white only signs on restaurant doors and luncheon counters. I feel such an enormous responsibility when it comes to issues of race and equality and civil rights.
I have heard some discussions and debates about where, and in front of what audiences we should talk about race, equality, and civil rights. Well, I have an answer to that question. Everywhere.
This is not an African-American issue, not a Latino issue, not an Asian-American issue, this is an American issue. It’s about who we are, what our values are, what kind of country we want to live in.
What John and I want—what we all want—is for our children and our grandchildren to be the first generations to grow up in an America that's no longer divided by race.
We must build one America. We must be one America, strong and united for another very important reason—because we are at war.
None of us will ever forget where we were on September 11th. We share the same terrible images: the Towers falling, the Pentagon in flames, and the smoldering field in Pennsylvania. And we share the profound sadness for the nearly three thousand lives lost.
As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know that we have to do more to fight terrorism and protect our country. And we can do that. We are approaching the third anniversary of September 11th, and I can tell you that when we’re in office, it won’t take us three years to get the reforms in our intelligence we need to protect our country. We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to make sure that never happens again, not to our America.
When John is president, we will listen to the wisdom of the September 11th Commission. We will build and lead strong alliances and safeguard and secure weapons of mass destruction. We will strengthen our homeland security and protect our ports, safeguard our chemical plants, and support our firefighters, police officers and EMT’s. We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe.
And we will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaida and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you.
John understands personally about fighting in a war. And he knows what our brave men and women are going through in another war—the war in Iraq.
The human cost and extraordinary heroism of this war, it surrounds us. It surrounds us in our cities and towns. And we will win this war because of the strength and courage of our own people.
Some of our friends and neighbors saw their last images in Baghdad. Some took their last steps outside of Fallujah. And some buttoned their uniform for the final time before they went out to save their unit.
Men and women who used to take care of themselves, they now count on others to see them through the day. They need their mother to tie their shoe. Their husband to brush their hair. And their wife’s arm to help them across the room.
The stars and stripes wave for them. The word hero was made for them. They are the best and the bravest. They will never be left behind. You understand that. And they deserve a president who understands on the most personal level what they have gone through—what they have given and what they have given up for their country.
To us, the real test of patriotism is how we treat the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to defend our values. And let me tell you, the 26 million veterans in this country won’t have to wonder if they’ll have health care next week or next year—they will have it always because they took care of us and we will take care of them.
But today, our great United States military is stretched thin. More than 140,000 are in Iraq. Nearly 20,000 are serving in Afghanistan. And I visited the men and women there and we’re praying for them as they keep working to give that country hope.
Like all of those brave men and women, John put his life on the line for our country. He knows that when authority is given to the president, much is expected in return. That’s why we will strengthen and modernize our military.
We will double our Special Forces, and invest in the new equipment and technologies so that our military remains the best equipped and best trained in the world. This will make our military stronger so we’re able to defeat every enemy in this new world.
But we can’t do this alone. We have to restore our respect in the world to bring our allies to us and with us. It’s how we won the World Wars and the Cold War and it is how we will build a stable Iraq.
With a new president who strengthens and leads our alliances, we can get NATO to help secure Iraq. We can ensure that Iraq’s neighbors like Syria and Iran, don’t stand in the way of a democratic Iraq. We can help Iraq’s economy by getting other countries to forgive their enormous debt and participate in the reconstruction. We can do this for the Iraqi people and our soldiers. And we will get this done right.
A new president will bring the world to our side, and with it—a stable Iraq and a real chance for peace and freedom in the Middle East, including a safe and secure Israel. And John and I will bring the world together to face our most dangerous threat: the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon.
With our credibility restored, we can work with other nations to secure stockpiles of the worlds most dangerous weapons and safeguard this dangerous material. We can finish the job and secure all loose nukes in Russia. And we can close the loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that allows rogue nations access to the tools they need to develop these weapons.
That’s how we can address the new threats we face. That’s how we can keep you safe. That’s how we can restore America’s respect around the world.
And together, we will ensure that the image of America—the image all of us love—America this great shining light, this beacon of freedom, democracy, and human rights that the world looks up to—that that beacon is always lit.
The truth is every child, every family in America will be safer and more secure if you grow up in a world where America is once again looked up to and respected. That's the world we can create together.
Tonight, as we celebrate in this hall, somewhere in America, a mother sits at the kitchen table. She can’t sleep. She’s worried because she can’t pay her bills. She’s working hard to pay the rent and feed her kids. She’s doing everything right, but she still can’t get ahead.
It didn’t use to be that way in her house. Her husband was called up in the Guard and he’s been serving in Iraq for more than a year. She thought he’d be home last month, but now he’s got to stay longer.
She thinks she’s alone. But tonight in this hall and in your homes—you know what? She’s got a lot of friends. We want her to know that we hear her. And it’s time to bring opportunity and an equal chance to her door.
We’re here to make America stronger at home so she can get ahead. And we’re here to make America respected in the world so that we can bring him home and American soldiers don’t have to fight the war in Iraq and the war on terror alone.
So when you return home, you might pass a mother on her way to work the late-shift—you tell her……hope is on the way.
When your brother calls and says that he’s working all the time at the office and still can’t get ahead—you tell him……hope is on the way.
When your parents call and tell you their medical bills are through the roof—you tell them…...hope is on the way.
When your neighbor calls you and says that her daughter has worked hard and wants to go to college—you tell her……hope is on the way.
When you talk to your son or daughter who is serving this country and protecting our freedoms in Iraq—you tell them……hope is on the way.
And when you wake up and sit with your kids at the kitchen table, talking to them about the great possibilities in America, you make sure that they know that John and I believe at our core that tomorrow can be better than today.
Like all of us, I have learned a lot of lessons in my life. Two of the most important are that first, there will always be heartache and struggle—you can’t make it go away. But the other is that people of good and strong will, can make a difference. One lesson is a sad lesson and the other’s inspiring. We are Americans and we choose to be inspired.
We choose hope over despair; possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what’s right even when those around us say “You can’t do that.” We choose to be inspired because we know that we can do better—because this is America where everything is still possible.
What we believe—what John Kerry and I believe—is that you should never look down on anybody, that we should lift people up. We don't believe in tearing people apart. We believe in bringing people together. What we believe—what I believe—is that the family you're born into and the color of your skin in our America should never control your destiny.
Join us in this cause. Let’s make America stronger at home and respected in the world. Let’s ensure that once again, in our one America—our one America—tomorrow will always be better than today.
Thank you and God bless you.
28 July 2004
By Robert R. Goldberg
07/27/04 "History News Network" -- Nationalism can be a vicious disease, and an infectious one, too. It can take all sorts of forms, and its most destructive strains can surely sneak up on any country. Just think of the tens of thousands of German Jews--German nationals--who refused to believe what was happening, even after Kristallnacht and the ghettos, until the trains arrived at Dachau. We know well from this past century what sentiments intense nationalist fervor can ignite among a country's people, but we have yet to learn deeply those lessons after two "great" wars, hundreds of so-called conflicts and countless millions of young men, women, and children dead. It's striking how rarely we talk about the most recent abuses of nationalism as well as the genocides--attempted eliminations of groups considered impure or unwelcome in a society--they engendered, in Bosnia or Rwanda, for example. Shouldn't the ones we read about firsthand logically instill the most compassion, the most closeness? We say never again while it happens under our knowing gaze. And yet Americans are not fully immune. Think of the violent attacks on, and illegal detainment of, thousands of Arabs and Muslims after September 11, 2001. Never again?
The U.S. government, harking back to some mythologized splendor of the revolutionary era, has long favored using the rhetoric of patriotism over that of nationalism--often to deem who, and what, is and isn't "American"--even though historically and today those in power define the two concepts as one and the same. While dissenters have been identifying this sly manipulation of terms since the colonial days, somehow most of us fall back on the government's chosen meaning, wishing upon its version, albeit foolishly and romantically, what it meant to a Sam Adams or a Thomas Paine. But the differences between patriotism and nationalism are significant, and we must not conflate the terms if we wish to make the world less brutalized by war, our society less open to the kind of fear, whether brought on by poverty and unemployment, or by "the foreigners" and "the communists" (or today's "the terrorists"), that the most destructive forms of nationalism feed on.
The privileging of American lives over those of other countries--soldiers and civilians--is one important way the U.S. government (and a corporate media biased in its favor) displays its nationalistic tendencies through the guise of the rhetoric of patriotism. Moreover, this act of valuing Americans over non-Americans has arguably been a key factor not only in garnering public support for subsequent military ventures but also in fogging the horrible reality of war: that individuals suffer greatly on both sides. It so happens that America's past is chock-full of wars, headliners and covert ones, "good" and "bad." From the 1902 "liberation" of the Philippines to the 2003 "liberation" of Iraq, tens (and sometimes even hundreds) of thousands of civilians died (and continue to die) by U.S. bombs and guns. Hardly do these deaths enter the American popular imagination, our cultural narrative, or our commemorations of war.
Take Vietnam, for instance. Important as it is to recognize the nearly 60,000 Americans who gave their lives in that war, where is any acknowledgement in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial of the two to three million Vietnamese, each also with a name, who got caught in a carpet bombing and were incinerated by napalm? My argument is not that the horrors of war didn't happen to U.S. troops, but more so to point to how our selective recounting of the human casualties of war--so-called collateral damage--plays a critical role in how we both construct the past in our cultural memory and understand current issues based on that memory.
If in comparing the Iraq war to Vietnam, as more and more people are doing both successfully and unsuccessfully, we only refer to the two wars' American deaths in drawing our parallels, we privilege American lives and in effect display a dangerous form of nationalism, and perhaps our racism, too. An April 18 New York Times editorial by historian Niall Ferguson, on why American should embrace its imperialism for the good of Iraq, did just this. Disregarding the devastation done to both the Vietnamese and the Iraqis, he showed how fewer troops had gone over to Iraq over a certain time frame and that fewer had died there thus far. Furthermore, he continued, the popularity of the Iraq venture is already weakening, whereas the Vietnam War had public support until the late sixties. Ultimately, he argues, the two wars are in fact quite different. While one can accept Ferguson's central claims as to the wars' distinct differences, if one could also imagine a conversation between Vietnamese and Iraqi civilians now dead from the sort of bombing he describes with sardonic pith ("It wasn't pretty"), they would surely disagree.
Before the U.S. can enter the international community as an equal partner we must cease to misguidedly equate a passion for our country's founding ideals--forgotten, or perhaps never understood, by our current leadership--with valuing our nation, culture and people over another nation, its culture, and its people. There's no place in this world for American exceptionalism, yet we continue to embrace, espouse, and teach this belief. Most high school history textbooks, for instance, continue to talk of the twentieth century as "the American Century," rather than viewing history as a composition of multiple stories, experiences, and perspectives. Labeling any span of humankind's life on this planet as distinctly "American" should give the world some insight into how we see ourselves, and how we want everyone else to see us.
And yet if what you learned in school didn't stick, we have the president of the United States to model this arrogance. After the gruesome beheading of American contractor Paul Johnson by Al Qaeda members in Iraq on June 18, President George W. Bush stated, "There's no justification whatsoever for his murder, and yet they killed him in cold blood." Was the killing of a dozen innocent Iraqis hours later by a U.S. missile gone awry justified? Were they not killed "in cold blood"? Since when were America's methods of war crimes (incidents of the "missile miss" sort have become a regular occurrence these days) deemed by experts the "right" way to murder? If we are to create any peace in this world, all killing must be viewed as "barbaric," the president's description for the beheading. For whatever the means, the ends are the same: the deaths of wives, husbands, and children.
After Johnson's murder, the U.S. government and corporate media loudly expressed their outrage, just as they did after the beheading of Nick Berg. Surely enough, like after the Berg case, alongside the understandable anger came a sort of bewilderment, a response of, How could they do this? While the question is not surprising, it is a sad commentary that so many Americans, even those who have been speaking out against the occupation, can be so sickened by a single murder of one of us though we seldom express a true concern for the innocent Iraqis killed daily, not just anti-administration criticism. But who can blame us? There's no special news segment for each of those people, nothing about their good nature, sense of humor, devotion to family. Yet this is even more reason to make an extra effort to think about what we have failed to remember throughout our history: American families are not alone in asking the question above. In fact, American war deaths over the past hundred years have comprised but a small fraction of the millions. To privilege our own is to dehumanize the others.
I am not defending Berg's and Johnson's murders or belittling their lives. But at this point, we cannot even count the number of Iraqi families whose innocent mothers and daughters have met the same fate, but instead by our so-called advanced weapons. Recent estimates by human rights groups say the number of Iraqi civilians killed since March 2003 is pushing 10,000. The U.S. government refuses to compile a list, and name even one of those Iraqis. In other words, their lives don't count.
The president continued his statement of June 18: "And it should remind us that we must pursue these people, and bring them to justice before they hurt other Americans." Perhaps for many Americans watching on television, or reading these words in the paper, little seems strange. Of course our president wants to protect us. But imagine you're a Thai soldier. Or you work for the British embassy. Or you're an Iraqi who deeply believes in the possibility of democracy, who remains hopeful. Or perhaps you're Kim Sun-il, the South Korean hostage in the days before his life was taken on June 22. Would you not likely wonder, Who does the U.S. government, the coalition leader and self-proclaimed prophet of freedom for Iraq and the world, really value? Am I as a soldier, a worker, a person, worth less because I'm not American?
In President Bush's eyes, the answer seems to be yes. And judging from the American-centric reportage of the increasingly consolidated mainstream corporate media--which millions of Americans solely rely on for their information--the answer also seems to be a firm yes. And if we look back at how we remember (and misunderstand, and misuse) the past, in our national memorials in Washington (our dead), in our school textbooks (our century), and in our popular imagination--in other words, in our cultural memory--that same answer is affirmed time and time again. Manifest destiny, the notion that America has a unique duty to spread its superior beliefs, values, and systems (our culture) and that this is divinely determined, is not a relic of the past, but undoubtedly infuses our foreign policy thinking (and military enterprises) today. Like the administration's rhetoric of patriotism, the "do-gooder" language of liberation, democratization and humanitarianism encrypted in this foreign policy has never been so replete with such flagrant and, in the case of Iraq, transparent, political and philosophical contradictions. It's about time we humbly climb down from our egregiously high horse, take a look around, and recognize we've forgotten our history. Or maybe we're simply remembering it all too well.
Mr. Goldberg teaches history at Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY.
Copyright: History News Network
27 July 2004
Following is the speech given by Al Gore Monday night at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, as transcribed by The New York Times.
My friends, fellow Democrats, fellow Americans:
I’m going to be candid with you. I had hoped to be back here this week under different circumstances, running for re-election. But you know the old saying: you win some, you lose some. And then there’s that little-known third category.
But I didn’t come here tonight to talk about the past. After all, I don’t want you to think that I lie awake at night counting and recounting sheep. I prefer to focus on the future, because I know from my own experience that America’s a land of opportunity, where every little boy and girl has a chance to grow up and win the popular vote.
In all seriousness, I am deeply, deeply grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve my country. I want to thank you as Democrats for the honor of being your nominee for president four years ago and for all you did for me and for our country. And I want to thank the American people for the privilege of serving as vice president of the United States. Most of all, I want to thank my family with all my heart: my children and grandchildren, especially my beloved partner in life, Tipper.
I love this country deeply. Wasn’t BeBe Winans great? I believe that’s the best national anthem I’ve ever heard sung. I love this country deeply, and even though I always look to the future with optimism and hope, I do think it’s worth pausing for just a moment as we begin this year’s convention, to take note of two very important lessons from four years ago.
The first lesson is this: Take it from me, every vote counts. In our democracy, every vote has power. And never forget that power is yours. Don’t let anyone take it away from you or talk you into throwing it away.
And let’s make sure that this time every vote is counted. Let’s make sure that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president, and that this president is not the one who picks the next Supreme Court.
The second lesson from 2000 is this: What happens in a presidential election matters. A lot. The outcome profoundly affects the lives of all 293 million Americans, and people in the rest of the world, too. The choice of who is president affects your life and your family’s future.
And never has that been more true than in 2004, because let’s face it our country faces deep challenges. These challenges we now confront are not Democratic or Republican challenges; they are American challenges that we all must overcome together as one people, as one nation.
And it is in that spirit, that I sincerely ask those watching at home tonight who supported President Bush four years ago: did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for? Is our country more united today? Or more divided? Has the promise of compassionate conservatism been fulfilled? Or do those words now ring hollow?
For that matter, are the economic policies really conservative at all? For example, did you expect the largest deficits in history, year after year? One right after another? And the loss of more than a million jobs?
By the way, I know about the bad economy. I was the first one laid off. And while it’s true that new jobs are being created, they’re just not as good as the jobs people have lost. And incidentally, that’s been true for me too. Unfortunately, this is no joke for millions of Americans. And the real solutions require us to transcend partisanship. So that’s one reason why, even though we meet here as Democrats, we believe this is a time to reach beyond our party lines to Republicans as well.
And I also ask tonight for the consideration and the help of those who supported a third party candidate in 2000. I urge you to ask yourselves this question: Do you still believe that there was no difference between the candidates? Are you troubled by the erosion of America’s most basic civil liberties? Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis? No matter how you voted in the last election, these are profound problems that all voters must take into account this Nov. 2.
And of course, no challenge is more critical than the situation we confront in Iraq. Regardless of your opinion at the beginning of this war, isn’t it now abundantly obvious that the way this war has been managed by the administration has gotten us into very serious trouble? Wouldn’t we be better off with a new president who hasn’t burned his bridges to our allies, and who could rebuild respect for America in the world? Isn’t cooperation with other nations crucial to solving our dilemma in Iraq? Isn’t it also critical to defeating the terrorists?
We have to be crystal clear about the threat we face from terrorism. It is deadly. It is real. It is imminent. But in order to protect our people, shouldn’t we focus on the real source of this threat: the group that attacked us and is trying to attack us again: Al Qaeda, headed by Osama bin Laden? Wouldn’t we be safer with a president who didn’t insist on confusing Al Qaeda with Iraq? Doesn’t that divert too much of our attention away from the principal danger?
I want to say to all Americans this evening that whether it’s the threat to the global environment or the erosion of America’s leadership in the world, whether it is the challenge to our economy from new competitors or the challenge to our security from new enemies, I believe we need new leadership that is both strong and wise. And we can have new leadership, because one of our greatest strengths as a democracy is that when we’re headed in the wrong direction, we can correct our course. When policies are clearly not working, we, the people, can change them. If our leaders make mistakes, we can hold them accountable: even if they never admit their mistakes. I firmly believe America needs new leadership that will make us stronger at home and respected in the world.
And we’re here this week to present to the nation the man who should be and will be our new president: John Kerry. John and I were elected to the United States Senate on the same day 20 years ago and I have worked closely with him for all that time. So I want to say a personal word about John Kerry the man. He is a friend who will stand by you. His word is his bond. He has a deep patriotism that goes far beyond words. He has devoted his life to making America a better place for all of us.
He showed uncommon heroism on the battlefield in Vietnam. I watched him show that same courage on the Senate floor. For example, he had the best record of protecting the environment against polluters of any of my colleagues bar none. He never shied away from a fight, no matter how powerful the foe. He was never afraid to take on difficult and thankless issues that few others wanted to touch. like exposing the threat of narcoterrorism and tracing the sources of terrorist financing. He was one of the very first in our party to take on the issue of drastic deficit reduction. And he’s developed a tough and thoughtful plan to restore our economic strength and fiscal discipline.
To put it simply, those of us who have worked with John know that he has the courage, integrity and leadership to be a truly great president of the United States of America. And he showed wisdom in his very first decision as the leader of our party when he picked as his running mate an inspiring fighter for middle class families and families struggling to reach the middle class: John Edwards of North Carolina.
John Kerry and John Edwards are fighting for us and for all Americans, so after we nominate them here in Boston and return back to our home states across this land, we have to fight for them. Talk to your friends and neighbors, go to ”JohnKerry.com,” raise money, register voters, get them to the polls, volunteer your time, and above all: make your vote count. To those of you who felt disappointed or angry with the outcome in 2000, I want you to remember all of those feelings. But then I want you to do with them what I have done: focus them fully and completely on putting John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House in 2004 so we can have a new direction in America, a new president, a new vice president, new policies, a new day, a brighter future. What this country and what our people deserve.
Fellow Democrats, when I look out and see so many friends who have meant so much to me in my own public service, my heart is full tonight. I thank you for all the love you’ve shown to Tipper and me. You will forever be in our hearts. And there’s someone else I’d like to thank, and that’s the man who asked me to join him on the ticket at our convention 12 years ago, my friend and my partner for eight years: President Bill Clinton. I will never forget that convention or that campaign the way we barnstormed our country, carrying a message of hope and change, believing with our whole hearts that America could be made new again. And so it was. And with your help, and with the leadership of John Kerry and John Edwards, so it shall be again. Thank you, God bless you and may God bless the United States.
July 26, 2004
Following are the remarks made by President Jimmy Carter at the Democratic National Convention in Boston on Monday night, as recorded by the Federal News Service, Inc.:
Thank you very much. My name is Jimmy Carter, and I am not running for president. (Cheers, applause.) But here's what I will be doing -- everything I can to put John Kerry in the White House with John Edwards right there beside him. (Cheers, applause.)
Twenty-eight years ago, I was running for president, and I said then I want a government as good and as honest and as decent and as competent and as compassionate as are the American people. I say this again tonight, and that's exactly what we will have next January with John Kerry as president of the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)
As many of you may know, my first chosen career was the United States Navy where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace. I served under two presidents -- Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower -- men who represented different political parties; both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor. (Cheers, applause.)
They knew the horrors of war, and later, as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment. And they had a clear sense of mission. (Applause.) We have a confidence -- we had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger. (Cheers, applause.) We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved national security. (Cheers, applause.)
Today -- today our Democratic Party is led by another former naval officer, one who volunteered for military service. He showed up when assigned to duty -- (cheers, applause) -- and he served with honor and distinction. He also knows the horrors of war and the responsibilities of leadership. And I am confident that next January he would restore the judgment and maturity to our government that nowadays is sorely lacking. (Cheers, applause.) I am proud -- I am proud to call Lieutenant John Kerry my shipmate, and I'm ready to follow him to victory in November. (Cheers, applause.)
As you all know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education and health.
To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super- rich and their armies of lobbyists in Washington. (Cheers, applause.)
But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation. (Applause.) Today our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America -- (cheers, applause) -- based on -- based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. (Cheers, applause.)
Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered, and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people. When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.
After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world.
But in just 34 months we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. (Cheers, applause.)
Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combatting terrorism.
Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with the adherence to basic principles based on sustained bipartisan support. We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights. But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice. (Cheers, applause.)
What a difference these few months of extremism have made. The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism. (Cheers, applause.)
In the meantime, the Middle East peace process has come to a screeching halt. From the first time since Israel became a nation, all former presidents, Democratic and Republican, have attempted to secure a comprehensive peace for Israel with hope and justice for the Palestinians. The achievements of Camp David a quarter century ago and the more recent progress made by President Bill Clinton are now in peril.
Instead, violence has gripped the Holy Land, with the region increasingly swept by anti-American passions. This must change. (Applause.)
Elsewhere, North Korea's nuclear menace, a threat far more real and immediate than any posed by Saddam Hussein, has been allowed to advance unheeded, with potentially ominous consequences for peace and stability in Northeast Asia.
These are some of the prices our government has paid with this radical departure from basic American principles and values that are espoused by John Kerry. (Applause.) In repudiating -- in repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.
First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us; namely, the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs. (Applause.)
Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. (Applause.)
Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country. (Applause.)
Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.
And finally, in the world at large we cannot lead if our leaders mislead. (Cheers, applause.)
You can't be a war president one day and claim to be a peace president the next -- (cheers, applause) -- depending on the latest political polls. (Cheers, applause.)
When our national security requires military action, John Kerry has already proven, in Vietnam, that he will not hesitate to act. And as a proven defender of our national security, John Kerry will strengthen the global alliance against terrorism while avoiding unnecessary wars. (Applause.)
Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth will define America's role in the world. At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul. (Applause.)
In a few months, I will, God willing, enter my 81st year of my life. (Cheers, applause.) And in many ways, the last few months have been some of the most disturbing of all.
But I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail. (Applause.)
And so I say to you -- and so I say to you and to others around the world, whether you wish us well or ill, do not underestimate us Americans.
(Cheers, applause.) We lack neither strength nor wisdom.
There's a road that leads to a bright and hopeful future. What America needs is leadership. (Cheers, applause.) Our job -- our job, my fellow Americans, is to ensure that the leaders of this great country will be John Kerry and John Edwards. (Cheers, applause.)
Thank you, and God bless America. (Cheers, applause.)
Following are the remarks made by Senator Hillary Clinton to the Democratic National Convention on Monday night in Boston, as recorded by the Federal News Service, Inc.:
I am practically speechless. (Cheers, applause.) However -- (cheers, applause).
Twelve years ago -- (chants of "Hillary, Hillary!") -- when our country needed new leadership, Americans selected a Democrat who gave us eight years of peace, prosperity and promise. (Cheers, applause.) Tonight -- tonight I have the pleasure of introducing the last great Democratic president -- (cheers, applause) -- but first I want to say a few words about the next great Democratic president, John Kerry. (Cheers, applause.)
You know, I, like all of you, just heard the moving testimonials about the horrors of September the 11th and the extraordinary witnessing by Reverend Alston concerning his lieutenant, John Kerry.
I don't know how any American could hear the Reverend Alston and not know John Kerry is the man we need to be our president and commander in chief! (Cheers, applause.)
And yes, we meet at a moment of great peril, but also of great promise for the country we love. Together we can once again widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans. We can once again transcend our differences and divisions. We can once again give our children a safer and more secure future. That is the promise of America, and John Kerry will renew and keep that promise to this generation and generations to come. He knows very well that you have to lead the world, not alienate it. He will -- (cheers, applause.) He will lower the deficit, not raise it. He will create good jobs, not lose them. And he will solve a health care crisis for our people, not ignore it. (Cheers, applause.)
Now I know a thing or two about health care. (Laughter, applause.) And I know that the problems have only gotten worse in the last four years. We need to rededicate ourselves to the task of providing health care coverage for the 44 million Americans who don't have it. (Applause.) And we have to do more to lower the costs for all the rest of Americans, who are facing increasing health care insurance premiums and drug prices. (Applause.)
We also -- we also need to lift the ban on stem cell research -- (cheers, applause) -- and find cures that will help millions of Americans. (Applause continues.)
You know, health care is a serious issue, and it requires serious solutions. And that's what John Kerry is good at, and that's what he will give us.
He will also give us something else: a great vice president by the name of John Edwards. (Cheers, applause.)
Now you know that John Edwards is smart, he's energetic, and he's empathetic. And he understands the challenges that hardworking Americans face in their daily lives. Americans will be proud to have the Kerry-Edwards team in the White House, and they will be proud, as we all will be, to have their extraordinary partners, Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards, working for our country as well. (Cheers, applause.)
Now, you know, we've been through our share of challenges as Americans; you know, from a Civil War to a Great Depression to world wars and so much more. But being a senator from New York, I saw firsthand -- (cheers, applause) -- as all of my friends and colleagues did, the devastation of September the 11th. I visited Ground Zero the day after we were attacked, and I felt like I was standing at the gates of hell.
I hope no American ever has to witness a horrible sight like that ever again. And yet, that tragedy both changed and challenged us. I know it did for me. And every day now as a mother, as a senator, as an American, I worry about whether we are acting as wisely as we can to protect our country and our people.
Last week the bipartisan 9/11 commission issued its report, and that commission would never have been in existence had it not been for the brave family members who insisted that this government have a commission to look into 9/11. (Cheers, applause.) And those commissioners issued a sober call to action that we ignore at our peril.
John Kerry understands what's at stake when it comes to our security. We need to fully equip and train our firefighters, our police officers, and our emergency medical technicians. (Applause.)
They are our first responders in the event of a terrorist attack. And we need to secure our borders, our rail lines and our ports, as well as our chemical and nuclear plants.
We need to reorganize our federal government to meet the new threats of these times. And we need to make sure that homeland security is a priority, and that it is funded properly, and that the resources go to the areas of greatest risk, like New York City. (Cheers, applause.)
And along with that, we need to take care of our men and women in uniform, who like John Kerry, risk their lives, and for too many lost their lives in service to our country. These brave Americans deserve better. We need -- (cheers, applause). We need to increase our troop strength, we need to raise their pay. We need to provide our veterans, our National Guard and Reserve with the benefits they are entitled to for the service and duty they perform for our nation! (Cheers, applause.)
And do you know, do you know what we need to meet these challenges? We need a new commander in chief named John Kerry! (Cheers, applause.) I've been saying for many months now John Kerry is a serious man for a serious job in a serious time in our country's history.
So let's join together, not just those of us in this great hall tonight, but throughout our nation, and do everything we possibly can to convince our fellow Americans to look to the future, to look deep inside themselves. They know what is best for our children
And if we just have the courage to act on our conviction, we will, by an overwhelming majority, send John Kerry and John Edwards to do their duty for us in the White House starting next year! (Cheers, applause.)
I am very optimistic about this election because I think I know a great leader when I see one. (Cheers, applause.) And so does America! In 1992 and 1996, Americans chose a president who left our country in better shape than when he took office. (Cheers, applause.) And he still spends his days working to empower the powerless; to promote racial, religious and ethnic reconciliation; to inspire young people to citizen service; and to bring life-saving medicines to people living with HIV-AIDS throughout the world. (Cheers, applause.) He showed Democrats how to win again, and so will John Kerry.Please welcome the 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton! (Cheers, applause.)