CommunityFDL Main Blog

DNCC 2008: Barack Obama’s Speech

Thank you so much. [Lots of applause.] Thank you everybody.

To Chairman Dean and my great friend, Dick Durbin, and to all my fellow citizens of this great nation. With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination to run for the presidency of the United States.

Let me express my thanks to the historic candidates who accompanied me on this journey, and an inspiration to my daughters and yours, Hillary Rodham Clinton. To President Bill Clinton, who made last night the case for change as only he can make it.

To Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service. And to the next Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, I thank you. I am grateful to finish this journey with one of the greatest statesment of our time, who is at eas with world leaders and the Amtrak train conductor.

And to the love of my life, Michelle Obama. And to Malia and Sasha, I am so proud of you.

On November 4th, we must stand up and say: "Eight is enough."

Now…let me…let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and respect. And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than ninety percent of the time?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.

The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives on health care, education the economy, John McCain has been anything but independent….He said one of the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisers who wrote his economic plan said we were just suffering from a mental recession and had become a "nation of whiners." Tell that to the proud auto workers who, after they found out their plant was closing, kept showing up for work for weeks because folks depended on the brakes they made.

Tell that to soldiers and families who say goodbye to them for another tour of duty, who serve without complaining, that they are a nation of whiners.

How else could Sen. McCain define middle class as someone who makes under $5 million a year….Or an education plan that doesn’t educate, or a retirement plan that privatizes social security. It’s not that john McCain doesn’t care — he just doesn’t get it. He subscribes to that old GOP philosophy — give to the rich and hope it trickles down. The market will take care of everything. They call this "the ownership society" — what it really means is "you are on your own." Pull yourself up by your boots — even if you don’t have any boots, you are on your own.

It’s time for us to change this. And that’s why I’m running for President of the United States.

You see, we Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress in this country.

We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage; whether you can put away a little extra money at the end of each month so that you can someday watch your child receive her diploma. We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.

We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.

The fundamentals we use to measure economic strength are whether we are living up to that fundamental promise that has made this country great – a promise that is the only reason I am standing here tonight.

I see my grandfather, who enlisted young, marched in Patton’s army, and then returned to get his degree on the GI Bill. I see my mother who, even though she sometimes had to rely on food stamps, was able to finish college and send us to the best schools. I see that in people I’ve met around the country. When I hear about a woman starting her own business, I think about my grandmother — who was passed over promotions because she was a woman. She gave up getting a new dress or shoes to put food on the table for me — she poured everything she had into me, and I know she is watching today….

I don’t know what kind of lives that John McCain thinks celebrities lead — but these are my heroes, this has been my life. And I intend to live up to their expectations of me.

…Ours is a promise that says, government cannot solve all our problems, but should protect us from harm, keep our water clean and our toys safe, invest in new roads, and technologies. It should help us, not hurt us. It should insure opportunity for every American who is willing to work. We are responsible for ourselves, but we rise and fall as one nation. I am my brother’s keeper.

That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now. So let me spell out exactly what that change would mean if I am President.

Change means a tax code that doesn’t reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high- tech jobs of tomorrow.

I will…listen now…cut taxes – cut taxes – for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.

And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East. We will do this.

Washington has been talking about our oil addiction for the last thirty years, and, by the way, John McCain has been there for twenty-six of them. In that time, he’s said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil that we had on the day that Senator McCain took office.

Now is the time to end this addiction, and to understand that drilling is a stop-gap measure, not a long-term solution. Not even close.

As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power. I’ll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I’ll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars. And I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy – wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can’t ever be outsourced.

…It will take nothing less than a global education. Michelle and I are here because we got a good education. And I will not settle for an America where every child does not have that chance. I’ll recruit an army of new teachers, and require accountability and good results. And will make this proise — if you commit to serving your community, you will be able to afford a college education.

Now is the time for affordable health care for every American. If you have health care, you’ll be able to lower your premiums. And if you don’t have health care, you’ll get the same insurnace that members of Congress get. And, as someone who watched his mother argue with health insurers while she lay in bed dying of cancer, we will protect those who need it most.

Now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day’s work, because I want my daughters to have the same opportunities as your sons.

Now, many of these plans will cost money. Which is why I’ve paid out how I will pay for every dime. Close corporate loopholes and also go throug the federal budget line by line — because we cannot meet 21stcentury problems with a 20th century bureaucracy.

We must recover what JFK called our intellectual and moral strength. We must all find ways to make our homes and businesses better. To reach out to people who get into trouble. That government cannot substitute for parents — make kids do homework, etc.

Mutual responsibility and governmental responsibility. If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament and judgment to become the next president of the United States, that’s a debate I am ready to have. For while Sen. McCain was turning his sights to Iraq, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing it would distract us from the difficulties we face. When McCain wanted to turn from Afghanistan, I made clear that we needed to do better.

John MCCain says that he wants to follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives.

…Iraq surplus…we need a president who will face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the President of the past. (sorry, sneezing and missed this)

…That is not the change that America needs.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans – have built, and we are to restore that legacy.

As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

These are the policies I will pursue. And int he weeks ahead, I look forward to debating them with John McCain. But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. One of the things we need to get past in this country is to claim that people cannot be patriotic because they disagree with us. That is wrong.

Patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who have fought for this nation may have been Republicans, Democrats or Independents.

They ahve not served a red America or a blue America — they ahve served the United States of America.

So I have news for you, John MCCain — we ALL put our country first. We need to castoff the worn out ideas and [politics of the past. What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose — and that’s what we have to restore.

We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on the need to reduce unwanted pregnancies. We may not agree on gun issues — but surely we can agree about keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. We may not agree on gay marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay brothers and sisters should be allowed to visit loved ones in the hospital or live lives without discrimination….

I know there are those who dismiss those beliefs as "happy talk." Just a trojan horse for "higher taxes" or :"destroying traditional values." Because if you have no ideas, you scare people and paint your opponent as something to run from.

You take a big election and paint it as something small. When your hopes have been dashed, it’s best to stop hoping and settle for what you know.

I realize I’m not the typical candidate for this office, I don’t have the typlical pedigree. But what the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me — it’s about you. For eighteen long months, you have stood up and said enough to the politics of the past. You have shown what history teachesus — at defining moments like this one, changes doesn’t come from Washington, changes comes to Washington.

Change comes because the American people demand it. Because they rise up and insist on new leadership, on new politcs for better times. Change is going to come, because I’ve seen it and I’ve lived it. In Illinois…. In Washington….

And I’ve seen it in this campaign, in the young people who votedfor the first time, and int he young at heart who got involved again. And in Repulicans who never thought they’d pick up a Democratic ballot — but they did.

With neighbors who would take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the water rises.

We have the strongest military in the world, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities are tne envy of the world, but that’s not what makes us smarter. What is better is around the bend — that promise has led immigrants to cross oceans, and pioneers to move west, and to make women reach for the ballot box. And 45 years ago today, that promise brought Americans to the mall in Washington to hear a young preacher from georgia speak of his dream. People in America could have heard anger or submission — but what they heard instead is that, in America, our destiny is inextricibly linked. That our dreams are not alone.

We cannot turn back. America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done, with so many children to educate, with so many veterans to care for, and so many lives to mend. We cannot turn back, we cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must walk into the future and keep hold to the future.

And in the words of the scripture, hold firmly…. Thank you.

(Sorry had a couple of sneezing fits there, and I missed a few bits and pieces.)

Previous post

Finally at Invesco, feeling like a sardine (but happy to be here to witness history)

Next post

Thursday's CoverItLive Blend DNC coffeehouse is open

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

322 Comments