FROM THE 2004 DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
BOSTON, MA • JULY 27, 2004
Thank you, Bob Caro. Thank you, Bob Caro.
Thank you, Bob, Caro, for that generous introduction. And
With the continuing support of the people of Massachusetts,
I intend to stay in this job until I get the hang of it.
To my fellow delegates and my fellow Democrats - I’ve
waited a very, very long time to say this - welcome to my
hometown! Welcome to my hometown.
To Americans everywhere - whose aspirations have been kindled
anew by this campaign - we, who convene here this evening
tonight in liberty’s cradle, say: Welcome home!
Welcome home - for the ideals born in Boston and strengthened
by centuries of service and sacrifice. Ideals like freedom
and equality and opportunity and fairness and common decency
for all - ideals that all Americans yearn to reclaim. And
make no mistake: Come November, reclaim them we shall - by
making John Kerry President of the United States.
These fundamental ideals light the fire in each of us to
do all we can - and then more - to see that next January,
John Kerry has a nice new home - at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It fills me with pride to have our Democratic Convention
in this city, - this hallowed ground that gave birth to these
enduring American ideals. Like my grandfather and my brother
before me, I have been privileged to serve this place where
every street is history’s home: The Old North Church,
where lanterns signaled Paul Revere; The Old State House,
where John Adams said independence was born; The Golden Steps,
where waves of new immigrants entered this new land of liberty
and opportunity, including all eight of my own great-grandparents
Here in New England, we love our history, and like all Americans,
we learn from it. We breathe it deep, because it sustains
us, it guides us, it inspires us. It was no accident that
Massachusetts was founded as a commonwealth, a place where
authority belongs begins [as spoken] not to a single ruler,
but to the people themselves, joined together for the common
The old system was based on inequality. Loyalty was demanded,
never earned. Leaders ruled by fear, by force, by special
favors for the few. Under theat old, unequal system, the
quality of your connections mattered more than the content
of your character. Your voices were not heard. Your concerns
did not matter. Your votes did not count.
The colonists knew they could do better, just as we know
we can do better today - but only if we all work together,
only if we all reach out together, only if we all come together
for the common good. Now, it is for us, the patriots of this
new century to do that, to shape our own better future and
make it worthy of our past, to choose a leader worthy of
our country - and that leader is John Kerry.
Today, more than two centuries after the embattled farmers
stood and fired the shot heard “round the world,” the
ideals of our founders still resonate across the globe. Young
people in other lands - inspired by the liberty we cherish
- linked arms and sang “We Shall Overcome” when
the Berlin Wall fell, when apartheid ended in South Africa,
and when the courageous protests took place in Tiananmen
The goals of the American people are every bit as high as
they were more than 200 years ago. If America is failing
to reach them today, it’s not because our ideals need
replacing, it’s because our Ppresident needs replacing.
We bear no ill will towards our opponents. In fact, we’d
be happy to have them over for a polite little tea party.
I know just the place - right down the road at in Boston
Harbor. For today, like the brave and visionary men and women
before us, we are determined to change our government.
I’ve served for many years in the Senate and have
seen many elections. But there have been none, none more
urgent or more important than this one. Never before have
I seen a contrast so sharp or consequences so profound as
in the choice we will make for president in 2004.
So much of the progress we once achieved has been turned
back. So much of the goodwill America once enjoyed in the
world has been lost. But we are a hopeful nation, and our
values and our optimism are still burning bright. Those same
values and optimism are what brought our forebears across
a harsh ocean and sustained them through many brutal winters
- that inspired patriots from John Adams to John Kennedy
to John Kerry, and their strong belief that America’s
best days are still ahead.
There’s a reason why this land was called “the
American experiment.” If dedication to the common good
were hardwired into human nature, we would never have had
a needed for a revolution. If each of us cared about the
public interest, we wouldn’t have had the excesses
of Enron. We wouldn’t have had the abuses of Halliburton.
And Vice President Cheney would be retired to an undisclosed
location. Soon, thanks to John Kerry and John Edwards, he’ll
have ample time to do just that.
Our country demands a great deal from us, and we rightly
demand a great deal from our leaders. America is a compact,
a bargain, a contract. It says that all of us are connected.
Our fates are intertwined. Fifty states, one nation. Our
Constitution binds us together.
Yet in our own time, there are those who seek to divide
us. One community against another. Urban against rural. City
against suburb. Whites against blacks. Men against women.
Straights against gays. Americans against Americans.
In these challenging times for our country, in these fateful
times for the world, America needs a genuine uniter - not
a divider who only claims to be a uniter. We have seen how
they rule; they divide and try to conquer. They know the
power of the people is weakened when our house is divided.
They believe they can’t win, unless the rest of us
lose. We reject that shameful view.
The Democratic Party has a different idea. We believe that
all of us can win. We believe we are one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. And when we
say all, we mean all.
Today in this global age, our goal of the common good extends
far beyond America’s borders. As President Kennedy
said in 1963 in his quest for restraint in nuclear arms: “We
can help make the world safe for diversity. For in the final
analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit
this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish
our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
Interdependence defines our world. For all our might, and
for all our wealth, we know we are only as strong as the
bonds we share with others. The dangers of terrorism and
nuclear proliferation, our greatest challenges, - are shared
by all nations. And our greatest opportunities from achieving
lasting peace and security, to building a more prosperous
society, to ending the ravages of disease and the despairs
of poverty can all be seized. But only if the world works
together, and only if America helps to lead in the right
direction. And John Kerry has the skill, and the judgment
and the experience to lead us on that great journey.
The eyes of the world were on us and the hearts of the world
were with us after Sept.ember 11th - until this administration
broke that trust. We should have honored, not ignored, the
pledges that we made. We should have strengthened, not scorned,
the alliances that won two World Wars and the Ccold Wwar.
Most of all, we should have honored the principle so fundamental
that our nation’s founders placed it in the very first
sentence of the Declaration of Independence - that America
must give “a decent respect to the Oopinions of Mmankind.” We
failed to do that in Iraq.
More than 900 of our servicemen and women have already paid
the ultimate price. Nearly 6,000 have been wounded in this
misguided war. The administration has alienated long-time
allies. Instead of making America more secure, they have
made us less so. They have made it harder to win the real
war on terrorism, and the war against Al Qaeda. And none
of this had to happen.
How could any Ppresident have possibly squandered the enormous
goodwill that flowed to America from across the world after
Most of the world still knows what we can be, what only
we can be, and they want us to be that nation again. America
must be a light to the world, and under John Kerry and John
Edwards, that’s what America will be.
We need a Ppresident, we need a president who will bind
up the nation’s wounds. We need a Ppresident who will
be a symbol of respect in a world yearning to be at peace
again. We need John Kerry as our president.
Time and again in America’s history, we as Democrats
have offered new hope - of a stronger, fairer, more prosperous
future for all our people - a society that feeds the hungry,
shelters the homeless, and cares for the sick - so that none
must walk alone.
And When the elderly faced poverty and sickness that threatened
their golden years, we created Social Security and Medicare.
And When the voices of many citizens went unheard and their
lives were blighted by bigotry, we fought for equality and
justice and for civil rights and voting rights and the rights
of for women, and for the cause of Americans with disabilities.
We fought for those.
And When higher education was beyond the reach of veterans
returning home from the war, we created the G.I. Bill of
Rights - and we have continued ever since to make college
more affordable for millions more Americans.
And When men and women needed protection in the workplace,
we demanded safe conditions for their jobs. We insisted on
the right to higher pay for working overtime. And We guaranteed
the right to form a union. And wWe pledged a fair minimum
wage, so that no one in America who works for a living should
have to live in poverty.
Only leaders who know this history - and abide by the ideals
that shaped it - deserve to be trusted with our nation’s
future. Sometimes, as in recent years, they have fooled us
with their rhetoric. But we will not let them fool us twice.
In the White House, inscribed on a plaque above the fireplace
in the State Dining Room, is a prayer - a simple but powerful
prayer of John Adams, the first president to live in that
great house. It reads: “I pray heaven to bestow the
best of blessings on this house and on all that shall hereafter
inhabit it. May none but [the] honest and wise ever rule
under this roof.” In November, we will make those words
ring true again.
All of us who know John Kerry know that he is a fitting
heir to these ideals. I have known John Kerry for three decades.
I have known him as a soldier, as a peacemaker, as a prosecutor,
as a Ssenator, and as a friend. And in every role he has
shown his strengths. He was the right man for every tough
task and he is the right leader for this time in our history.
John is a war hero who understands that America’s
strength comes from many sources, - especially the power
of our ideas. He knows that a true leader inspires hope and
This administration does neither. Instead it brings fear.
Fear of rising costs for health care and for college, - fear
of higher unemployment and lesser pay, - fear for the future
of Social Security and Medicare, - fear of greater bigotry,
- fear of pollution’s stain on our magnificent natural
heritage, - fear of four more years of dreams denied and
promises unfulfilled and progress rolled back.
In the depths of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt inspired
the nation when he said, “The only thing we have to
fear is fear itself.” Today, we say the only thing
we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.
John Kerry offers hope, John Kerry offers hope not fear.
The hope of real victory against terrorism and true security
at home. Of good health care for all Americans. Of Social
Security that is always there for the elderly. Of schools
that open golden doors of opportunity for all our children.
Of an economy that works for everyone. That’s the kind
of America we’ll have with John Kerry in the White
And The roots of that America are planted deep in the New
England soil. Across this region are burial grounds, - many
so humble you find them without intending to. You’re
in a town like Concord, Massachusetts, or Hancock, New Hampshire.
You’re visiting the old church there, and behind the
chapel you find a small plot. Simple stones bearing simple
markers. The markers say “War of 1776.”
They do not ask for attention. But they command it all the
same. These are the patriots who won our freedom. These are
the first Americans, who enlisted in a fight for something
larger than themselves, for a shared faith in the future,
for a nation that was alive in their hearts but not yet a
part of their world.
They and their fellow patriots won their battle. But the
larger battle for freedom, and justice, and equality and
opportunity is our battle too, and it is never fully won.
Each new generation has to take up the cause. Sometimes with
weapons in hand,; sometimes armed only with faith and hope,
like the marchers in Birmingham or and Selma four decades
Sometimes the fight is waged in Congress or the courts;
sometimes on foreign shores, like the battle that called
one of my brothers to war in the Pacific, and another to
die in Europe.
Now it is our turn to take up the cause. Our struggle is
not with some monarch named George who inherited the crown.
Although it often seems that way. Our struggle is with the
politics of fear and favoritism in our own time, in our own
country. Our struggle, like so many others before, is with
those who put their own narrow interest ahead of the public
We hear echoes of past battles in the quiet whisper of the
sweetheart deal, in the hushed promise of a better break
for the better connected. We hear them in the cries of the
false patriots who bully dissenters into silence and submission.
These are familiar fights. We’ve fought and we’ve
won them before. And with John Kerry and John Edwards leading
us, we will win them again and again and again and make America
stronger at home and respected once more in the world.
For centuries, kings ruled by what they claimed was divine
right. They could not be questioned. They could not be challenged.
The people’s fate was not their own. But today, because
of the surpassing wisdom of our founders, the constant courage
of the patriots of the past, and the shared sacrifice of
generations of Americans who kept the faith, the power of
America still rests securely in citizens’ hands. In
True to our highest and noblest ideals, we intend to use
that power. We will use it wisely and well. We will use it,
in the poet’s words my brothers loved, “to strive,
to seek, to find, and not to yield.” We will use it
to heal, to build, to hope, and to dream again. And in doing
so, we will truly make our country once more America the
Thank you very much.
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