June 5, 2008
Isn’t it a great day to be in Austin, Texas?
And isn’t it a great time to be a Texas Democrat?
Welcome, all of you, to your state capitol–the home of Lady Bird Lake, the Ann Richards Bridge, and this very special 2008 Texas Democratic Convention. Thank you for being here.
But more than that, thank you for what has been a truly extraordinary primary season.
Thank you for your hard work on behalf of smart, compelling, history-making presidential candidates, and the hundreds of state and local Democrats who will run stronger because of your efforts.
Thank you for your energy and inspiration, and for bringing millions of people into the Democratic Party.
Thank you for reminding Texans that we are the party of diversity, responsibility, prosperity, opportunity, and investment.
And thank you for coming together here today – at this vital hour in our history – with so much at stake.
Your unity of purpose is our greatest strength. It, more than anything else, will promote the change that we need.
There are some fundamental reasons we are here together.
Republican leaders in Austin and Washington are damaging our future by refusing to invest in schools, universities, 21st Century energy, health care, and other basic infrastructure that we need right now and will need even more in the future.
The democratically elected Speaker of the House shouldn’t be allowed to claim absolute power.
The Lieutenant Governor has better things to do than push a voter suppression law that wouldn’t solve any real election fraud problems – but that would, as we saw in Indiana, preclude dedicated citizens, such as elderly nuns, from carrying out their civic duty.
The state would be better off if the Governor would fix the Department of Transportation instead of selling our infrastructure to corporations;
Or invest in new universities and opportunities to go to those universities instead of policies that have sent tuition skyrocketing.
Or make Texas competitive in the 21st Century clean energy market, instead of forcing dirty coal plants into regions that don’t want them.
And, if our President insists on spending hundreds of millions of dollars every month, it should go toward American taxpayers and the daunting challenges we face – not on a war we didn’t have to fight, launched under false pretenses, planned with incompetence and unaccountability, and continued without any idea of how to make peace.
But all of that said, there’s one more fundamental thing – maybe the most important thing – that we need to keep in our minds and hearts this weekend, through November, and beyond:
Democrats have come together . . . because we must.
We’ve come together because our differences with each other don’t begin to compare to the ones we have with our political opponents about our values, our priorities, and our future.
We’ve come together to stop years of failed, destructive policies and to at last realize the positive change we’ve fought for and dreamed of.
And we’ve come together to harness this extraordinary energy, this ember of hope that each and all of you have transformed into a spotlight. And together we will point it toward the change we need, and want, and demand.
In this place, at this moment, let us reject the poison politics of Karl Rove and the past.
Let’s reject the politics of cynicism, selfishness, and division that have enabled the failed leadership in Washington and Austin.
Let’s heave off the contrived labels that divide us.
And let’s rally for change.
This is our time. And this is our cause.
Our cause is open and accountable government. Our cause is education. It’s protection of the air we breathe and the water we drink. It’s celebration of the service of our men and women in the military, honoring them with the equipment they need to fight and the care and opportunity they deserve when they come home.
Our cause is the cause of the people who live their lives, loving their children, working hard, and seeking happiness, freedom and a hopeful future.
Our cause is the worker, the senior, and the family that can’t get health care and Texas’ tragic distinction as the state with the highest percentage of uninsured people in the country.
And it’s that child who lacks access to health care and so is denied a happy, healthy, carefree youth, and a fair chance both to realize life’s full potential, and to savor the basic freedom that comes from just being a kid and feeling good. In Texas, more than anywhere else in this country, a child is more likely to start life facing this awful uncertainty, this steeper climb to health and hope.
That kid — every kid — is our cause.
Our cause isn’t an easy one. But the movements that fueled our imagination and changed this country never were.
We pursue our cause with optimism. But not a false optimism.
False optimism belongs to those who ignore the challenges they find inconvenient, or who mindlessly forecast a bright future even as they refuse to invest in it. It is denial, and it’s more of the same, more of what we’ve seen and heard in Washington and Austin for most of a decade.
Real optimism — your optimism — joins hope and action. It connects the reality we have to the one we imagine. It rewards faith that isn’t idle, work that isn’t selfish, and debate that doesn’t destroy.
Real optimism offers opportunity not only to us, but to people we’ll never meet and who have yet to be born. It rejects cynicism that says we can’t do better. And it rewards our devotion to be better stewards, for our world and our neighbors.
The Democratic Party has always had real optimism. It inspired our parents and grandparents – America’s greatest and most optimistic generation – and produced the bountiful inheritance that has been left to us.
And now, my friends, this real optimism has been left to you. You have it. You share it. It brought us together today and will bind us together tomorrow. It fires our cause and inspires our vision. It will lead us to victory in November and beyond. It will change Texas and our nation. And it will create the world that our seniors deserve, our neighbors rightfully demand, and our children expect of us.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless Texas.