President Obama's speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention focuses on divergent visions for the future
My hope has been tested. By the cost of war. But one of the worst economic crises in history. And by political gridlock that has left us wondering if it's still even possible to tackle the challenges of our time.
I know campaigns can seem small, even silly sometimes. Trivial things become big distractions. Serious issues become sound bites. The truth gets buried under an avalanche of money and advertising. If you're sick of hearing me approve this message, believe me, so am I.
But when all is said and done, when you pick up that ballot to vote, you will face the clearest choice of any time in a generation. Over the next few years, big decisions will be made in Washington on jobs, the economy, taxes and deficits, energy and education, war and peace. Decisions that will have huge impact on our lives and on our children's lives for decades to come. And on every issue, the choice you face won't just be between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America. A choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future.
Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known ... the promise that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, that everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules, from Main St. to Wall St. to Washington D.C. I ran for President because I saw that basic bargain slipping away.
When the house of cards collapsed in the great recession, millions lost their jobs, their homes, their life savings. A tragedy from which we're still fighting to recover. Our friends down in Tampa at the Republican Convention were more than happy to talk about everything they think is wrong with America. But they didn't have much to say about how they'd make it right. They want your vote, but they don't want you to know their plan. And that's because all they have to offer is the same prescriptions they've had for the last 30 years. Have a surplus, try a tax cut. Deficit too high, try another. Feel a cold coming on, take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations and call us in the morning.
I've cut taxes for those who need it -- middle class families, small businesses. But I don't believe another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores or pay down our deficit. I don't believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China. After all we've been through, I don't believe that rolling back regulations on Wall St. will help the small businesswoman expand or the laid off construction worker keep his home. We have been there, we've tried that and we are not going back, we are moving forward, America.
I won't pretend the path I'm offering is quick or easy. I never have. You didn't elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear, you elected me to tell you the truth. And the truth is, it will take more than a few years to solve challenges that have built up over decades. It will require common effort and shared responsibility and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one. And by the way, those of us who carry on his party's legacy should remember that not every problem can be remedied with another government program or dictate from Washington.
But know this, America -- Our problems can be solved. Our challenges can be met. The path we offer may be harder, but it leads to a better place and I'm asking you to choose that future. I'm asking you to rally around a set of goals for your country -- goals in manufacturing, energy, education, national security and the deficit. Real, achievable plans that will lead to new jobs, more opportunity and rebuild this economy on a stronger foundation.
That's what we can do in the next four years and that is why I'm running for a second term as President of the United States.
In a world of new threats and new challenges, you can choose leadership that has been tested and proven. Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. We did. I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and we have. We have blunted the Taliban's moment in Afghanistan and in 2014, our longest war will be over. A new tower rises above the New York skyline. Al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead.
Tonight we pay tribute to the Americans who still serve in harm's way. We are forever in debt to a generation whose sacrifice has made this country safer and more respected. We will never forget you and so long as I'm Commander in Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known. When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you've served us because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job or a roof over their heads or the care they need when they come home.
Now we have a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy. But from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly. After all, you don't call Russia our 'No. 1 enemy' -- not al-Qaeda, Russia -- unless you're still stuck in a Cold War mind warp. You might not be ready for diplomacy in Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.
My opponent said that it was tragic to end the war in Iraq and he won't tell us how he'll end the war in Afghanistan. Well I have and I will. And while my opponent would spend more money on military hardware that our Joint Chiefs don't even want, I will use the money we're no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and runways, because after two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it's time to do some nation-building right here at home.
This is the choice we now face. This is what the election comes down to. Over and over we're been told by our opponents that bigger tax cuts and fewer regulations are the only way. And since government can't do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can't afford health insurance, hope that you don't get sick. If a company releases toxic pollution into the air that your children breathe, well, that's the price of progress.
If you can't afford to start a business or go to college, take my opponent's advice and borrow money from your parents. You know what? That's not who we are. That's not what this country's about.
While I'm very proud of what we've achieved together, I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'
But as I stand here tonight, I have never bee more hopeful about America. Not because I think I have all the answers. Not because I'm naive about the magnitude of our challenges. I'm hopeful because of you.
Ours is a future filled with hope and if you share that faith with me, if you share that hope with me, I ask you tonight for your vote. If you reject the notion that this nation's promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election. If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholder to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election.
If you believe that new plants and factories can dot our landscape; that new energy can power our future; that new schools can provide ladders of opportunity to this nation of dreamers; if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November. America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder - but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer - but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless these United States.
What did you think of the President's speech?