Thank you very much.
On behalf of the great Empire State and the whole family of New York,
let me thank you for the great privilege of being able to address
this convention. Please allow me to skip the stories and the poetry
and the temptation to deal in nice but vague rhetoric. Let me instead
use this valuable opportunity to deal immediately with the questions
that should determine this election and that we all know are vital
to the American people.
Ten days ago, President Reagan admitted that although some people
in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy,
even worried, about themselves, their families, and their futures.
The President said that he didn't understand that fear. He said, "Why,
this country is a shining city on a hill." And the President
is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill.
But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city's
splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all the President sees
from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch,
where everyone seems to be doing well. But there's another city; there's
another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can't
pay their mortgages, and most young people can't afford one; where
students can't afford the education they need, and middle-class parents
watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.
In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families
in trouble, more and more people who need help but can't find it.
Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements
of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets,
in the gutter, where the glitter doesn't show. There are ghettos where
thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their
lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President,
in the faces that you don't see, in the places that you don't visit
in your shining city.
In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation -- Mr. President you ought
to know that this nation is more a "Tale of Two Cities"
than it is just a "Shining City on a Hill."
Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places; maybe
if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds; maybe
if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers
wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe -- Maybe, Mr. President,
if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless
there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied
the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed
the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn't
afford to use.
Maybe -- Maybe, Mr. President. But I'm afraid not.
Because, the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is how we
were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from the very the
beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival
of the fittest. "Government can't do everything," we were
told. "So it should settle for taking care of the strong and
hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the
rich richer, and what falls from the table will be enough for the
middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way
into the middle class."
You know, the Republicans called it "trickle-down" when
Hoover tried it. Now they call it "supply side." But it's
the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough
to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded,
for the people who are locked out, all they can do is to stare from
a distance at that city's glimmering towers.
It's an old story. It's as old as our history. The difference between
Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and
confidence. The Republicans -- The Republicans believe that the wagon
train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some
of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the
trail. "The strong" -- "The strong," they tell
us, "will inherit the land."
We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that
we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have
more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from
his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees -- wagon train after
wagon train -- to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the
whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge
that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and
Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans
-- all those struggling to build their families and claim some small
share of America. For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels
of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember
this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation
had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.
So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come
from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today
our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression,
from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it
again -- this time to save the nation from confusion and division,
from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from
the fear of a nuclear holocaust.
That's not going to be easy. Mo Udall is exactly right, it won't
be easy. And in order to succeed, we must answer our opponent's polished
and appealing rhetoric with a more telling reasonableness and rationality.
We must win this case on the merits. We must get the American public
to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship -- to the reality,
the hard substance of things. And we'll do it not so much with speeches
that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound; not so much
with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches
that will bring people to their senses. We must make -- We must make
the American people hear our "Tale of Two Cities." We must
convince them that we don't have to settle for two cities, that we
can have one city, indivisible, shining for all of its people.
Now, we will have no chance to do that if what comes out of this
convention is a babel of arguing voices. If that's what's heard throughout
the campaign, dissident sounds from all sides, we will have no chance
to tell our message. To succeed we will have to surrender some small
parts of our individual interests, to build a platform that we can
all stand on, at once, and comfortably -- proudly singing out. We
need -- We need a platform we can all agree to so that we can sing
out the truth for the nation to hear, in chorus, its logic so clear
and commanding that no slick Madison Avenue commercial, no amount
of geniality, no martial music will be able to muffle the sound of
And we Democrats must unite. We Democrats must unite so that the
entire nation can unite, because surely the Republicans won't bring
this country together. Their policies divide the nation into the lucky
and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans
are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this
nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse
off than before, and they would call that division recovery.
Now, we should not -- we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or
chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching
at times. Remember that, unlike any other Party, we embrace men and
women of every color, every creed, every orientation, every economic
class. In our family are gathered everyone from the abject poor of
Essex County in New York, to the enlightened affluent of the gold
coasts at both ends of the nation. And in between is the heart of
our constituency -- the middle class, the people not rich enough to
be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare; the middle class
-- those people who work for a living because they have to, not because
some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval
between birth and eternity. White collar and blue collar. Young professionals.
Men and women in small business desperate for the capital and contracts
that they need to prove their worth.
We speak for the minorities who have not yet entered the mainstream.
We speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent
mosaic that is America. We speak -- We speak for women who are indignant
that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments
the simple rule "thou shalt not sin against equality," a
rule so simple --
-- I was going to say, and I perhaps dare not but I will, it's a
commandment so simple it can be spelled in three letters: E.R.A.
We speak -- We speak for young people demanding an education and
a future. We speak for senior citizens -- We speak for senior citizens
who are terrorized by the idea that their only security, their Social
Security,is being threatened. We speak for millions of reasoning people
fighting to preserve our environment from greed and from stupidity.
And we speak for reasonable people who are fighting to preserve our
very existence from a macho intransigence that refuses to make intelligent
attempts to discuss the possibility of nuclear holocaust with our
enemy. They refuse. They refuse, because they believe we can pile
missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of
them will frighten our enemies into submission.
Now we're proud of this diversity as Democrats. We're grateful for
it. We don't have to manufacture it the way the Republicans will next
month in Dallas, by propping up mannequin delegates on the convention
floor. But we, while we're proud of this diversity, we pay a price
for it. The different people that we represent have different points
of view. And sometimes they compete and even debate, and even argue.
That's what our primaries were all about. But now the primaries are
over and it is time, when we pick our candidates and our platform
here, to lock arms and move into this campaign together.
If you need any more inspiration to put some small part of your own
difference aside to create this consensus, then all you need to do
is to reflect on what the Republican policy of divide and cajole has
done to this land since 1980. Now the President has asked the American
people to judge him on whether or not he's fulfilled the promises
he made four years ago. I believe, as Democrats, we ought to accept
that challenge. And just for a moment let us consider what he has
said and what he's done.
Inflation -- Inflation is down since 1980, but not because of the
supply-side miracle promised to us by the President. Inflation was
reduced the old-fashioned way: with a recession, the worst since 1932.
Now how did we -- We could have brought inflation down that way. How
did he do it? 55,000 bankruptcies; two years of massive unemployment;
200,000 farmers and ranchers forced off the land; more homeless --
more homeless than at any time since the Great Depression in 1932;
more hungry, in this world of enormous affluence, the United States
of America, more hungry; more poor, most of them women. And -- And
he paid one more thing, a nearly 200 billion dollar deficit threatening
Now, we must make the American people understand this deficit because
they don't. The President's deficit is a direct and dramatic repudiation
of his promise in 1980 to balance the budget by 1983. How large is
it? The deficit is the largest in the history of the universe. It
-- President Carter's last budget had a deficit less than one-third
of this deficit. It is a deficit that, according to the President's
own fiscal adviser, may grow to as much 300 billion dollars a year
for "as far as the eye can see." And, ladies and gentlemen,
it is a debt so large -- that is almost one-half of the money we collect
from the personal income tax each year goes just to pay the interest.
It is a mortgage on our children's future that can be paid only in
pain and that could bring this nation to its knees.
Now don't take my word for it -- I'm a Democrat.
Ask the Republican investment bankers on Wall Street what they think
the chances of this recovery being permanent are. You see, if they're
not too embarrassed to tell you the truth, they'll say that they're
appalled and frightened by the President's deficit. Ask them what
they think of our economy, now that it's been driven by the distorted
value of the dollar back to its colonial condition. Now we're exporting
agricultural products and importing manufactured ones. Ask those Republican
investment bankers what they expect the rate of interest to be a year
from now. And ask them -- if they dare tell you the truth -- you'll
learn from them, what they predict for the inflation rate a year from
now, because of the deficit.
Now, how important is this question of the deficit.
Think about it practically: What chance would the Republican candidate
have had in 1980 if he had told the American people that he intended
to pay for his so-called economic recovery with bankruptcies, unemployment,
more homeless, more hungry, and the largest government debt known
to humankind? If he had told the voters in 1980 that truth, would
American voters have signed the loan certificate for him on Election
Day? Of course not! That was an election won under false pretenses.
It was won with smoke and mirrors and illusions. And that's the kind
of recovery we have now as well.
But what about foreign policy? They said that they would make us
and the whole world safer. They say they have. By creating the largest
defense budget in history, one that even they now admit is excessive
-- by escalating to a frenzy the nuclear arms race; by incendiary
rhetoric; by refusing to discuss peace with our enemies; by the loss
of 279 young Americans in Lebanon in pursuit of a plan and a policy
that no one can find or describe.
We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and
then we lie about it. We have been less than zealous in support of
our only real friend -- it seems to me, in the Middle East -- the
one democracy there, our flesh and blood ally, the state of Israel.
Our -- Our policy -- Our foreign policy drifts with no real direction,
other than an hysterical commitment to an arms race that leads nowhere
-- if we're lucky. And if we're not, it could lead us into bankruptcy
Of course we must have a strong defense! Of course Democrats are
for a strong defense. Of course Democrats believe that there are times
that we must stand and fight. And we have. Thousands of us have paid
for freedom with our lives. But always -- when this country has been
at its best -- our purposes were clear. Now they're not. Now our allies
are as confused as our enemies. Now we have no real commitment to
our friends or to our ideals -- not to human rights, not to the refuseniks,
not to Sakharov, not to Bishop Tutu and the others struggling for
freedom in South Africa.
We -- We have in the last few years spent more than we can afford.
We have pounded our chests and made bold speeches. But we lost 279
young Americans in Lebanon and we live behind sand bags in Washington.
How can anyone say that we are safer, stronger, or better?
That -- That is the Republican record. That its disastrous quality
is not more fully understood by the American people I can only attribute
to the President's amiability and the failure by some to separate
the salesman from the product.
And, now -- now -- now it's up to us. Now it's now up to you and
me to make the case to America. And to remind Americans that if they
are not happy with all that the President has done so far, they should
consider how much worse it will be if he is left to his radical proclivities
for another four years unrestrained. Unrestrained.
Now, if -- if July -- if July brings back Ann Gorsuch Burford --
what can we expect of December? Where would -- Where would another
four years take us? Where would four years more take us? How much
larger will the deficit be? How much deeper the cuts in programs for
the struggling middle class and the poor to limit that deficit? How
high will the interest rates be? How much more acid rain killing our
forests and fouling our lakes?
And, ladies and gentlemen, please think of this -- the nation must
think of this: What kind of Supreme Court will we have?
Please [beckons audience to settle down].
We -- We must ask ourselves what kind of court and country will be
fashioned by the man who believes in having government mandate people's
religion and morality; the man who believes that trees pollute the
environment; the man that believes that -- that the laws against discrimination
against people go too far; a man who threatens Social Security and
Medicaid and help for the disabled. How high will we pile the missiles?
How much deeper will the gulf be between us and our enemies? And,
ladies and gentlemen, will four years more make meaner the spirit
of the American people?
This election will measure the record of the past four years. But
more than that, it will answer the question of what kind of people
we want to be.
We Democrats still have a dream. We still believe in this nation's
future. And this is our answer to the question. This is our credo:
We believe in only the government we need but we insist on all the
government we need.
We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and
reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn't
distort or promise to do things that we know we can't do.
We believe in a government strong enough to use words like "love"
and "compassion" and smart enough to convert our noblest
aspirations into practical realities.
We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while
survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process
of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher
We -- Our -- Our government -- Our government should be able to rise
to the level where it can fill the gaps that are left by chance or
by a wisdom we don't fully understand. We would rather have laws written
by the patron of this great city, the man called the "world's
most sincere Democrat," St. Francis of Assisi, than laws written
We believe -- We believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed
as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world's history, one that
can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able
to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find
work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless,
care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we
proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation
and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth
that peace is better than war because life is better than death.
We believe in firm -- We believe in firm but fair law and order.
We believe proudly in the union movement.
We believe -- We believe in privacy for people, openness by government.
We believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights.
We believe in a single -- We believe in a single fundamental idea
that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could
write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality,
the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one
another's pain, sharing one another's blessings -- reasonably, honestly,
fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political
We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at
the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems
of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future
of the child -- that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future;
that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive, and live
decently, is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock
is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably
we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
Now for 50 years -- for 50 years we Democrats created a better future
for our children, using traditional Democratic principles as a fixed
beacon, giving us direction and purpose, but constantly innovating,
adapting to new realities: Roosevelt's alphabet programs; Truman's
NATO and the GI Bill of Rights; Kennedy's intelligent tax incentives
and the Alliance for Progress; Johnson's civil rights; Carter's human
rights and the nearly miraculous Camp David Peace Accord.
Democrats did it -- Democrats did it and Democrats can do it again.
We can build a future that deals with our deficit. Remember this,
that 50 years of progress under our principles never cost us what
the last four years of stagnation have. And, we can deal with the
deficit intelligently, by shared sacrifice, with all parts of the
nation's family contributing, building partnerships with the private
sector, providing a sound defense without depriving ourselves of what
we need to feed our children and care for our people. We can have
a future that provides for all the young of the present, by marrying
common sense and compassion.
We know we can, because we did it for nearly 50 years before 1980.
And we can do it again, if we do not forget -- if we do not forget
that this entire nation has profited by these progressive principles;
that they helped lift up generations to the middle class and higher;
that they gave us a chance to work, to go to college, to raise a family,
to own a house, to be secure in our old age and, before that, to reach
heights that our own parents would not have dared dream of.
That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of the shining
city. And it's a story, ladies and gentlemen, that I didn't read in
a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it and lived it, like many
of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both his hands
work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the
bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable
to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith
and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about
our kind of democracy from my father. And, I learned about our obligation
to each other from him and from my mother. They asked only for a chance
to work and to make the world better for their children, and they
-- they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not
be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation's government
did that for them.
And that they were able to build a family and live in dignity and
see one of their children go from behind their little grocery store
in South Jamaica on the other side of the tracks where he was born,
to occupy the highest seat, in the greatest State, in the greatest
nation, in the only world we would know, is an ineffably beautiful
tribute to the democratic process.
And -- And ladies and gentlemen, on January 20, 1985, it will happen
again -- only on a much, much grander scale. We will have a new President
of the United States, a Democrat born not to the blood of kings but
to the blood of pioneers and immigrants. And we will have America's
first woman Vice President, the child of immigrants, and she -- she
-- she will open with one magnificent stroke, a whole new frontier
for the United States.
Now, it will happen. It will happen if we make it happen; if you
and I make it happen. And I ask you now, ladies and gentlemen, brothers
and sisters, for the good of all of us, for the love of this great
nation, for the family of America, for the love of God: Please, make
this nation remember how futures are built.
Thank you and God bless you.