Remarks from Senator Joseph Lieberman, August 16
July 7, 2008 - 8:26 PM
(The following is the text of a speech delivered by Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.)
Is America a great country, or what?
Ten days ago, with courage and friendship, Al Gore asked me to be his running mate.
This has been an extraordinary week for my family and me.
There's an old saying that behind every successful man... ...there is a surprised mother-in-law.
I am here tonight to tell you: ...it's true.
I want to thank the daughter of my mother-in-law, the woman who just introduced me.
Hadassah - even before Al Gore made me his running mate, you made me the luckiest guy in the world.
I am fortunate to have you by my side on this journey and I thank you sweetheart.
That miraculous journey begins here and now. Tonight, I am so proud to stand as your candidate for Vice President of the United States.
Only in America.
I am humbled by this nomination and so grateful to Al Gore for choosing me.
And I want you to know... I will work my heart out to make sure Al Gore is the next President of the United States.
We have become the America that so many of our parents dreamed for us.
But the great question this year, is what will we dream for our country... ...and how will we make it come true?
We who gather here tonight believe, as Al Gore has said, that it's not just the size of our national feast that is important... ...but the number of people we can fit around the table.
There must be room for everybody.
As every faith teaches us - and as Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan to Clinton have reminded us- we must as Americans, try to see our nation not just through our own eyes... ...but through the eyes of others.
In my life, I have seen the goodness of this country through many sets of eyes.
I have seen it through the eyes of my grandmother.
She was raised in Central Europe, in a village where she was often harassed because of the way she worshiped God. Then, she immigrated to America. On Saturdays, she used to walk to synagogue, and often, her Christian neighbors would pass her and say, "Good Sabbath, Mrs. Manger."
It was a source of endless delight and gratitude for her that here in this country, she was accepted for who she was.
I have seen America through the eyes of my parents, Henry and Marcia Lieberman.
My father lived in an orphanage when he was a child. He went on to drive a bakery truck and own a package store in Stamford, Connecticut. He taught my sisters and me the importance of work and responsibility.
With my mother by his side, he saw me become the first person in my family to graduate from college. My mom is here tonight. She's 85 years old, and never felt younger than she does today. Mom - thank you, I love you - and you and I know how proud dad would be tonight.
And I have tried to see America through the eyes of people I have been privileged to know. In the early 1960s, when I was a college student, I walked with Martin Luther King in the March on Washington. Later that fall, I went to Mississippi, where we worked to register African-Americans to vote. The people I met never forgot that in America... ...every time a barrier is broken... ...the doors of opportunity open wider for everyone. And I have tried to see America through the eyes of families who had the deck stacked against them... ...but fought back.
As Connecticut's Attorney General, I worked to be the people's lawyer.
I went after polluters who were spoiling our water and our air.
I stood with single moms to go after deadbeat dads.
We even sued big oil companies who were trying to gouge consumers at the pump.
And I have seen America through the eyes of my wife and her parents.
By now, most of you know Hadassah's story.
Her family was literally saved by American G.I.'s who liberated the concentration camps.
Then her parents escaped Communism and were welcomed as immigrants to America and given a new life. The fact that a half century later, their daughter would be standing on this stage is a testament to the power of the American Dream. In my life I have tried to see this world through the eyes of those who have suffered discrimination.
And that's why I believe that the time has come to tear down the remaining walls of discrimination in this nation based on race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation. And that's why I continue to say, when it comes to affirmative action... ...mend it, don't end it.
When you try to see the world through other people's eyes... ...you understand that the smallest changes can make the biggest differences in all of our lives.
That's something I'm sorry to say I don't think our Republican friends really understand.
They're fond of dismissing the achievements of the past eight years. But at the end of the day the people I talk with tell me that their lives are better than they were eight years ago.
Our opponents are decent and likable men.
I am proud to call many in their party my friends. But America must understand: there are very real differences between us in this election.
Two weeks ago, our Republican friends tried to walk and talk a lot like us. But let's be honest... ...we may be near Hollywood... But not since Tom Hanks won an Oscar has there been that much acting in Philadelphia. I am glad the GOP has changed their rhetoric... ...but I wish they would also change their policies.
As my friend John McCain might say... ...and let me say that John is in our thoughts and prayers tonight --- let me now do some straight talking. I think it's a good thing that our opponent talks about the environment. But I'm sad to say that in Texas, the quality of the air and water is some of the worst in America.
We see the environment through a different set of eyes. For more than 20 years Al Gore has been a leader on the environment. He and I will continue the work we have done together to keep our air, water and land clean. We are going to continue to work to make sure that a child can drink a glass of water, or a father can fish in a stream, or a family can go to a park, without having to worry that their health and safety is at risk.
And it's a good thing that our opponent is talking about health care. But I'm sad to say that Texas is also falling behind on that. Texas led the nation in the percentage of residents who were uninsured. Today, it ranks next to last for health insurance for both women and kids.
We see health care through a different set of eyes.
We know that health care is one of the most important problems facing families today. We believe that medical decisions should be made by doctors, not bureaucrats. We believe that senior citizens shouldn't be stopped from filling a prescription because they can't afford to pay for it. And Al Gore and I are the only candidates in this race who will extend access to health care coverage to every single child in America.
And, I think it's a good thing that our opponent talks about education. Schools need to be held to the highest standards of performance and accountability. But I'm sad to say their plan doesn't provide the resources our schools need to meet those high standards.
Sometimes it seems to me like their idea of school modernization means buying a new calendar for every building. We see education through a different set of eyes.
We're committed to making America's public schools the best in the world.
We are going to target more education funding to the schools that need it most... ...to rebuild and modernize our crumbling classrooms... ...and to provide all children with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century... ...And we're going to do one other thing that our Republican friends will not: we are going to treat the people who teach our children like the professionals that they are. This is a question of priorities.
Our opponents want to use America's hard-earned surplus to give a tax break to those who need it least... ...at the expense of all our other needs.
Under their plan, the middle class gets a little... ...and the wealthy get a lot. Their tax plan operates under that old theory that the best way to feed the birds... ...is to give more oats to the horse.
We see the surplus through a different set of eyes... ...the eyes of working middle-class families. We want to use America's hard-earned success to preserve the future of Social Security and Medicare, to pay off our national debt, and cut the taxes of middle class families. We want to make the investments that will keep our economy moving forward.
It's this simple ---
--- we Democrats will expand the prosperity ---
--- they will squander it.
And this party will reform campaign finance, because it is only Al Gore and not George W. Bush who will send the McCain-Feingold bill to Congress and sign it when it's passed.
For those of you at home who haven't made up your mind if you want to build on our prosperity... ...if you want progress not partisanship in Washington... ...if you want to reform the system and not retreat from the problems... ...then your choice is clear... ... Al Gore is the best man for the job.
I have known Al for 15 years. I know his record and I know his heart. I know him as a public servant and I know what it is like to sit with him around the dining room table.
We have discussed-- sometimes even debated -- policy issues, and we have shared private moments of prayer.
I can tell you that Al Gore is a man of family and faith-- a father, and now a grandfather. When my daughter was six, after spending time with Al, she looked at me and said... ..."he must be a daddy."
Al Gore is a man of courage and conviction.
He believes in service to America.
He volunteered for Vietnam.
Together, we crossed party lines to support the Gulf War.
I was there in the room when he forcefully argued that America's principles and interests were at stake in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Two weeks ago... ...our opponent claimed that America has a hollow military.
I must tell you, that made me angry.
America... we know better than that --- --- our fighting men and women are the best-trained, best-equipped, most potent fighting force in the history of the world, and they will stay that way when Al Gore and I are elected.
And Al Gore is also a man of vision and values.
Long before it became popular, Al and Tipper led a crusade to renew the moral center of this nation, to call America to live by its highest ideals.
He knows that in many Americans, there is a swelling sense that our standards of decency and civility have eroded.
No parent should be forced to compete with popular culture to raise their children.
For his entire career, Al Gore's values have guided the way he meets the challenges that lie ahead.
That's why I hope you will conclude--- as I have--- that for his honesty--- for his strength--- for his integrity--- and for his character--- Al Gore must become the next President of the United States.
Forty years ago, we came to this city and crossed a new frontier with a leader who inspired me... ...and so many in my generation... ...into public service.
Today, we return with prosperity at home and freedom throughout the world that John F.
Kennedy could have only dreamed about. We may wonder where the next frontier really is.
Tonight I believe that the next frontier isn't just in front of us...
...but inside of us...to overcome the differences that are still between us... ...to break down the barriers that remain... ...and to help every American claim the limitless possibilities of their own lives.
Sometimes, I try to see this world as my dad saw it from his bakery truck. About this time, he'd be getting ready for the all-night run. And I know that somewhere in America right now...there is another father loading a bakery truck...or a young woman programming a computer...or a parent dreaming of a better future for their daughter or their son.
If we keep the faith, then 40 years from now, one of their children will stand before a gathering like this... ...with a chance to serve and lead this country that we love.
So, let them look back to this time, and this place, and this stage and say of us: they kept the faith.
Let them say that we helped them realize their hopes and their dreams.
And let them look around at this great and good nation that we are all so blessed to share, and say:
Only in America.