Barack obama nomination speech transcript

05.05.2020
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President Barack Obama's speech transcript, slamming Trump

USA TODAY

Updated 10:30 AM EST Dec 11, 2019

Former President Barack Obama on Friday launched a direct and blistering attack on President Donald Trump and Republicans and called on Americans to get to the ballot box in November to "restore some semblance of sanity to our politics."

At one point referencing the "crazy stuff coming out of this White House," Obama told students and others gathered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that even if they don't agree with Democrats on certain issues, they should still want to see a "restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in government."

Here is a transcript of Obama'sspeech as provided by his office:

President Obama: Hey! Hello, Illinois! I-L-L!

AUDIENCE: I-L-L!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I-L-L!

AUDIENCE: I-L-L!

PRESIDENT OBAMA:I-L-L!

AUDIENCE: I-L-L!

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Okay, okay. Just checking to see if you're awake. Please have a seat, everybody. It is good to be home. It's good to see corn.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Beans. I was trying to explain to somebody as we were flying in, that's corn. That's beans. And they were very impressed at my agricultural knowledge. Please give it up for Amaury once again for that outstanding introduction. I have a bunch of good friends here today, including somebody who I served with, who is one of the finest senators in the country, and we're lucky to have him, your Senator, Dick Durbin is here. I also noticed, by the way, former Governor Edgar here, who I haven't seen in a long time, and somehow he has not aged and I have. And it's great to see you, Governor. I want to thank President Killeen and everybody at the U of I System for making it possible for me to be here today. And I am deeply honored at the Paul Douglas Award that is being given to me. He is somebody who set the path for so much outstanding public service here in Illinois.

Now, I want to start by addressing the elephant in the room. I know people are still wondering why I didn't speak at the commencement.

The student body president sent a very thoughtful invitation. The students made a spiffy video. And when I declined, I hear there was speculation that I was boycotting campus until Antonio's Pizza reopened.

So I want to be clear. I did not take sides in that late-night food debate. The truth is, after eight years in the White House, I needed to spend some time one-on-one with Michelle if I wanted to stay married.

And she says hello, by the way. I also wanted to spend some quality time with my daughters, who were suddenly young women on their way out the door. And I should add, by the way, now that I have a daughter in college, I can tell all the students here, your parents suffer.

They cry privately. It is brutal. So please call. Send a text.

We need to hear from you, just a little something. And truth was, I was also intent on following a wise American tradition. Of ex-presidents gracefully exiting the political stage, making room for new voices and new ideas. And we have our first president, George Washington, to thank for setting that example. After he led the colonies to victory as General Washington, there were no constraints on him really, he was practically a god to those who had followed him into battle.

There was no Constitution, there were no democratic norms that guided what he should or could do. And he could have made himself all-powerful, he could have made himself potentially President for life. And instead he resigned as Commander-in-Chief and moved back to his country estate. Six years later, he was elected President. But after two terms, he resigned again, and rode off into the sunset. The point Washington made, the point that is essential to American democracy, is that in a government of and by and for the people, there should be no permanent ruling class. There are only citizens, who through their elected and temporary representatives, determine our course and determine our character.

I'm here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us, as citizens of the United States, need to determine just who it is that we are, just what it is that we stand for. And as a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, but as a fellow citizen, I am here to deliver a simple message, and that is that you need to vote because our democracy depends on it.

Now, some of you may think I'm exaggerating when I say this November's elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime. I know politicians say that all the time. I have been guilty of saying it a few times, particularly when I was on the ballot.

But just a glance at recent headlines should tell you that this moment really is different.The stakes really are higher. The consequences of any of us sitting on the sidelines are more dire. And it's not as if we haven't had big elections before or big choices to make in our history. The fact is, democracy has never been easy, and our founding fathers argued about everything. We waged a civil war. We overcame depression. We've lurched from eras of great progressive change to periods of retrenchment. Still, most Americans alive today, certainly the students who are here, have operated under some common assumptions about who we are and what we stand for.

Out of the turmoil of the industrial revolution and the Great Depression, America adapted a new economy, a 20th century economy guiding our free market with regulations to protect health and safety and fair competition, empowering workers with union movements; investing in science and infrastructure and educational institutions like U of I; strengthening our system of primary and secondary education, and stitching together a social safety net. And all of this led to unrivaled prosperity and the rise of a broad and deep middle class in the sense that if you worked hard, you could climb the ladder of success.

And not everyone was included in this prosperity. There was a lot more work to do. And so in response to the stain of slavery and segregation and the reality of racial discrimination, the civil rights movement not only opened new doors for African-Americans, it also opened up the floodgates of opportunity for women and Americans with disabilities and LGBT Americans and others to make their own claims to full and equal citizenship. And although discrimination remained a pernicious force in our society and continues to this day, and although there are controversies about how to best ensure genuine equality of opportunity, there's been at least rough agreement among the overwhelming majority of Americans that our country is strongest when everybody's treated fairly, when people are judged on the merits and the content of their character, and not the color of their skin or the way in which they worship God or their last names. And that consensus then extended beyond our borders. And from the wreckage of World War II, we built a postwar web, architecture, system of alliances and institutions to underwrite freedom and oppose Soviet totalitarianism and to help poorer countries develop.

This American leadership across the globe wasn't perfect. We made mistakes. At times we lost sight of our ideals. We had fierce arguments about Vietnam, and we had fierce arguments about Iraq. But thanks to our leadership, a bipartisan leadership, and the efforts of diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers, and most of all thanks to the constant sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, we not only reduced the prospects of war between the world's great powers, we not only won the Cold War, we helped spread a commitment to certain values and principles, like the rule of law and human rights and democracy and the notion of the inherent dignity and worth of every individual. And even those countries that didn't abide by those principles were still subject to shame and still had to at least give lip service for the idea. And that provided a lever to continually improve the prospects for people around the world.

That's the story of America, a story of progress. Fitful progress, incomplete progress, but progress. And that progress wasn't achieved by just a handful of famous leaders making speeches. It was won because of countless quiet acts of heroism and dedication by citizens, by ordinary people, many of them not much older than you. It was won because rather than be bystanders to history, ordinary people fought and marched and mobilized and built and, yes, voted to make history.

Of course, there's always been another darker aspect to America's story. Progress doesn't just move in a straight line. There's a reason why progress hasn't been easy and why throughout our history every two steps forward seems to sometimes produce one step back. Each time we painstakingly pull ourselves closer to our founding ideals, that all of us are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; the ideals that say every child should have opportunity and every man and woman in this country who's willing to work hard should be able to find a job and support a family and pursue their small piece of the American Dream; our ideals that say we have a collective responsibility to care for the sick and the infirm, and we have a responsibility to conserve the amazing bounty, the natural resources of this country and of this planet for future generations, each time we've gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back. The status quo pushes back. Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change. More often it's manufactured by the powerful and the privileged who want to keep us divided and keep us angry and keep us cynical because that helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege. And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause.

He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years. A fear and anger that's rooted in our past, but it's also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.

And, by the way, it is brief. When I heard Amaury was 11 when I got elected, and now Amaury's starting a company, that was yesterday. But think about it. You've come of age in a smaller, more connected world, where demographic shifts and the winds of change have scrambled not only traditional economic arrangements, but our social arrangements and our religious commitments and our civic institutions. Most of you don't remember a time before 9/11, when you didn't have to take off your shoes at an airport. Most of you don't remember a time when America wasn't at war, or when money and images and information could travel instantly around the globe, or when the climate wasn't changing faster than our efforts to address it. This change has happened fast, faster than any time in human history. And it created a new economy that has unleashed incredible prosperity.

But it's also upended people's lives in profound ways. For those with unique skills or access to technology and capital, a global market has meant unprecedented wealth. For those not so lucky, for the factory worker, for the office worker, or even middle managers, those same forces may have wiped out your job, or at least put you in no position to ask for a raise. As wages slowed and inequality accelerated, those at the top of the economic pyramid have been able to influence government to skew things even more in their direction: cutting taxes on the wealthiest Americans, unwinding regulations and weakening worker protections, shrinking the safety net. So you have come of age during a time of growing inequality, of fracturing of economic opportunity. And that growing economic divide compounded other divisions in our country: regional, racial, religious, cultural. It made it harder to build consensus on issues. It made politicians less willing to compromise, which increased gridlock, which made people even more cynical about politics.

And then the reckless behavior of financial elites triggered a massive financial crisis, 10 years ago this week, a crisis that resulted in the worst recession in any of our lifetimes and caused years of hardship for the American people, for many of your parents, for many of your families. Most of you weren't old enough to fully focus on what was going on at the time, but when I came into office in 2009, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month. 800,000. Millions of peoplewere losing their homes. Many were worried we were entering into a second Great Depression. So we worked hard to end that crisis, but also to break some of these longer term trends. And the actions we took during that crisis returned the economy to healthy growth and initiated the longest streak of job creation on record. And we covered another 20 million Americans with health insurance and we cut our deficits by more than half, partly by making sure that people like me, who have been given such amazing opportunities by this country, pay our fair share of taxes to help folks coming up behind me.

And by the time I left office, household income was near its all-time high and the uninsured rate had hit an all-time low and wages were rising and poverty rates were falling. I mention all this just so when you hear how great the economy's doing right now, let's just remember when this recovery started.

I mean, I'm glad it's continued, but when you hear about this economic miracle that's been going on, when the job numbers come out, monthly job numbers, suddenly Republicans are saying it's a miracle. I have to kind of remind them, actually, those job numbers are the same as they were in 2015 and 2016.

Anyway, I digress. So we made progress, but -- and this is the truth -- my administration couldn't reverse 40-year trends in only eight years, especially once Republicans took over the House of Representatives and decided to block everything we did, even things they used to support.

So we pulled the economy out of crisis, but to this day, too many people who once felt solidly middle-class still feel very real and very personal economic insecurity. Even though we took out bin Laden and wound down the wars in Iraq and our combat role in Afghanistan, and got Iran to halt its nuclear program, the world's still full of threats and disorder. That comes streaming through people's televisions every single day. And these challenges get people worried. And it frays our civic trust. And it makes a lot of people feel like the fix is in and the game is rigged, and nobody's looking out for them. Especially those communities outside our big urban centers.

And even though your generation is the most diverse in history, with a greater acceptance and celebration of our differences than ever before, those are the kinds of conditions that are ripe for exploitation by politicians who have no compunction and no shame about tapping into America's dark history of racial and ethnic and religious division

Appealing to tribe, appealing to fear, pitting one group against another, telling people that order and security will be restored if it weren't for those who don't look like us or don't sound like us or don't pray like we do, that's an old playbook. It's as old as time. And in a healthy democracy it doesn't work. Our antibodies kick in, and people of goodwill from across the political spectrum call out the bigots and the fearmongers, and work to compromise and get things done and promote the better angels of our nature. But when there's a vacuum in our democracy, when we don't vote, when we take our basic rights and freedoms for granted, when we turn away and stop paying attention and stop engaging and stop believing and look for the newest diversion, the electronic versions of bread and circuses, then other voices fill the void. A politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment takes hold. And demagogues promise simple fixes to complex problems. They promise to fight for the little guy even as they cater to the wealthiest and the most powerful. They promise to clean up corruption and then plunder away. They start undermining norms that ensure accountability, try to change the rules to entrench their power further. And they appeal to racial nationalism that's barely veiled, if veiled at all.

Sound familiar? Now, understand, this is not just a matter of Democrats versus Republicans or liberals versus conservatives. At various times in our history, this kind of politics has infected both parties. Southern Democrats were the bigger defenders of slavery. It took a Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to end it. Dixiecrats filibustered anti-lynching legislation, opposed the idea of expanding civil rights, and although it was a Democratic President and a majority Democratic Congress, spurred on by young marchers and protesters, that got the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act over the finish line, those historic laws also got passed because of the leadership of Republicans like Illinois' own Everett Dirksen.

So neither party has had a monopoly on wisdom, neither party has been exclusively responsible for us going backwards instead of forwards. But I have to say this because sometimes we hear, oh, a plague on both your houses. Over the past few decades, it wasn't true when Jim Edgar was governor here in Illinois or Jim Thompson was governor. I've got a lot of good Republican friends here in Illinois. But over the past few decades, the politics of division, of resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican Party.

This Congress has championed the unwinding of campaign finance laws to give billionaires outsized influence over our politics; systemically attacked voting rights to make it harder for the young people, the minorities, and the poor to vote.

Handed out tax cuts without regard to deficits. Slashed the safety net wherever it could. Cast dozens of votes to take away health insurance from ordinary Americans. Embraced wild conspiracy theories, like those surrounding Benghazi, or my birth certificate.

Rejected science, rejected facts on things like climate change. Embraced a rising absolutism from a willingness to default on America's debt by not paying our bills, to a refusal to even meet, much less consider, a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court because he happened to be nominated by a Democratic President. None of this is conservative. I don't mean to pretend I'm channeling Abraham Lincoln now, but that's not what he had in mind, I think, when he helped form the Republican Party.

It's not conservative. It sure isn't normal. It's radical. It's a vision that says the protection of our power and those who back us is all that matters, even when it hurts the country. It's a vision that says the few who can afford a high-priced lobbyist and unlimited campaign contributions set the agenda. And over the past two years, this vision is now nearing its logical conclusion.

So that with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, without any checks or balances whatsoever, they've provided anothertrillion in tax cuts to people like me who, I promise, don't need it, and don't even pretend to pay for them. It's supposed to be the party, supposedly, of fiscal conservatism. Suddenly deficits do not matter, even though, just two years ago, when the deficit was lower, they said, I couldn't afford to help working families or seniors on Medicare because the deficit was an existential crisis. What changed? What changed? They're subsidizing corporate polluters with taxpayer dollars, allowing dishonest lenders to take advantage of veterans and students and consumers again. They've made it so that the only nation on earth to pull out of the global climate agreement, it's not North Korea, it's not Syria, it's not Russia or Saudi Arabia. It's us. The only country.There are a lot of countries in the world.

We're the only ones.

They're undermining our alliances, cozying up to Russia. What happened to the Republican Party? Its central organizing principle in foreign policy was the fight against Communism, and now they're cozying up to the former head of the KGB, actively blocking legislation that would defend our elections from Russian attack. What happened? Their sabotage of the Affordable Care Act has already cost more than 3 million Americans their health insurance. And if they're still in power next fall, you'd better believe they're coming at it again. They've said so. In a healthy democracy, there's some checks and balances on this kind of behavior, this kind of inconsistency, but right now there's none. Republicans who know better in Congress and they're there, they're quoted saying, Yeah, we know this is kind of crazy are still bending over backwards to shield this behavior from scrutiny or accountability or consequence. Seem utterly unwilling to find the backbone to safeguard the institutions that make our democracy work.

And, by the way, the claim that everything will turn out OK because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the President's orders, that is not a check I'm being serious here that's not how our democracy is supposed to work.

These people aren't elected. They're not accountable.They're not doing us a service by actively promoting 90 percent of the crazy stuff that's coming out of this White House and then saying, Don't worry, we're preventing the other 10 percent. That's not how things are supposed to work. This is not normal.

These are extraordinary times. And they're dangerous times. But here's the good news. In two months we have the chance, not the certainty but the chance, to restore some semblance of sanity to our politics.

Because there is actually only on real check on bad policy and abuses of power, and that's you. You and your vote. Look, Americans will always have disagreements on policy. This is a big country, it is a raucous country. People have different points of view. I happen to be a Democrat. I support Democratic candidates. I believe our policies are better and that we have a bigger, bolder vision of opportunity and equality and justice and inclusive democracy. We know there are a lot of jobs young people aren't getting a chance to occupy or aren't getting paid enough or aren't getting benefits like insurance. It's harder for young people to save for a rainy day, let alone retirement. So Democrats aren't just running on good old ideas like a higher minimum wage, they're running on good new ideas like Medicare for all, giving workers seats on corporate boards, reversing the most egregious corporate tax cuts to make sure college students graduate debt-free.

We know that people are tired of toxic corruption, and that democracy depends on transparency and accountability. So Democrats aren't just running on good old ideas like requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns, and barring lobbyists from making campaign contributions, but on good new ideas like barring lobbyists from getting paid by foreign governments. We know that climate change isn't just coming. It is here. So Democrats aren't just running on good old ideas like increasing gas mileage in our cars which I did and which Republicans are trying to reverse but on good new ideas like putting a price on carbon pollution. We know that in a smaller, more connected world, we can't just put technology back in a box, we can't just put walls up all around America. Walls don't keep out threats like terrorism or disease and that's why we propose leading our alliances and helping other countries develop, and pushing back against tyrants. And Democrats talk about reforming our immigration so, yes, it is orderly and it is fair and it is legal, but it continues to welcome strivers and dreamers from all around the world. That's why I'm a Democrat, that's the set of ideas that I believe in. Oh, I am here to tell you that even if you don't agree with me or Democrats on policy, even if you believe in more Libertarian economic theories, even if you are an evangelical and our position on certain social issues is a bridge too far, even if you think my assessment of immigration is mistaken and that Democrats aren't serious enough about immigration enforcement, I'm here to tell you that you should still be concerned with our current course and should still want to see a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government.

It should not be Democratic or Republican, it should not be a partisan issue to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents.

Or to explicitly call on the attorney general to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up. I'm not making that up. That's not hypothetical. It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say that we don't threaten the freedom of the press because they say things or publish stories we don't like.

I complained plenty about Fox News but you never heard me threaten to shut them down, or call them enemies of the people. It shouldn't be Democratic or Republican to say we don't target certain groups of people based on what they look like or how they pray. We are Americans. We're supposed to stand up to bullies.

Not follow them.

We're supposed to stand up to discrimination. And we're sure as heck supposed to stand up, clearly and unequivocally, to Nazi sympathizers.

How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad. I'll be honest, sometimes I get into arguments with progressive friends about what the current political movement requires. There are well-meaning folks passionate about social justice, who think things have gotten so bad, the lines have been so starkly drawn, that we have to fight fire with fire, we have to do the same things to the Republicans that they do to us, adopt their tactics, say whatever works, make up stuff about the other side. I don't agree with that. It's not because I'm soft. It's not because I'm interested in promoting an empty bipartisanship. I don't agree with it because eroding our civic institutions and our civic trust and making people angrier and yelling at each other and making people cynical about government, that always works better for those who don't believe in the power of collective action.

You don't need an effective government or a robust press or reasoned debate to work when all you're concerned about is maintaining power. In fact, the more cynical people are about government and the angrier and more dispirited they are about the prospects for change, the more likely the powerful are able to maintain their power. But we believe that in order to move this country forward, to actually solve problems and make people's lives better, we need a well-functioning government, we need our civic institutions to work. We need cooperation among people of different political persuasions. And to make that work, we have to restore our faith in democracy. We have to bring people together, not tear them apart. We need majorities in Congress and state legislatures who are serious about governing and want to bring about real change and improvements in people's lives.

And we won't win people over by calling them names, or dismissing entire chunks of the country as racist, or sexist, or homophobic. When I say bring people together, I mean all of our people. You know, this whole notion that has sprung up recently about Democrats need to choose between trying to appeal to the white working class voters, or voters of color, and women and LGBT Americans, that's nonsense. I don't buy that. I got votes from every demographic. We won by reaching out to everybody and competing everywhere and by fighting for every vote.

And that's what we've got to do in this election and every election after that.

And we can't do that if we immediately disregard what others have to say from the start because they're not like us, because they're not because they're white or they're black or they're men or women, or they're gay or they're straight; if we think that somehow there's no way they can understand how I'm feeling, and therefore don't have any standing to speak on certain matters because we're only defined by certain characteristics.

That doesn't work if you want a healthy democracy. We can't do that if we traffic in absolutes when it comes to policy. You know, to make democracy work we have to be able to get inside the reality of people who are different, have different experiences, come from different backgrounds. We have to engage them even when it is frustrating; we have to listen to them even when we don't like what they have to say; we have to hope that we can change their minds and we have to remain open to them changing ours.

And that doesn't mean, by the way, abandoning our principles or caving to bad policy in the interests of maintaining some phony version of "civility." That seems to be, by the way, the definition of civility offered by too many Republicans: We will be polite as long as we get a hundred percent of what we want and you don't call us out on the various ways that we're sticking it to people. And we'll click our tongues and issue vague statements of disappointment when the President does something outrageous, but we won't actually do anything about it. That's not civility. That's abdicating your responsibilities.

But again I digress. Making democracy work means holding on to our principles, having clarity about our principles, and then having the confidence to get in the arena and have a serious debate. And it also means appreciating that progress does not happen all at once, but when you put your shoulder to the wheel, if you're willing to fight for it, things do get better. And let me tell you something, particularly young people here. Better is good. I used to have to tell my young staff this all the time in the White House. Better is good. That's the history of progress in this country. Not perfect. Better. The Civil Rights Act didn't end racism, but it made things better. Social Security didn't eliminate all poverty for seniors, but it made things better for millions of people.

Do not let people tell you the fight's not worth it because you won't get everything that you want. The idea that, well, you know there's racism in America so I'm not going to bother voting. No point. That makes no sense. You can make it better. Better's always worth fighting for. That's how our founders expected this system of self-government to work; that through the testing of ideas and the application of reason and evidence and proof, we could sort through our difference sand nobody would get exactly what they wanted, but it would be possible to find a basis for common ground.

And that common ground exists. Maybe it's not fashionable to say that right now. It's hard to see it with all the nonsense in Washington, it's hard to hear it with all the noise. But common ground exists. I have seen it.I have lived it. I know there are white people who care deeply about black people being treated unfairly. I have talked to them and loved them. And I know there are black people who care deeply about the struggles of white rural America. I'm one of them and I have a track record to prove it

I know there are evangelicals who are deeply committed to doing something about climate change. I've seen them do the work. I know there are conservatives who think there's nothing compassionate about separating immigrant children from their mothers. I know there are Republicans who believe government should only perform a few minimal functions but that one of those functions should be making sure nearly 3,000 Americans don't die in a hurricane and its aftermath.

Common ground's out there. I see it every day. Just how people interact, how people treat each other. You see it on the ball field. You see it at work. You see it in places of worship. But to say that a common ground exists doesn't mean it will inevitably win out. History shows the power of fear. And the closer that we get to Election Day, the more those invested in the politics of fear and division will work, will do anything to hang on to their recent gains.

Fortunately I am hopeful because out of this political darkness I am seeing a great awakening of citizenship all across the country. I cannot tell you how encouraged I've been by watching so many people get involved for the first time, or the first time in a long time. They're marching and they're organizing and they're registering people to vote, and they're running for office themselves. Look at this crop of Democratic candidates running for Congress and running for governor, running for the state legislature, running for district attorney, running for schoolboard. It is a movement of citizens who happen to be younger and more diverse and more female than ever before, and that's really useful.

We need more women in charge. But we've got first-time candidates, we've got veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, record numbers of women Americans who previously maybe didn't have an interest in politics as a career, but laced up their shoes and rolled up their sleeves and grabbed a clipboard because they too believe, this time's different; this moment's too important to sit out. And if you listen to what these candidates are talking about, in individual races across the country, you'll find they're not just running against something, they are running for something. They're running to expand opportunity and they're running to restore the honor and compassion that should be the essence of public service.

And speaking as a Democrat, that's when the Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people, when we led with conviction and principle and bold new ideas. The antidote to a government controlled by a powerful fear, a government that divides, is a government by the organized, energized, inclusive many. That's what this moment's about. That has to be the answer. You cannot sit back and wait for a saviour. You can't opt out because you don't feel sufficiently inspired by this or that particular candidate. This is not a rock concert, this is not Coachella. You don't need a messiah. All we need are decent, honest, hardworking people who are accountable and who have America's best interests at heart.

And they'll step up and they'll join our government and they will make things better if they have support. One election will not fix everything that needs to be fixed, but it will be a start. And you have to start it. What's going to fix our democracy is you.

People ask me, what are you going to do for the election? No, the question is: What are you going to do? You're the antidote. Your participation and your spirit and your determination, not just in this election but in every subsequent election, and in the days between elections.

Because in the end, the threat to our democracy doesn't just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in Congress or the Koch Brothers and their lobbyists, or too much compromise from Democrats, or Russian hacking. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicisma cynicism that's led too many people to turn away from politics and stay home on Election Day. To all the young people who are here today, there are now more eligible voters in your generation than in any other, which means your generation now has more power than anybody to change things. If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk. If you actually care about it, you have the power to make sure we seize a brighter future. But to exercise that clout, to exercise that power, you have to show up.

In the last midterms election, in, fewer than one in five young people voted. One in five. Not two in five, or three in five. One in five. Is it any wonder this Congress doesn't reflect your values and your priorities? Are you surprised by that?

This whole project of self-government only works if everybody's doing their part. Don't tell me your vote doesn't matter. I've won states in the presidential election because of five, ten, twenty votes per precinct. And if you thought elections don't matter, I hope these last two years have corrected that impression.

So if you don't like what's going on right now and you shouldn't do not complain. Don't hashtag. Don't get anxious. Don't retreat. Don't binge on whatever it is you're bingeing on. Don't lose yourself in ironic detachment. Don't put your head in the sand. Don't boo. Vote.

Vote. If you are really concerned about how the criminal justice system treats African-Americans, the best way to protest is to vote not just for Senators and Representatives, but for mayors and sheriffs and state legislators. Do what they just did in Philadelphia and Boston, and elect state's attorneys and district attorneys who are looking at issues in a new light, who realize that the vast majority of law enforcement do the right thing in a really hard job, and we just need to make sure that all of them do. If you're tired of politicians who offer nothing but "thoughts and prayers" after amass shooting, you've got to do what the Parkland kids are doing. Some of them aren't even eligible to vote, yet they're out there working to change minds and registering people, and they're not giving up until we have a Congress that sees your lives as more important than a campaign check from the NRA.

You've got to vote. If you support the MeToo movement, you're outraged by stories of sexual harassment and assault inspired by the women who shared them, you've got to do more than retweet a hashtag. You've got to vote.

Part of the reason women are more vulnerable in the workplace is because not enough women are bosses in the workplace which is why we need to strengthen and enforce laws that protect women in the workplace not just from harassment but from discrimination in hiring and promotion, and not getting paid the same amount for doing the same work. That requires laws. Laws get passed by legislators.

You've got to vote. When you vote, you've got the power to make it easier to afford college, and harder to shoot up a school. When you vote, you've got the power to make sure a family keeps its health insurance; you could save somebody's life. When you vote, you've got the power to make sure white nationalists don't feel emboldened to march with their hoods off or their hoods on in Charlottesville in the middle of the day.

Thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of your time. Is democracy worth that? We have been through much darker times than these, and somehow each generation of Americans carried us through to the other side. Not by sitting around and waiting for something to happen, not by leaving it to others to do something, but by leading that movement for change themselves. And if you do that, if you get involved, and you get engaged, and you knock on some doors, and you talk with your friends, and you argue with your family members, and you change some minds, and you vote, something powerful happens.

Change happens. Hope happens. Not perfection. Not every bit of cruelty and sadness and poverty and disease suddenly stricken from the earth. There will still be problems. But with each new candidate that surprises you with a victory that you supported, a spark of hope happens. With each new law that helps a kid read or helps a homeless family find shelter or helps a veteran get the support he or she has earned, each time that happens, hope happens. With each new step we take in the direction of fairness and justice and equality and opportunity, hope spreads.

And that can be the legacy of your generation. You can be the generation that at a critical moment stood up and reminded us just how precious this experiment in democracy really is, just how powerful it can be when we fight for it, when we believe in it. I believe in you. I believe you will help lead us in the right direction. And I will be right there with you every step of the way. Thank you, Illinois. God bless. God bless this country we love. Thank you.


barack obama nomination speech transcript
Transcript: Joe Biden's Acceptance Speech

In his acceptance speech as Barack Obama's running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden said that although he is friends with John McCain, McCain's policies are markedly similar to President Bush's. Biden repeated: "That's not change; that's more of the same." Biden also said Obama embodies the great American story. And that he'll bring the U.S. the "change we need." The speech as delivered may vary from the following text.

Beau, I love you. I am so proud of you. Proud of the son you are. Proud of the father you've become. And I'm so proud of my son Hunter, my daughter, Ashley, and my wife, Jill, the only one who leaves me breathless and speechless at the same time.

It is an honor to share this stage tonight with President Clinton. And last night, it was moving to watch Hillary, one of the great leaders of our party, a woman who has made history and will continue to make history: my colleague and my friend, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

And I am honored to represent our first state my state-- Delaware.

Since I've never been called a man of few words, let me say this as simply as I can: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve alongside our next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

Let me make this pledge to you right here and now. For every American who is trying to do the right thing, for all those people in government who are honoring their pledge to uphold the law and respect our Constitution, no longer will the eight most dreaded words in the English language be: "The vice president's office is on the phone."

Barack Obama and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story. Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware. With a dad who fell on hard economic times, but who always told me: "Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up."

I wish that my dad was here tonight, but I am so grateful that my mom, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, is here. You know, she taught her children all the children who flocked to our house that you are defined by your sense of honor, and you are redeemed by your loyalty. She believes bravery lives in every heart, and her expectation is that it will be summoned.

Failure at some point in everyone's life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable. As a child I stuttered, and she lovingly told me it was because I was so bright I couldn't get the thoughts out quickly enough. When I was not as well-dressed as others, she told me how handsome she thought I was. When I got knocked down by guys bigger than me, she sent me back out and demanded that I bloody their nose so I could walk down that street the next day.

After the accident, she told me, "Joey, God sends no cross you cannot bear." And when I triumphed, she was quick to remind me it was because of others.

My mother's creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone's equal, and everyone is equal to you.

My parents taught us to live our faith, and treasure our family. We learned the dignity of work, and we were told that anyone can make it if they try.

That was America's promise. For those of us who grew up in middle-class neighborhoods like Scranton and Wilmington, that was the American dream and we knew it.

But today that American dream feels as if it's slowly slipping away. I don't need to tell you that. You feel it every single day in your own lives.

I've never seen a time when Washington has watched so many people get knocked down without doing anything to help them get back up. Almost every night, I take the train home to Wilmington, sometimes very late. As I look out the window at the homes we pass, I can almost hear what they're talking about at the kitchen table after they put the kids to bed.

Like millions of Americans, they're asking questions as profound as they are ordinary. Questions they never thought they would have to ask:

Should Mom move in with us now that Dad is gone?

Fifty, 60, 70 dollars to fill up the car?

Winter's coming. How we gonna pay the heating bills?

Another year and no raise?

Did you hear the company may be cutting our health care?

Now, we owe more on the house than it's worth. How are we going to send the kids to college?

How are we gonna be able to retire?

That's the America that George Bush has left us, and that's the future John McCain will give us. These are not isolated discussions among families down on their luck. These are common stories among middle-class people who worked hard and played by the rules on the promise that their tomorrows would be better than their yesterdays.

That promise is the bedrock of America. It defines who we are as a people. And now it's in jeopardy. I know it. You know it. But John McCain doesn't get it.

Barack Obama gets it. Like many of us, Barack worked his way up. His is a great American story.

You know, I believe the measure of a man isn't just the road he's traveled; it's the choices he's made along the way. Barack Obama could have done anything after he graduated from college. With all his talent and promise, he could have written his ticket to Wall Street. But that's not what he chose to do. He chose to go to Chicago. The South Side. There he met men and women who had lost their jobs. Their neighborhood was devastated when the local steel plant closed. Their dreams deferred. Their dignity shattered. Their self-esteem gone.

And he made their lives the work of his life. That's what you do when you've been raised by a single mom, who worked, went to school and raised two kids on her own. That's how you come to believe, to the very core of your being, that work is more than a paycheck. It's dignity. It's respect. It's about whether you can look your children in the eye and say: We're going to be OK.

Because Barack made that choice, 150,000 more children and parents have health care in Illinois. He fought to make that happen. And because Barack made that choice, working families in Illinois pay less taxes, and more people have moved from welfare to the dignity of work. He got it done.

And when he came to Washington, I watched him hit the ground running, leading the fight to pass the most sweeping ethics reform in a generation. He reached across party lines to pass a law that helps keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. And he moved Congress and the president to give our wounded veterans the care and dignity they deserve.

You can learn an awful lot about a man campaigning with him, debating him and seeing how he reacts under pressure. You learn about the strength of his mind, but even more importantly, you learn about the quality of his heart.

I watched how he touched people, how he inspired them, and I realized he has tapped into the oldest American belief of all: We don't have to accept a situation we cannot bear.

We have the power to change it. That's Barack Obama, and that's what he will do for this country. He'll change it.

John McCain is my friend. We've known each other for three decades. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism John demonstrated still amaze me.

But I profoundly disagree with the direction that John wants to take the country. For example,

John thinks that during the Bush years "we've made great progress economically." I think it's been abysmal.

And in the Senate, John sided with President Bush 95 percent of the time. Give me a break. When John McCain proposes $200 billion in new tax breaks for corporate America, $1 billion alone for just eight of the largest companies, but no relief for 100 million American families, that's not change; that's more of the same.

Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history a half-trillion dollars in the last five years he wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. But he voted time and again against incentives for renewable energy: solar, wind, biofuels. That's not change; that's more of the same.

Millions of jobs have left our shores, yet John continues to support tax breaks for corporations that send them there. That's not change; that's more of the same.

He voted 19 times against raising the minimum wage. For people who are struggling just to get to the next day, that's not change; that's more of the same.

And when he says he will continue to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq when Iraq is sitting on a surplus of nearly $80 billion, that's not change; that's more of the same.

The choice in this election is clear. These times require more than a good soldier; they require a wise leader, a leader who can deliver change the change everybody knows we need.

Barack Obama will deliver that change. Barack Obama will reform our tax code. He'll cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people who draw a paycheck. That's the change we need.

Barack Obama will transform our economy by making alternative energy a genuine national priority, creating 5 million new jobs and finally freeing us from the grip of foreign oil. That's the change we need.

Barack Obama knows that any country that out-teaches us today will out-compete us tomorrow. He'll invest in the next generation of teachers. He'll make college more affordable. That's the change we need.

Barack Obama will bring down health care costs by $2,500 for the typical family, and, at long last, deliver affordable, accessible health care for all Americans. That's the change we need.

Barack Obama will put more cops on the streets, put the "security" back in Social Security and never give up until we achieve equal pay for women. That's the change we need.

As we gather here tonight, our country is less secure and more isolated than at any time in recent history. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole with very few friends to help us climb out. For the last seven years, this administration has failed to face the biggest forces shaping this century: the emergence of Russia, China and India as great powers; the spread of lethal weapons; the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water; the challenge of climate change; and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front against terrorism.

In recent days, we've once again seen the consequences of this neglect with Russia's challenge to the free and democratic country of Georgia. Barack Obama and I will end this neglect. We will hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we'll help the people of Georgia rebuild.

I've been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms: this administration's policy has been an abject failure. America cannot afford four more years of this.

Now, despite being complicit in this catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama isn't ready to protect our national security. Now, let me ask you: Whose judgment should we trust? Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he said only three years ago, "Afghanistan we don't read about it anymore because it's succeeded"? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?

The fact is, al-Qaida and the Taliban the people who actually attacked us on 9/11 have regrouped in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed Barack's call for more troops.

John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he rejected talking with Iran and then asked: What is there to talk about? Or Barack Obama, who said we must talk and make it clear to Iran that its conduct must change.

Now, after seven years of denial, even the Bush administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran, because that's the best way to advance our security.

Again, John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he says there can be no timelines to draw down our troops from Iraq that we must stay indefinitely? Or should we listen to Barack Obama, who says shift responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home?

Now, after six long years, the Bush administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home.

John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.

Again and again, on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was proven right.

Folks, remember when the world used to trust us? When they looked to us for leadership? With Barack Obama as our president, they'll look to us again, they'll trust us again, and we'll be able to lead again.

Jill and I are truly honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey. When I look at their young children and when I look at my grandchildren I realize why I'm here. I'm here for their future.

And I am here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton and Wilmington. I am here for the cops and firefighters, the teachers and assembly-line workers the folks whose lives are the very measure of whether the American dream endures.

Our greatest presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy they all challenged us to embrace change. Now, it's our responsibility to meet that challenge.

Millions of Americans have been knocked down. And this is the time as Americans, together, we get back up. Our people are too good, our debt to our parents and grandparents too great, our obligation to our children is too sacred.

These are extraordinary times. This is an extraordinary election. The American people are ready. I'm ready. Barack Obama is ready. This is his time. This is our time. This is America's time.

May God bless America and protect our troops.

Source: The Democratic National Convention

Animosity Fades With Obama's Nomination

The Complete Text Transcripts of Over 100 Barack Obama Speeches

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, well work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you and God bless the United States of America.

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