Senator Tom Daschle speaks at the Democratic National Convention
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SENATOR TOM DASCHLE: There is something very special about Democratic conventions. They are a chance to celebrate the two extraordinary strengths of our party: our ideas and our leaders.
Democrats have always known that America’s families and our communities are stronger together than they are separately. In the last century, this powerful idea gave America the minimum wage and the 40-hour work week. This powerful idea, our idea, gave America Social Security and Medicare. Our ideas advanced the civil rights movement and the equal rights struggle.
In the last century, Democrats proposed these ideas – and Republicans opposed them – each of them, every chance they got. They’re still doing it today. But they were wrong then. And they are wrong now. Our ideas are law now because they are right, and because strong leaders fought for them. We know their names: Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton.
There’s a wonderful movie, “The Straight Story.” It’s about an old farmer named Alvin Straight. He wants to see his brother one last time to make peace before one of them dies – only Alvin can’t drive anymore because his eyes are bad and his hips are worse. So he rides his John Deere lawn mower nearly 300 miles. On the road, he meets a young woman who’s in a lot of trouble. He tells her that when his children were little, he would hand them a stick, and tell them to break it. And they would, just like that. Then, he’d put the sticks in a bundle and ask his kids to break it. They couldn’t. He gave them some advice: “That bundle is family. “That bundle is our community. We are stronger together than we are alone.” That is the simplest description I know of our party’s core belief.
The other party is based on a simple idea, too: Protect yourself. Forget about others. If one stick breaks, just get another. History has proven our ideas right – over and over again.
In the last eight years alone, our ideas and leadership, have enabled the American people to create the strongest economy in our history. Now, Americans must once again choose: Whose ideas are best for our nation? In whose hands will we place our children’s future?
The answer is simple. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will strengthen America’s bundle. They’ll cut taxes the right way: with tax cuts to help working families with real needs: Child care, college tuition, and health care. With the money left over, we’ll continue to pay down the debt – every year – until we’ve paid it off completely.
We’ll improve our children’s schools with smaller classes and more computers. We’ll modernize our school buildings, set high standards and insist on results. We’ll strengthen Medicare and add a prescription drug benefit. We’ll protect Social Security – the right way. We will not trade the security of a guaranteed benefit for the whims of a risky market. We’ll restore hope and opportunity to rural America and make sure farmers and ranchers get the prices they deserve.
We’ll pass a real Patients’ Bill of Rights. We’ll protect the rights of all Americans – including the right to choose. No American should be denied a job because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or because a genetic test says they may get sick someday. Under President Al Gore and Vice President Joe Lieberman, we’ll see our people lifted up, not left behind.
I believe in Al Gore and Joe Lieberman because they understand the dreams of the American people. I believe in Al Gore and Joe Lieberman because they represent the best of our party’s history and the best hope for America’s future. They are two of the finest leaders – and most decent men – I know. They will continue our great Democratic tradition, and America will be stronger because of them. Thank you. God bless you.