October 26, 2018 Acknowledgements:
Thank you, Jim Cooper…
Davidson County Chairman Gary Bynum
Fired up? (Crowd: ready to go!)
Fired up? (Crowd: ready to go!)
Are you ready to elect Karl Dean the next Governor of Tennessee?! — (cheers!)
Are you ready to send Phil Bredesen to the United States Senate for Tennessee?! — (cheers!)…
Earlier tonight you honored ninety-four-year-old Democrat, Mrs. Carrie Gentry. Nothing any of us say tonight can offer more wisdom that hers — “do what’s right, and love one another…”
Davey Crockett couldn’t have said it better…
Darkness Makes a Great Canvas
Now I will grant you, these last two years of our national politics, have been kind of grueling, haven’t they?
This Administration is malice tempered only by incompetence.
All of Mussolini’s style, and none of his efficiencies.
These guys aren’t modeling the Founding Fathers, they’re modeling “The Godfather”.
But, fear not, Tennessee.
There is a goodness within our country than cannot be eclipsed for long…
Darkness makes a great canvas.
And this year, the Tennessee Democratic Party has filed more candidates, for more races, than we have here in forty years!
Say what you will about Donald Trump, he has been the greatest candidate recuitment tool our Party has ever had.
Over the last two years, I have travelled to 30 States, usually campaigning for candidates running in special elections, State House and State Senate races, some congressionals. So, let me share some good news with you from different states across our county.
Are you ready for some good news? Touch your neighbor, tell ‘em, “he has good news…”
Stephanie Hansen’s State Senate win in Delaware. Kevin Cavanaugh’s huge margin of victory several months ago to the New Hampshire State Senate. Michael Brooks, Karen Gaddis, Alison Ikley-Freeman’s elections to Oklahoma’s House and Senate. Oklahoma!?
Annette Taddeo, Margaret Goode, and Javier Fernandez in Florida?!
Caleb Frostman with a big state senate win — just a couple months ago — in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
What do they all have in common???
[crowd — they are Democrats!]
Yes, they are Democrats. But they won elections all across America in places Democrats haven’t won for years.
And they did with margins that were 15 to 20 points higher than they ever would have been before Donald Trump!
But those small battles are over now.
The most important midterm election of our lifetimes is upon us.
So, let’s make the most of these next 11 days.
And let’s do so with the joy that comes from knowing our country has never needed us more.
Great countries sometimes make really bad mistakes, but in our country, people have a chance to correct those mistakes quickly.
To save our democracy in the United States, we must — first — win back our states!
Elect Karl Dean Governor!
Send Phil Bredesen to the US Senate!
Why are we Democrats???
Because of the beliefs and values we share. Because of the work we choose to do.
The common good we share as Americans.
The truth that we are all in this together.
A stronger and growing middle class — including our family-owned businesses and farms.
Safer neighborhoods. Better schools.
Opportunity for all.
The Question for U.S. Tonight
The question for us tonight — here in Tennessee — is really the question our entire country must answer in 2018:
Will we make ourselves a stronger, more generous, more compassionate nation with opportunity for all, or, will we become something less???
Sometimes countries, like people, can let the best of ourselves slip away.
The United States of America
You see — you and I are part of a living, self-creating mystery, called the United States of America.
But the promise at the heart of that mystery is actually a very real and concrete thing.
It is the promise that if you work hard and play by the rules, you should get ahead — you should be able to give your children a better life.
For far too many of our neighbors, our country is no longer delivering on that promise.
And we would be foolish and cruel not to acknowledge that.
Yes, thanks to the leadership of President Barack Obama, job creation is up. But real wages for most Americans continue to flatline or decline.
Yes, the stock market was hitting record highs, but so too, are white male suicides?
That is the great moral, spiritual, political, and economic question of our times..
Bruce Springsteen, the great poet laureate of the American Dream, once asked: “is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse…?”
America in a Changing World
Here is what is happening:
Right now, our entire world is fast moving into a Third Industrial Revolution — a coming together of new technologies in energy, transportation, and communications that is rapidly changing whole economies the world over.
Some jobs will be lost, but new jobs will be created. Some skills will become obsolete, but new skills will be needed.
This sort of rapid change should have our attention, but it shouldn’t rob us of our courage.
Change can be good! — but only if we make it so.
Our country came out a big winner in the last two industrial revolutions — not by clinging to a fading past — but by squaring our shoulders to the challenge and opportunities of a changing future.
As oil replaced coal, we made ourselves winners.
As telegraphs and trains were replaced by telephones and cars, we made ourselves winners.
And now this Third Industrial Revolution — it is a coming together of renewable energy, the Internet of Tnings, and autonomous travel.
Do we still have what it takes to make our own children winners in this changing economy?
I believe we do.
Think of your parents and grandparents.
Picture their faces.
Their world had challenges and changes too.
But they understood a couple of powerful American truths: #1: the stronger we make our country, the more she can give back to us, to our children, to our grandchildren.
Our country is not some bankrupt hotel chain — that we inherit from our father — to be driven into the ground. Our country remains a large and powerful idea — large enough, still — to carry the hopes and dreams that all of us have for our kids.
They also understood another important truth, and it is this:
Our economy is not money, it is people.
The more our people learn, the more our people can earn. The more our workers earn, the more our workers spend, the more inclusive our economy becomes, the stronger our country grows.
American capitalism actually works pretty well when it’s not a rigged game for crony capitalists and big banks.
For the truth remains — you cannot create jobs by concentrating wealth in the hands of the few!
You cannot lift up the middle class by holding down wages!
And, you cannot increase the well-being of Americans by pushing 23 million people off of health care!
Our diversity is our greatest strength, we are all in this together, and we must help each other if we are going to succeed!
Actions, Not Words
As Americans, we don’t cower in the face of change, we anticipate change and we make the future ours!
But, we need a government that’s on our side — fighting for us, not against us.
It’s not what other countries are doing to us, it’s what we are not doing for ourselves!
Unlike the Trump Administration, we Democrats believe our government should actually work!
When I led my own state as Governor through a recession, we achieved the highest median income in the country, a faster rate of job growth than our neighbors to the north and south, and we made our schools the number one public schools in America for five years in a row.
We didn’t do it by disparaging our teachers, we did it by supporting our teachers!
“To govern is to choose” — so said John Kennedy, so say we all!
I say, progress is a choice!
Let’s make our children winners in this changing economy by investing in a quality education for every child in Tennessee!
Climate change is real, but climate change is also the greatest business opportunity to come to the United States in a hundred years.
Let’s call it what it is for all it is!
Let’s, once again, make the minimum wage a living wage for every mom or dad who works hard 24/7!
Let’s make affordable college a gateway to opportunity, not a trap door to life-long debt!
Let’s make it easier for people to join labor unions and bargain collectively for better pay — because that helps all of us!
Overtime pay for overtime work.
We must expand – not cut – Social Security so all of our seniors can retire with dignity.
Let’s make good on the promise of Equal pay for equal work for men and women — because when women succeed, America succeeds!
And this one is for the courageous soul of Elliott Ozment!
Comprehensive immigration reform — because the enduring symbol of our country is not the barbed wire fence, it is not refugee children ripped from their parents’ arms and put in cages, it is the Statue of Liberty! And always will be!
These are the choices that strengthen and grow our middle class.
These are the choices that make our country better.
These are the actions that create opportunity for all!
It’s not one thing — it is all of these things and more!
Our Enduring American Values
In 1788, Alexander Hamilton warned that one day our country would be saddled with a candidate who was, “ambitious, avaricious, and desperate.” One who would “possess” — for a time — the people’s “confidence more than” he deserved it.
“Withstand the temporary delusion” Hamilton said. Hold fast to your public institutions and your values as a people, and “withstand the temporary delusion.”
Yes, we have allowed our National Party to become weak.
But we can make it strong again.
We have lost more Governor’s offices, Statehouses, and local offices over the last ten years than any time in memory.
But it’s not how low you go, it’s how high you bounce!
There are 36 Governor’s races up in 2018, and hundreds and hundreds of state legislative races as well.
This is not the time to cut and run!
It is time to stand and fight!
It’s time to win Back Your State, Tennessee so together we can save the United States!
Are you ready?!
Final story. True story.
Baltimore, September 11th, 1814:
The City of Washington has been burned to the ground. We could see the red glow from the fires in the skies to our south.
And we knew they were coming next for us.
The British General after burning Washington to the ground declared, “I shall march on Baltimore, and dine there…[because even then we had great restaurants…] and then I will burn Baltimore to the ground…”
Instead of running away from the shock and awe force of its day, the people of Baltimore dug trenches.
One out of five of us were African American people of a still as yet very imperfect country.
50% of us were immigrants — or the sons and daughters of immigrants.
But after a 26 hour bombardment, when Francis Scott Key peered through the mist expecting to see a white surrender flag being raised over our fort, he saw — instead — the giant Star Spangled Banner being raised.
A giant 32’ by 40’ foot flag that in a grand act of Revolutionary chutzpah had been sewn together in anticipation of just this moment.
We now know from historic records that the giant Star Spangled Banner was sewn together by black and white hands…
For in the home of seamstress, Mary Pickersgill, and her daughters was also one, 13 year indentured African American servant girl, named Grace Wisher…
Black and white hands. Hands of mercy, hands of grace.
And I will submit to you that the thread that held that Banner together then, is the same thread that holds us together now.
It is the thread of human dignity of neighbor helping neighbor – that strong thread that tells us: we are all in this together, and we must help each other if we are to succeed.
Do you understand what I’m saying to you?
When you are out there working to win back your State — or your county — know that you are also winning back a very, very important part of your country. In fact, right now, there is no more important part.
For there is a goodness within our nation — we see it in the eyes of our children and we must look for it in the eyes of our neighbors.
Our love and respect for one another as Americans hasn’t been lost, it’s just been mislaid.
It is time to call that goodness forward for the future of the country we love!
So, rise up, Tennessee! — make our children winners in this changing economy!
Demagogues may have their day, but they cannot have our country!
Rise up, Tennessee! — Win Back Your State!
Vote for Karl Dean!
Vote for Phil Bredesen!
Save our democracy!
The country we carry in our hearts in waiting!