[Vision2020] Barack Obama's Speech
chasuk at gmail.com
Fri Dec 28 01:11:37 PST 2007
Here it is in it's entirety:
"Ten months ago, I stood on the steps of the Old State Capitol in
Springfield, Ill., and began an unlikely journey to change America.
I did not run for the presidency to fulfill some long-held ambition or
because I believed it was somehow owed to me. I chose to run in this
election — at this moment — because of what Dr. King called "the
fierce urgency of now." Because we are at a defining moment in our
history. Our nation is at war. Our planet is in peril. Our health care
system is broken, our economy is out of balance, our education system
fails too many of our children, and our retirement system is in
At this defining moment, we cannot wait any longer for universal
health care. We cannot wait to fix our schools. We cannot wait for
good jobs, and living wages, and pensions we can count on. We cannot
wait to halt global warming, and we cannot wait to end this war in
I chose to run because I believed that the size of these challenges
had outgrown the capacity of our broken and divided politics to solve
them; because I believed that Americans of every political stripe were
hungry for a new kind of politics, a politics that focused not just on
how to win but why we should, a politics that focused on those values
and ideals that we held in common as Americans; a politics that
favored common sense over ideology, straight talk over spin.
Most of all, I believed in the power of the American people to be the
real agents of change in this country — because we are not as divided
as our politics suggests; because we are a decent, generous people
willing to work hard and sacrifice for future generations; and I was
certain that if we could just mobilize our voices to challenge the
special interests that dominate Washington and challenge ourselves to
reach for something better, there was no problem we couldn't solve —
no destiny we couldn't fulfill.
Ten months later, Iowa, you have vindicated that faith. You've come
out in the blistering heat and the bitter cold not just to cheer, but
to challenge — to ask the tough questions; to lift the hood and kick
the tires; to serve as one place in America where someone who hasn't
spent their life in the Washington spotlight can get a fair hearing.
You've earned the role you play in our democracy because no one takes
it more seriously. And I believe that's true this year more than ever
because, like me, you feel that same sense of urgency.
All across this state, you've shared with me your stories. And all too
often they've been stories of struggle and hardship.
I've heard from seniors who were betrayed by CEOs who dumped their
pensions while pocketing bonuses, and from those who still can't
afford their prescriptions because Congress refused to negotiate with
the drug companies for the cheapest available price.
I've met Maytag workers who labored all their lives only to see their
jobs shipped overseas; who now compete with their teenagers for
$7-an-hour jobs at Wal-Mart.
I've spoken with teachers who are working at doughnut shops after
school just to make ends meet, who are still digging into their own
pockets to pay for school supplies.
Just two weeks ago, I heard a young woman in Cedar Rapids who told me
she only gets three hours of sleep because she works the night shift
after a full day of college and still can't afford health care for a
sister with cerebral palsy. She spoke not with self-pity but with
determination, and wonders why the government isn't doing more to help
her afford the education that will allow her to live out her dreams.
I've spoken to veterans who talk with pride about what they've
accomplished in Afghanistan and Iraq, but who nevertheless think of
those they've left behind and question the wisdom of our mission in
Iraq; the mothers weeping in my arms over the memories of their sons;
the disabled or homeless vets who wonder why their service has been
And I've spoken to Americans in every corner of the state, patriots
all, who wonder why we have allowed our standing in the world to
decline so badly, so quickly. They know this has not made us safer.
They know that we must never negotiate out of fear, but that we must
never fear to negotiate with our enemies as well as our friends. They
are ashamed of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and warrantless wiretaps and
ambiguity on torture. They love their country and want its cherished
values and ideals restored.
It is precisely because you've experienced these frustrations, and
seen the cost of inaction in your own lives, that you understand why
we can't afford to settle for the same old politics. You know that we
can't afford to allow the insurance lobbyists to kill health care
reform one more time, and the oil lobbyists to keep us addicted to
fossil fuels because no one stood up and took their power away when
they had the chance.
You know that we can't afford four more years of the same divisive
food fight in Washington that's about scoring political points instead
of solving problems; that's about tearing your opponents down instead
of lifting this country up.
We can't afford the same politics of fear that tells Democrats that
the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, act and
vote like George Bush Republicans; that invokes 9/11 as a way to scare
up votes instead of a challenge that should unite all Americans to
defeat our real enemies.
We can't afford to be so worried about losing the next election that
we lose the battles we owe to the next generation.
The real gamble in this election is playing the same Washington game
with the same Washington players and expecting a different result. And
that's a risk we can't take. Not this year. Not when the stakes are
In this election, it is time to turn the page. In seven days, it is
time to stand for change.
This has been our message since the beginning of this campaign. It was
our message when we were down, and our message when we were up. And it
must be catching on, because in these last few weeks, everyone is
talking about change.
But you can't at once argue that you're the master of a broken system
in Washington and offer yourself as the person to change it. You can't
fall in line behind the conventional thinking on issues as profound as
war and offer yourself as the leader who is best prepared to chart a
new and better course for America.
The truth is, you can have the right kind of experience and the wrong
kind of experience. Mine is rooted in the real lives of real people
and it will bring real results if we have the courage to change. I
believe deeply in those words. But they are not mine. They were Bill
Clinton's in 1992, when Washington insiders questioned his readiness
My experience is rooted in the lives of the men and women on the South
Side of Chicago who I fought for as an organizer when the local steel
plant closed. It's rooted in the lives of the people I stood up for as
a civil rights lawyer when they were denied opportunity on the job or
justice at the voting booth because of what they looked like or where
they came from. It's rooted in an understanding of how the world sees
America that I gained from living, traveling and having family beyond
our shores — an understanding that led me to oppose this war in Iraq
from the start. It's experience rooted in the real lives of real
people, and it's the kind of experience Washington needs right now.
There are others in this race who say that this kind of change sounds
good, but that I'm not angry or confrontational enough to get it done.
Well, let me tell you something, Iowa. I don't need any lectures on
how to bring about change, because I haven't just talked about it on
the campaign trail. I've fought for change all my life.
I walked away from a job on Wall Street to bring job training to the
jobless and after-school programs to kids on the streets of Chicago.
I turned down the big-money law firms to win justice for the powerless
as a civil rights lawyer.
I took on the lobbyists in Illinois and brought Democrats and
Republicans together to expand health care to 150,000 people and pass
the first major campaign finance reform in 25 years; and I did the
same thing in Washington when we passed the toughest lobbying reform
since Watergate. I'm the only candidate in this race who hasn't just
talked about taking power away from lobbyists, I've actually done it.
So if you want to know what kind of choices we'll make as president,
you should take a look at the choices we made when we had the chance
to bring about change that wasn't easy or convenient.
That's the kind of change that's more than just rhetoric — that's
change you can believe in.
It's change that won't just come from more anger at Washington or
turning up the heat on Republicans. There's no shortage of anger and
bluster and bitter partisanship out there. We don't need more heat. We
need more light. I've learned in my life that you can stand firm in
your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always
agree with you. And although the Republican operatives in Washington
might not be interested in hearing what we have to say, I think
Republican and independent voters outside of Washington are. That's
the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have in this election.
For the first time in a long time, we have the chance to build a new
majority of not just Democrats, but independents and Republicans
who've lost faith in their Washington leaders but want to believe
again — who desperately want something new.
We can change the electoral math that's been all about division and
make it about addition — about building a coalition for change and
progress that stretches through blue states and red states. That's how
I won some of the reddest, most Republican counties in Illinois.
That's why the polls show that I do best against the Republicans
running for president — because we're attracting more support from
independents and Republicans than any other candidate. That's how
we'll win in November and that's how we'll change this country over
the next four years.
In the end, the argument we are having between the candidates in the
last seven days is not just about the meaning of change. It's about
the meaning of hope. Some of my opponents appear scornful of the word;
they think it speaks of naiveté, passivity and wishful thinking.
But that's not what hope is. Hope is not blind optimism. It's not
ignoring the enormity of the task before us or the roadblocks that
stand in our path. Yes, the lobbyists will fight us. Yes, the
Republican attack dogs will go after us in the general election. Yes,
the problems of poverty and climate change and failing schools will
resist easy repair. I know — I've been on the streets; I've been in
the courts. I've watched legislation die because the powerful held
sway and good intentions weren't fortified by political will, and I've
watched a nation get misled into war because no one had the judgment
or the courage to ask the hard questions before we sent our troops to
But I also know this. I know that hope has been the guiding force
behind the most improbable changes this country has ever made. In the
face of tyranny, it's what led a band of colonists to rise up against
an Empire. In the face of slavery, it's what fueled the resistance of
the slave and the abolitionist, and what allowed a president to chart
a treacherous course to ensure that the nation would not continue half
slave and half free. In the face of war and Depression, it's what led
the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. In
the face of oppression, it's what led young men and women to sit at
lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through the streets of
Selma and Montgomery for freedom's cause. That's the power of hope —
to imagine, and then work for, what had seemed impossible before.
That's the change we seek. And that's the change you can stand for in
We've already beaten odds that the cynics said couldn't be beaten.
When we started 10 months ago, they said we couldn't run a different
kind of campaign.
They said we couldn't compete without taking money from Washington
lobbyists. But you proved them wrong when we raised more small
donations from more Americans than any other campaign in history.
They said we couldn't be successful if we didn't have the full support
of the establishment in Washington. But you proved them wrong when we
built a grass-roots movement that could forever change the face of
They said we wouldn't have a chance in this campaign unless we
resorted to the same old negative attacks. But we resisted, even when
we were written off, and ran a positive campaign that pointed out real
differences and rejected the politics of slash and burn.
And now, in seven days, you have a chance once again to prove the
cynics wrong. In seven days, what was improbable has the chance to
beat what Washington said was inevitable. And that's why in these last
weeks, Washington is fighting back with everything it has — with
attack ads and insults; with distractions and dishonesty; with
millions of dollars from outside groups and undisclosed donors to try
and block our path.
We've seen this script many times before. But I know that this time
can be different.
Because I know that when the American people believe in something, it happens.
If you believe, then we can tell the lobbyists that their days of
setting the agenda in Washington are over.
If you believe, then we can stop making promises to America's workers
and start delivering — jobs that pay, health care that's affordable,
pensions you can count on, and a tax cut for working Americans instead
of the companies who send their jobs overseas.
If you believe, we can offer a world-class education to every child,
and pay our teachers more, and make college dreams a reality for every
If you believe, we can save this planet and end our dependence on foreign oil.
If you believe, we can end this war, close Guantanamo, restore our
standing, renew our diplomacy and once again respect the Constitution
of the United States of America.
That's the future within our reach. That's what hope is — that thing
inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that
something better is waiting for us around the corner. But only if
we're willing to work for it and fight for it. To shed our fears and
our doubts and our cynicism. To glory in the task before us of
remaking this country block by block, precinct by precinct, county by
county, state by state.
There is a moment in the life of every generation when, if we are to
make our mark on history, this spirit must break through.
This is the moment.
This is our time.
And if you will stand with me in seven days — if you will stand for
change so that our children have the same chance that somebody gave
us; if you'll stand to keep the American dream alive for those who
still hunger for opportunity and thirst for justice; if you're ready
to stop settling for what the cynics tell you you must accept, and
finally reach for what you know is possible, then we will win this
caucus, we will win this election, we will change the course of
history, and the real journey — to heal a nation and repair the world
— will have truly begun.
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