‘92 DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION : GORE TEXT: ‘This Nation Will Be Renewed’
Here is the prepared text of Tennessee Sen. Al Gore’s speech Thursday accepting the vice presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention:
I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid growing up in Tennessee: That one day, I’d have the chance to come here to Madison Square Garden and be the warm-up act for Elvis.
My friends, I thank you for your confidence expressed in the vote this evening, I pledge to pour my heart and soul into this crusade on behalf of the American people, and I accept your nomination.
I did not seek this nomination or expect it. But I am here to join this team because I love my country. And I believe in my heart that together we offer the American people the best chance we have to move this nation forward in the right direction again.
I am here because the country I love has a government that is failing our people: the forgotten majority in your hometown and mine who work hard and play by the rules, who scrimp and save to build a better life for their children.
I am here to renew a journey our Founders began more than 200 years ago. In my lifetime, I have seen America’s ideals and dreams change the world, and I believe that now is the time to bring those ideals and dreams home again to change America.
‘There Is Always Hope’
Our country is in trouble. And while George Bush and Dan Quayle have been making excuses for deadlock and decay, people in other nations--inspired by the eternal promise of America--have torn down the Berlin Wall, brought communism to its knees and forced a racist government in South Africa to turn away from apartheid. Throughout the world, obstacles to liberty that many thought might stand forever turned out to be no match for men and women who decided in their hearts that their future could be much greater than their past would let them dream.
Their faith in the power of conscience and the force of truth required a leap of the human spirit. Can we say truthfully that their chance for change was better than ours? Yet we face our own crisis of the spirit here and now in America. We’re told we can no longer change, we’ve seen our better days; they even say we’re history.
The cynics are having a field day because across this country, millions of American families have been betrayed by a government out of touch with our values and beholden only to the privileged few. Millions of people are losing faith in the very idea of democracy, and are even in danger of losing heart, because they fear their lives may no longer have any deeper meaning or purpose.
But you can’t kill hope that easily, not here, not in America, where a cynic is just a disappointed idealist in disguise, a dreamer yearning to dream again. In every American, no matter how badly betrayed or poorly led, there is always hope. Even now, if you listen, you can hear the pulse of America’s true spirit.
No, the American spirit isn’t gone. But we vow here tonight that in November, George Bush and Dan Quayle will be.
Bush, Quayle Criticized
They’ve had their chance, and they have failed. They have taxed the many to enrich the few. It is time for them to go.
They have given us false choices, bad choices, and no choice. It is time for them to go.
They have ignored the suffering of those who are victims, of AIDS, of crime, of poverty, of hatred and harassment. It is time for them to go.
They have nourished and appeased tyrannies, and endangered America’s deepest interests while betraying our cherished ideals. It is time for them to go.
They have mortgaged our children’s future to avoid the decisions they lack the courage to make. It is time for them to go.
They have demeaned our democracy with the politics of distraction, denial and despair. It is time for them to go.
The American people are disgusted with excuses and tired of blame. They know that throughout American history, each generation has passed on leadership to the next. That time has come again. The time for a new generation of leadership for the United States of America to take over from George Bush and Dan Quayle. And that means it is time for them to go.
In 1992, our challenge is not to elect the last President of the 20th Century, but to elect the first President of the 21st Century, Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton has a plan that offers real answers for the real problems of real people, a bold new national economic strategy to rebuild this country and put our people back to work.
And if you want to know what Bill Clinton can do, take a look at what he has already done. For more than a decade, he’s been fighting against incredible odds to bring good jobs, better skills and genuine hope to one of the poorest states in this country.
A decade ago, when his state needed dramatic reform to shake up one of the worst school systems in America, Bill Clinton took on the established interests and made Arkansas the first state to require teacher-testing. He has cut classroom size, raised test scores and earned the support of both teachers and parents; they know Bill Clinton will be the real education President.
For most of the last decade, while the Republicans have been trying to use welfare to divide us, Bill Clinton has led the fight to reform the welfare system to move people off welfare and into the work force.
And Bill Clinton did all this while balancing eleven budgets in a row and giving the people of Arkansas one of the lowest tax burdens in this country. No wonder Arkansas under Bill Clinton has created manufacturing jobs at ten times the national rate. And no wonder when all of the nation’s governors, Republicans and Democrats alike, were asked to vote on who was the most effective governor in America, they chose Bill Clinton by an overwhelming margin.
What we need in America in 1992 is a President who will unleash the best in us by putting faith in the decency and good judgment of our people. A President who will challenge us to be true to our values and examine the ways in which our own attitudes are barriers to the progress we seek.
America is ready to be inspired and lifted again, by leaders committed to seeking out the best in our society, developing it and strengthening it. I have spent much of my career working to protect the environment, not only because it is vital to the future of my state of Tennessee, our country and our Earth, but because I believe there is a fundamental link between our current relationship to the Earth and the attitudes that stand in the way of human progress.
For generations, we have believed we could abuse the Earth because we weren’t really connected to it. But now we must face the truth. The task of saving the Earth’s environment must and will become the central organizing principle of the post-Cold War world.
And just as the false assumption that we are not connected to the Earth has led to the ecological crisis, so the equally false assumption that we are not connected to each other has led to our social crisis. Even worse, the evil and mistaken assumption that we have no connection to those generations preceding us or those who will follow us has led to the crisis of values we face today.
Those are the connections that are missing from our politics today. Those are the bridges we must rebuild if we are to rebuild our country. And those are the values we must honor in order to recapture that faith in the future which has always been the heart of the American Dream.
We have another challenge as well. In the wake of the Cold War, with the re-emergence of ancient ethnic and racial hatreds throughout the world, the United States must once again prove that there is a better way. Just as we accepted on behalf of humankind the historic mission of proving that political freedom is the best form of government and economic freedom is the best engine of prosperity, and must now accept the obligation of proving that freedom from prejudice is the heart and soul of community, that yes, we can get along, yes, people of all backgrounds can not only live together peacefully but enrich one another, celebrate diversity and come together as one. Yes, we will be one people and live the dream that will make this world free.
In the end, this election isn’t about politics. It isn’t even about winning, though that’s what we are going to do. It’s about the responsibilities we owe one another and we owe our children, the calling we hear to serve our country and to be part of a community larger than ourselves.
You’ve heard a lot in the past week about how much Bill Clinton and I have in common. Indeed, we both share the values we learned in our hometowns: individual responsibility, faith, family and the belief that hard work should be rewarded. We’re both fathers with young children, children who are part of a generation whose very future is at stake in this election. And we’re both proud of our wives, Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore, two women who have done more for the children of this country in the last 12 years than the last two men who have sat in the Oval Office have done in their lifetimes.
I’m proud my father and mother could be here tonight to see me join a ticket that will make good on the best advice they ever gave me: to tell the truth and always love my country. My sister and I were born to two wonderful people who worked hard to give us a better life. 1992 is the Year of the Woman. It is also the 46th anniversary of the year my mother, born in a time when women weren’t even allowed to vote, became one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School.
My father was a teacher in a one-room school who worked his way to the United States Senate. I was eight years old when my father’s name was placed in nomination for the vice presidency before the Democratic Convention of 1956. Growing up, I watched him stand courageously for civil rights and economic opportunity and a government that worked for ordinary people.
I don’t know what it’s like to lose a father, but I know what it’s like to lose a sister and almost lose a son. I wish my late sister, Nancy, could be here this evening, but I am grateful beyond words for the blessings my family has shared. Three years ago, my son, Albert, was struck by a car crossing the street after watching a baseball game in Baltimore. He was thrown 30 feet in the air on impact and scraped along another 20 feet on the pavement after he hit the ground. I ran to his side and held him and called his name, but he was limp and still, without breath or pulse. His eyes were open with the empty stare of death, and we prayed, the two of us, there in the gutter, with only my voice.
His injuries, inside and out, were massive, and for terrible days he lingered between life and death. Tipper and I spent the next thirty days and nights at his bedside. Our family was lifted and healed, in no small measure by the love, compassion and prayers of thousands of people, most of whom we never even knew.
Albert is plenty brave and strong, and with the support of three wonderful sisters--Karenna, Kristin, and Sarah--and two loving parents who helped him with his exercises every morning and prayed for him every night, he pulled through. And now, thank God, he has fully recovered, and he runs and plays and torments his older sisters like any little boy.
‘A Higher Calling’
But that experience changed me forever. When you’ve seen your 6-year-old son fighting for his life, you realize that some things matter more than winning, and you lose patience with the lazy assumption of so many in politics that we can always just muddle through. When you’ve seen your reflection in the empty stare of a boy waiting for a second breath of life, you realize that we weren’t put here on Earth to look out for our needs alone; we’re part of something much larger than ourselves.
My friends, if you look up for a moment from the rush of your daily lives, you will hear the quiet voices of your country crying out for help. You will see your reflection in the weary eyes of those who are losing hope in America. And you will see that our democracy is lying there in the gutter, waiting for us to give it a second breath of life.
I don’t care what party you’re in, whether you are an independent, whether you have been tempted to give up on the whole political process or not, or give up on our party or not, we want you to join this common effort to unite our country behind a higher calling. If you have been supporting Ross Perot, I want to make a special plea to you this evening: Don’t give up on your fight for change. The time has come for all Americans to be part of the healing. In the words of the Bible, “Do not lose heart. This nation will be renewed.”
‘We Must Renew’
In order to renew our nation, we must renew ourselves. Just as America has always transcended the hopes and dreams of every other nation on Earth, so must we transcend ourselves and, in Gandhi’s words, become the change we wish to see in the world. Let those of us alive today resolve with one another that we will so conduct ourselves--in this campaign and in our lives--that 200 years from now, Americans will say of our labors that this nation and this Earth were healed by people they never even knew.
I’m told that Hope, Ark., is a lot like my hometown of Carthage, Tenn.: It’s a place where people know about it when you’re born and care about it when you die. That’s the America Bill Clinton and I grew up in. That’s the kind of nation we want our children to grow up in. Just as Hope is a community, so is America. When we bring the community of America together, we will rekindle the American spirit and renew this nation for generations to come. And the way to begin is to elect Bill Clinton President of the United States of America.