Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am so proud of our country today...

When I was twelve, I became politically active for the first time.

Jimmy Carter was frozen in uncertainty, and Ronald Reagan was spouting what even my limited math skills could tell was was pure nonsense. I was deeply concerned for the financial security of the country, and heard in John Anderson a voice of pragmatic reason and truth, being delivered by a man of integrity and action. It was my privilege to campaign for Representative Anderson that year, even though I could not vote for him. It was just the right thing to do.

In subsequent years, I was energized by Jesse Jackson's message of social justice, not as an entitlement, but as a morale obligation we all share for one another. Paul Tsongas and Ross Perot again brought fiscal pragmatism and generational responsibility to the table. This year, Barack Obama has reminded us all about the power of the American Dream.

When John McCain was twelve, Mayor Hubert H. Humphrey of Minneapolis rose to speak at the 1948 democratic convention and started a miraculous transformation of the party from one had made a deal with the devil of Jim Crow to the party that has put Senator Obama on the brink of being the leader of the free world.

Mayor Humphrey rose in a moment of singular moral courage to speak to the human decency that should be in all of us. He rose to speak to the then minority party position on civil rights:
We are God-fearing men and women. We place our faith in the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God.

I do not believe that there can be any compromise of the guarantees of civil rights which I have mentioned.

In spite of my desire for unanimous agreement on the platform there are some matters which I think must be stated without qualification. There can be no hedging - no watering down.

There are those who say to you - we are rushing this issue of civil rights. I say we are 172 years late.

There are those who say - this issue of civil rights is an infringement on states rights. The time has arrived for the Democratic party to get out of the shadow of state's rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.

Sunshine won out over darkness, beginning what would become a decades long struggle for the soul of the nation. A measure of the righteousness of Humphrey's cause was that it caused Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats to leave the party and run their own bigoted campaign, bringing their vile hatred into the full light of day.

60 years later, after so much pain and blood and humiliation and evil and shame and anger and despair and death, the sun is shining brightly in Denver today. It signals not just the end of one long night, but also gives us all hope for what we have yet to become.

I am so proud of our country today, and so grateful for the New Day.

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