Friday, November 4, 2011

Truer Words Not Spoken

I usually turn over all rights to the person I am writing for, but in this case I asked if I could retain them so I could print it here, because I think the points in it are important and I think someone should say these things.  I'm proud of what I wrote, and I'm upset that the courage to deliver it was lacking.   I should note here that the dearth of courage is not my client's, and in fact, they were ready to go it alone, but this was built as a cooperative presentation with several colleagues so it would not just be one person falling on their sword, and those others were too nervous to go through with it.  I understand that, but I'm disappointed nonetheless.

I have removed delivery notations and specific references for client confidentiality, however, the speech remains mostly unchanged.
I want to apologize to the people in my district, and in my colleagues' districts.  I want to apologize to those protesting in the streets and to those too poor to join them.  I want to apologize to those living comfortably and those living lavishly.

I brought these pages with me today because these stories are the ones we are charged to and have failed to prevent. All of us have taken an oath to will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.  We all swore that we made this promise obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.  In its turn, the Constitution we are bound to defend calls upon us to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

We have not well and faithfully discharged the duties of the offices we entered.

Rather than promoting the general welfare, we have taken our proud citizens, upon whose backs America rose to greatness, and turned them into the wretched refuse of a teeming shore.  The lamp beside our golden door has gone out; we have turned our backs on those who need our help the most.  We have abandoned our own.

Some people might point out that members of this delegation have fought the good fight.  Those people may be right.  But if those people say we have done all we can, they are wrong.  They are wrong because we didn't call the Republican party on its lies, they are wrong because we refused to fight their fire with fire of our own, they are wrong because we didn't bring the full force of our will on our colleagues to bend them to it even if it meant we would break along with them.  There are reasons for this - it's poor form to call your colleagues liars, we wanted to maintain a high moral standard instead of stepping down into the murk of the trenches, we wanted to avoid the lockstep marching orders the GOP has made their trademark - but we didn't die on the battlefield for our American brothers and sisters, and now, they are paying the price...they, not we.  We here in Congress are lucky enough to live privileged lives here in our ivory tower, but now those we neglected are screaming from outside our windows for the same safety and security we enjoy.  It is true that the moral high ground matters, but the nonviolent occupations of New York and countless other cities prove that it is possible to speak loudly and powerfully without ceding it, and we should have adopted this approach sooner, stronger, and for as long as we remained in office.

It is past time for us to tend to our fellow Americans.  I believe in a nation that cares for its peoples' lives and health.  I believe that together we are stronger, and I believe that because our entire history has been the story of strength through unity.  When we stand together, we achieve greatness beyond the world's wildest dreams; when we separate, we sink into cowardice and wretchedness.  The Republican party doesn't even pretend to want to provide for the common welfare; their entire corpus amounts to little more than "make it on your own, or die trying."  This is no doctrine for the United States of America.  We are not that callous and we are not that foolish.  Ours is not a story founded in selfishness.  Many people will respond that they found success on their own, that they didn't need a hand from their neighbors or community.  That kind of empowerment is precisely what our government should produce; people should understand the communal infrastructure and resources provided by generations of Americans as their own, as pathways to success that are as natural as the air we breathe.  All Americans should wake up every morning and know that they will be met by opportunity and the chance to work hard and succeed.  This is not the case now.  These stories are those of people who did all "the right things," who work hard and follow the rules, but have been crushed under the immoral behavior of others who we have simply allowed to become more powerful than they deserve.

The unique strength of government is its ability to do things for all citizens.  Government opens the doors for all its people, admitting them to a society where all can succeed.  A good government helps all citizens gain an education that allows them to participate in the public sphere, a business world in which all can succeed regardless of size or power, and a society that understands all people as equally worthy of respect and honor.  Throughout our history, we have crawled, then walked, towards these goals, and it is time, [Mr. Speaker], to run.  This is the path to economic and social recovery - we have to create an America that lets us bear each other up.  I expect many questions about the cost of such a path, and I will not lie to you and say that rebuilding America will be free of charge.  Instead, I will point out that we have dramatically increased our debt through tax cuts for those who need them least and who promptly failed to reinvest them in the nation that granted them the incentive in the first place.  We have increased our debts through two ten-year wars. These ideas have failed.  They are not good for America and they are not good for Americans.  It is time to invest in all Americans, not a select few.

I am introducing a bill, cosponsored by my colleagues.  This bill calls for dramatic reform in the financial sector, and would outlaw most of the practices that allowed this sector to cause catastrophic damage to the US economy.  I will also introduce another bill, which will take the first steps towards reformation of our campaign finance laws and electoral processes.  These two bills are only the beginning of a massive project that stands before us, but I hope that my colleagues will join me in urgent and civil discourse in an effort to restore America to stability and prosperity.  Because this project is so massive, I am also submitting a rule change, temporarily converting control of extraneous Congressional functions like the naming of federal buildings and operational details to either the states or to the Executive branch department under whose purview the concerns fall, leaving us more time for the business of creating jobs and repairing our economy.

I also encourage my constituents and all Americans to voice their opinion of the bill.  The compassionate community on Wall Street and in other cities has inspired me to do what I can to invite you all to occupy my offices, both here in Washington and in the district.  Coffee, tea, water and snacks will be freely available for all takers, and my staff will be prepared to discuss the mechanics of legislation with you and to record your opinions.  My website will also be available for this purpose, and you will find full texts of both [suggested bills] there now, along with synopses and a form to submit comments and questions.  We have also provided easy ways to contact your own representative, and I encourage you to do so.

Together, we can repair the great system under which we live.  We can make a better America and a better world, and we can rescue all of our fellow Americans - our brothers and sisters -  from that teeming shore.

We can rescue each other, and lift high the great American torch once again.

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