Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
John Kerry Endorsement
Thursday, January 10th, 2008
Charleston, South Carolina
I want to thank John Kerry for his support in this campaign and for his service to this nation.
This is a man who knows how much people who love their country can change it.
This is the man who sacrificed the comforts of youth to fight in the jungles of Vietnam; the young Lieutenant who extended his hand to a brother in arms, pulling him from a river as the bullets screamed by.
This is the hero who returned to a Washington where politicians continued a senseless war day after day; life after life because they were too afraid to challenge the conventional thinking; too consumed with their own careers and ambitions.
This is the patriot who saw all of this and said, “No more”; who posed a question to our leaders that challenged the conscience of a nation; who believed in his heart that change does not come from the halls of power, but from the power of a movement thousands of voices strong.
John Kerry is a man of courage; a man of conviction; and a man who’s life story has given him an intimate understanding of the kind of change we need right now.
This is a defining moment in our history. Our nation is at war. Our planet is in peril. The dream that so many generations have fought for feels as if it’s slowly slipping away.
I’ve heard from seniors who were betrayed by CEOs who dumped their pensions while pocketing bonuses.
I’ve met Maytag workers who labored all their lives only to see their jobs shipped overseas; who should not be competing with their teenagers for $7-an-hour jobs at Wal-Mart.
And I’ve seen hope in the eyes of a young woman who works the night shift after a full day of college and still can’t afford health care for a sister who’s ill; a young woman who still believes that this country will give her the chance to live out her dreams.
Many of you have experienced these struggles. You’ve seen the cost of Washington’s inaction and indifference in your own lives. And so you’ve come out in record numbers; in lines that stretch block after block because you know that we can’t afford the same old politics anymore. We can’t afford to settle anymore. In this election – at this moment – our time for change has come.
The time has come to tell the lobbyists who think their money and their influence speak louder than our voices that they don’t own this government, we do; and we’re here to take it back.
The time has come for a President who’ll be honest about the choices and the challenges we face; who’ll listen to you and learn from you even when we disagree; who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.
The time has come to build a new majority that can lead this nation out of a long political darkness – Democrats, Independents and Republicans who are tired of the division and distraction that has clouded Washington; who know that we can disagree without being disagreeable; who understand that if we mobilize our voices to challenge the money and influence that’s stood in our way and challenge ourselves to reach for something better, there’s no problem we can’t solve – no destiny we cannot fulfill. That’s why I’m running in this campaign, and that’s the kind of President I’ll be for America.
I’ll be a President who finally makes health care affordable and available to every single American the same way I expanded health care in Illinois – by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to get the job done.
I’ll be a President who ends the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas and puts a middle-class tax cut into the pockets of the working Americans who deserve it.
I’ll be a President who stops sending our children to schools with corridors of shame and start putting them on a pathway to success. I’ll stop talking about how great teachers are and start rewarding them for their greatness.
I’ll be a President who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and scientists; citizens and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all.
And when I am President, we will end this war in Iraq and bring our troops home; we will finish the job against al Qaeda in Afghanistan; we will care for our veterans; and we will restore our moral standing in the world. And I’ll be a President who understands that 9/11 is not a way to scare up votes, but a challenge that should unite America and the world against the common threats of the twenty-first century: terrorism and nuclear weapons; climate change and poverty; genocide and disease.
I’m running because I believe that the size of these challenges has outgrown the capacity of our broken and divided politics to solve them; because I believe Americans of every political stripe are hungry for a new kind of politics, a politics that’s focused not just on how to win but why we should, a politics that’s focused on those values and ideals that we hold in common as Americans; a politics that favors common sense over ideology, straight talk over spin.
And I’m running because I believe the real gamble in this election is playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expecting a different result. That’s a risk we can’t take. Not this year. Not when the stakes are this high. Our time for change has come.
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 have caught on, because now everyone is talking about change.
But for me, change isn’t just the rhetoric of a campaign. It’s been the cause of my life.
It’s what led me to leave a job on Wall Street and take one as an organizer on the streets of Chicago so that I could fight joblessness and poverty when the local steel plant closed. It’s what led me to stand up as a civil rights lawyer for those who 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 what led me to take on lobbyists in Illinois and Washington – and win; passing historic ethics reform that no one thought was possible. And it’s the kind of change I will bring to this country as your next President – not just change as a slogan, but real change; fundamental change; change we can believe in.
Now, we have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.
But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we’ve been told that we’re not ready, or that we shouldn’t try, or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.
Yes we can.
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom through the darkest of nights.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballot; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity. Yes we can heal this nation. Yes we can repair this world. Yes we can.
And so as this campaign continues; as we understand that the struggles of the textile worker in Spartanburg are not so different than the plight of the dishwasher in Las Vegas; that the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in America’s story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea – Yes. We. Can.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama