I want to start by thanking some people who never get thanked enough: Tom Perez, Keith Ellison, the DNC staff, our state party chairs, and everyone who’s out there actually doing the work and building the infrastructure to help people like me win. Thank you!
And, point of personal privilege: I’d like to give a special shoutout to my state party chair, Gus Bickford and our Massachusetts team. We’re geared up and ready to go!
Those of us who get to serve in elected office owe a lot to the Democratic infrastructure that got us here – and to the people who spend their time and energy building it.
And what we owe isn’t just gratitude. We owe partnership – real, tangible partnership.
I believe in that partnership, and I believe in the work you do to reach out and connect people to the Democratic Party and to grow our party all across this country. I don’t want to leave anyone behind. That’s why, as of today, I’ve sent off donations this year not only to the DNC, but to every single one of our 50 state parties to help them hire organizers and register voters this year – a contribution to every single state party.
I want a Democratic Party strong enough to compete for every vote, in every race, at every level, in every state, in every election – and I’m willing to do my part to help make that happen.
But I don’t just want a party strong enough to drive Donald Trump and his slimy enablers out of power. I want a party strong enough to take on the job of cleaning up the mess they’ll leave behind once they are gone.
Because even when we put a stop to the racist executive orders, and the extremist judicial nominations, and the outright corruption, this is still going to be a country where an awful lot of people are getting crushed.
I grew up on the ragged edge of the middle class. We lived paycheck to paycheck, and about the time we seemed to be pulling ahead just a little, my daddy had a heart attack. I was the kid who listened to my mother cry as we were on the brink of losing our family home. I was the kid who learned about doctor bills and mortgages.
But I was also the kid whose mom refused to give up. I watched her put on her best dress, walk to the local Sears, and get a minimum wage job. She saved our home and she saved our family.
I know what it’s like to feel that squeeze. I know the worry about money that never lets up. I know the fear. I know it, but I also know that the squeeze has gotten worse and worse over the last generation. And, unlike a generation ago, the people feeling that squeeze today also feel totally abandoned by their government.
All across this country, hard working people have been left behind. Affordable child care is still almost impossible to find, college graduates are suffocating in student debt, and working full time in America no longer guarantees that you’ll have enough money to make ends meet.
All across this country, there are working people getting ripped off by employers who won’t pay out the overtime they’re owed, ripped off by credit card and cell phone companies that hide time bombs in the fine print, and ripped off by drug companies that jack up the cost of prescription drugs.
All across this country, there are moms and dads worried about their kids. Worried that they’ll have to leave the rural communities where their family has lived for generations just to find a decent job, or worried about what might happen if they get pulled over by the wrong cop or a classmate walks into school with an AR-15.
These folks are hurting, and they’re scared, and they’re angry, and they’re desperate for someone to put up a fight on their behalf. And it sure isn’t going to be Donald Trump and the Republicans.
But here’s the thing, and we have to be really clear with each other about this: It’s not enough to be better than the other guys. If people don’t believe we understand what’s gone wrong and if they don’t believe that we’re ready and willing to fight for them – really fight, they’re going to turn their backs on us, too.
As an elected official, being your partner goes beyond helping you build Democratic infrastructure so we can fight for every vote this November. It means fighting to build a party worthy of people’s votes, a party people are jumping up and eager to get to the polls to vote for.
I don’t want us to settle for being the party that takes the right side when it comes to the fights facing ordinary Americans. I want us to be the party that picks fights on their behalf.
So let’s pick some fights.
Let’s pick a fight on consumer rights. Let’s declare that any American whose credit information gets stolen or who gets cheated by their cable company can get money back, and that any Wall Street big shot who breaks the law and puts our economy at risk should go to jail. Let’s build a country where, when you go up against a corporation that’s screwed you over, the United States government is in your corner, not theirs. And here’s another thing – let’s build a party that stands AGAINST Republicans trying to roll back financial reforms – every one of us – rather than help the Republicans deliver even more goodies for big banks.
Let’s pick a fight on immigration. Let’s declare that we aren’t just willing to stand up for DREAMers and their families, we’re proud to do it – because DREAMers aren’t just charity cases, they represent the best of who we are and who we can be. And let’s build a country that welcomes immigrants to share their talents and help us make a better future.
Let’s pick a fight on corruption. Let’s declare that, if Congress won’t clean up the mess created by Citizens United, we’ll fight for a constitutional amendment to overturn it entirely. While we’re at it, let’s stop complaining about the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street and slam it shut.
And let’s not settle for holding ourselves to a higher ethical standard – when the other guys break the rules, they should be investigated and punished, starting with this President, his cabinet, and his family. And let’s build a country where government works for working people again.
And, yeah, let’s pick a fight on guns. Let’s declare that, whether we come from big cities or small towns, we’re done letting the NRA tell us where the debate about gun safety should begin and end. And let’s build a country where we don’t have to pretend we’re helpless to protect our kids.
Sure, this is a big party. We don’t all bring the same perspective to the debate, and we don’t all agree on every issue.
But this is a moment that demands boldness and courage from all of us.
We’re all here not just because we believe in the DNC’s ability to turn out the vote, but because we believe in what we’re asking people to vote for. We believe in America. It’s up to us to give Americans a reason to believe in the Democratic Party, too.
If we can make their fights our fights – then Americans will vote. And when Americans vote, we will win. And when we win, we will do what Democrats do best: we will make our communities stronger. . . we will make our economy fairer. . . we will make our country a better place.