Posted by: JanF | August 30, 2012

Why I Vote For Democrats: Uplifting Words

We don’t vote for Democrats simply because of their uplifting words, of course. We have plenty of reasons to vote for them. But words are important. What you say and how you say it are windows into your soul. When those words are speeches at nominating conventions, they are windows into the soul of your party.

Speeches can contain words to live by, words that call us to action for an important cause and words that connect to our deepest feelings about fairness and compassion.

Barbara Jordan at the 1976 Democratic Convention

Texas Representative Barbara Jordan delivered the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic Convention:

Barbara Charline Jordan (February 21, 1936 – January 17, 1996) was an American politician and a leader of the Civil Rights movement. She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Her words about sharing and shaping our future are just as pertinent today as they were 36 years ago.

From the 1976 Democratic National Convention:

It was one hundred and forty-four years ago that members of the Democratic Party first met in convention to select a Presidential candidate. Since that time, Democrats have continued to convene once every four years and draft a party platform and nominate a Presidential candidate. And our meeting this week is a continuation of that tradition. But there is something different about tonight. There is something special about tonight. What is different? What is special?

I, Barbara Jordan, am a keynote speaker.

A lot of years passed since 1832, and during that time it would have been most unusual for any national political party to ask a Barbara Jordan to deliver a keynote address. But tonight, here I am. And I feel that notwithstanding the past that my presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not forever be deferred.

She did not mince words about what makes the Democratic party different:

Throughout our history, when people have looked for new ways to solve their problems and to uphold the principles of this nation, many times they have turned to political parties. They have often turned to the Democratic Party. What is it about the Democratic Party that makes it the instrument the people use when they search for ways to shape their future? Well I believe the answer to that question lies in our concept of governing. Our concept of governing is derived from our view of people. It is a concept deeply rooted in a set of beliefs firmly etched in the national conscience of all of us.

We have a positive vision of the future founded on the belief that the gap between the promise and reality of America can one day be finally closed. We believe that.

This, my friends is the bedrock of our concept of governing. This is a part of the reason why Americans have turned to the Democratic Party. These are the foundations upon which a national community can be built. Let all understand that these guiding principles cannot be discarded for short-term political gains. They represent what this country is all about. They are indigenous to the American idea. And these are principles which are not negotiable.

Her theme was of our shared future and how we can shape it together. In her words:

We must address and master the future together. It can be done if we restore the belief that we share a sense of national community, that we share a common national endeavor.[…]

A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good. A government is invigorated when each one of us is willing to participate in shaping the future of this nation.

Barbara Jordan made many speeches throughout her long career and left us with other words. Here are a few more:

If the society today allows wrongs to go unchallenged, the impression is created that those wrongs have the approval of the majority.

How do we create a harmonious society out of so many kinds of people? The key is tolerance — the one value that is indispensable in creating community.

What the people want is very simple. They want an America as good as its promise

And this one is particularly apt this year:

The American dream is not dead. It is gasping for breath, but it is not dead.

Uplifting words which call us to a higher ideal and remind us of the promise of America … and reflect our values … another reason I Vote For Democrats and why you should too.