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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-07-26 - 9:27 p.m.

An Energized & United Democratic Convention

Al Gore reminded the electorate to "make sure that this time every vote is counted....Take it from me - every vote counts." And then he said, "Win some; lose some...and then there's that little known third category!"

A more relaxed speaker than ever, he got off a few one-liners: "Wouldn't we be safer with a president who didn't insist on confusing al-Qaida with Iraq?" He joked that he can attest to Bush's economic policies driving up deficits and costing millions of jobs - he was the first American laid off during the Bush administration.

While he restrained himself in terms of Bush-bashing, he did ask: Are you troubled by the erosion of some of America's most basic civil liberties? Are you worried that our environmental laws are being weakened and dismantled to allow vast increases in pollution that are contributing to a global climate crisis? Is our country more united today...(than it was four years ago)? Or more divided? Has the promise of compassionate conservatism been fulfilled? Or do those words now ring hollow?"

* * * * * *

Next Former President Carter in his quiet way was perhaps the most strident in his attack on the Bush administration when he accused them of squandering the international goodwill that came to the United States at the time of 9/11 attacks. "Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combatting terrorism."

* * * * *

Although Hillary Clinton introduced her husband, she also took some time to remind the convention of some of the shortcomings of the current administration, some differences between the success of the eight years of the Clinton administration and the one we are now enduring, and supported her colleagues, Senators John Kerry and John Edwards.

President Clinton once again proved his mastery of public speaking, drew repeated ovations from delegates when he explained that Democrats and Republicans have very different ideas on what choices we should make about a variety of challenges at home and how we play our role in the world. Those choices are based on fundamentally different views. "Democrats want to build an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities. Republicans believe in an America run by the right people...their people."

From his speech:

We think the role of government should be to give people the tools to create the conditions to make the most of their own lives. And we think everybody should have that chance.

On the other hand, the Republicans in Washington believe that America should be run by the right people — their people — in a world in which America acts unilaterally when we can and cooperates when we have to.

They believe the role of government is to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of those who embrace their economic, political and social views, leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves on important matters like health care and retirement security.

Now, since most Americans aren't that far to the right, our friends have to portray us Democrats as simply unacceptable, lacking in strength and values. In other words, they need a divided America.

…For the first time when America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.

(Laughingly, he said:)Now, I'm in that group for the first time in my life.

And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me.

But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress. I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts until I realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of it.

Now look at the choices they made, choices they believed in. They chose to protect my tax cut at all costs while withholding promised funding to the Leave No Child Behind Act, leaving 2.1 million children behind.

They chose to protect my tax cut, while cutting 140,000 unemployed workers out of their job training programs, 100,000 working families out of their child care assistance, and worst of all, while cutting 300,000 poor children out of their after-school programs when we know it keeps them off the streets, out of trouble, in school, learning, going to college and having a good life.

They chose — they chose to protect my tax cuts while dramatically raising the out-of-pocket costs of health care to our veterans and while weakening or reversing very important environmental measures that Al Gore and I put into place, everything from clean air to the protection of our forests.

Now, in this time, everyone in America had to sacrifice except the wealthiest Americans. And most of us, almost all of us, from Republicans to independents and Democrats, we wanted to be asked to do our part, too. But all they asked us to do was to expend the energy necessary to open the envelopes containing our tax cuts. Now, if you like these choices and you agree with them, you should vote to return them to the White House and the Congress. If not, take a look at John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats. We've got a different economic policy.

In this year's budget, the White House this year wants to cut off all the federal funding for 88,000 uniformed police officers under the COPS program we've had for 10 years. Among those 88,000 police are more than 700 members of the New York Police Department who put their lives on the line on 9/11.

With gang violence rising, and with all of us looking for terrorists in our midst and hoping they're not too well armed or too dangerous, the president and the Congress are about to allow the 10- year-old ban on deadly assault weapons to lapse.

Now, they believe it's the right thing to do. But our policy was to put more police on the street and to take assault weapons off the street. And it gave you eight years of declining crime and eight years of declining violence. Their policy is the reverse. They're taking police off the streets while they put assault weapons back on the street.

Now, if you agree with that choice, by all means, vote to keep them in office. But if you don't, join John Kerry, John Edwards and the Democrats in making America safer, smarter and stronger again.

On homeland security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for weapons of mass destruction. It cost $1 billion. It would have been paid for under our bill by asking the 200,000 millionaires in America to cut their tax cut by $5,000. Almost all 200,000 of us would like to have done that, to spend $5,000 to make all 300 million Americans safer.

The measure failed. Why? Because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives opposed it. They thought our $5,000 was more important than doubling the container checks at our ports and airports.

If you agree with that, by all means, re-elect them. If not, John Kerry and John Edwards are your team for the future.

These policies have turned a projected $5.8 trillion surplus that we left, enough to pay for the baby boomer retirement, into a projected debt of almost $5 trillion, with over $400 billion in deficit this year and for years to come.

Now, how do they pay for that deficit? First, by taking the Social Security surplus that comes in every month and endorsing the checks of working people over to me to pay for the tax cuts. But it's not enough.

So then they have to go borrow money. Most of it they borrow from the Chinese and the Japanese government.

Sure, these countries are competing with us for good jobs, but how can we enforce our trade laws against our bankers? I mean, come on.

So if you think — if you believe it is good policy — if you believe it is good policy to pay for my tax cuts with the Social Security checks of working men and women and borrowed money from China and Japan, you should vote for them. If not, John Kerry's your man.

We Americans must choose for president...

... we've got to choose for president between two strong men who both love their countries, but who have very different world views: our nominee, John Kerry, who favors shared responsibility, shared opportunity and more global cooperation; and their president and their party in Congress who favor concentrated wealth and power, leaving people to fend for themselves and more unilateral action.

* * * * * * *
An energizing, stirring opening night -- as Clinton sarcastically said, "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." A strong beginning...let's hope some undecideds were listening.

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