Introduction (read by DNC Vice Chair Lottie Shackelford):
Hello Democrats! It is time to reconnect with our highest aspirations as a nation, as a people. It is time to reinvigorate our image of the American Dream. American, a nation of freedom, of hope, and of vision. America, a nation that reaches out to other nations in friendship and cooperation. A nation that uses its power to create the conditions of peace, of prosperity and environmental flourishing. To achieve our aspirations for America we need a leader of great courage, a leader of great political skill, a leader of great foresight, a leader with much integrity. We need a leader who sees the situation for what it truly is, a leader who is unafraid of opposition, a leader who stands up for the best interests of the American people, a leader with the courage to guide our great nation, a leader who wants to guide this great nation away from unnecessary adversity. We have among us such a leader, such a politician, such a statesman: Dennis Kucinich. [cheers, applause][Applause. Music: "America the Beautiful"]
He carries great integrity, he is unafraid of opposition, unafraid of standing up for truth. He is a politician with insight, a politician with clarity, and a politician with foresight. He reaches out to touch the hearts of his colleagues regardless of their political views. Dennis Kucinich has dedicated his life to creating the context in which people can come together to work through their differences and to celebrate their humanity. He's a leader with a clear vision for America, a clear vision of hope, a clear vision of peace, a clear vision of social and economic prosperity. I give to you Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
KUCINICH: Thank you. Thank you very much. And please join me in welcoming my wife Elizabeth who is a great humanitarian and by my side every step of the way. Elizabeth, thank you.
Thank you very much. Fellow Democrats, I grew up--can you hear me in the back? ["Yeah"] Okay, 'cause I can hear you. [laughter]
Fellow Democrats, I grew up in the city of Cleveland, the oldest of seven children. Now my parents never owned a home. We were renters, we kept moving, with each new arrival to the family. We lived in 21 different places, including a couple of cars. That's before it became fashionable in America. I know first hand what happens when someone in the family lacks adequate health care, or daycare or doesn’t have the money for college or can’t afford to pay the utility bills.
I remember where I came from. And because I remember where I came from, my priority as President will be to create economic opportunities and prosperity, to rebuild America’s cities, to repair America’s neighborhoods, to restore America’s industry, to renew America’s schools, to reclaim America’s health. As President I will ask our Democratic Congress to pass a single-payer not for profit health care plan, Medicare for All--the bill's already written; it's called Conyers-Kucinich. [applause] As President I will ask our Democratic Congress to pass a Universal Pre-Kindergarten bill, a bill to rebuild America’s infrastructure and revive the FDR WPA program, and I will send to Congress legislation to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace and Non-Violence, which takes Dr. King’s dream and makes an everyday reality in America. [applause]
Fellow Democrats, I can win because of all the candidates for President, I not only voted against the authorization for war but I have consistently voted against funding the war and I have a 12-point plan devised with the help of international peacekeepers, to bring our troops home and to end the war.
Fellow Democrats, of all the decisions a President must make, the most far reaching is whether to commit the lives of our young men and women to combat. I believe that I have demonstrated the clarity and the foresight people have a right to expect of a President. This war would have never occurred in the first place if I had been President. We do not have to wait for 2009 and my Inauguration as President to end it.
Because, fellow Democrats, right now, the Democratic Congress has the ability and the power to end the war and to bring our troops home. This past November, Democrats received a mandate from the American people to end the war. Democrats have an obligation to reclaim Congress’ constitutional power to end the war. If we support the troops, if we truly support the troops, we should bring them home. Money is there now to bring our troops safely home. Supporting my 12 point plan, Congress can require the Administration to end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, and stabilize Iraq.
Fellow Democrats, I want to stress the Democratic Congress must deny the President the money he wants to keep the war going through the end of his term, money which he can also use to attack Iran. If we give the President the money to continue the war, the Democratic Party will have bought the war.
Now this past summer I implored our government to intervene to stop a blood bath between the Israelis and Lebanon. As it turned out, our government encouraged the destruction. My wife and I traveled to south Lebanon immediately after the war. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw in South Lebanon: Bridges, water systems, sewer systems, schools, social clubs, recreation areas, stadiums, cemeteries, fruit groves, factories, small businesses, mosques and churches, all bombed. Countless cluster bombs were strewn about and landmines lined roads and adjacent fields, making on-foot travel perilous. The smell of death was everywhere. Over 30,000 homes were destroyed. We traveled through village after village, with names like Aita, Maroun Raas, and Bent Jabil, stopping to assess the damage, talking with people through interpreters, moving cautiously through the rubble of children’s toys, household appliances, televisions, computers, clothing with popular American insignias. Because the bombs were widely assumed to have come from America, big bold signs declared “This is your Democracy, America.”
Our last stop was in Qana, where the Bible tells us Christ performed his first miracle. Qana.
We arrived unannounced, late at night. We asked to express our condolences to the families of dozens of villagers who had lost their lives when a thousand pound bomb dropped on a four story apartment building, collapsing the structure and crushing everyone inside. We were led to the town square, now a makeshift cemetery. Lights from our vehicles illuminated the graveyard where rows and rows of family pictures of the deceased sat atop the graves. Elizabeth and I stopped at one gravesite. The picture of a beautiful little boy of cherubic countenance smiled at us. It was the type of family picture American department stores specialized in years ago. The first response was to smile at this smiling little boy with his freshly cut hair and his bright red sweater, then the realization that this precious child was dead. As Elizabeth and I stood weeping an arm extended around my shoulder and comforted me. That person guided us to the next grave, that of a woman and three children. “This was my family” our comforter said through an interpreter. Now this experience transformed us. Someone who had lost his entire family had been comforting us.
We were led by villagers down a narrow street and over a large mound of rubble to the site of where the bomb dropped. Light from headlights of motorbikes lit up the rubble where fragments of the bomb and pieces of clothing were intermingled. The word spread that an American congressman was present, and a crowd quickly gathered. Now we had no body guards. We were surrounded by people who had suffered great loss, and had every right to express anger or even rage, yet instead they expressed a remarkable depth of forgiveness, compassion and a desire for peace and reconciliation. Speaking calmly, speaking calmly from the crowd through interpreters, here’s what they said.
“Tell the American people we love them.”
“We don’t hate America. We love America.”
“We do not like what your government does.”
“America could have saved our families.”
“Please tell the American people we are not terrorists.”
“We are not terrorists. We do not hate Israel.”
“We want to be safe in our village. We want to be left alone.”
“We want peace.”
“We want peace.”
I promised the people of Qana that I would bring the message from Qana back to America, and today I'm keeping that promise.
And before we left Elizabeth and I knelt at the grave of that beautiful little boy and we made a promise to work for a world where all children are safe.
The people of the village retrieved a fragment of the bomb which destroyed so many lives and they gave it to me. And it's going to be out in the lobby at my table there. And I want you to look at it. I want you to look at it because it is time that we took the stand to stop the destruction of the lives of innocents, whether they live in Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, India, Sudan, or America. We must make it our priority to work for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world. [applause]
My fellow Americans, my fellow Democrats, we've lost so much since 9/11. It is time to bind up our nation’s wounds from 9/11. It is time, in the words of a great president Abraham Lincoln, to move forward with malice toward none and charity for all.
This is the philosophy behind the 9/10 Forum, the 9/10 Forum, an idea of Elizabeth’s. As we travel across America, Elizabeth and I will bring together groups to rediscover who we were before 9/11, to envision the community we want and to create a plan to get there. Through a process known as Appreciative Inquiry we can rediscover the beauty of ourselves and our nation. I'm asking you to contact us at Kucinich.US to join this effort to restore the soul of America through reconnecting with our highest aspirations in truth and reconciliation with compassion.
This presidential campaign and my Presidency will lift up this country, reclaim all that is good about America, remember the land we love, the America which heals the sick, feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, comforts the afflicted, lifts up people’s hopes; the nation whose soul magnifies what is good; a shining city on a hill whose spirit rejoices and sends forth its light. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good. Thank you. [applause]
[Music: "America the Beautiful"]
Thanks again and thank you Elizabeth.
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