Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination last night before a record convention crowd of over 84,000 at Invesco Field in Denver, becoming the first major party African American presidential nominee in US history. Obama’s nomination speech came on the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. We play an excerpt of his address. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination last night before a crowd of perhaps over 80,000 — many believe it was around 84,000 people — at Invesco Field here in Denver, becoming the first major party African American presidential nominee in US history.
During his forty-five minute address, Barack Obama launched a sharp assault on Republican presidential rival John McCain, as well as President Bush. The senator from Illinois vowed to reverse the economic failures of the past eight years and restore America’s reputation in the world.
While criticizing McCain’s support for the Iraq war, Obama called for an escalation of war in Afghanistan. He also vowed to end the United States’ dependence on oil from the Middle East within ten years by adopting an energy program that includes so-called clean coal and nuclear power.
Obama’s nomination speech came on the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. This is an excerpt of what Barack Obama said last night.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: We meet at one of those defining moments, a moment when our nation is at war, our economy is in turmoil, and the American promise has been threatened once more.
Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes, and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit cards, bills you can’t afford to pay and tuition that’s beyond your reach.
These challenges are not all of government’s making. But the failure to respond is a direct result of a broken politics in Washington and the failed policies of George W. Bush.
America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.
This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work.
We’re a better country than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment that he’s worked on for twenty years and watch as it’s shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.
We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty, that sits — that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes.
Tonight — tonight, I say to the people of America, to Democrats and Republicans and independents across this great land: Enough! This moment — this moment, this moment, this election is our chance to keep, in the twenty-first century, the American promise alive, because next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third. And we are here — we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight. On November 4th — on November 4th, we must stand up and say, “Eight is enough.”
AUDIENCE: [chanting] Eight is enough! Eight is enough!
SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Now — now, let me — let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction, and for that we owe him our gratitude and our respect. And next week, we’ll also hear about those occasions when he’s broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.
But the record’s clear: John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but, really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the time? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to take a ten percent chance on change.
The truth is, on issue after issue that would make a difference in your lives — on healthcare and education and the economy — Senator McCain has been anything but independent. He said that our economy has made great progress under this president. He said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. And when one of his chief advisers, the man who wrote his economic plan, was talking about the anxieties that Americans are feeling, he said that we were just suffering from a mental recession and that we’ve become — and I quote — “a nation of whiners.”
A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud auto workers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families, who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard, and they give back, and they keep going without complaint. These are the Americans I know.
Now, I don’t believe that Senator McCain doesn’t care what’s going on in the lives of Americans; I just think he doesn’t know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year? How else could he propose hundreds of billions in tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies, but not one penny of tax relief to more than 100 million Americans? How else could he offer a healthcare plan that would actually tax people’s benefits, or an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college, or a plan that would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement? It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care; it’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.
For over two decades — for over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy: give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the “Ownership Society,” but what it really means is that you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck, you’re on your own. No healthcare? The market will fix it; you’re on your own. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps, even if you don’t have boots; you are on your own.
Well, it’s time for them to own their failure. It’s time for us to change America. And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States.
This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.
Instead, it is that American spirit, that American promise, that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.
That promise is our greatest inheritance. It’s a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night and a promise that you make to yours, a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west, a promise that led workers to picket lines and women to reach for the ballot.
And it is that promise that, forty-five years ago today, brought Americans from every corner of this land to stand together on a Mall in Washington, before Lincoln’s Memorial, and hear a young preacher from Georgia speak of his dream. The men and women who gathered there could have heard many things. They could have heard words of anger and discord. They could have been told to succumb to the fear and frustrations of so many dreams deferred. But what the people heard instead — people of every creed and color, from every walk of life — is that, in America, our destiny is inextricably linked, that together our dreams can be one.
“We cannot walk alone,” the preacher cried. “And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
America, we cannot turn back, not with so much work to be done, not with so many children to educate and so many veterans to care for, not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save, not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.
At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
AMY GOODMAN: Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama in his historic acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium in Denver, speaking before more than 84,000 people.