Transcript: Remarks by Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee at the Democratic National Convention
Transcript of remarks by Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee at the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, September 4, 2012:
Good evening, and thank you for having me here to celebrate with all of you.
As the nation’s only independent Governor, I am here tonight to join with my Democratic friends, on the eve of an election critical to the future of our children and their country.
As a former Republican, I represent a group of Americans who all too often have no one to speak for them.
This group doesn’t necessarily have a name.
We’ve been called “moderates,” but that term can be misleading.
There is nothing moderate about our love of country or our passion for America’s future.
There is nothing moderate about our desire to work together within the broad political center in which most Americans live.
No matter what you call us though, this is certain:
There are a lot of us all over the country, and in November we will once again help elect Barack Obama President of the United States.
We are, at our core, conservatives, in the best sense of the word.
Thoughtful, responsible with public resources, and respectful of personal freedom.
And we are liberal, in the best sense of the word.
We believe that government can and should be an instrument for the greater good.
And although my former party has hijacked the term, there is really nothing conservative about today’s Republican Party.
In fact, there is no room there for traditional conservatives like us.
But I am proud to say that in my friend President Barack Obama we have found a champion for the principles we hold dear.
First, we love this land – literally.
We believe in environmental stewardship – protecting our air and our water.
Because despite what big business and this Republican Party would have you believe, destroying these precious resources will cost us far more in the future than preserving them now.
Second, we believe in personal freedom.
We do not want the government controlling our personal lives, or our most personal decisions.
Believing in freedom, as we do, we don’t think it’s the role of government to pass judgment on a relationship between two consenting adults, regardless of their orientation.
Believing in freedom, we believe a woman should make her own reproductive decisions.
Third, we take seriously the decision to enter into foreign entanglements.
During the last Administration, then- Senator Obama and I served together on the Foreign Relations Committee.
There, we shared a mutual desire to end the prevailing attitude of arrogance and recklessness on matters of war and peace that characterized those years.
President Obama knows that wars are not to be entered into lightly; he knows that overseas conflicts don’t only do damage in the land in which they are fought, but in the land of those who fight them, as well.
Fourth, we believe in using the tools of government to help Americans help themselves.
For instance, programs such as Head Start and the Pell Grants have brightened the futures of countless American young people and given them a hand up into the middle class.
Now, Mitt Romney and the Republicans are proposing a budget that would squeeze the life out of Head Start and Pell Grants.
Let me ask you: Should only children of the wealthy have access to quality early education?
Should only children of the wealthy have access to a college degree?
The answer –the only answer -is: no.
American education is still the wonder of the world, and we must open the schoolhouse doors, not close them.
A strong, educated middle class is what made America the greatest country in the world.
Students of America, working families of America: President Obama will not turn his back on you.
Finally, we believe in fiscal responsibility.
We think it’s reasonable to pay for a valuable service that the people want by asking everyone to do their part.
The lack of fiscal responsibility is one of the main reasons I finally left my old Party.
In 2001 President Clinton handed the Republicans a surplus.
They went on to squander this surplus by launching two wars, expanding the cost of Medicare and giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans – and failing to pay for any of these.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to return us to the fantasy land of never having to pay for the things we buy, such as education, medical research, good roads, and clean energy.
That’s not conservative. That’s not responsible. And it’s not what this country needs.
The values I have spoken of tonight aren’t Republican or Democratic values – they’re American values.
They are the values of Abraham Lincoln, who affirmed the fundamental dignity of all Americans – regardless of the color of their skin.
They are the values of Theodore Roosevelt, who protected millions of acres from development and exploitation, so that future Americans – today’s Americans – could enjoy them as fully as he did.
They are the values of Dwight Eisenhower, who presided over an era of peace and prosperity – because he knew that those two conditions go together.
These are American values.
But because they have no place in today’s Republican Party, neither do I – and neither do millions like me.
But, my fellow traditional conservatives, my fellow moderates, my fellow independents, there is a candidate who shares our values.
A candidate who shares our belief in: Environmental protection, personal liberties, smart and responsible American leadership, growing the middle class and fiscal discipline.
That candidate is our President, Barack Obama.