President Barack Obama gave a full-throated defense of his record as president during his speech capping the Democratic convention, and he cast the November election as a clear choice between moving forward under his stewardship or falling to “cynicism” that sought to divide the nation.
Throughout the speech, Obama hammered home a theme promoted by his campaign and in many speeches during the Democratic convention, saying that he and Democrats were moving the nation forward while Republicans wanted to take the country back to the policies of darker days.
“We’ve been there, we’ve tried that, and we’re not going back,” Obama said. “We’re moving forward.”
On everything from national security and foreign policy to the economy and energy, Obama said Republicans had nothing to offer but failed policies of the past.
“[Republicans] want your vote, but they don’t want you to know their plan,” Obama said. “And that’s because all they have to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years. Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning.”
Obama spoke of communities banding together and a strong middle class as necessary to overcome the problems facing the nation, most importantly among them the economy. Contrasting himself to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Obama said he was against giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and would instead use that money on programs that directly benefit a wider swath of citizens. And in doing so, Obama made a passionate argument for the government to play a central role in educating, caring for and fostering growth as a nation.
“We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights. That our destinies are bound together. That a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense,” Obama said.
The president also pled with voters to reelect him to a second term, saying that benefits of the actions he’s taken—and that he will continue to take—will take time to bear fruit. Though light on specific instances save for the auto bailout, Obama said he the bold actions he’d taken would be undermined under a Romney presidency.
“If you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible, well, change will not happen,” Obama said.
Obama, his voice rising over the crowd, wound his speech to a close on a high note in which he reaffirmed his vision for America before Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” fittingly played over the convention hall.
“Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don’t turn back,” he said. “We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.”
Watch clips of the speech below:
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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