Election 2014  
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12 Signs Obama Is Showing Some Serious Backbone Against Republican Greed and Madness

The President’s performance at the DNC showed a new willingness to stand and fight.
 
 
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There are many takeaways from the Democrat’s 2012 convention. The party appears not just more unified than in years past; it is showing increasing willingness to ignore and repudiate Republican taunts and cheap politics. While many speakers at the DNC were outspoken about the growing class divide in America today, it is highly notable that the most powerful Democrat, President Obama, showed a new firmness and resolve.

What follows are excerpts from his convention speech on such dozen issues.
 
1. Framing The Race As A Fight For The Middle Class
“Ours is a fight to restore the values that built the largest middle class and the strongest economy the world has ever known -- the values my grandfather defended as a soldier in Patton’s Army, the values that drove my grandmother to work on a bomber assembly line while he was gone.
 
“My grandparents were given the chance to go to college, buy their own home, and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America’s story -- the promise that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, that everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington, D.C.” 

2. Cutting Taxes For Those Who Need It—Not The Rich
“Now, I’ve cut taxes for those who need it -- middle-class families, small businesses.  But I don’t believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores or pay down our deficit.  I don’t believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China.”

3. Staying On The Steady Path To Economic Recovery
“Now, I won’t pretend the path I’m offering is quick or easy. I never have.  You didn’t elect me to tell you what you wanted to hear.  You elected me to tell you the truth. 

“I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now.  Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place.  Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together.  We don’t turn back.  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.  
 
4. Investing In American Industry
“We can choose a future where we export more products and outsource fewer jobs.  After a decade that was defined by what we bought and borrowed, we’re getting back to basics, and doing what America has always done best:  We are making things again. 
 
“I’ve met workers in Detroit and Toledo -- who feared they’d never build another American car.  And today, they can’t build them fast enough, because we reinvented a dying auto industry that’s back on the top of the world. I’ve worked with business leaders who are bringing jobs back to America -- not because our workers make less pay, but because we make better products.  Because we work harder and smarter than anyone else. I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers -- goods that are stamped with three proud words:  Made in America.” 

5. Working Toward Energy Independence 
“You can choose the path where we control more of our own energy. After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We have doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries.  In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by 1 million barrels a day -- more than any administration in recent history.  And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last two decades. 
 
“So now you have a choice -- between a strategy that reverses this progress, or one that builds on it.  We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last three years, and we’ll open more.  But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers.  We’re offering a better path.” 

6. Saying No To Climate Change Deniers
“And, yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet -- because climate change is not a hoax.  More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke.  They are a threat to our children’s future.  And in this election, you can do something about it.” 

7. Standing Up For Public Employees, Starting With Schools
“And now you have a choice -- we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.  No company should have to look for workers overseas because they couldn’t find any with the right skills here at home.

“And government has a role in this…  So help me.  Help me recruit 100,000 math and science teachers within 10 years and improve early-childhood education.  Help give 2 million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job.  Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next 10 years.”

8. Rejecting Alarmist Foreign Policy and Military Intervention  
“Around the world, we’ve strengthened old alliances and forged new coalitions to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We’ve reasserted our power across the Pacific and stood up to China on behalf of our workers. From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings -- men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews.   

“So now we have a choice. My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy -- but from all that we’ve seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly. After all, you don’t call Russia our number-one enemy -- not al Qaeda -- Russia -- unless you’re still stuck in a Cold War mind warp.  You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can’t visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally.” 

9. Reducing The Deficit In An Even Handed Way
“You can choose a future where we reduce our deficit without sticking it to the middle class.  Independent experts say that my plan would cut our deficit by $4 trillion.  And last summer I worked with Republicans in Congress to cut a trillion dollars in spending -- because those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it so that it’s leaner and more efficient and more responsive to the American people. 
    
“But when Governor Romney and his friends in Congress tell us we can somehow lower our deficits by spending trillions more on new tax breaks for the wealthy, well, what did Bill Clinton call it -- you do the arithmetic. You do the math.”

10. Not Privatize Retirement Security
“I will never -- I will never -- turn Medicare into a voucher. No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.  They should retire with the care and the dignity that they have earned.  Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care -- not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more. 
 
“And we will keep the promise of Social Security by taking the responsible steps to strengthen it, not by turning it over to Wall Street.”

11. Extending Citizenship To Those Who Deserve It
“We also believe in something called citizenship. Citizenship:  a word at the very heart of our founding; a word at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. 

“We insist on personal responsibility and we celebrate individual initiative.  We’re not entitled to success -- we have to earn it.  We honor the strivers, the dreamers, the risk-takers, the entrepreneurs who have always been the driving force behind our free enterprise system, the greatest engine of growth and prosperity that the world’s ever known.”
 
12. Not Back Down From What’s Fair and Right
“I recognize that times have changed since I first spoke to this convention.  The times have changed, and so have I.  I’m no longer just a candidate.  I’m the President. And that means I know what it means to send young Americans into battle, for I have held in my arms the mothers and fathers of those who didn’t return.  I’ve shared the pain of families who’ve lost their homes, and the frustration of workers who’ve lost their jobs. 
 
“If the critics are right that I’ve made all my decisions based on polls, then I must not be very good at reading them.  And while I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved together, I’m far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’ 
 
“And if you share that faith with me -- if you share that hope with me -- I ask you tonight for your voteIf you reject the notion that this nation’s promise is reserved for the few, your voice must be heard in this election.  If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election.”

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's retirement crisis, the low-wage economy, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).

 
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