Notes from the Democratic Convention
I’ve already written about Elizabeth Warren winning the votes of 95.77% of the delegates at Saturday’s Democratic State Convention in Springfield, so here are a some other notes from the day:
State Treasurer Steve Grossman who was the first speaker of the day had supporters distributing to each delegate a small orange pocket note book (orange being Grossman’s signature color) emblazoned with the Treasurer’s name, website and Facebook and Twitter handles plus this quote from Franklin Roosevelt: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” Grossman was followed to the podium by Secretary of State Bill Galvin who oversaw the posting of the colors by the Springfield Central High School Junior Air Force ROTC color guard, the singing of the National Anthem, and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. In his remarks, Galvin (who is the state’s chief election officer) said the great challenge of 2012 is not just the US Senate and the Presidency, but whether we will protect the values we stand for, citing health care and the US Supreme Court’s “assault” on the right to vote.
Next to the stage came three-fifths of the state’s Congressional district (Ed Markey, Richard Neal, Jim McGovern, John Tierney, Niki Tsongas and Bill Keating) to honor their two soon to be retired colleagues, John Olver and Barney Frank. Markey said that when they build a Mount Rushmore for liberals, Barney Frank will be on it. Neal called Frank “one of the most determined human beings I have ever met” and explained that Olver has quietly done countless things to benefit the people of central and western Massachusetts. McGovern said he was proud to say that he’d been arrested twice with John Olver while protesting genocide in Sudan. He also called Barney Frank a “true liberal leader in the fight for civil rights and human rights.” Tierney (who, of note to some in Lowell was not wearing a tie) said that while “we all believe in the free market but Barney Frank and John Olver know that to make it work, you need government to provide the physical and intellectual infrastructure to support it.” Niki Tsongas said she’d always be grateful to Barney Frank for his early endorsement in her first campaign which he explained by saying he defeated the last female member of Congress from Massachusetts so he wanted to help elect the next female member of Congress from the Commonwealth. Bill Keating said that he served in the Massachusetts House and Senate with both Frank and Olver and that both were fighting for women’s rights and to end discrimination way back then.
Attorney General Martha Coakley was next on the stage, reminding us that her office is fighting against improper foreclosures, to overturn Citizens United, and to “allow everyone to marry who they love.” In the coming election, Coakley urged voters to respond to Republican queries of “are you better off now than you were four years ago” with a counter question: “Why were things so bad four years ago?” State Auditor Suzanne Bump was next, saying we in Massachusetts are “the luckiest people in America because we live in a state that hasn’t retreated from the values that made us great.”
Richard Neal then returned to the stage as the “host” Congressman. He used his time to praise John Olver, recalling how the two of them were among the few in Congress who voted against authorizing the war in Iraq. He also recalled that it was 60 years ago in Springfield that the state Democratic Party convention endorsed John F. Kennedy for the US Senate and urged all present to do the same thing for Elizabeth Warren today. Neal said Democrats have stood for Medicare and Social Security and have stood in the way of Republican plans to privatize both. He recalled how on January 19, 2001, the day Bill Clinton’s presidency ended, the country had a $14 trillion surplus and four years of balanced budgets but after eight years of Republican rule that became $14 trillion in debt due to two unfunded wars and unfunded tax cuts, all paid for with borrowed money.
Tim Murray thanked Springfield for being such a good host community and spoke of the importance of Gateway Cities such as Lowell, Lawrence, Fall River, New Bedford and many others to the state’s economy and culture. He spoke extensively about how the response to last year’s tornado that left a 39-mile path of devastation in Greater Springfield demonstrated the true nature of our Commonwealth.
Governor Deval Patrick then took the stage and reminded everyone of what a powerful speaker he is. He began by saying the American Dream is at stake this year. For too many, the American Dream is “up for grabs.” Many have lost their jobs, their homes, their savings and even their confidence. They harbor doubts about the American Dream. After sixteen years of Republican Governors including Mitt Romney “who was more interested in having the job than in doing the job”, Massachusetts was in tough shape. Since then, we have seen remarkable gains in student achievement, health care, and the ability to “marry anyone you love.” Also “with labor at the table” we’ve made the type of public sector reforms that everyone just talks about but which we delivered. We did that not through “unfettered markets” or “angry rhetoric” but by following our common sense and our common values. The approach advocated by Republicans this year is the same proposed by every Republican from Herbert Hoover to George W. Bush and it was wrong then and it is wrong now. And the same Republicans who say that religious fundamentalism abroad is a dangerous threat to us promote their own brand of religious fundamentalism here at home. Government should stop telling women what they can do with their bodies and all of us who we can marry. The Republicans are “all about power.” We have to stand up to their bullying by promoting what we believe in. It’s “time for Democrats to grow a backbone and to stand up for what we believe.” What people crave “is not the politics of convenience and cleverness but the politics of connection.” He urged everyone to “quit waiting for the pundits and the pollsters to tell us who the next president or senator will be.” “We shape our own future.”
The convention then proceeded to the business of endorsing a candidate for US Senate. As stated earlier, Elizabeth Warren won that vote overwhelmingly and became the endorsed candidate of the convention.
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