My name is John Swords and I am a candidate for the Democratic nomination to run against Pat Tiberi in Ohio's 12th United States Congressional District. I am running because I believe in the American Dream. In addition, I am running because I believe in the endless power of the American people and the citizens of Ohio's 12th district.
Republicans fear the ability of the grassroots to take them out of power. I hope that as my campaign progresses all of you will fight with me to reclaim Congress for Democrats.
My website www.swordsforcongress.com will be up and running next week. The epicenter of this campaign and website will be a blog. I invite all of you to come and post your comments on it daily because truthfully it will be your words and wisdom that drive the campaign.
Below I have included the speech I delivered last night at a Candidate's forum sponsored by Democracy for Ohio. I look forward to reading your comments and I will try to respond to as many comments as possible.
Candidate for Congress
Ohio's 12th U.S. Congressional District
Good evening, my name is John Swords and I am running for the United States House of Representatives in Ohio's Twelfth Congressional District against Pat Tiberi. Everyday politicians around the country get up in front of people just like you and list off their qualifications so that you think they are amazing. They tell you they have held numerous offices, attended Ivy League colleges, and ranch in Crawford, Texas. The truth of the matter is that you and I are equally qualified to hold this office. My college degree and law school education are no better than your real world experience. The fact that I worked for Ted Strickland in Congress makes me no more qualified than you, because you instinctively know what is best for your children. On some issues, the fact that you have raised children, and work daily with everyday Americans, makes you more qualified to talk about jobs, education, and health care. The bottom line is that I we are equally qualified, because the House of Representatives belongs to all of us. It is the branch of government our founding ancestors reserved for everyday Americans to ensure that their voice was represented in government.
I know that I am supposed to talk tonight about my primary policy proposals, how I am socially progressive and fiscally responsible. Trust me when I tell you that I am both socially progressive and fiscally responsible. When I am in Congress, I will focus on the issues of health care, education, and job creation. Those issues are important to me, and I am sure you have issues that are important to you. If you want to talk about specific policies please ask me. I am willing to talk to you after this event, or come to your house for dinner. However, tonight I want us to talk about an ideal that is more important than any one issue.
I want us tonight to talk about the true essence and the true meaning of the American Dream. For too long now, it has only been talked about in terms of owning a house, having two cars in the garage, and having a chicken in every pot. However, there is more to the American Dream than material wealth.
The American Dream is about our legacy and leaving our country better than it was given to us. Picking up the flag from where our ancestors left it, carrying it as far as we can, and handing it off to our children and grandchildren. The flag is not about the status quo, it is about progress and moving forward. It is about doing right and investing in the future.
My mother understood this and always told me that all things were possible if you believed in the values of family, faith, hard work, determination, and love of country. Those values instilled in me by my mother are the same values that have led many to love their country and live the American Dream. However, in this country, the Republican Party, and especially Pat Tiberi are working to derail the American Dream even for those who share our values.
My friends, we have all invested in the American Dream, our ancestors, our grandparents, our children, our veterans have all invested too much in the American Dream to allow Pat Tiberi to derail it. However, as I speak, Pat Tiberi, Bob Ney, Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff are selling our shares of the American Dream to special interests. They are cutting benefits for veterans in favor of tax cuts for the top one percent, they are cutting funding for higher education in favor of insurance company driven Medicare, and they are cutting necessary job training programs in favor of energy policies that increase our reliance on fossil fuels and decreases the security of our country.
However, there is hope, because what the Republican Party does not understand, and what they never have and never will understand, is that access to the American Dream is not theirs to sell. It is my American Dream, it is your American Dream, and your grandparents American Dream...it is our American Dream...it belongs to all of us. We are all equal shareholders in the idea of the American Dream and it is the government's responsibility to ensure that every one of us has access to it.
Everyone knows the role of shareholders is to hold the institution that they have invested in accountable to them. In our case, our institution is the United States government and its purpose, as Franklin Roosevelt said, is to ensure the "equality of opportunity, for youth and for others. Jobs for those who can work. Security for those who need it. The ending of special privilege for the few. The preservation of civil liberties for all and the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living."
My friends, we as a nation are at a crossroads. Our government is no longer ensuring us the most basic things expected of it by its citizens. Today, we are faced with the choice of accepting a government of special interest, by special interest, for special interest or of taking responsibility and fighting to reclaim a government of the people, by the people, for the people. I am willing to take responsibility and fight to hold our government accountable to the people, but I cannot do it alone.
Too often today, we do not recognize that the American Dream requires individual and collective sacrifice. Woodrow Wilson said there is no greater religion than to sacrifice for human service, to work for the common good. I am here tonight to ask you this:
Are you willing to sacrifice everything with me to fight for what is right and just?
Are you willing to stand with me so that we can carry our message to the citizens of the 12th district?
How many of you will devote all of your energy to ensuring that control of Congress is returned to the Democratic Party, the Shepard of our ideals?
How many of you want to leave this country better off than it was given to us?
How many of you have a gut instinct that is telling you that it is time to start fighting for this country?
How many of you know it is time for Democrats to stop letting Republicans set the table on issues of national security, education, and health care?
How many of you wonder what happened to the party of Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson? Men who would have rather died than cede one issue or thought to Republicans.
How many of you wonder what happened to the party that won World Wars 1 and 2, and gave us the greatest generation?
Do you covet the noble act of sacrifice? Do you covet honor? We as Democrats point the finger at corrupt Republicans, but we will get no honor of our own until we stop serving ourselves and become the servants of justice, prosperity, and humanity.
I know that I covet both honor and sacrifice. Our leaders used to ask us to sacrifice in order to ensure our honor, because the United States since the dawn of its existence has been the beacon of hope and inspiration to the world. Providing hope to the world in some of its darkest hours and offering refuge to those who most needed it. The leaders of the past realized that our country was only as good as its citizens and that in order for the country to endure with its founding vision intact; there must be a spirit of sacrifice. A realization that the purpose of our life is not to enrich ourselves, but to enrich the world, provide it with a greater vision than that of our ancestors, and offer the generations that will follow the spirit of hope and progress. Woodrow Wilson said that if we sought only to enrich our own lives, it would lead to the impoverishment of our country and ourselves.
However, today, our leaders have forgotten the words of Wilson and we no longer are asked to sacrifice anything for a common purpose or the common good. The result is that we have leaders who care only about themselves and citizens who think they owe nothing to themselves or future generations to improve this country. Gas prices are over two dollars a gallon, and our leaders still want us to drive our SUV's. We are in a state of fiscal crisis, but Pat Tiberi has never met a pork-barrel project that he did not want to fund. We need to stand as a symbol of hope in order to win the war on terrorism, and Republicans are content to sell our greatest values to the highest bidder. If our leaders will not ask us to sacrifice for our country, then we should not expect that they would sacrifice for us. It is time that we get serious about our values and refuse to follow those who give lip service to our values, but do nothing to advance them.
We are all in this together, and you, and you, and you...We must all stand up together and take responsibility and fight to hold our government accountable to us. This is not my campaign. It is our campaign. It is a campaign to ensure that the most basic of American values, a government of the people, by the people, for the people does not perish from this Earth.
In closing, Harry Truman once said, "The Democratic Party is the party of the people and the Republican Party is the party of special interests." Those words were true in 1948 and they are even more true today. Unfortunately, unlike then, we do not have many leaders like Harry Truman who stand up in defense of the American Dream. You can trust me when I tell you that I will defend the American Dream until my last breath and I will use any legal and ethical means necessary to make Pat Tiberi answer to the people of this district why he does not support the fundamental values of our country. Just as Harry Truman said about the Republicans of his time, I will not give Tiberi hell, but when he has to face the people of the twelfth district, and the truth, he will think it is hell.
Please go home tonight and tell your spouse, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your parents, and most importantly your children and grandchildren that we tonight have taken responsibility for today and the future. That we will fight with every breath in our body to make this country better than it was when it was given to us. Let them know that as long as we are alive we will fight to make their government responsive to them. Most importantly, as your children and grandchildren go to sleep, remind them that all things are possible in this country for those who dare to dream.