The following is a transcript of a speech, as prepared for delivery, by The Honorable Emanuel Cleaver II, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Missouri, at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.
America, I am a strong believer that how we treat each other matters. As public servants, it is our job to work in the spirit of comity to move this nation forward—but we also need all of you working with us to ensure America's strong future.
Tonight, I cannot speak to you without acknowledging that the bickering and brinksmanship we see too often in our politics is advantaging no party, but weakening our nation. We can be fervent in our disagreements without being factitious with our beliefs.
Congress is unable to do the work of the American people because too many politicians believe that compromise means capitulation. This must change, because just as bees cannot sting and make honey at the same time, members of Congress cannot simultaneously make passionate enemies and expect political progress.
In my fifth congressional district of Missouri, Republicans and Democrats tell me they would like to look at their political leaders and see more warm hearts and fewer hot heads, more facts and fewer falsehoods—many of us want the same thing. While I greatly respect my Republican colleagues and their ideas, I am proud to be a member of this great party.
We are the ones who protected Medicare and Medicaid, who fought for fair wages, and who ended don't ask don't tell. We are the party that is deeply committed to diversity. We consider every individual a valuable asset to our democracy. This is a great nation. We may be a nation of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, but first and foremost we are all human beings and Americans. We are driven by hope.
President Barack Obama has been lampooned for speaking of hope; hope for a better America. I want to encourage him and all of us to continue to hope for an America that remembers, recognizes, and fervently protects its greatness.
Yes, President Obama! Continue to have hope. Continue to speak of hope to the American people, because it is impossible for hope to overdraw its account in God's bank. The tough days our nation faced may have caused us great pain, but they must not and will not cause us to lose our hope. Hope fills the holes of my frustration in my heart. Hope inspires me to believe that any day now, we will catch up to the ideals put forth by our nation's founding fathers. Hope is the motivation that empowers the unemployed, enabling them to get out of bed every single morning with unbounded enthusiasm as they look for work. It is our hope and faith that move us to action. It is our hope and faith that reminds us to pray and also affirms that we must move our feet. It is our hope that tells us our latter days will be greater than the former. It is our hope that instructs us to march on!
And right now, this means marching through our communities to make sure everyone is registered and ready to vote. It means on Election Day, November 6, 2012, we will stand in line together—just as we did four years ago—this time to re-elect Barack Obama as our president of these United States. God did not burden the United States with a diversity of backgrounds, ideas and religions, He blessed America with them.
As such, we are best equipped to demonstrate to the rest of the world what God intended when He created us.
And we, with our diversity and our differences, are all in this together. Let me be clear: when I say, "We," I am not just talking about black people. When I say, "We," I am not just talking about people of color. When I say, "We," I am not just talking about Democrats. When I say, "We," I am talking about all of America: Americans who can barely afford to make ends meet; Americans who employ thousands and create jobs; Americans who are in K-12, college, grad school, and professional school; Americans of all walks of life. We mean us—Americans! Proud Americans!
Together, we must move the United States of America forward. There is more power in unity than division. Let's do more than say the Pledge of Allegiance. Let us live it! Let us embody, "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." And that means every one of our nation's citizens. Together, we must build a country where we live up to our nation's motto: "E pluribus unum." "Out of many, one." We are one.