Unlike the Republican National Convention, where only business owners and politicians mattered, the Democratic National Convention incorporated the voices of workers, telling their own stories of life in this economy. Not only the union presidents or the people who came up to talk about being an auto worker or a fire fighter, but veterans and more talked about themselves as working people, their struggles as veterans or women being the struggles of workers looking for good-paying, fair-paying jobs, and about the importance of President Barack Obama's efforts to create jobs and promote fairness in the workplace.
In case you missed these important moments in the DNC, here's video and highlights from many of the people who spoke as and for workers.
I am an Ohio firefighter and an unlikely choice to be addressing you tonight, because for the vast majority of my voting life I have been a Republican. So why am I here?Where Stern is struggling with today's Republican agenda and the budget cuts and outright attacks that come with it, Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster struggled with Mitt Romney's Bain Capital.
Well, something happened recently. The Republican Party left people like me. As a member of the middle class, they left me; and they certainly left me as a public employee. Somewhere along the way, being a public employee—someone who works for my community—made me a scapegoat for the GOP. Thank goodness we have leaders like President Obama and Vice President Biden who still believe that public service is an honorable calling. When I go to work, when there is an emergency, I want someone on my crew who has my back, someone who helps me get the job done, someone who is willing to go through hell with me. I expect the same out of my elected leaders.
"I don't think Mitt Romney is a bad man," Johnson said.
I don't fault him for the fact that some companies win and some companies lose. That's a fact of life.To me, making money without a moral compass makes you a bad person no matter how nice you are to your wife and kids. But maybe Randy Johnson is more forgiving than me. Cindy Hewitt took on the inevitable Republican outcry that these workers are just poor losers in our noble and moral economy:
What I fault him for is making money without a moral compass. I fault him for putting profits before working people like me. But that's just Romney economics.
It was a really difficult time for me and my co-workers, but not for Governor Romney and his partners. While we watched our jobs disappear, they ultimately walked away with more than $240 million. Of course I understand that some companies are successful and others are not—that's the way our economy works.
But it's wrong when dedicated, productive employees feel the pain while folks like Mitt Romney make profits.
When the auto industry was on its last legs, I was laid off—and I was terrified. How was I going to provide for my daughter and two boys, or pay my mortgage? How was the Mahoning Valley going to survive when so many of us were out of work—when so many could lose what they'd worked so hard for?Deputy sheriff Ken Myers:
The answer wasn't obvious. And the solution wasn't popular. But President Obama didn't think about polls or politics. He thought about people. And because he put himself in our shoes, we're back on our feet. Some said we shouldn't rescue the auto industry. President Obama knew he had to save it to move our country forward.
Today, I'm back at work. We have three shifts building the cars of the future, like the Chevy Cruze. GM didn't just pay back its outstanding loans—it paid them back ahead of schedule. And the valley is thriving again.
In places like Carroll County, we do things for ourselves. We're not strangers to hard work. But part of that work is looking out for our neighbors. That's why we need police. That's why we need firefighters and teachers. And that's why we need a president who fights for us, a president who stands up for middle class jobs and middle class communities. President Obama has our backs. And in this election, we have his.Lilly Ledbetter:
Even though I lost before the Supreme Court, we won. [...]SEIU President Mary Kay Henry:
...this fight became bigger than Lilly Ledbetter. Today, it's about my daughter. It's about my granddaughter. It's about women and men. It's about families. It's about equality and justice.
This cause, which bears my name, is bigger than me. It's as big as all of you. This fight, which began as my own, is now our fight—a fight for the fundamental American values that make our country great. And with President Barack Obama, we're going to win.
We have a president who fights for women like Maria Patterson. Maria is a custodian from California, and thanks to health care reform Maria's daughter is covered under her health insurance, and Maria's mother will never have to worry that she'll lose her Medicare benefits. We have a president who has fought for hard-working immigrants like Brenda, who came to this country when she was three years old. Thanks to executive action taken by President Obama, Brenda can pursue college or a career without the fear of deportation.UAW President Bob King:
President Obama understands and supports these basic human rights because these rights help all Americans. Strong unions and collective bargaining lifted millions out of poverty and built the great American middle class. And it's the middle class that keeps America's democracy and economy strong.AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka:
The Republicans? Just look at Wisconsin. They want to take us back to a time when workers couldn't stand up for themselves, couldn't speak with one voice, couldn't speak out for fairness, justice and middle-class opportunity. That's why unions matter, and that's why I'm so proud to be a union member and proud to lead the men and women of the UAW.
Look around this convention, at all the hard-working men and women who make this place run—the ones keeping us safe, serving our food, driving our buses, and cleaning up after the party's over. When we go home tonight, the workers will be mopping and vacuuming, and picking up our trash. So when you have a chance, thank a worker! We know that every worker—here in North Carolina, just like in every state in this country, and every country in the world—deserves the right to organize and bargain collectively. And the Democratic platform—unlike its counterpart in Tampa—makes crystal clear that Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will fight to protect and strengthen this fundamental human right.Note that one thing these speeches have in common is a focus on community, on unity and solidarity, on rights not just for ourselves as individuals but for those around us. At the RNC, Paul Ryan might have given a moment's lip service to that idea, but everything else argued against it. Even as the official Republican refrain was "we built that," the real message was "I," "me," and "my." "We" was a poison concept. As imperfect as the Democratic Party is, this simple difference of emphasis gets to the root of the policy differences between the two parties—the party of "you're on your own" and the party of "we're in this together."