In a previous post I offered to compare notes on Obama’s, JFK’s, and Jimmy Carter’s nomination acceptance speeches. While compiling those notes, I was able to extract some of their key common elements. Here, exclusively for the enlightenment and edification of DWSUWF readers and future Democratic presidential candidates, the...
I GRATEFULLY ACCEPT YOUR NOMINATION – YOU MADE A REALLY GOOD CHOICE.
“With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States… That’s why I stand here tonight… through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“Let me say first that I accept the nomination of the Democratic Party. I accept it without reservation and with only one obligation, the obligation to devote every effort of my mind and spirit to lead our Party back to victory and our Nation to greatness.” - John F. Kennedy acceptance speech – July 15, 1960
“I’ve come here after seeing our great country to accept your nomination. I accept it, in the words of John F. Kennedy, with a full and grateful heart and with only one obligation: to devote every effort of body, mind and spirit to lead our party back to victory and our nation back to greatness.” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
I AM ONE WITH ALL OF YOU SIMPLE ORDINARY PEOPLE.
“…for 232 years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women — students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“Our Party was built out of the sweatshops of the old Lower East Side, the dark mills of New Hampshire, the blazing hearths of Illinois, the coal mines of Pennsylvania, the hard-scrabble farms of the southern coastal plains, and the unlimited frontiers of America.” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
WE LIKE OLD DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTS.
“We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans — have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“Ours is the party of the man who was nominated by those distant conventions and who inspired and restored this nation in its darkest hours—Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ours is the party of a fighting Democrat who showed us that a common man could be an uncommon leader—Harry S. Truman. Ours is the party of a brave young President who called the young at heart, regardless of age, to seek a “New Frontier” of national greatness —John F. Kennedy. And ours is also the party of a great-hearted Texan who took office in a tragic hour and who went on to do more than any other President in this century to advance the cause of human rights—Lyndon Johnson.” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July 15, 1976
“Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom promised our nation a new political and economic framework. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal promised security and succor to those in need. - John F. Kennedy acceptance speech.” – July 15, 1960
THE COUNTRY IN GENERAL AND ALL OF YOU UNION WORKERS IN PARTICULAR ARE SCREWED.
“Tonight, more Americans are out of work and more are working harder for less. More of you have lost your homes and even more are watching your home values plummet. More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay, and tuition that’s beyond your reach…. This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio, on the brink of retirement, finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work. This country is more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment he’s worked on for 20 years and watch it shipped off to China, and then chokes up as he explains how he felt like a failure when he went home to tell his family the news.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“We feel that moral decay has weakened our country, that it is crippled by a lack of goals and values, and that our public officials have lost faith in us. We have been a nation adrift too long…. There is a fear that our best years are behind us… we can have an America which harnesses the idealism of the student, the compassion of a nurse or the social worker, the determination of a farmer, the wisdom of a teacher, the practicality of the business leader, the experience of the senior citizen, and the hope of a laborer to build a better life for us all.” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
“… this country faces so many serious challenges, so many great opportunities, so many burdensome responsibilities that I hope that it is to those great matters that we can address ourselves in the coming months… For the families forced from the farm do not need to tell us of their plight. The unemployed miners and textile workers know that the decision is before them in November. The old people without medical care, the families without a decent home, the parents of children without a decent school.” - John F. Kennedy acceptance speech – July 15, 1960
BTW - MY OPPONENT AND THE REPUBLICANS ARE SCUM.
“John McCain doesn’t get it….For over two decades, he’s subscribed to that old, discredited Republican philosophy — give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society, but what it really means is — you’re on your own. Out of work? Tough luck. No health care? The market will fix it. Born into poverty? Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps — even if you don’t have boots. You’re on your own. Well it’s time for them to own their failure.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“…we are ready, and eager, to take on the Republicans—whichever Republican Party they decide to send against us in November… in recent years our nation has seen a failure of leadership. We have been hurt, and we have been disillusioned. We have seen a wall go up that separates us from our own government….We have been without leadership too long. We have had divided and deadlocked government too long. We have been governed by veto too long. We have suffered enough at the hands of a tired and worn-out administration without new ideas, without youth or vitality, without vision and without the confidence of the American people.“ - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
“We know that our opponent will invoke the name of Abraham Lincoln on behalf of their candidate, despite the fact that his political career has often seemed to show charity towards none and malice for all. We know it will not be easy to campaign against a man who has spoken and voted on every side of every issue. Mr. Nixon may feel that it’s his turn now, after the New Deal and the Fair Deal –but before he deals, someone’s going to cut the cards. That “someone” may be the millions of Americans who voted for President Eisenhower but would balk at his successor. - Perhaps he could carry on the party policies, the policies of Nixon and Benson and Dirksen and Goldwater. But this Nation cannot afford such a luxury. Perhaps we could afford a Coolidge following Harding. And perhaps we could afford a Pierce following Fillmore. But after Buchanan this nation needed Lincoln; after Taft we needed Wilson; and after Hoover we needed Franklin Roosevelt.” - John F. Kennedy acceptance speech – July 15, 1960
SINCE I AM A DEMOCRAT I NEED TO REMIND YOU THAT I WILL DEFEND THE UNITED STATES.
“As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home… I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“The foremost responsibility of any President, above all else, is to guarantee the security of our nation - a guarantee of freedom from the threat of successful attack or blackmail, and the ability with our allies to maintain peace.” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
“Abroad, the balance of power is shifting. New and more terrible weapons are coming into use. One-third of the world may be free, but one-third is the victim of a cruel repression, and the other third is rocked by poverty and hunger and disease. Communist influence has penetrated into Asia; it stands in the Middle East; and now festers some ninety miles off the coast of Florida. Friends have slipped into neutrality and neutrals have slipped into hostility.” - John F. Kennedy acceptance speech – July 15, 1960
WE DON’T LIKE OLD POLITICS, WE LIKE NEW POLITICS - WHICH IS TO SAY – ME.
“For 18 long months, you have stood up, one by one, and said enough to the politics of the past. You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us — that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it — because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time. America, this is one of those moments.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“Nineteen seventy-six will not be a year of politics as usual. It can be a year of inspiration and hope, and it will be a year of concern, of quiet and sober reassessment of our nation’s character and purpose. It has already been a year when voters have confounded the experts. And I guarantee you that it will be the year when we give the government of this country back to the people of this country. There is a new mood in America. We have been shaken by a tragic war abroad and by scandals and broken promises at home. Our people are searching for new voices and new ideas and new leaders” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
“If we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future. Today our concern must be with that future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do…. It is time, in short for a new generation of leadership. All over the world, particularly in the newer nations, young men are coming to power, men who are not bound by the traditions of the past, men who are not blinded by the old fears and hates and rivalries– young men who can cast off the old slogans and the old delusions.” - John F. Kennedy acceptance speech – July 15, 1960
I’D JUST LIKE TO SAY – IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE.
“It’s time for us to change America.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“We need a Democratic President and a Congress to work in harmony for a change…” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
“… it’s time for a change.” - John F. Kennedy acceptance speech – July 15, 1960
IN CONCLUSION LET US LOOK FORWARD, QUOTE SCRIPTURE, AND MARCH INTO THE FUTURE.
“America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone. At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise — that American promise — and in the words of Scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.” - Barack Obama acceptance speech – August 28, 2008
“I have never had more faith in America than I do today. We have an America that, in Bob Dylan’s phrase, is busy being born, not busy dying… We will go forward from this convention with some differences of opinion perhaps, but nevertheless united in a calm determination to make our country large and driving and generous in spirit once again, ready to embark on great national deeds. And once again, as brothers and sisters, our hearts will swell with pride to call ourselves Americans.” - Jimmy Carter acceptance speech – July15, 1976
“That is the choice our nation must make — a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort, between national greatness and national decline, between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of “normalcy,” between dedication of mediocrity. All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we shall do. And we cannot fail that trust. And we cannot fail to try. It has been a long road from the first snowy day in New Hampshire many months ago to this crowded convention city. Now begins another long journey, taking me into your cities and homes across the United States. Give me your help and your hand and your voice. Recall with me the words of Isaiah that, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary.” As we face the coming great challenge, we too, shall wait upon the Lord, and ask that He renew our strength. Then shall we be equal to the test. Then we shall not be weary. Then we shall prevail.” John F. Kennedy acceptance speech – July 15, 1960
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know – but as far as I am concerned – quoting Bob Dylan is the same as quoting scripture.
After immersing myself in these speeches, the most surprising element of this exercise for me is to learn that Jimmy Carter had the best speech of the three – head and shoulders better. The worst speech is JFK. Barack is somewhere in between.
Could we go through this same exercise and create a generic Republican acceptance speech? No doubt about it. Easy. McCain will certainly try to invoke Reagan, much as Obama is consciously invoking Kennedy. And it will be simple to compare McCain and Bush(43) statements, much like I compare Obama and Carter.
But I’ll leave that exercise to others . If any DWSUWF reader would like to assemble the Republican equivalent, e-mail me, or let me know in the comments. I will be happy to arrange a guest post.