America is a beautiful thing. Built on the back of our forefathers, inspired by hope and secured in blood. Today, that nation stands divided.
We fight not together for justice and peace, fairness and opportunity, but in campaigns for victory and defeat.
America is a story of freedom and today that idea, that honored and revered belief has been lost to money, power, and a never-ending cycle of bitterness and war.
Today, that must change.
President Abraham Lincoln understood that when he said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
And today, America is standing on one leg. But it doesn't have to be this way. We have it within our power and our God-given abilities to make this country great once again. I believe in America.
Growing up with a "non-traditional" family with traditional values taught me many things. I was taught that we are a compassionate people. We want to help our fellow man. We are charitable. We volunteer. We serve our country. There is hope in that. There is hope in the communities we build and cultivate. We work hard. Our students spend hours learning trades, seeking knowledge, and then challenging that same knowledge.
It was not too long ago when giants from opposing political parties came together to solve problems. President Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill. President Clinton and Congressional Republicans. President George W. Bush and Senator Ted Kennedy. Leaders and bridge-builders coming together to get things done.
Surly we can do it again.
But believing in a better America can not fix the problem. Results come from hard, tough action which often cost elections.
Politicians from coast to coast talk about how to fix our education system. I think we all agree that the system today is fractured. Perhaps it is broken.
It doesn't teach and it certainly doesn't lead.
We leave far too many students behind and we are getting left behind by the rest of the world.
Our financial system still risks major failure. Rules have taken too long to implement and systemic risk still exists.
Our county's bank account is in the red. We spend too much, make too little, and work with a patchwork tax system that cripples innovation and stifles families.
Our military has little direction and lacks guidance and confidence for a 21st Century world.
Our leaders work for re-election and not the people.
Just recently, an Associated Press-GfK poll reported that voting and volunteering were embraced only as strongly as they had been in 1984. Serving on a jury, reporting crime, knowing English, and keeping informed about news and public issues has declined in importance in the past thirty years. But despite the importance of voting in the poll, only 36 percent of eligible voters turned out for our recent Midterm elections.
According to University of Florida Associate Professor Michael P. McDonald, that turnout is the lowest since World War II.
But rest assured, we can make history. We can make the country we all deserve; a country fought for on beach heads and in the trenches.
On open fields on the hills of Pennsylvania. And in the waters of the Pacific. No matter the challenges ahead, we can still do great things.
We can reform social security and protect our retirees at the same time.
We can reform education, both what we teach and how we fund it, and as a result become an international leader in education.
We can rebuild the world's greatest economy, and protect all citizens from corporate greed.
We can protect the freedoms of the Internet and make sure intellectual property is secure and innovation is rewarded.
That is the task before the nation today. But it will only succeed through collaboration — true American grit and determination with everyone joining in the effort — together.
We cannot be swayed by fear. Fear of the known and fear of the unknown. President Franklin D. Roosevelt defined fear as, "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
Our advance will be in your homes with your friends and neighbors. You may disagree on issues near and far, but we can come together.
Our advance will be in coffee shops across the country as we develop a national strategic agenda to move America forward.
Our advance will be in the hallowed halls in Washington, where our elected leaders must stand up and make the change we need, real.
This Century began with so much promise, but as we begin 2015, we are not close to where we should be and not where we can be.
Our goals are clear. We want an education for all, safe communities, a growing and stable economy, just law, and global security. That will be the American victory we all desire and can celebrate together.
Today, that changes. Please join me. Join this fight. This is an American fight. We have always been stronger when we work together and venture across the aisle to that sacred place we call common ground. Those who work to find that common ground are all too often left on the battle field. But they are the ones who live to tell the truth, that honest-to-God good things can come from Washington. Even if it costs them their careers.
I'm one of them. I know there are more of you out there. And on this ground I take my stand and I ask you to join me.
Today, America comes back.