Jimmy Carter photo

Chicago, Illinois Remarks at a Voter Registration Rally.

October 06, 1980

Mayor Jane Byrne, George Dunn, John Touhy, distinguished State and local officials, Members of the Congress, my fellow Democrats:

What a wonderful and exciting welcome; what a great introduction from your fine mayor. Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco, but I left my heart right here in Chicago. I'm particularly glad to be in this plaza, named after one of the greatest mayors that this Nation has ever known—your own beloved Mayor Daley, who's been so great to me when I was running for President in 1976.

This is the greatest Democratic city in America. Chicago Democrats put Illinois in the Democratic column in 1960 and elected John Fitzgerald Kennedy President, and I look for Chicago Democrats and Cook County Democrats to do exactly the same thing for me in 1980. I want you all to remember what Adlai Stevenson said: "You have to vote like a Democrat if you want to live like a Republican." Right? And by the way, I'd like to remind you that in 1952 and in 1956, my State, Georgia, voted for Adlai Stevenson, not Dwight Eisenhower, for President. So, we know how to select them in Georgia, too.

Tomorrow I want you to turn out all the unregistered voters in Chicago and Cook County, get them registered to vote, and then turn them out on November the 4th so they can vote Democratic. Tomorrow is the last day for registration, and I want you to work this next 24 hours as though the entire election depended on every voter that you get elected [registered] tomorrow, as if every vote counts this year, because there's no doubt that it does.

This is a crucial election. It's not just an election between two candidates. It's not just an election between two parties-and you know the difference between the Republican and the Democratic Party. This is an election between two futures that will affect the life of every person here. It will affect the life of everyone in your family. It will affect the life of everyone you love or care for. Your choice will have an impact on whether this country continues to strive for justice and compassion, whether we build or not for peace in the future, and whether or not we have a solid economy that provides a job for every person who wants to work in this country. That's what the Democrats stand for.

I have confidence that you and the people of this Nation will make the right judgment and the right choice on November the 4th, because I know the people of this country, like the people of Chicago, are builders. The same spirit that built the magnificent skyline of this city is building a new future for our Nation.

We have already built a new energy base for America. From coast to coast, we're moving forward on this very disturbing new element of American life, and that is OPEC oil, and they're charging us for it at more than twice as much today as they did less than 12 months ago. Our new program is now producing more coal than any year in history, and I'm looking forward to seeing the energy supplies of the world be not OPEC oil but Illinois coal.

And based on that energy policy, we're now getting ready to build a new industry society for America. We have the most productive workers on Earth. You and others must have new tools and new factories to remain more productive than any other workers in any nation on Earth.

I've seen in recent days new energy facilities, high-technology facilities in so-called Silicone Valley, the most modem textile mills and steel mills in the world, and last week I saw 1981 cars rolling off the American assembly lines—more safe, more durable, just as efficient as any cars on Earth. That shows what American workers can do if given a chance. And in every one of those places I saw the spirit of building something new and something good for this country. I saw the hope for our cities and the working families of America. I could see the future of this country, and it's a good, strong future.

This country believes in hard work. We believe in opportunity. We believe in strong families. We believe in strong neighborhoods. And we believe in laying a foundation for an even stronger America. That's what we Democrats believe in. I hope you will not let anyone tell you different. Don't let anyone tell you that this is not the strongest nation on Earth—the strongest militarily, the strongest politically, the strongest politically and economically, the strongest morally, and the strongest ethically. This country can meet every challenge put before us. We can make this Nation even greater in the future.

There are some people who've given up, who say our Nation is weak, who say our people cannot meet any challenge. And they'll tell you not what they're for, they'll tell you what they're against, or they'll tell you that our hope is a trillion dollar tax reduction for rich people, to put the burdens of inflation on the working families of this country.

We've got to know among ourselves that this country is going to job security, health care, care for the elderly, a clean environment, and the last 50 years, under Democratic leadership, has given us a nation that's the strongest on Earth. And it's going to stay that way.

And if we forget all that, the Republicans want us to believe that the solutions to our problems are all simple, that major Federal programs that cost billions of dollars should be loaded on the back of local property tax payers, that the Department of Education should be abolished, the Department of Energy should be dismantled, the windfall profits tax should be repealed, and the oil companies unleashed to handle the energy problem. The American people are not simple minded.

I meet with average Americans every day, not in the big banks and the country clubs, but on the streets, in the schools, Americans who work on farms and in the factories, and I can tell you and I can tell the Republican Party that Americans are ready to build, not tear down. We're ready to face facts and get on the job of rebuilding our economy from the ground up. They're ready to provide jobs for all able-bodied Americans, ready to protect social security and to help the poor and the weak and the elderly have a life of security and self-respect. That's where the future of this country is. The future is in the commonsense and the good judgment and the building spirit and the compassion and the concern of the American people, and that's exactly the spirit of the Democratic Party.

And finally I want to tell you that what happens on November the 4th is going to depend on what you do—what you do the next 24 hours in getting your neighbors and people who will listen to your voice to register to vote and, in the next 4 weeks, think about the future. Think about your family. Think about your jobs. Think about tax being equal. Think about our Nation staying at peace. Think about nuclear arms control. Think about the equality that must exist among all Americans.

Remember, 1980 is the year of a great Democratic victory. I want you to remember that we win elections from the precinct up. We defeat Republican candidates, despite all their money, up and down the ticket. But most of all, I want you to be able to tell your children and your grandchildren that you had confidence in yourself, confidence in the Democratic Party, confidence in this Nation, and in 1980 we began to rebuild America. I'll do my part, and what I'd like to ask is this: Will you do your part? [Cheers] We'll win together. We'll whip the Republicans from top to bottom on November the 4th.

Thank you very much. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 5:30 p.m. at the Daley Plaza. In his opening remarks, he referred to George Dunn, Cook County Democratic chairman, and John Touhy, Illinois State Democratic chairman.

Jimmy Carter, Chicago, Illinois Remarks at a Voter Registration Rally. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250711

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