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Excerpts from the Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Evansville, IN - (Advance Release Text)

October 04, 1960

This rich and abundant land is known as the Valley of Opportunity. Here the Wabash and Ohio Rivers drain the heartland of America, an area rich in resources, an area ideally located to serve the markets of the Midwest, and an area with a skilled, determined and vigorous people.

But in the past 8 years the Republican Party has transformed this potential wealth, this Valley of Opportunity, into a Valley of Lost Opportunity, a valley of increasing unemployment, and mounting poverty, a valley of decreasing income and lost jobs.

Indiana has lost 33,600 manufacturing jobs in the past 8 years, and the Nation as a whole has lost 1 million jobs. Today almost 4 million Americans are out of work and another 3 million must struggle to maintain a decent standard of living on part-time work and half-full pay envelopes.

And nowhere has the impact of Republican unemployment been greater than in the 126 sections of this country which are classified as areas of chronic labor surplus, areas where large numbers of men, long out of work, cannot find new jobs, areas where unemployment compensation checks are runnning out, where industry has declined or collapsed, where families struggle for the bare essentials of a decent life, where thousands are forced to depend on meager and inadequate Government surplus food packages for existence.

These are the rapidly growing islands of poverty in the midst of a rich and abundant America - islands which have been growing in number and expanding in size under the leadership of a Republican Party which is indifferent to the urgent human needs of our own people and which has fought against every effort of the Democratic Party to eliminate poverty and distress in America.

Mr. Nixon has traveled through the coal fields of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the distressed idle towns in some parts of Michigan and Illinois, and he has come to Evansville. And yet Mr. Nixon tells the American people that all is well, that "you never had it so good," that all Americans are prosperous and contented.

I say that Mr. Nixon has looked, but he has not seen. He has heard, but he has not listened. When it comes to our economy, he sees no evil, hears no evil, speaks no evil. But the unpleasant facts are still there. And I can assure you that if Mr. Nixon can travel across this great land and remain indifferent to the problems of unemployment and economic slow-down which afflict many sections of America - problems which he is seeing at first hand - his vision will be no clearer and his awareness no greater from the White House in far-away Washington.

For the Mr. Nixon who can look upon your distress - and say all is well - is the same Mr. Nixon who, in the past 8 years, has led the fight against every Democratic measure designed to increase the welfare of the American people - to put men back to work - and to help rebuild the economically distressed areas of America.

Twice the Democratic Congress has passed legislation designed to help communities like Evansville - areas of chronic labor surplus. And twice the Republicans have vetoed this bill - with Mr. Nixon leading the fight for the veto.

Our bill would have provided long-term loans and technical assistance to America's distressed areas in order to stimulate the construction of new industry, the rehabilitation of existing business, and the creation of new jobs and higher incomes. In short, our bill would do for the hard-hit areas of America what our foreign-aid programs are doing for hard-hit areas of Latin America and Asia and Africa. For, although we Democrats believe in meeting our responsibilities abroad, we also believe in looking after the welfare of our people at home.

And we cannot hope to meet our responsibilities as the protector of freedom throughout the world unless we meet our responsibilities to provide a decent life for all of our own citizens. For an America which is wasting the resources and skills of Evansville, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania - an America which is allowing the aircraft plants of California, the steel mills of Pittsburgh, the automobile factories of Michigan to run at only half their capacity or less - such an America cannot serve as an example to the peoples of the world who are looking for leadership in their own efforts to build strong and growing and vital economies.

That is why I have pledged that if elected President I will sign a bill to bring help to areas like Evansville, to rebuild the economies of our distressed areas, so that a strong and growing America can serve its own people, and serve the cause of freedom everywhere.

John F. Kennedy, Excerpts from the Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Evansville, IN - (Advance Release Text) Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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