Remarks in New York City at the New York State Democratic Dinner
Mr. Vice President, Governor Harriman, National Committeewoman Kelly, National Committeeman Weisl, Chairman Bailey, Chairman Burns, distinguished members of the very able New York delegation in the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:
First, I want to explain the other dates that I have this evening, so that you won't misunderstand that I am just out on a lark.
We have two other Democratic meetings scheduled and we hope to be able to visit with them. We are sorry that we can't find a place in the greatest State in the Union that will house all of the Democrats in one place, but we have so many of you that we have had to divide them up.
I came here first, because you really are the first in our hearts. You represent all of this State.
I wanted to tell you tonight that a time of trouble is not easy for a political leader, particularly when demonstrators wave signs at him, when they call him bad names, when they threaten him with physical abuse. But I have not come here tonight to discuss the problems of John Lindsay.
There is one thought that I wish I could plant in the mind of every man and woman in this country--and for that matter in the mind of every person in the whole world. And that is this: You can believe in America. You can believe in your country's ability to fulfill her promise to the people and to the world.
I know that you share my deep concern tonight about the situation in the Middle East. We have been working on this problem day and night. The position of your country, the United States, in this crisis is a bipartisan one. It bears the mark of President Eisenhower. It bears the mark of both of our national political parties. It is designed solely to serve the cause of freedom and to serve the cause of peace in the world.
I shall not go into this situation in detail at this delicate period, but I do want to say this: America's determination is to preserve the peace. It is determined to preserve the territorial integrity of the nations involved in that area.
We are keeping in very close contact with all of the leaders of both of the parties in the Congress. On May 23 I set forth this Government's views in some detail. We are doing everything we can to assist the United Nations Security Council. And you may be sure, also, that we are keeping in very close touch with all the capitals concerned.
To go beyond this tonight would not serve the cause of peace or would not be helpful, but you may be assured that this matter is foremost in our thoughts at all times--even at this hour.
I should like to review with you, very briefly, our country's situation on the domestic front. In doing so, I would ask only one thing of those who doubt America, or who doubt the political party, the Democratic Party, that has guided our destiny over the past three and a half decades. I would ask you tonight to review with me and to remember.
Remember that Franklin D. Roosevelt pledged a New Deal and a better day for America--and we got it.
Remember that Harry Truman pledged a Fair Deal for America--and Harry Truman redeemed that pledge.
Remember that John F. Kennedy promised to get this country moving again-and he did.
Remember that our party, the Democratic Party, many years ago promised Medicare-and we got it.
Our party promised aid to education--and with the help of your great delegation in Congress, we got it.
The Democratic Party promised civil rights legislation--and we passed the first bill in 85 years, and we have passed three more since then.
The Democratic Party promised to help the poor--and we passed the first poverty program in the history of this Nation.
In all of our American political history, no party could ever say with more truth or more validity, "We passed our program-we lived up to the pledges and the promises we made our people."
When people ask what that promise is, I would answer in the words of Thomas Wolfe:
"To every man his chance--to every man, regardless of his birth, his shining golden opportunity-to every man the right to live, to work, to be himself, and to become whatever thing his manhood and his vision can combine to make him.... "
That is what America promises its people. And that is what the Democratic Party--this country's oldest political party--has been delivering to its people.
I would suggest to you tonight that unless we keep working on our programs and our promises--all those that we have made and all the programs that we have passed--for schools and for cities, for health and the aged, for jobs and for progress--all those programs won't wind up meaning very much.
Those promises have to be funded with appropriations. Those legislative measures have to be renewed--they are just a platform that has to be built upon.
The Republican Party told us last November-and they have repeated it many times loudly since--that they know they are going to repeal a large part of this program. They are going to fight us every inch of the way. They are out to destroy this progress.
But I am here tonight to tell you something else: Before we are finished, they are really going to know they have been in a fight.
So we have not come here to ask your blessings on the work that we have finished. We have come to ask your support for the work that we have yet to do.
When nearly 4 million children under 5 still lack decent medical care, we do have a job to do.
When 1 American family in 10 still lives in a slum, the Democrats have a job to do.
When hundreds of thousands are trapped in the ghetto and tempted by violence, we have a job to do.
And in this very city there are little children who see a picture of a teddy bear and identify it as a rat--the only animal they know.
This unfinished business dictates the future of our party. We need not expect that our job will be easy.
I saw a letter not long ago which complained "that the Government and its supporters are not anxious for peace, and do not accept proffered opportunities to achieve it."
That letter was written to President Abraham Lincoln. You may remember how President Lincoln answered that charge. He told Horace Greeley that he would talk to any person, anywhere, who could seriously advance the cause of peace and union.
I will tell you tonight that your President has been ready for more than 3 long years to talk to any person, anywhere, who prefers to talk instead of fight.
I saw not long ago a charge by some of the Republicans that the President would "spend the country into bankruptcy."
That charge was made against Franklin D. Roosevelt. He answered it by saying, "We are not going to turn back the clock."
I saw an opinion poll, not long ago, which showed the President's popularity at a very low ebb.
That poll rated Harry Truman--but it didn't bother President Truman. He just simply went back to work, made one more historic decision and then said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
Now, my Democratic friends, let us say here and now tonight: We Democrats can stand the heat.
We believe that history, when it is written, will not be the story of the doubters. Their fate, in the future, will not be in headlines, but it will just be a footnote here and there.
For we know that history deals with acts, with dreams that have been translated into reality, with victories that are won or lost. History deals with promises made and promises kept.
To make promises and to keep promises, to keep them at home and to keep them abroad, is something that the Democratic Party is dedicated to.
To you Democrats who support that party with your talents and with your money, I have come here tonight to meet with three groups of you in the month of June of this year to tell you how much I appreciate the men that you have sent to help me in the Congress, the men that make up the New York Democratic delegation in the Senate, led by Senator Kennedy, and in the House, led by Congressman Celler.
That delegation has day by day, week by week, month by month, helped the Democratic Party in this Nation build a record of progress, build a record of prosperity. We have moved more than 6 million people out of the poverty level up to where they could have a decent income.
We have raised the minimum wage for 31 million others this year and we have extended its coverage to 7 million more that never knew it before.
Yes, the Democratic Party and the Democratic delegation from New York are dedicated to giving the greatest good to the greatest number.
We yearn and we pray that we may have prosperity, progress, and peace in the world. But until we do, we must try to find the areas of agreement that unite us instead of the few things that divide us.
We Democrats don't always see everything the same way. If we did, we would all want the same wife. But we do have respect for the other man's opinion, we do have tolerance, patience, and understanding for different and dissenting viewpoints, provided in the end--after we reason together--we all rally around the banner to do the job for the people who need it most.
Yes, we are the party of all the people. To those of you who provide that leadership, and provide that support, and give us that comfort, that strength, when the going is hard, when it takes courage to stand up and be counted--those of you are the ones that make us grateful and make us proud of the party that we belong to.
Thank you for coming here tonight.
Note: The President spoke at 7:10 p.m. in the Imperial Ballroom at the Americana Hotel in New York City. In his opening words he referred to Hubert H. Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, W. Averell Harriman, U.S. Ambassador at Large and former Governor of New York, Representative Edna F. Kelly, national committeewoman from New York, Edwin L. Weisl, national committeeman from New York, John M. Bailey, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and John J. Burns, chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee. Later he referred to Mayor John Lindsay of New York City and to Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Representative Emanuel Celler, both of New York.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks in New York City at the New York State Democratic Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238447