John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI

October 26, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Mr. Mayor, Congressman Machrowicz, the next Governor of the State of Michigan, John Swainson, ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to be in the strongest Democratic city in the United States. [Applause.] A city which in good time and bad, in fair wind and storm, in rain or in shine, turns out and votes Democratic and supports the progressive movement in this country. [Applause.] I come here tonight as the standardbearer for the oldest political party on earth, but I come as the standardbearer for the youngest party on earth, and that is the Democratic Party. [Applause.] And I stand here with your mayor, with my distinguished friend and colleague of 14 years in the Congress of the United States, your Congressman who speaks for this district, and who also speaks for the United States, Ted Machrowicz [applause], with Pat McNamara, who sits next to me in the U.S. Senate and speaks for Michigan and speaks for the country, and speaks for progress, and who I am confident you will reelect to the U.S. Senate on November 8. [Applause.] And with John Swainson, who carries on a great tradition of your distinguished Governor, Mennen Williams, and will lead Michigan through the 1960's, when progress will be needed. I come here tonight and ask your support in this campaign. You cannot be alive today, you cannot be a citizen of this State, you cannot be a citizen of the United States, without knowing that what we are now doing is not good enough. Mr. Nixon may run around the country saying "You never had it so good" [response from the audience], but I want him to make that speech in Michigan tomorrow. [Response from the audience.]

On November 15 of this year there will be more automobiles in inventory than ever before in our history. This year in September we built 29 percent less homes than last year. Can you believe that an administration which has permitted economic strength of the United States to decline, which has permitted our prestige and image around the world to begin to fade - do you think that candidate or that party which has stood still for 25 years can lead the United States in the 1960's? [Response from the audience.] I do not.

I stand here tonight not saying that there are new and easy solutions to the problems which disturb our tranquillity, but I can tell you that I am a member of a party which has believed in progress, and I run against a party which has opposed every single piece of progressive legislation which this country has tried to pass in the last 25 years, minimum wage, social security, housing, housing for the aged, and all the rest. The Republican Party has said no, and we have said yes, and we are going to say yes on November 8. [Applause.]

This is an important election because the presidency of the United States is an important office, and what is at stake is not merely the position of our own country, our own strength, our own vitality, our own energy. What is at stake is the entire cause of freedom itself. In the words of the Polish national anthem, as long as you live, as long as the United States lives, so the hope of freedom all around the globe continues to exist. When we stand still, when we begin to fade - they want you to sit down here [applause], you see, the people run this party. [Laughter.] You tell us what you want and we will do it. [Applause.]

Well, now, we will just finish up what I was going to say, and that is this, and we will speak to everybody around here. The function of the President of the United States, the President of the United States, is to build a strong society here, to maintain full employment, to educate our children, to provide security for our aged citizens, to provide justice for our people, to build an image of a society on the move, so that people around the world who wonder what the future holds for them, who wonder which road they should take, they decide, "We want to go with the United States; they represent the future."

As long as the United States lives, so freedom lives. As long as we build our strength, as long as we are on the move, as long as we are a progressive society, then the future belongs to us and not to Mr. Khrushchev. [Applause.]

My disagreement with this administration has been that they have permitted the United States to fade as an image of strength around the world. Every recent poll taken abroad shows that more and more people begin to think that the future belongs to the Communists and not to freedom. I don't. I think the future belongs to freedom I think the future belongs to those who want to be free, and that includes the great majority of the population of the world. But we have to give them leadership. We have to show that freedom can be strong. We have to show the people of Eastern Europe that the struggle is not over, that our brightest days are ahead, that we do not recognize the present situation, and that all people someday will be free. That is the basic objective of the American society. [Applause.]

During the American Revolution, Thomas Paine wrote, "The cause of America is the cause of all mankind." Now I think in the revolution of 1960, the cause of all mankind is the cause of America. We serve not only ourselves; we serve others, those who wish to follow our example. And in order to serve them, in order to be faithful to our trust, in order to hold out the lamp of hope to all those now subjugated who hope someday to be free, we have to build a strong society here. We have to demonstrate that in any contest with the Communist system, that we are going to win. I am not satisfied as an American to be first, if, first, but, first when, first, sometimes, first perhaps. I want to see the United States first, period. And that is our objective. [Applause.]

Mr. Nixon presides over the past; we look to the future. He wants to lead a country standing still. We wish to lead a country moving ahead. All those who share the view with me of a great and progressive country in a world that is free, I hope that you will support us on November 8 and give us an opportunity to get this country moving again. [Applause.]

One hundred years ago in the campaign of 1860, Abraham Lincoln wrote to a friend:

I know there is a God, and I know He hates injustice. I see the storm coming, and I know His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for me, I believe that I am ready.

Now, 100 years later, we know there is a God, and we know He hates injustice. We see the storm coming, and we know His hand is in it. But if He has a place and a part for us, I believe that we are ready. Thank you. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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