Photo of John Delaney

Remarks at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco

June 02, 2019

[As prepared for delivery.]

Good morning, thank you for having me.

I come here today as someone who has lived the American dream and feels blessed by the opportunities this magnificent country has given me: To learn, to get a great education despite the fact that my parents didn't go to college To earn, to become an entrepreneur build two deeply admired companies and create thousands of jobs To serve in the Congress -- working to see that everyone has the same opportunities to succeed that this working-class kid from New Jersey had. And most importantly to be happily married to an amazing woman and raise four terrific daughters. My story – the story of the American dream – is being pushed out of reach for young families and for the middle class. In fact, young people today will be the first generation of Americans to not do better than their parents. They are also left fiscal and climate debts they can't repay.

How did this happen? Because we failed to do the basic things we should have done to prepare our citizens for a world that changed rapidly because of technological innovation and globalization.

A responsible government would have done things decades ago to fix healthcare, help workers by doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit, improve public education, address climate change and reform our broken immigration system. Each step of the way, efforts to do this were either blocked specifically by Republicans in Congress or by excessive partisanship generally.

I'm here today because I don't believe that more hyper-partisan politics, ideological purity or slogans posing as policies, can do the things that America's families need to have done. It takes real solutions.

"Moderate" "bipartisan" "problem solver" "Responsible" are the words that follow me around the campaign and I'm proud all of these labels. Because, more than anything, I believe in getting things done. If it takes policies more moderate than some of my colleague's advocate, pushed through Congress with bipartisan support to get something done, then I am all in. Because I believe in the politics for progress.

I think it was growing up the son of a union electrician that made me this way.

My dad ran wires through buildings, installed breaker boxes, hooked up HVAC systems to outside power sources. He wasn't a glamorous guy. It wasn't a glamorous job. He worked with his hands. There were no highbrow intellectual discussions at our table. His political lesson was simple: if you care about workers, you vote for the Democrats. Period. That, by the way is the Democratic party that wins every election.

But my dad did honest work.

And when you do honest day's work, you get things done. You get a building that works. When you flip a switch, the lights come on. When you twist a faucet, water comes out.

Our current president doesn't build, he brands. All he cares about is pasting his name in big gold letters on office towers, casinos, the wall. He doesn't care if anything works. He puts his own self-interest ahead of everything.

That's why his companies went bankrupt, while mine flourished. That's why he stiffed working people like my dad, while my companies helped put thousands of people into good jobs and were admired in their communities. And its why his polices don't work

Ask the farmers who've seen prices go south ever since Donald Trump was sworn in if America's working.

Ask the 40% of Americans who can't afford basic needs, like housing, healthcare, food, and utilities if America works for them.

Ask the workers whose wages are not keeping up with inflation, while companies post record profits – if America is working for them.

But we can't build an America that works for families from bumper sticker blueprints for castles in the sand. "Medicare for all" – which sounds good - will force hospitals across America to close their doors because Medicare payments alone won't cover hospitals' expenses and will cause 150 million Americans to lose their health insurance, which 70% of them like. Is that good policy? Or more importantly, Is that a formula for winning elections? My plan will ensure basic coverage for every American as a right but allow supplemental coverage and other options to provide choices while also that generates revenues that will keep hospitals open and fund research and innovation.

You see, I don't want to be the most ideologically pure president. I want to be the president that makes things work. That gets things done. That is the responsible leader your kids deserve.

We didn't flip the House with candidates that ran on rigid platforms. They won because they built coalitions, pursued center-left policies and campaigned everywhere. And promised to pursue common-sense plans that work.

We can do that in 2020. We can run, win and govern on a government that works again for working families, for union members, for small farmers and for young people.

That's my kind of radical.

That's why my campaign says: If you're a progressive Democrat who wants real change, come on board. If you're a centrist Democrat who wants to get things done, come on board. If you're an independent who wants politicians to put their country ahead of their party, come on board. And, if you're a Republican disgusted by a president with no moral compass and a party that's become a force for bigotry and privilege and corruption. and you want to restore a sense of decency and respect to the office of the presidency, come on board. That is the coalition we need to win in 2020 and to govern going forward. Because this election will be fought right down the center.

But we have to stop talking and start doing. We have to be honest about the problems and honest about the solutions. And we have to bring people together to find, as JFK put it, "not the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer."

If we can do that, if we can work together towards honest solutions that create opportunity and restore the middle class, we make the magnificent machinery of our democracy sing once again.

John Delaney, Remarks at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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