April 23, 2014

Full Text: Former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach Speech to Democratic National Convention

As a Republican, I stand before you with deep respect for the history and traditions of my political party. But it is clear to all Americans that something is out of kilter in our great republic. In less than a decade America’s political and economic standing in the world has been diminished. Our nation’s extraordinary leadership in so many areas is simply not reflected in the partisan bickering and ideological politics of Washington. Seldom has the case for an inspiring new political ethic been more compelling. And seldom has an emerging leader so matched the needs of the moment.
 
The platform of this transformative figure is a call for change. The change Barack Obama is advocating is far more than a break with today’s politics. It is a clarion call for renewal rooted in time-tested American values that tap Republican, as well as Democratic traditions.
 
Perspective is difficult to bring to events of the day, but in sweeping terms, there have been four great debates in our history to which both parties have contributed. The first debate, led by Thomas Jefferson, the first Democrat to be elected president, centered on the question of whether a country could be established, based on The Rights of Man.

The second debate, led by Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican to be elected president, was about definitions—whether The Rights of Man applied to individuals who were neither pale nor male. It took almost two centuries of struggle, hallmarked by a civil war, the suffrage and abolitionist movements, the Harlem renaissance and a courageous civil rights leadership to bring meaning to the values embedded in the Declaration of Independence.
 
The third debate, symbolized by the new deal of Franklin Roosevelt and the emphasis on individual initiative of Ronald Reagan, involves the question of opportunity, whether rights are fully meaningful if all citizens are not given a chance to succeed and provide for their families.
 
The fourth debate, which acquired grim relevance with the dawn of the nuclear age, is the question of whether any rights are possible without peace and environmental security.
 
The American progressive tradition reflected in these debates spans Democratic standard bearers from the prairie populist William Jennings Bryan to the Camelot statesman, John F. Kennedy. It includes Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt, who built up the National Parks system and broke down corporate monopolies, and Dwight David Eisenhower, who ran on a pledge to end a war in Korea, brought a stop to European colonial intervention in the Middle East, quietly integrated the Washington, D.C., school system and not so quietly sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock to squash segregation in public schools throughout the country.
 
In models of international statecraft, progressive leadership includes Al Gore, who helped galvanize worldwide understanding of the most challenging environmental threat currently facing the planet, and our current president’s father, who led an internationally sanctioned coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.
 
In Congress, Democratic senators like Pat Moynihan and Mike Mansfield served in Republican administrations. On the Republican side, Arthur Vandenberg helped President Truman launch the Marshall Plan, and Everett Dirksen backed Lyndon Johnson’s landmark civil rights legislation.
 
In troubled times, it was understood that country comes before party, that in perilous moments mutual concern for the national interest must be the only factor in political judgments. This does not mean that debate within and between the political parties should not be vibrant. Yet what frustrates so many citizens is the lack of bipartisanship in Washington and the way today’s Republican Party has broken with its conservative heritage.
 
The party that once emphasized individual rights has gravitated in recent years toward regulating values. The party of military responsibility has taken us to war with a country that did not attack us. The party that formerly led the world in arms control has moved to undercut treaties crucial to the defense of the earth. The party that prides itself on conservation has abdicated its responsibilities in the face of global warming. And the party historically anchored in fiscal restraint has nearly doubled the national debt, squandering our precious resources in an undisciplined and unprecedented effort to finance a war with tax cuts.
 
America has seldom faced more critical choices: whether we should maintain an occupational force for decades in a country and region that resents western intervention or elect a leader who, in a carefully structured way, will bring our troops home from Iraq as the heroes they are. Whether it is wise to continue to project power largely alone with flickering support around the world or elect a leader who will follow the model of General Eisenhower and this president’s father and lead in concert with allies.
 
Whether it is prudent to borrow from future generations to pay for today’s reckless fiscal policies or elect a leader who will shore up our budgets and return to a strong dollar. Whether it is preferable to continue the policies that have weakened our position in the world, deepened our debt and widened social divisions or elect a leader who will emulate John F. Kennedy and relight a lamp of fairness at home and reassert an energizing mix of realism and idealism abroad.
 
The portfolio of challenges passed on to the next president will be as daunting as any since the Great Depression and World War II. This is not a time for politics as usual or for run-of-the-mill politicians. Little is riskier to the national interest than more of the same. America needs new ideas, new energy and a new generation of leadership.
 
Hence, I stand before you proud of my party’s contributions to American history but, as a citizen, proud as well of the good judgment of good people in this good party, in nominating a transcending candidate, an individual whom I am convinced will recapture the American dream and be a truly great president: the senator from Abraham Lincoln’s state—Barack Obama. Thank you.

Comments

  1. Bill says:

    Mark you wrote “Mr.Leach Thank You! for saving family values.”

    Mark why are you voting for Obama? It seems to me like you should be voting for the Prohibitionist Party.

  2. Mark says:

    Mr. Leach, great words but you’re actions as the architect along wih slime like Kyl and Frist belie them. Now that you are trying to free yourself from your RNC past trash, it would be nice if you would actually support individual liberties and apologize and repudiate your past actions in the UIGEA fiasco. Until you do that, you are NOT a champion of individual choice and individual freedoms. You are a hypocrite.

  3. Old Book Guy says:

    “The party that once emphasized individual rights has gravitated in recent years toward regulating values.”

    Which explains why the Leach led Unlawful Internet Gambling Ban passed in 2006 was a prime example of “regulating values”.

    Whoa to the Democrats if they allow THIS man who wants to dictate narrow values to all be involved in the party.

    obg

  4. Bill says:

    Well said Indio. I personally like to bet online and play some poker. I play both online and at casinos. I don’t drink or smoke but I don’t try and tell those who do to stop for the good of their family. It’s not the government’s job to protect my family from me or me from my family. If I become a pathological gambler and lose all my money online then my wife will leave me and I’ll pay support. If my wife chooses to cheat on me and I find out then I’ll leave her and she’ll pay the consequences. We all make decisions in life as adults and we gain the benefits or suffer the consequences of doing so. I show restraint and play for lower limits with the blessing of my wife. It’s not Leach, Obama or Bush’s job to tell me how to behave or where to spend my money. Governments have 5 main responsibilities – infrastructure and transportation, enforcing penalties for real crime like robbery or assault, immigration, trade and treaties protecting the country. Social vices are not the government (especially the federal government’s) concern.

    I equate Leach’s speech to Elliot Spitzer arresting John’s while cheating on his wife with a prostitute or Larry Craig voting against same sex marriage rights while propositioning men in a bathroom. It’s all “do as I say, not as I do.”

  5. Old Book Guy says:

    Get Real Wrote:
    This speech was inspiring. The nay-sayers, who seem to be circling the wagons around the idea that they somehow lost more than all of us gained from reasonable regulation of internet gambling,

    lets see, as an adult Leach wants to prevent you from playing a $5.00 card game, BUT, go to CBS Sports, you can wager up to $499. (FOUR HUNDRED and NINETY-NINE DOLLARS) on a pretend Football team you draft from real players.

    Hummm, which is more costly, $500.00 or $5.00, THAT IS WHAT YOU CALL RESPONSIBLE REGULATION?

    obg

  6. Get real! says:

    Hey obg,

    Like I said, look it up. Look to the record books, or whatever you regard as the appropriate monitor of history. No one ever said that one act of Congress was intended to correct all wrongs. However, the Congress can act to address wrongs, in a piecemeal fashion. That is history. The fact that you have a problem with this is what is troubling.

    This was an inspiring speech from a formidable citizen who has done more for his country than proabably most of us. How many of these posters has even run for office, let alone won? If you don’t like it, GET A LIFE!

    If you are pissed, run for office, for pete’s sake. GET REAL!!!!!

  7. Brandon Burt says:

    A marvelous speech by a true statesman. We need more of this kind of statesmanship if America is to overcome its paralyzing, polarizing divisiveness.

    Denise-Mary: I think if you review English grammar, you’ll see that the statement you question is in the future progressive tense–e.g., “Obama will be a truly great president.”

    Surely this is the appropriate tense to use in a political convention speech when you’re talking about the only candidate capable of bringing about real change.

  8. ubercuber says:

    It’s comical how much these Leach supporters buy into every lie about the evils of gambling, including the one that pretends something was done about! I still gamble online, responsibly. The irresponsible patho gamblers are not phased by this stupid law (UIGEA) one bit.

    Gambling on state lotteries doesn’t ruin families? Nor does betting horses? It must be the cards that are truly evil? Maybe the chips? No, its the unfortunate addicts that make up a small percentage of gamblers, just like alcohol, that get into trouble. Pass a law the helps the sick ones and leave the rest alone. Is that not obvious? This fake law, if anyone paid attention to it, only hopes at best to force addicts to gamble on horses or lotteries instead of poker or sports! Yep problem solved, Leach is brilliant, case closed!

    Please, banners of evil, will you someday realize that your self righteous, uninformed, declaration that something is banned… accomplishes nothing! You think families were saved by UIGEA? HA! I am a recreational poker player and I didn’t stop playing… but addicts did? C’mon use your heads!

    Leach is a hypocrite. My personal freedom includes sitting down with $50 and playing poker for a few hours without some zealot sticking his nose in it.

    What IS nice about UIGEA is that BOTH Frist and Leach shot themselves in the foot by defying voters and trying to strip their rights!

    If you think gambling breaks up families, how do you explain all the families that are not broken up despite gambling?

    The addictive behavior is what breaks up a family, but you can’t just ban it and think you fixed it! Ban teenage pregnancy! Ban credit cards! Ban the store that charges higher prices causing people to throw their money away!Ban alcohol, smoking, fast food, etc… you beginning to see the flaw of such a plan?

    Get real indeed.

  9. Joe says:

    Mark from Chitown “Not a fair comparison Vegas and Indian casinos you go to do you see 14 and 15 year olds playing slots and playing poker.”

    No one ever argued children should be able to gamble. This is overblown, since you need a credit card or bank account to do this, I don’t know of any child who possess this.

    What a couple of children do, should not dictate what millions of responsible adults can or can not do. Whenever something pops up that is “morally wrong” in ones eyes, they claim “WE MUST SAVE THE CHILDREN”. I have three children myself and internet gaming is the least of my worries!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Leach is a hypocrite. If you don’t want to ban alcohol, but you support the UIGEA, you are too.

    Which of you UIGEA supporters is going to be the first to surrender that wine you were going to have with dinner tomorrow night? Sure, you may think you drink responsibly, and you may think you have the right to choose for yourself as a tax paying adult, but you know what? The children come first, and the risk of you becoming an alcoholic and destroying your family is simply unacceptable. Surely you don’t believe that that glass of wine is more important than FAMILIES, do you?

    Hand it over Get real.

  11. Luke Mc says:

    There wasn’t any study or investigation into the effects of online gambling, yet a bill was drafted and passed. They assumed 10 year olds were playing and sexual predators were lurking and that it was corrupting family values. Don’t confuse online poker with Myspace and Facebook – which to date is unregulated, unmonitored and has caused more deaths and hurt more people. Getting a second job can cover your gambling losses, calling a 14yr old girl fat on facebook will ruin her life.

    How do we accept that carrying or just owning a gun is A-OKAY despite so many deaths from fire arms? Or that bars serve alcohol AND have parking lots? Or that I can walk into the back of walgreens and get my vitamins and then walk past an array of cigarettes on my way out – but you could ever defend taking away my freedom to parlay the colts and the steelers for $5?

  12. Joe says:

    Under the Leach theory, lets just start banning everything:

    Some people drink too much: Lets ban it.
    Some people eat too much: Lets outlaw eating.
    Some people drive too fast: Lets ban driving.

    We should all live in a Leach issued bubble. This will save us from ourselves.

    Poker is not a crime and responsible adults should be able to enjoy either online, in their homes, or in a casino.

  13. Joe says:

    Additionally, Leach is a hypocrite and a JOKE!

  14. Fred says:

    Jim, you were part of the nanny-state GOP. I’m glad you are finally taking the first step toward recognizing your moral failings.

  15. D.Mo says:

    Whoever took the time to provide this script, thank you very much. The corporate media is abominable, so I couldn’t be upset that they failed to broadcast this great speech by this informed Republican we should hark for his herald of true Republicans, not the crooks who stole the legacy of true conservatism to forever besmirch its name. Lastly, notwithstanding the appallingly deep search I performed to find this script, I was shocked to find no video of this speech: because let’s face it, the majority of people who needed to experience it will certainly not be reading it. I can only hope the DNC put it on their website.

    Thanks again.

  16. Bill says:

    “What a couple of children do, should not dictate what millions of responsible adults can or can not do. Whenever something pops up that is “morally wrong” in ones eyes, they claim “WE MUST SAVE THE CHILDREN”. I have three children myself and internet gaming is the least of my worries!”

    Not to mention it’s easier for a minor to produce fake i.d. and go into a land based casino than it is for them to bet online with a credit card.

  17. marismom says:

    While Jim was banning online gambling he was receiving pac money from the gambling boats in his own flippin district here in Iowa. Wonder why? The boats didn’t want to compete with the internet. Every major town in Iowa now has a casino. We have more corn than people but we have the cash cow river boat casinos that feed millions of tax dollars into our cities and into our politicians pockets.

  18. marismom says:

    The reason he wasn’t shown on TV is because he lost his seat to a democrat after holding it for 30 years and is now a professor at Harvard. Hardly a Zell Miller moment, who was a sitting Senator when he crossed over in 04.

  19. Walter L. Johnson says:

    I really appreciated Jim Leach’s speech, since it hi-lited how the Republican Party has gone downhill by pointing out what it used to stand for.

    I once considered joining the Republican Party until they became reckless spenders doubling the National Debt everytime they gain control, which borrows from everyone’s future to supplement the income of the richest few percent of families. I don’t want my grandchildren to be paying for their Grandparents mistakes.

    Those who complain about Jim Leach’s position on online gaming hold a stupid grudge. The biggest reason for ending online gaming is that a lot of it was totally unregulated and outright financial fraud. When states regulate gambling they protect against fraud and guarantee a minimum payback ratio for betters. Online establishments can just make you think you have a losing steak when really they just keep nearly all the bets. Online gaming also allowed people to break state laws against gambling that reflected individual state values and usually located in tax havens to avoid paying U. S. income taxes on their profits.

    People who want to do honest gambling for big payoffs need do no more than play the stock market and commodities markets with hedges and options.

  20. Butternutts says:

    After reading that crock of shiat of a “speech”, i thought to myself, ‘self, thats probably the biggest load of crap you’ll read all week’…Then, i read the comments.

    No wonder this country is going down the toilet, it’s full of ignorant, blind sheep who can’t think for themselves.

    Walter Johnson is a shining example….Nodding his head, knowing nothing at all…Spouting off inaccurate idiocy with one hand, and patting himself on the head with the other.

    I hate to think what his hands were doing when he read this bullsh*it fluff of a ‘speech’…

  21. Luke Mc says:

    Yes all online gambling shops are crooked, unlike any of the insurance companies or banks that turn the average joe into a big gaping anus, or Martha Stewart or Enron or the entire Bush administration. I trust Poker Stars with my life. There are no broken promises, no lies or cheating. I trust them before I trust the government, the church, cops, mechanics or even my doctor probably rifles through my wallet while I am put under on gas that I get billed for.

  22. Jess Stone says:

    Butternutts on August 28th, 2008 7:27 am

    After reading that crock of shiat of a “speech”, i thought to myself, ’self, thats probably the biggest load of crap you’ll read all week’…Then, i read the comments.

    No wonder this country is going down the toilet, it’s full of ignorant, blind sheep who can’t think for themselves.

    Walter Johnson is a shining example….Nodding his head, knowing nothing at all…Spouting off inaccurate idiocy with one hand, and patting himself on the head with the other.

    I hate to think what his hands were doing when he read this bullsh*it fluff of a ’speech’…

  23. Jess Stone says:

    Holy crap that was terrific buternuts. :-)

  24. Edward Ruffner says:

    Leach hit the ball out of the park. His historical echo will resonate with the thinking voters. For those voters susceptable to trolling slogans – they won’t get it. Leach’s call should have run on prime time.

  25. Obama for President says:

    “While Jim was banning online gambling he was receiving pac money from the gambling boats in his own flippin district here in Iowa. Wonder why? The boats didn’t want to compete with the internet. Every major town in Iowa now has a casino. We have more corn than people but we have the cash cow river boat casinos that feed millions of tax dollars into our cities and into our politicians pockets.”

    Actually, I do not believe that is completely accurate. The heaviest hitting casinos on water in the Eastern part of the state are in the Quad Cities. At the time of the online gambling ban, Bettendorf and Davenport were not in Leach’s District (though they had been years before). If they supported him financially around that time, which they may well have, they were not in his district. I believe a few smaller floating casinos exist in SE Iowa, which may have thrown some money his way, but they don’t really hold a candle to the political power of the Isle of Capri conglomerate in Iowa.

    Bett and D’port were in Nussle’s District, which he left to run a losing campaign for governor in 2006. Nussle was on the casino doll as well, which played a major role in banning “Touch Play” machines. Upset by Nussle’s push to ban “Touch Play”, the Krauss family — owners of Kum-N-Go convenience stores — heavily backed now Democratic governor Chet Culver (who never actually made any widely publicized comment for or against “Touch Play”).

  26. Keith says:

    Come on guys. You know if Leach hadn’t got booted from office as a result of the Green Felt Revolution (google it!), then he’d be giving some sort of nanny state speech at the RNC this year instead, right?

    He’s a two faced waffler. Maybe he’s aiming for a position in an Obama-Biden government?

    I’d be happy to see him as our next ambassador to Iraq.

    “Get Real” – how can you cheer a speech on individual liberties, and then turn around in the same comment thread and bash my individual liberty to play a $5 SNG at Poker Stars? I have two kids. They don’t play.

    Determining what my kids do online is my job as a parent, not the government’s job.

    A very tiny percentage of the population has gambling addiction problems. Just like a tiny percentage of the population has food addiction, sex addiction and alcohol addiction problems.

    Looking to ban online gambling to protect those few at the cost of the vast VAST majority who enjoy it responsibly is using a hammer to remove a fly from your friends forehead.

    Get real indeed.

    Legalize, regulate, and provide help to those who have addiction problems. Don’t nanny legislate.

  27. Ohio Clipper says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen – I had no idea when I posted Rep. Leach’s speech that he was the poster child for everything wrong with gambling here in the U.S. Several years ago I worked as a staffer in the U.S. House and I remember Mr. Leach as a gentleman and an expert on banking and the economy. This thread of comms has made me think that there’s noone in any of our lives who we agree with on everything, but when a politician takes a position and advocates for that position, he or she is at risk for being “marked” because of one issue. Hope you like the site, … Pelikan

  28. Tammy Hawley says:

    I’m familiar with Jim Leach from the House Banking Committee. He always showed good judgment and is a critical thinker. I saw this speech as it was delivered and was very moved by it. He spoke from the heart and gave a very powerful and honest message. He is a true statesman and knows what it really means to put country first.

  29. David Shawaker says:

    This is the best statement I’ve heard on how the Republican Party has lost its way; and why Republicans like me have switched (or should switch) to the Democratic Party and are supporting Barack Obama as the best hope for the future of our country.

  30. Darlene says:

    I was glued to the TV for both conventions but did not see the Leach speech.

    Such a wonderful speech I too printed a copy.

    I am still glued to the TV and am ashamed of the Republican’s.

    Give me a break!! A woman of questionable education, parenting skills, junk yard dog approach and religous beliefs as VP or God forbid President.

    Why would any American want such a person to represent our country to the world.

  31. Elfrida says:

    Not much on my mind worth mentioning. What can I say? I haven’t been up to much lately. It’s not important. Oh well.,

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