Thursday, February 23, 2012

My "coming out" speech

Thank you for coming here today.

My name is William Russell Sype, Jr., and I’ve called this press conference to announce my candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2016.
Having no political experience, no name-recognition, no money, and no organization, I figured it best to start early.

I don’t know who will be my Republican opponent, but I believe it safe to draw some contrasts between us, anyway. Both of us, I would like to stress at the outset, believe that America is the best and strongest country on Earth, and we are both extremely proud to be Americans. From this basic point of agreement, however, we have very different visions for America’s future.

When he – or she – imagines America’s future, he – or she – harks back to a mythical “Golden Age”:
A “Golden Age” in which labor had no voice.
A “Golden Age” in which “people of color” had no voice.
A “Golden Age” in which manufacturers were NOT obligated to provide safe working conditions, and in which industrial “accidents” were both commonplace and acceptable.
In this “Golden Age”, women had neither voice nor control of their bodies – they were effectively chattel, with few property rights, limited suffrage, and the biological requirement to bear children.

For me, America’s Golden Age still lies in the future.
I believe that, great as America is, it can still be better.
As that hackneyed bumper-sticker says, “America would be a better place if education were fully funded, and the Pentagon had to hold bake-sales!”
Public education is the foundation of an “equal opportunity” society – without it, the privileged few will continue to dominate, while the slaving masses can only hope to put food on the table, with no hope of escaping poverty and degradation.
My Republican opponent – whoever he or she might be – believes that public education is an anachronism, with no place in our society.

I note in passing that the United States is STILL the ONLY developed country in the world without some form of universal health coverage! - THIS is NOT the kind of “American Exceptionalism” I intend to pursue as President!

My Republican opponent, whoever he or she might be, goes to the grocery store, the mall, the corner pharmacy, and is frightened by what he sees: LOTS of folks who look DIFFERENT! Many of them speak English with a FOREIGN accent… some of them don’t speak English at all. This frightens him … or her. He sees his world crumbling before his eyes, and again yearns for a mythical “Golden Age” in the past – a “Golden Age” that has NEVER existed.

Folks, America has ALWAYS been a land of immigrants!... and there has ALWAYS been a fear of immigrants. Benjamin Franklin deplored the presence of lazy, indolent, non-English-speaking Germans in Philadelphia in the 18th century. The 19th century saw anti-Irish and anti-Chinese violence rage in our cities. In the early 20th century it was fear of both Italians and Eastern Europeans, coupled with an irrational fear of anarchism and Bolshevism, that led to shameful injustices and persecutions.

These various immigrant groups – Germans, Irish, Chinese, Italians, Eastern Europeans – were viewed as “The Other” – and seen as dangerous to the American Way of Life.

Today, these “Others” are “Us”! – they are our fellow citizens, competing for – and winning – public office. Running Fortune 500 companies. Teaching our children.
We are today all Americans.

So, when I go to the grocery store, or the mall, or the corner pharmacy and see folks who don’t look like me, who speak English with a foreign accent, or who perhaps don’t speak English at all – what I see is the source of America’s greatness.
After more than 200 years, WE are still seen as the “Land of the free and the home of the brave”. We – America - … this is still THE country to which people aspire – to build for themselves a better future, to become Americans.

Finally, my Republican opponent will seize on “FEAR” as the basis for his or her campaign. Fear of “illegal immigrants”. Fear of Iran, or of North Korea… Fear of “The Other” – whoever “The Other” might be.
My Republican opponent will cast various countries, movements, groups as Existential Threats to America!
I believe America is stronger than that!... and building a campaign on Fear of “The Other” will demonstrate just what my opponent REALLY thinks about America: he - or she - believes the United States is a weak, vulnerable, beleaguered country, on the brink of failure, defeat and collapse.

We – my Republican opponent and I – have very DIFFERENT visions for America.

When I was in elementary school I learned that America is a young nation.
This just isn’t true!
We have the oldest surviving written Constitution in the world.
It’s served us well.
The United States Constitution is our sacred text.
It is our faith in the Constitution that keeps America a strong, vibrant society – a place worth fighting for.

I look forward to serving you as your next President.
Thank you.