Full Text of Gov. Linc Chafee’s DNC Speech

Gov. Linc Chafee as seen from the press box at the DNC (Photo by John McDaid)

“Good evening, and thank you for having me here to celebrate with all of you. As the nation’s only independent Governor, I am here tonight to join with my Democratic friends, on the eve of an election critical to the future of our children and their country.

As a former Republican, I represent a group of Americans who all too often have no one to speak for them. This group doesn’t necessarily have a name.

We’ve been called “moderates,” but that term can be misleading. There is nothing moderate about our love of country or our passion for America’s future. There is nothing moderate about our desire to work together within the broad political center in which most Americans live.

No matter what you call us though, this is certain: there are a lot of us all over the country, and in November we will once again help elect Barack Obama President of the United States.

We are, at our core, conservatives, in the best sense of the word. Thoughtful, responsible with public resources, and respectful of personal freedom. And we are liberal, in the best sense of the word.

We believe that government can and should be an instrument for the greater good. And although my former party has hijacked the term, there is really nothing conservative about today’s Republican Party. In fact, there is no room there for traditional conservatives like us. But I am proud to say that in my friend President Barack Obama we have found a champion for the principles we hold dear.

First, we love this land — literally. We believe in environmental stewardship… protecting our air and our water. Because despite what big business and this Republican Party would have you believe, destroying these precious resources will cost us far more in the future than preserving them now.

Second, we believe in personal freedom. We do not want the government controlling our personal lives, or our most personal decisions. Believing in freedom, as we do, we don’t think it’s the role of government to pass judgment on a relationship between two consenting adults, regardless of their orientation. Believing in freedom, we believe a woman should make her own reproductive decisions.

Third, we take seriously the decision to enter into foreign entanglements.

During the last Administration, then-Senator Obama and I served together on the Foreign Relations Committee.

There, we shared a mutual desire to end the prevailing attitude of arrogance and recklessness on matters of war and peace that characterized those years.

President Obama knows that wars are not to be entered into lightly; he knows that overseas conflicts don’t only do damage in the land in which they are fought, but in the land of those who  fight them, as well.

Fourth, we believe in using the tools of government to help Americans help themselves. For instance, programs such as Head Start and the Pell Grants have brightened the futures of countless American young people and given them a hand up into the middle class. Now, Mitt Romney and the Republicans are proposing a budget that would squeeze the life out of Head Start and Pell grants.

Let me ask you: Should only children of the wealthy have access to quality early education? Should only children of the wealthy have access to a college degree? The answer — the only answer – is:  No. American education is still the wonder of the world, and we must open the schoolhouse doors, not close them. A strong, educated middle class is what made America the greatest country in the world. Students of America, working families of America: President Obama will not turn his back on you.

Finally, we believe in fiscal responsibility. We think it’s reasonable to pay for a valuable service that the people want by asking everyone to do their part. The lack of fiscal responsibility is one of the main reasons I finally left my old Party.

In 2001 President Bill Clinton handed the Republicans a surplus. They went on to squander this surplus by launching two wars, expanding the cost of Medicare, and giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans – and failing to pay for any of these.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to return us to the fantasy land of never having to pay for the things we buy, such as education, medical research, good roads, and clean energy.

That’s not conservative. That’s not responsible. And it’s not what this country needs.

The values I have spoken of tonight aren’t Republican or Democratic values – they’re American values.

They are the values of Abraham Lincoln, who affirmed the fundamental dignity of all Americans – regardless of the color of their skin.

They are the values of Theodore Roosevelt, who protected millions of acres from development and exploitation, so that future Americans – today’s Americans – could enjoy them as fully as he did.

They are the values of Dwight Eisenhower, who presided over an era of peace and prosperity – because he knew that those two conditions go together.

These are American values.

But because they have no place in today’s Republican Party, neither do I – and neither do millions like me.

But, my fellow traditional conservatives… my fellow moderates… my fellow independents… there is a candidate who shares our values.

A candidate who shares our belief in: Environmental protection. Personal liberties. Smart and responsible American leadership. Growing the middle class. and fiscal discipline.

That candidate is our President, Barack Obama.

Thank you.”

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Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

10 responses to “Full Text of Gov. Linc Chafee’s DNC Speech”

  1. leftyrite

    Environmental protection? Great.

    Perhaps Governor Chafee has already weighed in on the Pond View waste transfer site in East Providence. Perhaps not.

    Governor, this issue has been in and out of the news for years now.

    What are you doing for the neighbors who abut this plant and who have to live with environmental degradation?

    We hear more from you in Charlotte than we do in East Providence. 

  2. PinkHatLib

    “There, we shared a mutual desire to end the prevailing attitude of arrogance and recklessness on matters of war and peace that characterized those years.”

    Are you sure he’s talking about Obama? Seems like everyday I see another story like this… “Yemen probes civilian deaths in apparent US drone strike”. What else would one call the remote control aerial murder of civilians other than “arrogant and reckless?” I know what we would have called it had President Bush order it… “war crime”.

  3. Barry

    Its bad enough the right-wing crazies dominate the projo comment pages (often calling the Governor a “bozo” or “idiot”) but just for once, can’t we recognize a really good speech and say we are proud of our Independent Governor?  Of course we can all find some points of disagreement with just about anyone, but I believe Chafee mad excellent points that needed to be made.

    1. PinkHatLib

      fwiw, I didn’t intend to criticize the Governor, but the President deserves to be criticized from the left for his militaristic foreign policy.

      1. DogDiesel

        I think it was taken the way you meant it.

  4. DogDiesel

    I’ve grown tired of the conservative facade. Except for signing pension reform, he has done nothing conservative since taking office and supported a liberal agenda. I have no problem with him that but to keep calling himself a conservative is a joke. That whole speech was designed to make all Republicans look like right wing whack jobs and suck up to Democrats. I don’t care if he calls himself an independent or Democrat, just drop the conservative facade and then maybe he’ll have some credibility. Then again, maybe not.

    1. PinkHatLib

      I thought that was his most persuasive point, that Obama is a center-right politician. People called me a cynic for pointing that out during the progressive hype of 2008. I think only the talk-radio right pretends that’s not the case now.

      1. DogDiesel

        I wouldn’t call Obama a progressive but I wouldn’t call him center right either. I think he was just being a coward when extended the Bush tax cuts. Here’s one conservative that would have liked them to expire. My point was Chafee seems to be using his former status as some kind badge of honor amongst liberals when you won’t find anything conservative about him going back to his Senate days.
        Sorry Barry but as for his speech, you were probably better off listening to it on a radio because watching it was like literally watching a ventriloquist dummy. It wasn’t what he said. It was the facial expressions when he said it. By the way, I don’t think there are millions of independents out there, as he said, like him.

        1. PinkHatLib

          Maybe not center-right in the parlance of U.S. politics which is all center to right. Certainly by European standards he’s center-right. A picture is worth a thousands words…

          Political Compass:  US Presidential Election 2012

          1. Sully

            Very true. US poolitics is more about us v. them, red v. blue, than any coherent political theory. Heathcare is a prime example. if Mitt Romney would have won the nomination and election in 2008, my bet is that he would have put forth a heathcare reform plan similar to Obama’s (since that was based on his own plan in Massachusetts). The same repulicans calling for its repeal would hve been supporting it, and the same democrats trumpeting now would have been criticizing it as a handout to insurance companies.


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