Prepared remarks follow, check against delivery.
Good morning. Madam Chair, thank you very much for this opportunity to address this meeting of the Democratic National Committee. It is a great honor. To start, I’d like to ask that we join together in cheering and supporting our great Chair who will lead us to victory in 2016 – the work that she has done to provide financial security for the DNC so that we may focus on issues related to our challenges, while moving this party forward and as we move our Nation forward. She is our great leader. She is tough, she is strong, she is focused, and she gets the job done. For all of that and so much more, can we please recognize Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz – our great Democratic National Committee Chair.
Also, to my friend and colleague in the work of mayors, our Secretary, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. In a few months in San Francisco, she will become the first African-American woman President of the United States Conference of Mayors and we could not be more proud or more excited about her leadership.
There are some strong women leaders around here, and some get nervous about strong, women leaders…well you might want to get used to that. Madam Chair, I’ll leave that at that for the moment.
All of the officers here on the stage, please recognize the leadership team of the DNC. And please recognize our great CEO, Amy Dacey. We know as leaders that we don’t do this work by ourselves, it really is the folks on our staffs that make this work happen.
I want to thank all the people who work for the Chair, and Amy and her team, and the group that went all across the Nation to visit all of the cities last year, thank you for your work. And speaking of those great cities… Phoenix, Birmingham, Columbus and New York City, please recognize them for their interest, their effort, their commitment and participation in this process to host the DNC in 2016.
On a personal level, my first convention was in 1992 in New York City. I was a delegate for Bill Clinton. And at the time I ran folks said, ‘why would you become a delegate for a little-known governor from, at the time, the poorest state in America who has no chance of winning?’. I said, ‘that’s fine and I’m going to be a Clinton delegate’… and I think we all know the rest of that story. I’m proud to say I’ve been a Clinton delegate every time there was a Clinton on the ballot… so we’ll see how that goes next year.
We are excited, we are thrilled, and again Madam Chair, we are so proud that the City of Philadelphia, our nation’s first capital city, the city of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, has been selected as the host city for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Philadelphia is the largest city in America with an African-American mayor. We will have an economically inclusive convention in our city. Every opportunity to include the incredible diversity of our city and our nation will be sought out in the economics of what happens during a Democratic National Convention.
You’ll be coming to one of the most diverse cities in the United States – by race, by age, by sexual preference, and every other measure – Philadelphia truly is a microcosm of the United States of America.
Now, I won’t bore you by going over all of the reasons our city was a tremendous choice – suffice to say that Philadelphia is easy to navigate and accessible, has thousands of hotel rooms, exceptional venues for events and incredible amenities, and Philadelphia is one of the best cities in the country to host a large scale event.
But, the one draw that people kept coming back to when they talked about why Philadelphia was the perfect place for the 2016 DNC is our history.
Located in the middle of the Eastern seaboard and the second largest City in the British Empire, Philadelphia was a safe port in the contentious political storm as American colonists struggled toward a decision to break free from tyranny.
It’s where our nation’s forefathers argued and contended as they determined what form a new government might have and how it would work. Philadelphia helped to define what we now know as democracy in the United States of America.
Philadelphia hosted the first and second Continental Congresses. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed here, and in those documents our forefathers also said that every American was entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Almost 200 years later, in 1948 at its national convention, the last Democratic National Convention hosted in Philadelphia, the Democratic Party adopted a civil rights platform. Hurbert Humphrey urged Democrats to “…get out of the shadow of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human right.” And from that moment on, our party became the party of civil rights and human rights. In that decision, the Democratic Party made history and started down a path to a more just nation for every American.
In 2008, then presidential candidate Barack Obama delivered a powerful and moving speech about race, injustice and hope in America at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia. He said the true genius of our great nation was our ability to change.
In that speech, “A More Perfect Union”, Barack Obama talked about what it would take to be a more perfect union. He talked about the future he saw, a nation united in the fight against complex issues that threaten America’s strength and an election focused on the issues that matter, not the side shows that serve as nothing more than colorful and disruptive distractions.
He reaffirmed the Democratic tenants in that speech in the place where history is made and the place where liberty was wrestled free from tyranny.
Isn’t that what we’re really all about 200 years later, as Democrats? That people should be able to enjoy their lives – that people should have liberty where they are and be able to pursue their happiness. That’s what we’ve been doing for hundreds of years and we need to stay focused in that mission.
Some of us may have we lost sight of who we are, what we stand for and what is important. Some may have let fear dictate our actions instead of principle. We can’t do that in 2016.
We must have the courage to recommit ourselves to the core values of our party, to solving the challenges of our great nation and addressing the needs of our base. We must make history again. And there is no better place than Philadelphia to do it.
We must remember that we are the party of the middle class – and not just those in it today, but those Americans who struggle daily, who are pulling double shifts or taking night classes to work their way into it.
And here in Philadelphia, we have worked hard to keep the faith:
- When the President said it was time to give America a raise, we responded. Philadelphia, by Executive Order, increased the minimum wage for City contractors and first tier subcontractors.
- On the same day that Congress introduced legislation that provided paid sick leave for all employees, I signed into law legislation that enables Philadelphia workers to earn 1 hour paid sick time off for every 40 hours worked.
We can do these things. This is who we are; it’s what we’re about.
We remember the Great Recession – some said ‘let auto fail’, but the President said ‘no’ and auto has come roaring back. Some said we could not get healthcare but the President said ‘we will’ and millions of Americans now have healthcare.
We put millions of people to work with an economic recovery program of $800 billion when not one Republican in the House and just three in the Senate supported it – it was a month into President Obama’s term, after we had heard all about a post-racial environment, and one month later no one could stand up for Americans but Democrats all across the United States of America because that’s what we do.
We are the party of labor. We are the party that fights for and protects workers. We are the party that stands up for every American. We are the party of civil rights, human rights and LGBT rights.
- Philadelphia has the strongest LGBT protections in the nation.
We are the party of equal pay for equal work. We are the party that champions women’s rights – their right to think for themselves, to be treated fairly and equally, their right to do what they believe is best for themselves and their families.
We are the pro-education party. We believe that every young person has the right to a high-quality education, beginning in head start and on through to college. We are the party that believes every person who needs help should get it, because a hand up is never a hand out. We are the party of community policing and public safety for all. We’re the party of getting stuff done for Americans.
We are the party that works for the poor, that creates opportunities, and that never gives up.
Lastly, we had an incredible history lesson this morning at the Black Caucus breakfast from Chairman Butterfield – every child in America should see and hear what Chairman Butterfield said.
If you’ve not seen the movie Selma, you need to see it. This year is the 50th Anniversary of an incredible struggle in America for voting rights, for civil rights, for human rights…the dogs, the hoses, the lynchings, the abuse, the oppression. Activists walked 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, and what I say to some people in Philadelphia is: and you can’t be bothered to walk 5 minutes from your house to a polling place to uphold the rights that some people suffered and died to give you, the opportunity to exercise your franchise on Election Day.
No one can stay home on Election Day. It is a disgrace and insult to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the active work today of Representative John Lewis and many others to not vote.
We know when we vote, we win as Democrats. When we vote, we win elections. So we need to make sure that everyone is registered. But if you’re registered and you don’t go to the polls, it just doesn’t matter.
So we will give folks something to vote for. We will give folks something to be excited about. We’ve demonstrated what we can do when we’re active, when we’re energized, when we’re engaged. We get things done.
The Democratic Party has made history time and time again. And, we are ready to do it again in Philadelphia in 2016. The road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue comes right through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Watch the video of Mayor Nutter’s speech here: http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4528742/philadelphia-mayor-michael-nutter-remarks-dnc-winter-meeting