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The Speech Obama Needs to Give

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With the nomination in-hand, a party to unite, a war hero to defeat, and a country to convince...

"A night like tonight was inevitable. One way or another, one candidate or the other, a night would come during this election season when the Democratic party would make history.

"Now there are many kinds of history. There is the history of the current administration--a history marked by division, misdirection and misinformation, a history marred by secrecy and obfuscation.

"And then there is another kind of history--the history of Americans' taking giant steps forward--giant steps toward becoming what our founders envisioned: A more perfect union.

"It is not surprising that history put the Democratic Party on the path to such a moment. From FDR to to JFK to LBJ, from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton, we have fought for the rights of all Americans, that sought to remove injustice and erase the prejudice of race, gender and class that said "you... yes, you whose daddy was not rich, or you who look or worship differently, or you who wear a skirt instead of pants... you do not deserve... you do not belong."

"As this historic primary comes to a close, the Democratic Party has once again triumphed. We have proven that while we may not be perfect, a more perfect union is our goal. We have proven once more that we will not settle for "good enough." We will not accept a status quo that is long past its expiration date. Instead, we ceaselessly march forward to break down the barriers to progress and equality of opportunity.

"We fight furiously against the forces of reaction that would drag us back to less tolerant yesterdays. Yes, we love this country for its past accomplishments, but we love it just as much for its boundless potential--we love it for its ever-quickening pace toward becoming... yes... a more perfect union. That's why we open the doors to new and greater opportunities for every American.

"That's what we Democrats do.

"Hillary Clinton is an exemplary Senator, a furious campaigner, and a great American. She has been a vital part of this moment in history, this moment when we showed the world what the "land of opportunity" can mean--when the biracial immigrant's son and a woman both vie for the Democratic presidential nomination. We fought hard and sometimes a little rough, but we both know that the other shared his or her fundamental goals--to use this moment in history to midwife a giant leap forward, toward that more perfect union.

"We heard you share your terror of the lack of adequate or affordable healthcare, and we seized the moment to do what democrats do--open the doors of opportunity, for you cannot achieve your potential, your children cannot develop their gifts, if pain and illness, untreated, tears the life and will from their bodies.

"We heard your dismay at an America that imprisoned without trial, that kidnapped innocents off the streets and flew them to secret prisons for torture. We seized the moment to restore America to its rightful place as a symbol of hope and justice, not of rendition and torment.

"We heard your frustration at a country stuck in old ideological wars and ways of thinking instead of working together to find the most effective, most practical and most profitable solutions to our addiction to foreign oil, our crumbling roads and bridges, higher education becoming more necessary and less affordable, maintaining our standard of living in competition with emerging economy labor sources.

"And we heard your rage at the expenditure of lives, blood and treasure, year after blood-splattered year, fighting the wrong war, at the wrong time, with the wrong tools, and the wrong tactics.

"We both ran because we know America needs change. The old methods are standing in our way. Our war debt, our political paralysis, our inattention to the national house--they rob us and our children of opportunity--our American birthright.

"And we are Democrats. We open the doors of opportunity for everyone--not just the rich or the poor, or the black or brown or white--but for everyone. That's what Democrats do. That's why Hillary Clinton and I ran in this primary, and it is why I look forward to her invaluable contributions to the Democratic cause and to this country. We all need her.

"Change can be frightening. Change can be exhilarating. Most often it is both. My fellow Americans, the world is undergoing enormous change. New economic powers emerge, new markets evolve, new technologies interconnect them in ways recently unimaginable. And as a result, the very earth on which we stand grows warmer, threatening all of this sometimes-glorious progress. We have only two choices: change or whither. To Democrats, that means no choice. It means we change.

"As we engage with the world--including those we call enemies--as we challenge entrenched interests invested in the status quo--as we do this we risk opposition. We risk defeat. But that has never stopped us before. It did not stop John Kennedy from proposing his New Frontier or engaging the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It did not stop Lyndon Johnson from pounding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress. It did not stop Martin Luther King from mobilizing every moral resource in this country to change it for the better. It did not stop Bill and Hillary Clinton from their groundbreaking attempt to reform this nation's healthcare infrastructure.

"If we do not change, history will sweep past us. It will leave us behind, along with our failed healthcare system, our dysfunctional government, our dependence on dirty foreign fuels, our mediocre college graduation rates, our over-extended military, our crumbling infrastructure and a befouled environment that houses it all.

"If we do not change, opportunity will vanish. We will lose hope. We will lose sight of our perpetual goal of a more perfect union. That cannot happen.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have no choice. I ask you to work with me to change this country for the better, to put her industry, economy and environment on sound footing, to prepare to meet tomorrow's challenges instead of looking back longingly to yesterday's. I ask you to turn your backs on fear, to honor the past but relish the future because it is in your hands, and together, we can make it as rich, as diverse, as honorable and as strong as America itself."