Thank you, Chairwoman Lewis. It’s such an honor for me to address my state’s delegation to the Democratic National Convention. And how appropriate that we meet together this morning on Labor Day. Thank you, Labor, for teaching our kids, patrolling our streets, and giving us workplace safety and the two-day weekend!
Not long ago I was on CNBC’s Kudlow Report debating Ann Coulter. I don’t recommend that you try this at home.
There we were, on a business news network, debating gay marriage. But as we argued back and forth, a nagging question kept coming up in my mind. I tried to block it out and focus on the debate but I couldn’t help it. I kept asking myself:
Why the heck was a business news network hosting a debate about a social issue like gay marriage?!
What did Ann Coulter and the stock ticker at the bottom of the screen have at all in common? The whole thing just ticked me off.
I’m here this morning, though, to admit something to you. I was wrong.
I was wrong to ask myself that question.
I was wrong to think that social issues and business and economics should be debated separately.
Ann Coulter, Larry Kudlow, and CNBC actually had done me a huge favor. They helped me to see the light.
Not only do social issues and economic issues go hand in hand, but looking at them together explains why we Democrats always have been, and always will be, better for the economy than Republicans. And we Marylanders know this as well as anyone because we’ve seen it up close and personal.
Let’s start by asking what we as Democrats stand for.
Forget about the ten-point policy platforms. Forget about talking points and political points and scoring points, just for a minute.
If you had to dig down to the essence of who you and I are as people, what we believe in that makes us Democrats, what would you say? Could you come up with a sentence or even just a word that binds us together and unites us as Democrats?
For me, there is one such word: inclusion.
We believe that it’s always better to include more people. The Republicans, by contrast, consistently frame things in terms of exclusion.
Take gay marriage, the topic I was debating with Ann Coulter.
We in the Maryland Democratic Party struggled with this issue but in the end we came down on the side of inclusion.
Now, the Republicans are dead-set against gay marriage. That fits.
They want to exclude.
The Republicans not only want to make gay marriage illegal, just last week they voted to amend the United States Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
We Democrats include. The Republicans exclude.
Same thing is true in immigration reform.
Did you see those pictures of young people lining up by the thousands to sign up for President Obama’s new DREAM policy?
The President had had enough, waiting for the do-nothing Republican-controlled House of Representatives to take action on the DREAM Act, so he took executive action and said, maybe you weren’t born in the United States, but if you came here as a child and are going to school and being a productive member of the community, we don’t want you to live in constant fear of deportation.
And they came by the hundreds of thousands, hopeful, optimistic, eager to succeed.
They want to be included.
And we Democrats want them to be included in the American dream.
Where do the Republicans stand?
They block the DREAM Act in Congress. And just last week the Republican Party voted to deny any federal funds to colleges or universities that allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition.
Republicans don’t want to reform immigration in a meaningful way because they don’t want to include anyone new in the American family.
Are they afraid of Canadian hockey players taking over the NHL? No. They’re afraid of anyone who doesn’t look, talk, act, and think just like them. They want to exclude.
We Democrats include. The Republicans exclude.
Getting back to that nagging question in the back of my mind while debating Ann Coulter on CNBC, what does any of this have to do with economics?
What is the sector of the economy right now that probably is most important in determining employment growth? What sector is taking longer to recover than in past recessions and whose downfall contributed to the hole we’re now trying to dig out of?
The housing sector finally seems to be getting healthier, but we all would like an even faster increase in home sales and new home construction.
What’s the first big financial transaction a newly married couple talks about making together?
Buying a house!
If we make it easier for LGBT couples, to qualify for mortgages through their combined incomes, easier to buy a home jointly through the institution of marriage, guess what. You don’t have to be a Ph.D. in economics to realize that new home construction and existing home sales are going up.
Inclusion is good for business. It’s good for workers. Inclusion is good for the economy. That’s why the Democratic Party is good for the U.S. economy.
Similarly, someone who lives day and night in fear of deportation probably isn’t going to buy a house any time soon. So immigration reform probably will help raise home sales, along with sales of durable goods, as wage earners feel secure enough to invest in a home.
And it’s really interesting to note how many big companies in agriculture, tourism, and other sectors want immigration reform.
They’re not stupid. They understand that someone who just risked his or her life to get to the United States probably knows how to show up to work on time.
If you want to understand why the United States consistently out invents, out innovates, out risk-takes other countries, you have to acknowledge the role that immigrants have played in our history and our economy.
When a family of Soviet Jews escaped persecution, immigrated to Maryland and sent their son to College Park, they were risk-takers and innovators. They had no idea their son, Sergey Brin, would grow up to start Google!
America benefits from inclusion. It’s good for business, good for workers, good for the economy. That’s why America needs the Democratic Party.
Looking around this room, and at our Chairwoman, it seems ridiculous to ask this question but… Where do we stand on women’s issues?
We Democrats call for women to be, not just at the table, but like Yvette Lewis, at the head of the table.
We believe that women should be included in the corridors of power and respected at home.
My wife and I own a business together. We raise two sons together. Lord knows, if she weren’t my equal, I would have run the business and the household over a cliff long ago. I need the women in my life to be included in everything I do as my equals, or I’m in trouble.
And when it comes to women’s health issues, like contraception and reproductive rights, we Democrats stand for inclusion.
No government policy ever should tell a woman that she is excluded from medical products or procedures of her choosing.
What do the Republicans believe?
This is too easy.
I’m just Clay “Akin” to be objective here…
Let’s try this. I don’t know if you saw the last night of the Republican convention, when Clint Eastwood gave the most bizarre, rambling speech I’ve ever seen at a national convention. He talked to an empty chair and pretended it was President Obama.
You made MY day, Clint!
So I’ve invited Willard Mitt Romney to join us here this morning. Could someone please hold up this empty suit? [hold up suit on hanger]
Now, Gov. Romney, you talked a lot about how much you value women. Had a whole lot of women speakers at your convention. But out of view of the TV cameras, your party adopted a policy that would make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape or incest.
Is that your idea of treating women well? [empty suit doesn’t answer]
Doesn’t seem very inclusive, Governor.
Imagine the conversation between a doctor and a teenage girl who was impregnated by a rapist, if that Republican policy were in place. I’m sorry, the doctor would say, but I must exclude you from receiving a perfectly safe medical procedure. I must exclude you from the people who get to choose when to start a family. I must exclude you from the life of achievement and self-actualization that you would have had if you were born a male.
What would you say to that teenage girl, Governor?
No, she doesn’t want to take a ride on your show horse.
No, she doesn’t want to go waterskiing at your New Hampshire lake house.
No, she doesn’t want to collect seashells at your California beach house.
Governor Romney, that young woman wants what all women want—to be treated as equals and have the same opportunities as men.
Let’s put Mitt down for his nap. Let him dream of being with his money… in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.
Folks, the Republican roll-back of history will never happen under a Democratic presidency.
Because we Democrats include.
Does this relate to economics? You bet.
When women have the freedom to engage in family planning, not only do their incomes go up on average, but the standard of living enjoyed by their children if and when they start a family also go up. And that means our whole economy does better.
We see this around the world. If you want the best indication of upward mobility in a society, just take a look at how that country treats women. The better the women are treated, the wealthier the country. It’s just that simple.
So I was wrong. I was wrong to ask why I was debating a social issue with Ann Coulter on a business news network.
Not only should social issues and economic issues be debated together but the results should be crystal clear in our minds as Democrats: Democratic values, Democratic policies, the spirit of inclusion at every level of our great country, means good things for business, workers and the economy.
Just look at the facts. My former boss, President Clinton, presided over the longest economic expansion in American history.
President Obama has created more jobs in three and a half years than President George W. Bush did in eight.
And we see it right in our own wonderful state of Maryland, where Gov. O’Malley, Lt. Gov. Brown, Attorney General Gansler, Comptroller Franchot, Democrats in the legislature, and other Democratic office holders have made inclusion a priority:
They’ve invested in education for all, and we have the best public schools in the nation.
They’ve protected civil rights for all, and we have the most affluent African American suburban households than any state in the nation.
They’ve embraced public sector and private sector collaboration, and we have burgeoning biotech and cybersecurity sectors.
We have a stronger jobs market than the rest of the nation as a whole.
And from the majesty of the Chesapeake Bay, to the grandeur of the Catoctin Mountains; from the glory of Camden Yards, to the bike paths and parks in Montgomery county, we Marylanders enjoy one of the best standards of living anywhere in the country!
So as you participate in this Democratic convention, representing our state and our Democratic values, a reporter or friend or stranger might ask you, what’s this all about?
I hope you’ll remember:
We Democrats believe in inclusion, the Republicans want to exclude.
When you include, we all win—business, workers, and the whole economy.
Inclusion is good economics.
That’s why I’m proud to be a Democrat.
That’s why I’m proud to have you as my representatives at this Democratic Convention.
And that’s why Barack Obama will win a second term as President of the United States.
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