Follow Your Passion
This is a partial transcript of a speech I delivered to the Oregon delegates at the Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016. Click here to listen to the audio.
I don’t know about you, but I had trouble sleeping last night, not just because we were out late. For me, that was a very emotional walk down memory lane.
I appreciate the emotion and energy from Sanders supporters and the people who are diehard Hillary fans.
My first experience in politics was in 1968. We lost two of my heroes, and probably yours, by assassination.
I was involved with the campaign just a little bit, and the Chicago convention was a disaster. Talk about the establishment. They took it away from us.
The Democrats fell apart, and I understand it because I was furious. I didn’t get involved in the general election, and we got Richard Nixon. We got Richard Nixon!
So I went out and started working on a campaign to lower the voting age, spent two years of my life on it. We got the 18-year-old vote, but people didn’t turn out. My generation voted 30 percent. We got Nixon again.
In fact, except for two Clinton terms, we were one for seven. We saw changes in policy. We saw lost opportunities.
I got involved in 1984, my first convention. There was a guy most of you don’t remember — Gary Hart — he had some new ideas. He went out there, on the ground with lots of volunteers.
Despite only getting 16 percent in Iowa, he won New Hampshire by 10 percent.
And, we went forward. We won 27 states. We didn’t win quite as many votes as Walter Mondale, but out of 15 million votes cast, we came within 300,000.
And then there was a guy named Jesse Jackson, who won two states and the District of Columbia, and I will tell you what an electric night in San Francisco when he addressed that convention and brought people together.
I personally feel to this day that if we could have done a better job, and if the rules had been slightly different, Gary would have been the nominee and he would have won.
And the cascading effects… who knows. Maybe we wouldn’t have had two more Bushs.
I understand that frustration. I lived it.
I spent more of my time at the state and local level where we could actually get stuff done. And a number of you were part of that.
I was proud of what we did in the 70s in the Oregon legislature. I am proud of what we did in local government and the metropolitan area.
Twenty years ago, I had had enough of Newt Gingrich, and left a job that I love — for Congress — a 4,600 hundred mile a week commute and some crazy people. I mean flat out crazy people with their hands on the levers of power. Not people like us who disagree on issues, and we passionately disagree with one another on 900 things.
But these people are crazy, and they are mean.
Over the years, I have worked on about 200 campaigns around the country — probably found a way to contribute $4 million or more to them.
I have never seen anything like this year, nothing like this year.
We always say it’s the most important election of our lifetime, and increasingly they are, but we have never seen anything like this and the choice we are faced with.
I always tell the young people that I’m privileged to work with to “follow your passion.” Follow your passion.
Well, I am going to work on Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, I am going to work to get you a better Congress, and to follow my passions.
I urge each of you to leave this Convention dedicated to following yours.