After the insincere, manipulative fear-mongering of Trump's State of the Union speech, Joe Kennedy's Democratic response was a refreshing dose of inspiration that called Americans to remember the higher ground.
The 37-year-old Democrat. who graduated from Stanford and Harvard Law School and was a member of the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic before he became a prosecutor, holds the House seat opened up by Barney Frank’s retirement in 2012.
KENNEDY: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. good evening, ladies and gentlemen. It is an absolute privilege to join you all tonight. We are here in Fall River, Massachusetts, a proud American city. An American city built by immigrants.
From textiles to robots, this is a place that knows how to make great things.
The students who are with us here this evening from the auto tech program at Diman Regional Technical School, carry on that rich legacy.
Like many American hometowns, Fall River has faced its share of storms. The people here are tough. They fight for each other, they pull for their city. It is a fitting place to gather as our nation reflects on the state of our union. This is a difficult task. Many have spent the last year, anxious, angry, afraid, we all feel the fractured fault lines across our country. We hear the voices of Americans who are forgotten and forsaken. Corporate profits fall but fail to give their workers their fair share. A government that struggles to keep itself open. Russia, knee deep in our democracy. An all-out war on environmental protection. A Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day. Hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets. Bullets tearing through our classrooms, concerts and congregations, targeting our safest and sacred places. This nagging and thinking feeling, no matter your political beliefs, this is not right, this is not who we are.
Folks, it would be easy to dismiss this past year's chaos. Partisanship as politics, but it is far, far bigger than that. This administration is not just targeting the laws that protect us, they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection. For them, dignity is not something you are born with, but something you measure by your net worth, your celebrity, your headlines, your crowd size. Not to mention, the gender of your spouse, the country of your birth, the color of your skin, the God of your prayers. Their record has rebuked our highest American ideals, the belief that we are all or the, we are all equal, that we all count in the eyes of our laws, our leaders, our God, and our government. That is the American promise.
But today, ladies and gentlemen, today that promise is being broken by an administration that callously appraises our worthiness and decides who makes the cut, and who can be bargained away. They are turning American life into a zero-sum game where for one to win, another must lose. Where we can guarantee America's safety if we slash our safety net. Where we can extend health care in Mississippi if we gut it in Massachusetts. We can cut taxes for corporations today if we raise them on families tomorrow. Where we can take care of sick kids if we sacrificed Dreamers. We are bombarded with one false choice after another. Coal miners or single moms, rural communities or inner cities. The coast or the heartland. The daycare worker in Birmingham, bitter rivals rather than mutual casualties of a system forcefully rigged towards those at the top. The parent who lies awake terrified that their transgender son or daughter will be beaten and bullied at school.as if the parent who lies awake terrified that their transgender son or daughter will be beaten or bullied at school is any more or less legitimate than a parent whose heart is shattered by a daughter in the grips of an opioid addiction.
Here is an answer that Democrats offer tonight. We choose both.
We fight for both, because the greatest, strongest, richest nation in the world should not have to leave anyone behind.
We choose the better deal for all who call our country home. We choose a living wage and a paid leave, affordable childcare that your family needs to survive. Pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that will not rust away. A good education that you can afford, a health care system that offers you mercy whether you suffer from cancer, or depression, or an addiction. We choose an economy strong enough to post record stock prices, and brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times their average worker is not right.
We choose Fall River. We choose that thousands of Americans communities whose roads aren't paved with power or privilege, but with an honest effort of good faith, and the results to build something better for your kids. That is our story. It began the day our Founding Fathers and mothers set sail for a new world fleeing oppression and intolerance. They continued with every word of our independence, the audacity to declare that all men are created equal. An imperfect promise for a nation struggling to become a more perfect union. It grew with every suffragette step, every freedom riders voice, with every weary soul we welcome to our shores. To all the dreamers watching tonight, let me be absolutely clear.
(SPEAKING IN SPANISH)
You are part of our story, we will fight for you and we will not walk away.
— we will not walk away.
America, we carry that story on our shoulders. You swarmed to Washington last year to ensure that no parent has to worry if they can afford to save their child's life. You probably marched together last weekend, thousands on the streets of Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Nashville. You set high atop your mom's shoulders and held a sign that read "Build a wall and my generation will tear it down."
You bravely say, "me too." You steadfastly say, "black lives matter." You wade through floodwaters, battle hurricanes, brave wildfires and mudslides to save a stranger. You battle your own quiet battles every single day. You drag your weary bodies to that extra shift so that your families will not feel the sting of scarcity. You leave loved ones at home to defend our country overseas, patrol our neighborhoods at night. You serve, you rescue, you help, you heal. That, more than any law or leader, debate or disagreement, that is what drives us towards progress. Bullies may land a punch and they may leave a mark, but they have never, not once in the history of the United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of the people united for their future.
Politicians can be cheered for the promises they make. Our country will be judged by the promises we keep.
That is the measure of our character. That is who we are. Out of many, one. Ladies and gentlemen, have faith. Have faith. The state of our union is hopeful, resilient, and enduring. God bless you. God bless your families. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.