Are you ready for a change? Are you ready to work for it? Are you ready to demand it?
When we started this campaign nearly two years ago, a lot of people – maybe even some of you – were skeptical. No money, no connections, no clue – some thought. For 18 months I have been listening to the pundits and the wise guys say, “No, we can’t.”
But they underestimated you. They misjudged the hunger for change and fresh ideas. They missed just how ready we all were to hope for the best, as my Grandmother used to say, and to work for it. We said “yes, we can.”
Because we know we need a change. Jobs and people are leaving the state. We are near the bottom in the nation in job creation. Kids are going to school in more and more crowded classrooms, families are paying fees for their kids to ride the bus or play on the football team, and teachers are spending thousands of dollars of their own money for required materials in the classrooms. Half a million people have no health insurance, many more have insurance so inadequate they are one serious illness away from financial disaster, and everybody is being squeezed by double-digit annual insurance premium hikes. Gun and gang violence is up in urban settings, and so is domestic violence, sexual assault and drug use in the suburbs. Property taxes have increased over 30%. The Big Dig is billions of dollars over budget and structurally flawed, fatally in one instance.
And the response from the administration consists of blame-shifting and spin. Kerry Healey wants us to believe she had nothing to do with any of this. You would think she was no where near the administration on a whole host of issues, a list that grows by the day of subjects on which she disagreed with Mitt Romney. The point is this: either Kerry Healey was there and was responsible for what’s wrong or she was there and had no influence. Either way we need a change.
We built from the grassroots up. And that is not just a strategy for winning. It’s a strategy for governing. We spent months moving around the state, listening to people. Listening and learning. They don’t want slogans and gimmicks. They want straight talk and to be part of the solution. Here’s what people tell me:
No business person tells me they need a .3% income tax reduction to stimulate their business. They want predictability and speed in permitting and control of health care costs.
No one from biotech tells me they need rules that constrain stem cell research. They want sustained investment and innovation in public education to prepare a needed workforce.
Seniors don’t tell me they are “over-housed.” They need relief from high property taxes and a way to get long-term care at home.
Students and their families don’t tell me they want more MCAS or merit pay that divides teachers instead of unites schools. They want more attention from well-prepared teachers in smaller class sizes, the chance to join extracurriculars without having to pay fees, and college tuition they can afford.
Police and prosecutors don’t tell me they want tough talk. They want more police on the street and prevention programs and strategies that help make communities stronger like summer job and enrichment opportunities for young people, to keep them out of trouble in the first place.
Crime victims aren’t asking to become pawns in our political theatre or for an end to fair trials. They want a chance to heal and support to help them do so.
Working people want a decent job with a future; a chance to send their kids to college; health care they can afford and depend on; lower property taxes. Not a hand out, but a hand up. They are willing to pay their fair share as long as everyone else does, too.
Grassroots governing, like grassroots campaigning, is about listening to people – going to where they are in their lives and workplaces. Not just the folks in the high-rise offices, but the folks who clean the offices, and all the strivers in between. It’s about asking all people to help me as governor help you as citizens help yourselves. No gimmicks, no sound-bites, no slogans. But lasting and meaningful change.
And so we have run a campaign that is about specific ideas to promote our long-term interests all across the Commonwealth.
We know we need a stronger economy. So we will simplify our permitting and approval processes, with one point of contact to get the state sign-offs businesses need to create the jobs workers need. We will invest a portion of state pension funds as start-up and venture capital for the small and medium-sized businesses that fuel our economy. We will make Massachusetts a global center for the emerging alternative energy industry, so that we meet our energy needs and our environmental responsibilities, and create the good-paying jobs of the future.
And just as we expand economic opportunity, we will expand economic justice because balancing the business bottom line with the human and environmental bottom lines is how you lift the whole community up.
We know we need stronger schools. So we will work for universal early education for 3- and 4-year-olds, all-day kindergarten, smaller class size and longer school days with after-school and enrichment programs, music and art, exercise and supervised homework. And we will start honoring teachers for the magic they bring to the classroom, instead of blaming them for everything that isn’t working.
We need better health care. So we will implement the new health care law from the perspective that health is a public good, and that we owe every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth a decent, affordable, patient-centered health care system. And we will control costs so that health care is genuinely affordable.
We need safer communities. So we will put 1,000 new cops on the beat in community patrols, coordinate with local, state and federal law enforcement across the region to stop the flow of illegal guns into the state, and develop prevention programs that give young people an alternative to the culture of violence and revenge that permeates our streets.
We need fiscal responsibility. So we will restore local aid so property taxes come down, eliminate nuisance fees in public schools, squeeze $735 million of efficiencies out of the current state budget, and hold every contractor and public official who ought to be accountable for the shoddy oversight of the Big Dig.
The point is this: we have run this campaign on practical ideas that can make a difference for our common future, these ideas and others on housing, on transportation, on energy and the environment. Because at the grassroots you know that we have to offer more than to replace the bad leadership with ordinary leadership and the same old thing. We need creative leadership and vision.
I don’t pretend to have a corner on ideas; every candidate in this race has a few good ideas, including Kerry Healey. But nobody’s ideas are going anywhere unless we reinvent our politics and restore our sense of community. We have to learn to see our stake again in each others’ dreams and struggles as well as our own.
Hope for a better tomorrow and a willingness to work for it – that is the foundation of this campaign. That is why this campaign has become a movement for change. That is why there is a place here for Democrats, Independents and Republicans – because this is not just about strengthening partisan politics, it’s about reviving citizenship.
What we have built we have built on substance, on a positive message, on the future. That is a very powerful and hopeful thing. It turns out to be very threatening to the entrenches, too. And the Kerry H
ealey campaign has done everything imaginable – and then some – to attack me and you. Rather than talk about her record and her ideas, her campaign and her right-wing allies want the focus to be on old cases I have handled and on my family.
But then, if I had her record, I would want to change the subject, too.
148,000 jobs and 60,000 people have left Massachusetts in the last five years. We are 42nd in the nation in job creation. The cost of housing is up, and homelessness is up – both while Kerry Healey chaired the Governor’s Commission on Housing and Homelessness. If I had that record on the economy, I would change the subject, too.
We are 47th in the nation in spending on public colleges and universities. Mandatory fees are higher than the tuition on many public campuses and the parking garage foundation at UMass Boston is being shored up by hundreds of temporary braces. If I had that record on public higher education, I would change the subject, too.
Health care reform depends on a delicate political compromise that includes a modest assessment on employers that even the business community supports. That’s how we pay for the reforms. After a glamorous signing ceremony, Mitt Romney and Kerry Healey vetoed that provision and now Kerry Healey campaigns on a pledge to kill it once and for all. If my ideas on health care were that cynical, I would change the subject, too.
The Big Dig is critical to the region’s economic future. It is billions of dollars over budget and structurally flawed. We have known this for years. But it took a human tragedy in July before Kerry Healey and Mitt Romney decided to pay attention to any of that, and the public has yet to recover one red cent. Now we learn that the administration is under federal scrutiny because it may have misled investors and the public about inspecting the ceiling bolts. If that were my record on the Big Dig, I would change the subject, too.
Let’s talk about leadership experience. I have lead in government, in business, in nonprofits and in community groups. I have managed thousands of people and hundred of millions of dollars across multiple continents. Kerry Healey has not. She has missed most of the meetings of Criminal History Systems Board; chaired the Commission on Housing but done nothing about the housing crisis; and presided over the devastating cuts in local aid that have driven property taxes through the roof. If I had Kerry Healey’s record of leadership, I would change the subject, too.
Let’s talk about crime. And let’s try talking about it honestly. I am the only candidate in this race who has ever actually sent anyone to prison. I’m not a criminologist. I was a federal prosecutor. I have had to make those tough decisions about whom to charge and with what, to test that evidence and argue the sentence.
I have had to comfort victims. I have represented victims. Thanks to the newspaper, you now know my family and I have been victims of crime ourselves. You can’t grow up in a place like the south side of Chicago without understanding the impact of crime and violence on survivors and a community.
And yes, I have sometimes represented the unsavory defendant, too. And you better be glad someone does, because that’s what puts the justice in our system of justice. I’m proud of that. And if Kerry Healey had ever read the Constitution she is sworn to uphold, she’d know better than to slander those who do.
So, let’s talk about crime. There are up to 700 fewer cops on the beat thanks to this administration’s fiscal policy. Guns are flooding over the line and gang violence is soaring. Kerry Healey touts the Sex Offender Register as a centerpiece of her public safety strategy, and then vetoes the funding to support it and fails even to appoint the staff. If I had Kerry Healey’s record on public safety, I would change the subject, too.
The Healey campaign is up to tired old tricks – change the subject, say anything and do anything to tear the other candidate down. Because she has not a single reason for why she should be governor that doesn’t turn on why she thinks I should not be governor.
And that is another difference. We have not built anything on tearing anyone down. She wants to divide people. We want to bring people together. She wants partisan point-scoring. We want problem-solving and progress. Hers is a politics of fear. Ours is politics of hope.
Politics reached a new low last week when my sister and her family got dragged needlessly into this campaign. It was wrong. And the sad fact is, it’s probably not the end. The truth is that the Healey campaign has created a political environment so toxic that things like this are going to happen. Here is a family that has repaired itself and lived as model citizens in Massachusetts for the last 13 years – after a serious but distant tragedy. What Kerry Healey doesn’t understand is that leaders set the tone. Organizations take their lead from the person at the top. And Kerry Healey has set a tone of unprecedented nastiness and negativity in this campaign. So, no, Kerry Healey, I will not apologize for laying this outrage at your feet. That is where it belongs.
What we will do over the next three weeks is insist that Kerry Healey stop trying to change the subject. We will insist that she deal with her record of inaction and neglect and why, based on that record, we should trust her to do better than in the next four years than she has in the last four years. And we will ask the people of Massachusetts to choose whether they want more emphasis on what divides us or more emphasis on what unites us and moves us all forward.
So, let me worry about the incomings and negative attacks. We are strong politically and more important spiritually. My sister and brother-in-law are here, still standing tall, with Diane and me right beside them and their kids. We are as flawed and unfinished a family as any other. We have our moments of pride and of shame. But we know that forgiveness and grace is what makes a strong family, a stronger community, and progress possible.
Thank you all for your support and your understanding. But let me worry about the attacks and the slanders. You do what you need to do. Talk to your family and friends, your neighbors, your coworkers about what’s at stake. Ask them to see this not as my campaign, but theirs. Make a contribution of time or money. Volunteer at a phone bank to identify voters who will support our cause this week. Canvass your neighborhood with material about the campaign. Join one of the get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day. There is staff at the tables in the back and with clipboards around and about to show you how to get involved. We have 23 days left before the polls close on Election Day. It’s not a lot of time to change the course of our state. But that is what’s at stake.
Meanwhile, I will not engage in the politics of fear. Because fear is poisonous. All through history it has been used to hold back progress and limit fairness. Only hope defeats fear. It always has.
At a candidates forum last week, the moderator asked each of us to say something nice about the other candidates. Kerry Healey rather grudgingly said, “Well, he can give a good speech.” She would know this not because she has ever attended a speech of mine but because she has them filmed by this fine fellow here. But her dismissive point, and I hear it from her staff, is that all I have to offer is words. Just words.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Just words
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Just words.
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Just words.
“I have a dream.” Just words.
Let me say it before you do: I am no Dr. King, no President Kennedy, no FDR, no Thomas Jefferson. But I do know that the right words, spoken from the heart with conviction, with a vision of a better place and a faith in the unseen, are a call to action. So when you hear my words, or speak your own to your neighbors, hear them and speak them as a call to action.
Because the victory is not just what we did on primary night. It’s not just what we will do on November 7. It’s not even when – with your help and God Almighty’s — I take the oath of office next January. The victory comes when every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth has a reason to hope.
Go out and work for that. God bless us all. Thank you.
Do we think he has set the right tone to take back the momemtum in this race? He has turned the page on a terrible past week? Or, does he need to turn up the juice a little louder still?