Democratic Congressman Jim Himes Monday night was nominated for a 5th two-year term by delegates at Bridgeport’s Roosevelt School. Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District covers 17 towns including Bridgeport. Republicans have endorsed State Rep. John Shaban of Redding to challenge Himes. Himes acceptance speech follows:
I am thrilled, honored and humbled to accept your nomination to stand as our Democratic candidate for Congress. As I look around the room tonight, I see friends–brothers and sisters, really–who started a journey together nearly eight years ago. Do you remember eight years ago?
Do you remember the pain and fear as nearly a million Americans lost their jobs every single month?
Do you remember opening the paper every morning to read of the three or four brave servicemen and women who died that day in Afghanistan or Iraq?
Eight years ago, each and every one of you came together knowing that we could do better.
And so, you elected a historic president, Barack Obama, who in those dark days of war and recession reassured us with three simple words: YES WE CAN.
And you gave him a Congress dedicated to the idea that unites us tonight. The idea that makes us Democrats.
It is the idea that we are all in this together. That we have a stake in each other’s success.
Yes, success is a result of hard work, discipline and inspiration. But success always comes with the support and encouragement and investment of family and mentors and communities large and small.
Somewhere along the way, you and I were helped by the libraries and schools and railways and ports and teachers and soldiers and judges and crusaders for justice that we largely take for granted.
Eight years ago, motivated by that idea, we helped put millions and millions of Americans back to work.
And along the way, together we did some pretty amazing things.
We passed the Affordable Care Act, which has now provided health insurance to 16 million of our fellow Americans.
We said that if you have diabetes, or heart disease or if you survived breast cancer, never again will an insurance company leave you out in the cold.
We fought for equal pay and a woman’s right to control her own body.
We fought alongside our LGBT brothers and sisters for the right marry, inherit and put on the uniform of the country they love.
And every step of the way–as we rebuilt the economy, passed the Affordable Care Act, got the banks and credit card companies to behave–every step of the way, the most strident and powerful voices in the Republican Party said “no.” No you can’t.
But we did.
By the way, they didn’t just say no. They called the President unAmerican. Told him that unlike every other President, he had no right to nominate a Justice of the Supreme Court. They invented death panels. They shut down the federal government. They promised us that the Affordable Care Act and Wall Street Reform would crash the economy.
Worst of all, since they were consistently and invariably wrong on the facts, they appealed to the darker emotions. Anger. Division. Suspicion. And now they are reaping what they sowed.
So now, together, we have two big jobs.
First, we need to preserve and expand the progress we’ve made these last eight years. It’s not enough to pull the country out of the Great Recession. The truth is, too many Americans have been left behind.
Too many of our fellow citizens wake up and worry every day that they are one paycheck away from falling out of the middle class.
Too many Americans don’t know how they’ll be able to afford to educate their children.
Too many Americans sense that we’re moving away from being a land of equal opportunity to a place where your future will have as much to do with your zip code at birth than with how hard you work or how hard you try.
We must change that. We have to get back to investing in our people and in the education and infrastructure and research that allows them to succeed and win the competition for tomorrow’s high-quality jobs.
We must change the fact that in too much of the country, state legislatures are working to make it easier and easier to discriminate and to carry a gun but harder and harder to vote.
We must find a way to take the flood of money out of our politics. Americans deserve to know that it is votes, not checkbooks, that drive our government.
Finally, we must stop the anger and vilification and hatred and once again put out the welcome mat that says that it doesn’t matter if you’re Mexican or Syrian or Indian or German. If you’re here to work hard and contribute to your community, we hope that some day we’ll call you American.
And that leads me to the second thing that we will do, not because we are Democrats, but because we are Americans. As Americans, we know that for 240 years as we pushed and struggled and fought to make a more inclusive, just and fair country–as we’ve fought for women’s rights, for civil rights, for LGBT rights–we have been opposed by dark reactions based in fear and hate. Fear and hate of the black man. Fear of Catholics. Of citizens of Japanese descent. Of Jews and Italians and Irish and gays and communists. Of Mexicans. Of Muslims.
I have never understood why a country as strong and open and confident as ours falls prey to fear. But sometimes we do. And we always regret it.
Just when you hoped that Sarah Palin a heartbeat from the Presidency might be the worst excess of the once Grand Old Party, now they offer America Donald Trump.
A bigoted, arrogant, inexperienced man. A man who embraces torture, who humiliates women, who would close our country to an entire religion–Donald Trump will be the Republican candidate for President.
My friends, in the face of evil, clarity is important. Remember that for generations now, demagogues have not come to power at the head of an army. They have come to power because people lost clarity about right and wrong and turned away.
So let us be clear that the hate and bigotry and mockery and division of Donald Trump must have no place in American public life, much less in the highest office in the land.
Let us be clear, and urge our Republican friends to see that nothing justifies supporting a hateful demagogue. Not winnability. Not a habit of supporting the party’s nominee. Nothing.
This is a time to stand up and be counted. History is watching closely. Its judgment will not be kind on those who lose clarity and turn away.
As your nominee, I promise to fight for the things that we care about as Democrats: for opportunity, for equality, for justice. And I promise to say loud and clear, that our country will not fall prey to hate and fear.
But what is really important is not what I do, but what we do together. So let’s resolve that in these next six months we will do the hard and gritty work of democracy: knocking doors, making phone calls, speaking with one loud clear voice for the idea that we are all in this together.
Because at our very best … that’s who we are.