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The time when the President embracing liberalism

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  • Ram Lau
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/presidents/35_kennedy/psources/ps_nyliberal.html Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination John F. Kennedy September 14,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 26, 2006
      Acceptance of the New York Liberal Party Nomination
      John F. Kennedy
      September 14, 1960

      What do our opponents mean when they apply to us the label "Liberal?"
      If by "Liberal" they mean, as they want people to believe, someone who
      is soft in his policies abroad, who is against local government, and
      who is unconcerned with the taxpayer's dollar, then the record of this
      party and its members demonstrate that we are not that kind of
      "Liberal." But if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and
      not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,
      someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health,
      their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and
      their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the
      stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that
      is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal."

      But first, I would like to say what I understand the word "Liberal" to
      mean and explain in the process why I consider myself to be a
      "Liberal," and what it means in the presidential election of 1960.

      In short, having set forth my view -- I hope for all time -- two
      nights ago in Houston, on the proper relationship between church and
      state, I want to take the opportunity to set forth my views on the
      proper relationship between the state and the citizen. This is my
      political credo:

      I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human
      liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the
      source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of
      our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow
      citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the
      liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of
      fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a
      faith in man's ability through the experiences of his reason and
      judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of
      justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

      I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it
      contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a
      society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it
      cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally
      well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I
      see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then
      returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal
      bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not
      favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job
      and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which
      exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an
      art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe
      it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we
      propose concrete means of achieving them.

      Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends.
      Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social
      invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for
      these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world
      today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the
      same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn
      from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully
      striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our
      national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our
      national energies. And the only basic issue in the 1960 campaign is
      whether our government will fall in a conservative rut and die there,
      or whether we will move ahead in the liberal spirit of daring, of
      breaking new ground, of doing in our generation what Woodrow Wilson
      and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson did in
      their time of influence and responsibility.

      Our liberalism has its roots in our diverse origins. Most of us are
      descended from that segment of the American population which was once
      called an immigrant minority. Today, along with our children and
      grandchildren, we do not feel minor. We feel proud of our origins and
      we are not second to any group in our sense of national purpose. For
      many years New York represented the new frontier to all those who came
      from the ends of the earth to find new opportunity and new freedom,
      generations of men and women who fled from the despotism of the czars,
      the horrors of the Nazis, the tyranny of hunger, who came here to the
      new frontier in the State of New York. These men and women, a living
      cross section of American history, indeed, a cross section of the
      entire world's history of pain and hope, made of this city not only a
      new world of opportunity, but a new world of the spirit as well.

      Tonight we salute Governor and Senator Herbert Lehman as a symbol of
      that spirit, and as a reminder that the fight for full constitutional
      rights for all Americans is a fight that must be carried on in 1961.

      Many of these same immigrant families produced the pioneers and
      builders of the American labor movement. They are the men who sweated
      in our shops, who struggled to create a union, and who were driven by
      longing for education for their children and for the children's
      development. They went to night schools; they built their own future,
      their union's future, and their country's future, brick by brick,
      block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, and now in their
      children's time, suburb by suburb.

      Tonight we salute George Meany as a symbol of that struggle and as a
      reminder that the fight to eliminate poverty and human exploitation is
      a fight that goes on in our day. But in 1960 the cause of liberalism
      cannot content itself with carrying on the fight for human justice and
      economic liberalism here at home. For here and around the world the
      fear of war hangs over us every morning and every night. It lies,
      expressed or silent, in the minds of every American. We cannot banish
      it by repeating that we are economically first or that we are
      militarily first, for saying so doesn't make it so. More will be
      needed than goodwill missions or talking back to Soviet politicians or
      increasing the tempo of the arms race. More will be needed than good
      intentions, for we know where that paving leads.

      In Winston Churchill's words, "We cannot escape our dangers by
      recoiling from them. We dare not pretend such dangers do not exist."

      And tonight we salute Adlai Stevenson as an eloquent spokesman for the
      effort to achieve an intelligent foreign policy. Our opponents would
      like the people to believe that in a time of danger it would be
      hazardous to change the administration that has brought us to this
      time of danger. I think it would be hazardous not to change. I think
      it would be hazardous to continue four more years of stagnation and
      indifference here at home and abroad, of starving the underpinnings of
      our national power, including not only our defense but our image
      abroad as a friend.

      This is an important election -- in many ways as important as any this
      century -- and I think that the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party
      here in New York, and those who believe in progress all over the
      United States, should be associated with us in this great effort. The
      reason that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and
      Adlai Stevenson had influence abroad, and the United States in their
      time had it, was because they moved this country here at home, because
      they stood for something here in the United States, for expanding the
      benefits of our society to our own people, and the people around the
      world looked to us as a symbol of hope.

      I think it is our task to re-create the same atmosphere in our own
      time. Our national elections have often proved to be the turning point
      in the course of our country. I am proposing that 1960 be another
      turning point in the history of the great Republic.

      Some pundits are saying it's 1928 all over again. I say it's 1932 all
      over again. I say this is the great opportunity that we will have in
      our time to move our people and this country and the people of the
      free world beyond the new frontiers of the 1960s.
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