2012 DFL State Convention Welcome Speech from State Party Chair Ken Martin"MNDFL"
June 2, 2012
Welcome DFLers to Rochester, Minnesota and to the 2012 DFL State Convention. Just five months from now, we have the opportunity to re-elect President Barack Obama, Senator Amy Klobuchar, retake the majorities in the Minnesota House and Senate, and defeat the two hateful and divisive constitutional amendments the Republicans have placed before the voters.
Now President Obama has asked all of us if we are in for 2012. He knows there remains a great deal of work to do to ensure our state and country move forward, and that we must elect Democrats this fall to make any progress. I want President Obama to know that we have heard him and his call to action, when I ask you if you are in I want to hear you say I’M IN as loud as you can so the President hears us all the way back in Washington:
DFLers, Are you in for the President Obama!
Are you in to re-elect our great Senator Amy Klobuchar!
Are you in to return sanity to St. Paul by retaking the legislative majorities!
Are you in for our collective bargaining rights and pensions!
Are you in for pay equity and a women’s right to choose!
Are you in for making sure everyone has the right to vote!
And lastly, are you in for love, commitment and equality!
We have a lot of work to do this fall and it sounds like you are ready.
What unites us as party – those core values of opportunity and community – will ensure our victories this fall. For our DFL party is a party that believes that regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or socioeconomic background that each person should have the same rights and opportunities as the next. We also believe in community – family, friends, neighbors, cities, our state and our country – but also the idea that our community – all of us together are important and that no one should ever be left behind, discriminated against, or forgotten.
While we stand united in our values, the Republicans in Minnesota stand in disarray. A Grand Old Party beset by scandal, riddled with debt, and torn apart at the seams by infighting. An already far-right party being pushed even further right by candidates like Kurt Bills, Chip Cravaack, and Michele Bachmann.
We are so fortunate to have DFL leaders in Washington who are fighting for the people of Minnesota. Senator Amy Klobuchar has been on the front lines working hard in Washington to defend the interests of the middle class and all Minnesotans. She has been working to ensure that our students aren't saddled with more debt. She's been sticking up for our veterans, defending those who are willing to give their lives to defend us. She fought to give health care to all Americans regardless of preexisting conditions or how much money they make. When others were more interested in scoring political points Amy reached across the aisle and charted a course which put the interests of Minnesotans ahead of politics. Amy has been a strong advocate for middle-class families on the critical issues facing our nation, from promoting long-term economic growth and job creation to pushing for fiscal responsibility and accountability in Washington, from supporting our Minnesota businesses, workers, and farmers to developing homegrown energy. Amy is a true leader. And we will help her continue to lead by helping her win this November.
In 2010, people were saying that the DFL party was nearly out of business – we lost a veto-proof majority in the house and a 38 year majority in the state Senate. The Republican controlled session of the legislature has just ended. And guess what? Though no one would have predicted it a year ago, the only winners of this session turned out to be the DFL party. While the DFL worked to put the people of Minnesota back to work, the GOP worked to reward their friends and appeal to their extreme base. The DFL can claim a win for the people of Minnesota this session. The only thing the Republicans won during this session was the contempt of the voters of this state, once they demonstrated their inability to lead. Now, there was a lot of work not done in this session and not everything that happened was good. But those things Minnesota can be proud of were achieved to a remarkable degree by the party that was in the minority, our DFL party.
And there is another reason for our party’s success in this last session. Our caucus, our party, and every person in this state benefited enormously from the consistent, tireless, and stirring leadership of Governor, Mark Dayton. Since his election, the Governor has earned our gratitude and respect. We are proud to acknowledge his principled leadership of our party, and his leadership of our state. In a harsh political atmosphere filled with politically driven attacks and stubborn Republican legislators who are unwilling to compromise, he became a symbol of stability, purpose, openness, and principle.
Now truthfully, we cannot say that the Republicans, even though they were in the majority, did absolutely nothing. In fact they managed to do two significant things. They gave our state two terrible threats to the finest traditions of Minnesota. They put two divisive politically motivated constitutional amendments on the ballot, which we will defeat!
The first affects Minnesota families. I would hope that all Minnesotans whatever their feelings on gay marriage would agree that no one benefits by writing discrimination into our Constitution. Who are we, as a people, to tell two committed, loving, same-sex individuals that they cannot marry each other. What kind of state do we want to leave to our children? As I have said before, maybe the GOP should stop focusing on gay marriage and concentrate on their own marriages first!
The other amendment is an attempt to stifle the democratic process. This amendment which would require law-abiding citizens to bring picture identification to the polling places is masquerading as an effort to prevent voter fraud. But even despite our recent recounts, no evidence of voter fraud has been found. This amendment is truly a solution in search of a problem. And the amendment itself poses terrible problems. If it passes, it will make it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotan seniors, servicemen and women, students and new Minnesotans to exercise their right to vote. We cannot allow that to happen.
We can, and we must defeat both of these amendments this fall!
And we can do it. Our victories this year, and the defeats that preceded them, showed us the value of unity. Our time in the minority has taught us important lessons about working together, lessons we are applying and will continue to apply. It's how we will regain control of both houses of the legislature. It's how we will re-elect President Obama and Senator Klobuchar. It's how we will continue our legacy of standing up for the middle class, for equal rights, and for opportunities for all Minnesotans.
So let’s go out and organize, go out and mobilize, and go out and energize, if we do this we will win this fall, DFLers!
Thank you so much.