Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Scott Peters’ Address to California Democratic State Party Convention

Good afternoon, California Democrats!

Because of your remarkable hard work and enthusiasm last year – particularly the non-stop efforts of San Diego Democrats – last fall, I was able to unseat a 12-year Republican incumbent.

He had just about the harshest views toward immigration of any member of Congress, even though he represented a district in San Diego, near one of the largest, busiest international borders in the world.

But thanks to what you did last year, when Congress fixes our broken immigration system this year, Brian Bilbray won’t be there to get in the way!

I’m a life long Democrat; I learned at an early age about standing up for fairness and what’s right.

My dad was a minister who fought for housing desegregation in the suburbs of Detroit in the ‘60s when realtors there wouldn’t let African American or Jewish families buy homes in certain neighborhoods.  He fought that fight despite threats against his personal safety.  My parents set an example of service for me and my sisters, and they were always Democrats.

My parents said the Democratic Party believed in fairness, tolerance, and acceptance; we pitch a Big Tent and make room for others.

We stand for civil rights.  For a woman’s right to choose.  For equality in marriage.  For the ability to cast your vote without harassment or interference.  For equal pay for equal work.  And even in this Congress we have had some success, passing a Violence Against Women Act that protects ALL women, not just some. And we are supporting, and I am co-sponsoring, several bills to give LGBT military spouses equal rights, as well as Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s Paycheck Fairness Act.

As Democrats, our values are that we stand up for the Middle Class, and for the rights of working men and women.  Though sometimes, within our big Democratic tent, we may disagree about how to get there.

For example, not every Democrat agrees with everything about our President’s budget proposal.  But I give him credit for proposing a budget that funds Democratic priorities like investments in children, infrastructure and science that we need to keep America strong, while also reducing spending and debt in a serious way.

We share the same values, even if we see a different pathway.

When I was running for Congress, some skeptics told me that when I got to Washington our Leadership wouldn’t appreciate my independent views and that Party leaders wouldn’t let me vote my conscience over my Caucus.  But that’s not the case.  It turns out that our party, and our leader in the House, Nancy Pelosi, take our diversity seriously, and they value that diversity.

They’ve let me forge my own path, ask my own questions and offer my own ideas, trusting that I know what’s best for my District, consistent with our values.  I thank them for that because our diversity as Democrats makes us stronger.

But if Democrats have a Big Tent, unfortunately, today’s Republican Party is pitching a Pup Tent.

I’ve reached out to moderate Republicans to see if we can forge partnerships to solve problems, and I please don’t get me wrong – I will continue to do just that.  But it appears so far that the Tea Party still reigns supreme on the Right, and in today’s Republican Party, hyper partisanship is rewarded, and independence is squashed.

Last year, we were part of a nationwide message from voters that it’s time to end the political fighting and start the problem solving.  And it’s Democrats that are doing that work today.  So we need to keep sending that message.

Thank you for what you did last year. I ask you not lose the enthusiasm and energy. Let’s keep the momentum going.

Let’s keep the seats we won last year, and let’s go find some more.  Let’s show America that we are serious about fairness and opportunity.  Let’s show America we want to make government work instead of cutting off its legs.  Let’s show America we can adopt science-based climate policy that can save the planet.  And let’s show America that we can build a future where all of our children can be prosperous, safe and healthy.  Let’s finish the job of turning Congress from Red to Blue!


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