As Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said to his colleagues before the vote, "Remember this day if you vote no." Senator Graham was issuing a warning to his colleagues, seeking their support in favor of amnesty in the upcoming vote. But not only our senators but all of us should remember that day because it may well and truly have been the dawning of reasonable hope that we the people can still influence and shape our future as a nation; it was the beginning of a reason to believe, with some confidence, that we can still save the once great democratic republic inherited.
We have much to overcome in the months and years ahead, but it's been a long time since I felt as confident as I do now that we can succeed in restoring a broad commitment to our great national values: equal rights of individual liberty and opportunity, both economic and educational. I can actually imagine the American people demanding that excellence be restored to our public education system, that a better quality of life for our working men and women and their families be the goal of domestic public policy, and that the restoration of our national sovereignty and security can become an attainable governmental goal. My growing confidence is predicated on the belief that most of us are learning that America can no longer tolerate inadequate and incompetent leadership in either the White House or the Congress. Nor can we any longer tolerate our own indifference, apathy, and cynicism, which have given rise to a succession of weak and short-sighted leaders who have spoken and have acted as if our citizens were strangers to them in what they now regard as their land, not ours.
I actually believe that populism is gaining the power to defeat elitism and that our government can one day soon again legitimately claim to be "of the people, by the people, and for the people."
We Americans are surely strangers to any person who could say, "America must not fear diversity. We ought to welcome diversity." Who would utter such condescending words about our land and our people, the most diverse nation on earth? None other than President George W. Bush. Can we be such strangers to this president that he does not comprehend that this great nation's citizens are from every country, practice every religion, and are of every race and ethnicity on the planet, and that Americans will never submit to any fear of any kind? We as a people welcome millions of legal immigrants to our country each and every year, more than all other countries combined. Americans speak over 120 different languages in the New York City public school system alone. Afraid of diversity, Mr. President? What in the world are you thinking?