Gov. Deval Patrick speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008. Patrick said party nominee Barack Obama is the person to lead the nation to “renew the American dream.” (AP photo/Paul Sancya)
DENVER — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, speaking to delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, said the nation must renew its commitment to education and community.
Speaking last Tuesday night, Patrick said party nominee Barack Obama is the person to lead the nation to “renew the American dream.”
“The American story is at risk today,” Patrick said. “More and more families are working harder and losing ground. The poor are in terrible shape. But the middle class are one paycheck away, one serious illness away, from being poor and deeply anxious about it. Together, we can change that.”
Obama, he said, understands “that a well-educated America will make things again because we’ll be ready for emerging industries like clean energy, life sciences and high tech, that produce good jobs as well as a cleaner environment.”
In a new economy, Patrick said, “working people will again be able to see a path into the middle class and a secure future.”
He said education is the gateway to that opportunity.
Patrick, Massachusetts’ first black governor, endorsed Obama in the primary battle and has campaigned for him. He talked last Tuesday of his own rise from poverty on Chicago’s South Side, through scholarships that took him to a Massachusetts prep school and eventually, like Obama, to Harvard Law School.
“One generation and the circumstances of my life and family were profoundly transformed,” Patrick said.
Patrick criticized Republican nominee John McCain, saying the Arizona senator says he believes in education but has been against fully funding programs such as No Child Left Behind and Head Start and proposed abolishing the Department of Education.
“But Democrats don’t deserve to win just because Republicans deserve to lose,” Patrick said. “If the American story is to have a chance, we need more than better programs and policies. We need better vision.”
He said even in tough circumstances growing up, adults in his community “wanted us to understand that membership in a community is seeing the stake that each of us has in our neighbor’s dreams and struggles, as well as our own.”
Patrick referenced America’s World War II generation that built America’s institutions, expanded the middle class and led the civil rights movement.
He said Obama has challenged America to “rebuild our national community.”
“If we want the leadership our times demand, we are going to have to work for it,” Patrick said. “We are going to have to ask Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike to take a chance on their own aspirations for a renewed American story. We are going to have to put our cynicism down and learn to say again, like that Greatest Generation, ‘Yes, we can.’”
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