Highlights from Senator Tester's Speech at the Montana Democratic Party Platform Convention

U.S. Senator Jon Tester
Montana Democratic Party Platform Convention
Billings, MT
June 11, 2010

I want to start with a few important thank you’s. First to Jim Elliott and David Benson for the good work you do for all of Montana’s Democrats.

I also want to say a special thanks to all of the folks here who ran — or are still running — for public office. After Tuesday, some of you are moving on to a tough fight in November. Some of you are not.

What’s important is that from here forward, we’re all on the same page. And that we’re all working together.

The platform we build this weekend will be the platform all Democrats have to run on through Election Day. And beyond.

Make sure it’s a platform Democrats can run on. Not trip on. We will do best when all rowing in the same direction.

We’ve got our work cut out. Thank God Democrats have never shied away from a little hard work.

You know, over the past year it’s been interesting to watch what I consider an identity crisis. And I’m not talking about Democrats.

Democrats had a spirited, busy primary season. And now we’re back together. The results show our diversity and strength.

But The rift on the other side of the aisle runs deep and points to an identity crisis on the right.

In Montana, and across the country, the Grand Old Party is struggling to determine exactly where they stand and what they believe in.

The far right — and all the heated rhetoric and distortion that comes with it — is tearing away from right-of-center. It’s even tearing away from the middle right. Look no further than Tuesday’s results to see that an entire party is dealing with a pretty painful fracture.

So, Republicans are struggling to define their values.

But let me ask you–and I want to hear a loud answer: Do Montana Democrats have an identity crisis? No.

Hell no.

The platform we work together to build this weekend will be based on clear values that Democrats have never struggled with:

  • Creating good-paying jobs.
  • Sticking up for and empowering women, the middle-class, working families and Main Street small businesses.
  • Expanding potential of renewable energy in Montana and the countless jobs that will come with it.
  • Fighting for unspoiled land to hike and hunt on. Clean water to fish from. Pure air to breathe. And having the will to make sure it stays that way for our kids and grandkids.
  • Investing in strong public schools with good teachers.
  • Providing access to quality, affordable health care.
  • Living up to the promises we make to America’s veterans.
  • Living within our means. And controlling spending–like Montana families and businesses have to do.

Since the beginning of last year, it was DEMOCRATS in Congress who made the tough call to pull our entire economy away from the brink of collapse. Know what? We did it.

What did Republicans say? No.

It was DEMOCRATS who at long last reformed Wall Street to finally bring Main Street common sense back into the mix. We passed legislation ending taxpayer-funded bailouts. And the notion of “too big to fail.”

What did Republicans say? No.

And it was DEMOCRATS who passed the most significant health insurance reform in generations, making sure no family will go broke simply because someone gets sick.

What did Republicans say? No!

I’m starting to hear a pattern.

Montana Democrats are the party of new ideas. We’re the party of common sense solutions. We’re the party of working together to make we get ‘er done.

Whose side are we on? We’re on the side of working families. Small businesses. Family farms and ranches. Veterans. Seniors. Kids.

We need to get the message out that WE are the party on the side of small businesses. Working families. Family farmers and ranchers. The people who make Montana work.

Those are OUR Montana values. We’re on YOUR side.

I don’t need to tell anyone in this room the importance of this year’s races. I don’t need to tell anyone in this room the consequences of losing the Montana Legislature to a party that’s undergoing an identity crisis. The party that’s not on the side of working families. Family farmers and ranchers.

This is a decisive year. It will define who Montana Democrats are through 2011. And more importantly, through 2012.

Folks, it is my honor to tell you that I plan to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Coming home to Montana every weekend, I know how much work we still have ahead of us.

I’m proud of the fact I’ve got the most calloused hands in the Senate, because I still know a thing or two about getting my hands in the dirt. And farmers aren’t afraid of getting some dirt and grease under the fingernails.

November of 2012 may seem a ways off, but we need your help NOW. Get out the vote NOW. Make sure your friends — and their friends — go out to vote… NOW. Go knock on doors NOW. Make phone calls NOW.

Build a voter list that we can all benefit from moving forward. Build momentum, starting today.

We’ve got a lot to be proud of. Let’s put it to work.