This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. One draft of the speech exists in the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Library. Page images of the draft can be found here.
Emerson once said that "Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous. That is why they are conservatives after dinner." But here in Minnesota - the stronghold of progressive liberalism in the Democratic Party - we need not fear being lulled into conservatism at this dinner. Any drift toward conservative principles here will run headlong into the fighting liberal tradition of the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party - the fighting liberal tradition of Orville Freeman and Gene McCarthy - and, above all, the great, fighting liberal tradition of my friend and colleague, Hubert Humphrey.
I think you will all agree that there is no man in the Democratic Party who knows more about the fighting liberalism of Hubert Humphrey than I do - and there is no man in the Democratic Party who is happier that Hubert Humphrey is a Democrat than I am. For after seeing how Hubert Humphrey campaigns in the Spring, I know that the Republican Party will never survive his campaigning in the Fall. This November, no matter who the Democratic candidate may be, the high principles, the courage and the fighting spirit of Hubert Humphrey are going to lead the way to a great, national Democratic victory.
Hubert Humphrey and I fought, and fought hard, this Spring. As he so often pointed out, we were not making love. And I never thought we were. But throughout those long, hard arduous battles - from the farms of Wisconsin to the hills of West Virginia - Hubert Humphrey never once retreated from those liberal principles to which he has devoted his public life. He never once neglected the larger interests of the Democratic Party for the advantage of the moment. And he never once stopped his ceaseless, lifelong courageous battle against the vicious forces of bigotry and intolerance.
In the larger sense, Hubert Humphrey won a great victory this Spring - a victory for his own convictions - a victory for the Democratic Party, and a victory for the future of America. While others retreated to the sidelines - hoping for a good, clean fight with no survivors - Hubert Humphrey brought the fight for liberalism to the people. He engaged in a great debate on the vital issues of our times. He helped to arouse and awaken the people of America to the critical challenges which our nation now faces. And he helped lay the groundwork for a smashing Democratic victory in November.
Hubert Humphrey knew that any party which is afraid to go to the people in the Spring - any party which tries to sell the American people a pre-packaged, pre-digested and pre-selected candidate - that party does not deserve, and is not going to get, the people's confidence in November. And that is why we are going to beat Dick Nixon and the Republican Party.
Anyone who thinks that our hard-fought primary battles have divided us doesn't really understand good Democrats. For Hubert Humphrey and I have been on the same side too long and too often. We were generally on the same side in the primaries - fighting for programs to eliminate hunger and poverty and fear from the farms of Wisconsin and the hills of West Virginia. And we are going to continue to be on the same side in the future - no matter what offices we may hold. And it will be a source of pride and strength and gratitude to me to have Hubert Humphrey on my side.
Vice President Nixon recently told a group of businessmen that Jack Kennedy was really just as liberal as Hubert Humphrey. Well that is the nicest thing Dick Nixon has ever said about me. And he is going to be sorry he said it. For Hubert Humphrey's brand of fighting liberalism is going to beat Dick Nixon this Fall.
We Democrats need Hubert Humphrey. We need his vision, his vigor, his intellect and his fighting heart. And we need the guidance of his broad, human liberal principles if we are to recapture the White House and again govern the nation in the great tradition of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
But those principles are not Hubert Humphrey's alone. They spring from one of the most vigorous and hopeful liberal forces in America - the Democratic, Farmer-Labor Party of Minnesota. A party which is producing a great, new breed of Democrats - men of vision and courage, men of intelligence and conviction - men like Orville Freeman and Gene McCarthy, and Hubert Humphrey and your outstanding delegation to Congress.
And the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is producing more than great leaders. For here - in the heartland of America - Democrats are forging the creative programs, the new ideals, and the dynamic leadership which are essential if America is to meet and conquer the great challenges of the sixties - if we are to meet the test of survival in a world of turmoil, danger and change. A tired nation, said Lloyd George, is always a Tory nation. And today in 1960 America cannot afford to be either tired or Tory - or Republican.
For today we cannot afford to entrust our future to a Party which looks to the past, that puts its faith in platitudes, and which, in the words of Justice Holmes, bases its programs on regrets rather than hope. We cannot afford eight more years of failure to meet our needs at home and a steady decline in our power and prestige abroad. In short, the American people cannot afford Dick Nixon and the Republican Party. And - with your help - we are not going to have them.
But a Democratic victory alone is not enough. The power and the pomp and the patronage alone are not enough. For a party victory will be a hollow victory, unless that victory is also a triumph for the great, liberal principles for which the DFL stands. "The success of a party," said Woodrow Wilson, "means little unless the nation is using that party for a large and definite purpose." And the success of our party will mean little unless we too have a "large and definite purpose" - unless we take with us, into the White House the convictions, the understanding and the deep human compassion to which men like Hubert Humphrey and Orville Freeman have devoted their political lives.
That is why the Democratic Party must go to the people in November with a liberal candidate and a strong liberal platform. For only a liberal Democratic Party can win. Only a liberal Democratic Party deserves to win. And only a liberal Democratic Party can provide this country with the leadership which it so desperately needs.
This task of liberal leadership will be greatly helped by the work of liberal state parties such as your own. Here in Minnesota - and in Michigan and California and in many other places across the nation - there has grown up a new liberalism for the sixties - a liberalism which reaches beyond the era of the New and Fair Deals to the problems of a new age. The principles are here, the programs are here, the ideas are here. We must now state those principles clearly and fearlessly as Hubert Humphrey has always done. For that is what the American people want to hear - that is what they must hear - and that is what we are going to tell them.
First, we are going to proclaim our intention to extend and modernize the great social welfare programs of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. We are going to raise the minimum wage, extend unemployment compensation, provide our older citizens with a decent system of medical care, feed our hungry and care for our sick. We are going to make the vision of Franklin Roosevelt - the vision of a decent life with dignity for all men - we are going to make that vision into a reality for the America of the sixties. And we are not going to be held back by the cries of the budget cutters - the smears of some Republicans or the doubts of the fearful. For we know that our party's job will not be finished until poverty and want has been eliminated from this great, rich land of ours.
Secondly, we are going to proclaim our fight for equal opportunity for all men - regardless of race, creed, or color. During the primary campaigns Hubert Humphrey said that if the price of political success was a betrayal of the cause of human rights then the people could look elsewhere for a candidate. And I say that if anyone expects the Democratic Party to betray that same cause - they can look elsewhere for a party. But I don't believe they will. I believe the American people are dedicated to the cause of human rights and I believe they will vote for a party which shares that dedication. We Democrats believe that the Presidency is a place of strong moral leadership. And we intend to exercise that leadership until every American, of every color and faith, has achieved equal access to all of American life - and that means equal access to the voting booth, the schoolroom, the lunch counter, and the five and ten cent store.
Third, we must proclaim our readiness to end eight years of neglect, ignorance and indifference to the problems of America’s farmers. Under this Republican Administration, the farmer has been caught in the cruel vise of rising costs and declining prices. The small family farmer has been forced to leave the land, or seek part time employment to sustain existence. Our surpluses have grown, and so have the numbers of hungry people. We will act to secure to the American farmer his fair share of American abundance. For on his strength, the strength of America depends. One of Hubert Humphrey's chief complaints about my farm program is that I have stolen his ideas. Let me confess now to that grand larceny. But let me also say that no robbery has ever been more in the public interest.
Fourth, we must proclaim our readiness to formulate a coherent, consistent, convincing American program for peace - an effective program for arms control and disarmament to which our whole government and people can be dedicated. Here again Hubert Humphrey - as Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Disarmament - has done more to develop an understanding of these great problems than any other person on the political scene. From the studies of his subcommittee we can begin to work toward a program to control the arms race and prevent the ultimate tragedy of world atomic war.
But, while we work towards affirmative peace programs, we must also remember the hard lessons of the Summit: The lesson that peace takes more than talk - the lesson that friendly words, and good-will trips, and public relations programs are not enough to protect the free world from communist domination - the lesson that only a strong America can hope to be a peacemaking America. And this means we must begin now to rebuild our strength - not merely our missiles and armies, although these are important, but economic strength at home and the strength of our allies overseas, strength of ideas, and strength of determination and strength of purpose.
These policies and these convictions are our message to the American people. This is the basis of a great, liberal program for the sixties - a program which your party in Minnesota has helped to develop, and which your leaders will help make a reality. I am convinced that the American people will respond to this program and these challenges. For, as Franklin Roosevelt said in his first Inaugural, "In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory."