Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at Democratic National Committee Dinner, Los Angeles, California, July 10, 1960

The pre-convention campaign is over. For the candidates, the hour of unity is at hand. We have all been friends for a long time. I know we always will. We have always supported our party's nominee. I know we all will in 1960.

For we are all Democrats - not Northern or Southern Democrats, not Liberal or conservative Democrats - but Democrats by birth, conviction and choice. We know it is neither the party of war nor the party of appeasement - our only war is against injustice, hunger and disease - and in that war there can be no appeasement.

And we know that there is only one legitimate issue of health in this campaign - and that is the anemic health of the American economy today.

There is only one legitimate issue of age in this campaign - and that is the tragic failure of this Administration to meet the needs of our older citizens, and particularly their needs for medical care.

There is only on legitimate issue of creed in this campaign - and that is our devotion to the public good ahead of private interests - a creed the Republicans call creeping socialism - but FDR called it "A New Deal."

This fall will see the classic, age-old struggle - between the party of hope and the party of memory - the party of the future versus the party of the past - the party that breaks precedents versus the party that breaks promises. And every candidate here tonight joins me in one final campaign promise - we are going to win that struggle in November.

For those of you who are delegates, your hour of decision is also at hand. In the pomp and pageantry of convention politics, it is easy to forget the context of your decision : the Free World that anxiously awaits a leader - the dark clouds gathering ominously on the world horizon - the cries for help that come from around the country, from abandoned farms and mines, from overcrowded slums and schools, from the unemployed and the underpaid and the unprotected - a hundred, a thousand voices crying, here and around the world - cries that have not been heard - cries that must now be heard.

173 years ago, in another dark and uncertain house, an earlier national convention was called - its delegates undertook to draft a new constitution. May your work as delegates here this week stand the test of time as well as theirs. May your decisions - like theirs - have meaning for the future generations to come, and ignite a beacon light for all the world to see.

In the words of the Poet Longfellow:

"Humanity with all its fears,
With all its hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate."

Speech source: Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers. Senate Files. Series 12. Speeches and the Press. Box 910, Folder: "Democratic National Committee dinner, Los Angeles, California, 10 July 1960".