Jean Hay Bright, Democrat for U.S. Senate
Speech before Maine Democratic Party Caucuses
February 26, 2006
Imagine a strong, outspoken pro-choice, pro-labor woman Democrat representing Maine in the U.S. Senate.
Imagine that woman Democratic Senator voting to end the war in Iraq. And voting to start national single-payer health care.
Imagine that woman Democratic U.S. Senator from Maine voting to launch investigations into:
My name is Jean Hay Bright, and I am Olympia Snowe's worst nightmare.
- the lies that got us into the Iraq war,
- the torture of our war prisoners and "enemy combatants"
- the secret CIA prisons in foreign countries
- the denial of habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees
- the admittedly illegal spying on Americans by the Bush administration,
- the outing of a CIA agent by the vice-president's office,
- the incompetence at FEMA and Homeland Security
- the corruption in the Iraq reconstruction contracts
Professionally, I'm an author, an organic farmer, and a former Bangor Daily News reporter and bureau chief. I moved to Maine in 1972, to homestead on land bought from Helen and Scott Nearing.
Politically, I'm proud to be a card-carrying, flag-waving, patriotic American liberal.
I win this primary, and Olympia Snowe will face her first woman opponent in her entire 28 years in Congress.
And the choice in November, between Olympia Snowe and me, will not be a race between a pro-choice liberal and a pro-choice moderate.
Olympia Snowe has proven that she is neither pro-choice nor moderate.
Olympia Snowe lost her "choice" credentials when she voted last month to confirm Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, the man who actually drew up a detailed plan to dismantle Roe v. Wade.
And Olympia Snowe may have been a moderate at one time, many years ago. But not any more.
And again, her vote for Judge Alito puts her squarely in the right-wing "unitary executive" camp, the dangerous Nixonian concept that if the President does it, it must be legal.
- She voted for the Iraq War resolution and for the Patriot Act
- She twice voted to deny habeas corpus rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees,
- She voted against raising the federal minimum wage above $5.15 an hour.
- She chose more tax breaks for the wealthy instead of more health care for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan
Olympia Snowe's vote to confirm Judge Alito -- when she didn't have to do that because he already had enough votes -- sent us a very strong message about how Olympia Snowe looks at the world.
Judge Alito is not only a threat to the balance of power on the Supreme Court. He is also a very real threat to the balance of power among the three branches of government.
And that's OK with Olympia Snowe.
As for Olympia Snowe's seniority and clout in Washington, where is it?
You've been asked today to contribute a dollar to Keep Maine Warm. Maine Democrats are pitching in, helping to heat the homes of their friends and neighbors, because Olympia Snowe, the senior Senator from Maine, cannot get the job done.
I am in this race because I see the America I love being destroyed by the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress - and Olympia Snowe is part and parcel to that destruction.
I want us to remember, and get back, the Superman ideal we grew up with -- truth, justice and the American Way. As we know, in Washington today, there is no truth. There is no justice. And whatever happened to the American Way?
We need to get out of Iraq now.
We need to rescind the tax breaks for the rich, and have them pay for the cost of the war now.
We need to redirect foreign -- and domestic -- policies to emphasize diplomacy, practicality, and non-violent solutions to conflicts.
To that end, I favor the establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Peace.
We need to understand that national security includes a strong economy and interlocking environmental, education and energy policies.
We need to protect our borders, including having our ports under national, not foreign, control.
We are all in this together, and it will take all of us working together to turn this country around.
Nationally, it will take six Democrats replacing six sitting Republican Senators to shift the balance of power in the Senate and change the agenda in Washington. With your help, I will be one of those six.
This race is winnable, and we need to win it, for Maine and for the country. But I can't do it alone.
If your view of the world matches mine -- and I'm counting on that being the case -- sign my nomination papers today, sign onto my campaign with your time and your money, and vote for me in June and again in November.
Believe in yourself and in your country, and -- every time you vote -- vote for the America you want to live in.