I Do Not See My America
My name is Jean Hay. I'm a candidate for U.S. Senate.
I've been asked why I'm running. Why would a writer and mother with better things to do turn her life upside-down and run for the U.S. Senate, an institution which decent people are leaving in droves?
I am drawn into this race by what I see happening in Washington, by what I see a Republican Congress – in office for less than two years – doing to the very soul of the country I love so deeply.
The Republicans are disfiguring my America.
I do not recognize my America in the Republican push to deny health care to children and the elderly.
I do not see my America in the Republican attempts to abolish the minimum wage.
I do not see my America in the Republican drive to declare the wombs of American women to be government property.
I was taught government should provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare.
Instead, Congress is providing for defense contractors, and slashing the general welfare.
I was taught government should care for those who cannot care for themselves, while helping the rest of us reach our full potential.
Instead, Congress wants to throw sick people out of our institutions, turn off heating assistance, steal the Earned Income Credit, and provide for our youth by building more jails.
I was taught that education was the key to a better, more prosperous America.
Instead, Congress tells people to get a job, but refuses to loan them money for education or job training, or provide them with day care for their children.
I was taught we as a nation agreed on basic principles. Simple principles such as the value of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I thought we all understood and appreciated the radical ideas upon which this country was founded – that we are a nation of native peoples and immigrants, that we are encouraged to keep our heritage, lose our animosities, and celebrate the resulting diversity.
Instead I see a Republican Congress trying to divide us.
Divide us along income lines. Divide us along gender lines. Along religious lines. Along racial lines.
I want to bring us back together.
You must admit, this Republican Congress has managed to shake people up. It certainly has shaken me.
So I am running for U.S. Senate because I want to return to Washington the vision of a compassionate, caring, productive, and free America, founded upon a belief in the ability of all people to do great things, if they are given the chance.
I have been given the chance, and I intend to work hard to make the best of it.
There are those in this race, in both major parties, with great personal wealth, candidates who will try to sell themselves to voters as one would sell toothpaste.
I do not have wealth. My dad worked in a steel mill in Ohio. My home in Bangor is modest, but paid for. My assets are meager, and my children have long understood they will have to work for a living.
Yet I feel wealthy and fortunate to have been born and raised in the United States of America. My maternal grandparents were from Ukraine. My mother grew up – and I grew up – being told time and again how wonderful this country is, and how different – and dreadful – the alternatives were in other places in the world.
I want to pass that sense of wonder and freedom on to my grandchildren – if my kids can afford to have children – and to future generations across this country.
Remember being told as a child that you could be anything you wanted to be? A scientist? A musician? Even president?
I believed that, way back then. And I acted on it, time and again. I have been many things I wanted to be – a wife and mother, a journalist, an organic farmer, a pyro-technician. I have been lucky, and blessed.
And now it's payback time. I want to repay America by working for America.
A student at Colby College asked me the other day why I would want to subject myself to that mess in Washington. Why would I put myself in the path of the likes of Newt Gingrich? Or Pat Buchanan, who believes women are ''less equipped psychologically to stay the course?''
I told him I want to be Maine's next U.S. senator because I know bad things happen when good people sit by and do nothing.
Bad things are happening, and I cannot sit by and do nothing.
I know I have my limits. I know I can only do what I can do.
But I also know I have to do what I can do. We all have to do what we can do. That's why we're together in this room today.
With your help, with your vote for me in the June primary, and again in November, we can turn this country around.
We can take back our country, so we'll have it to give to our kids.
It's something we have simply got to do.
-- Address at Portland City Democratic Committee Caucus, Portland High School
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