A friend of mine died yesterday. And even if you didn't know him he was a friend of yours, as well. He knew I would be here today and would want me to say thank you to all of you for being here. He would say that it was clear that we all do not agree on every issue, but that is our right as Americans, just as it is our right to be here expressing our opposition to the direction in which the country is currently heading.
And he would know that we all agree on these three points:
No war for oil!
No war for ego!
No war for empire!
Paul Wellstone was a leader. His last significant vote in the U.S. Senate, even though he was in the midst of a tight race to retain his seat, was to say NO to the Bush war plan.
Paul Wellstone was a true leader who understood that Americans wanted to protect their environmnet, not exploit it. The kind of leader who understood that Americans wanted to protect the health of all the people, not the wealth of some of the people. The kind of leader who understood that racism is a corrupting force in our country - that it has corrupted our criminal justice system. He knew that it is America's shame that we have 3700 people on death row in this country, a death row filled with minorities, the poor, those with mental disability, those without a decent lawyer and those who are innocent.
Instead of such a leader, we have today a temporary occupant in the White House, one who does not enjoy the support of the majority of the people, one who got where he is by stealing an election in Florida and having it presented him by five supremely arrogant justices of the Supreme Court.
A man of characted in that situation would be humbled by it; he would be embarrassed; he would be quiet. Instead, we have an arrogant, smirking self-appointed cowboy who is a toady of Big Oil, a tool of Big Business and a henchman of those who would declare an American Empire.
Paul Wellstone would thank you for being here and making your opposition heard, because to be silent gives consent. As Martin Luther King said at a time of similar crisis, "silence is betrayal".
No war for Oil!
No war for Ego!
No war for Empire!