Mary Margaret Haugen
This JFK speech is clearly relevant to today’s fractious party structure. submitted by Catherine Budbill
REMARKS OF SENATOR JOHN F. KENNEDY AT THE DEMOCRATIC CITY COMMITTEE ANNUAL PRE-ELECTION DINNER IN EASTON, PENNSYLVANIA, OCTOBER 30, 1957:
"There are dissonant voices within the Democratic Party today, voices that threaten at times to pull our party to shreds. There are those of us who disagree with our southern brethren on issues of race relations, those of us who disagree with Congressman Walter on immigration, disagreements on labor and agriculture and a host of other issues. But we Democrats are not like Russians, walking out of the United Nations because their point of view was voted down. We are not like the Republicans, driving out of the party the George Norris’s* and Bob Lafollette’s** who disagree with them.
We Democrats will always have dissension within our party - for Democrats, unlike Republicans, champion the right of dissent. We will always have differences within our party - for Democrats, unlike Republicans, come from all different areas of the country with different needs and problems. But let us agree to disagree as Democrats, within our party organization. The common bonds of our party - a common tradition, a common spirit, a common cause and an inseparable destiny - holds us within the party we honor and serve.
We recognize that what unites us is greater than what divides us - and in that spirit we meet tonight as Democrats - not as Northern, Southern, liberal or conservative Democrats, not as New Deal, Fair Deal, States Rights, Massachusetts or Pennsylvania Democrats - but as just plain unashamed, unyielding and unbeaten Democrats. Those of us who recognize that the Democratic Party is bigger than one man, one section or one issue - who recognize that the nation and the times require a united, responsible party to assume the reins of leadership, to save the nation from drift and disaster - will join hands in working toward our common goals for the American people. And I for one am confident that the American people, in every section of the country, of every race and religion and occupation, will in turn recognize the necessity and desirability of continuing progressive leadership in the Congress in 1958, and resuming responsible, thoughtful leadership in the White House in 1960."
Senator George Norris of Nebraska, 1913-1943
Senator Robert M La Folette of Wisconsin, 1906-192