ASK A STRAY DAD: ACCEPTANCE

I didn’t want either of them. So I wrote an acceptance speech for both of them.

Q: Why the sad face?

A: I’m an Elizabeth Warren stan. Which has made this week particularly hard—though frankly the last few were all pretty big stinkers. Having grown up in Cincinnati and attended to the University of Missouri, however, I’m pretty familiar with the concept of losing, and long ago developed several coping strategies for such events. The very best thing to do in these situations—when your horse is either out of the race or its rider has fallen off and been trampled to death—is to look to the front and talk yourself into one of those remaining hard-charging horses. 

Now, it should be said: I’m going to vote enthusiastically for whoever winds up being the Democratic nominee. I’m not really a fan of dictatorships; particularly not ones both so willfully ignorant and profoundly dangerous. But I also recognize that I’m not everyone. And having just witnessed the person I felt most embodied the ideals of a president forced to bow out for reasons I cannot understand let alone stomach, I wanted to convince myself that either of the remaining distinguished gentlemen could be someone worth rallying behind. So I poked around on their websites—Joe, can you at least let me in the door before you start asking for money?—checked out their policies, and watched a couple of speeches. Then, I wrote a speech of my own, for each, for the end of the Democratic National Convention. A fruitless writing exercise of a heartbroken voter, trying to talk themselves into going to the prom with someone else. And while I won’t pretend the pain is gone, it did make me feel a little better.

Q: Is that them? They’re only a page apiece.

A: Yep. I tried to get them even shorter. Like, Gettysburg Address brief. You win, Mr. Lincoln. Lincoln was a man ahead of his time; he would’ve been a force on Twitter. ANYWAYS…yeah. My greatest hope is that, when the real one comes along, it blows mine out of the water. Time will tell…  

Bernie Sanders:

My fellow Americans, this moment is for all of you. We are all one step closer to a return to democracy as it was intended. By the people, for the people. My job as your next president is to hand this country back over to the people of the United States. 

Some have branded me a socialist. They say it like it’s a bad word. But what I really am is a relentless optimist. I believe in you. And I believe that we can do better. And by “we” I don’t mean the people of this great nation. You’re already doing enough. You’re working longer hours than you ever have, for comparably lower wages, and paying more in health care than you ever have, and paying more for education than you ever have. You, friends, can take a load off. 

No: I mean your elected officials who comprise your government. We have been chosen, by you, to represent you. We have been empowered, BY YOU, to look after you and your best interests. And it’s about time we did that. For ALL Americans. 

Everyone living in this country deserves the right to dream. I’m talking basic dreams, for all people. A dream of feeling safe in your communities. A dream of financial security, of quality education and job training, of affordable health care. A dream of a healthy environment in which to live, for generations to come. You’re not asking for much. Just not to have the deck stacked against you making something of yourself. America has long been known as the land of opportunity. For a while now, only the privileged few could honestly say that was the case for them. Tonight marks a turning point toward making it true for all Americans. To give everyone a foundation to build a better life for themselves, and the power to make their own way in this world. STARTING with those who face the most risk, the greatest disadvantages and the worst discrimination. “With liberty and justice for all” only works if we truly mean all.

So I’m an optimist. But I am also a realist. I know that initiatives such as these are not possible without the buy-in of my coworkers in Congress. I certainly should know; I’ve been there long enough. So let me assure you that as president I will be working every day and with all of your representatives to turn this talk about reform into pragmatic action and lasting change.

But what I will not do—and what we cannot do—is defer the dreams of all Americans while we wait for politics to catch up. Democracy has always led you to believe that your vote mattered. But that is only the case if those you’re voting for act in your best interests. That is what I will be doing from Day One. Giving each and every American a vote that matters, then rewarding you for making that vote. 

Thank you, and good night. 

Joe Biden: 

My fellow Americans, it brings me great honor to stand on this stage tonight as your nominee for the next President of these United States of America. Your faith in me is something I will never take for granted. It’s been a hard-fought road to this point, and a necessary one. I stand here knowing more about the hopes, the dreams and the resiliency of the American people than I ever have. 

I want to thank my fellow candidates for the spirited discourse along the way. Their passion, their experience, their grit, and their know-how has pushed me to become a better person and a stronger nominee. I will take the lessons I’ve learned forward into the next fight, that most crucial fight. And many of the ideas you brought to the table will light that way forward, for all of us. 

Officially, we are the United States of America, but for the past few years it certainly hasn’t felt united. The current administration has taken great pleasure in dividing us. They want to split us up into wealthy and poor, urban and rural, and along racial and ideological lines. They want to sow doubt and mistrust among us, so they can strip this nation of its values, its resources,  and—with them—its hope. They would like nothing more than to stir fear among each and every one of you, so that they can take advantage of all of you. 

That, I’m sure, is not the vision any of us have for America. It certainly isn’t mine. 

This goes beyond uniting us under a common set of ideals, however. Our prosperity as a nation is dependent upon the health and well-being of its citizens. All of you out there contribute to the fabric of our society. You make it a richer and deeper and more diverse and wondrous place when you are able to engage and contribute. But the divide between the haves and have-nots threatens not just the concept of American democracy but the very real day-to-day lives of its people. I have heard of your struggles. You are all constantly forced to make the hard decisions, the deep sacrifices, to put yourselves and your futures at risk just to make it from one day to the next. This is not the America you were born into. It is not the America you signed up for. If you’re struggling just to survive, where is your opportunity, in this famous Land of Opportunity? 

Right now, it’s in your power as a voter. You can choose fear, you can choose apathy, or you can choose a future. You can go to the polls, or the mailbox, and pick the side of unity, and humanity, and basic human rights. You can raise the floor—for yourself, for your children, for each other. Affordable health care. Quality education. A clean environment. Only one option of the three offers these to you. But when you vote for your future, those basic rights are yours to keep. Your American dream will be a few steps closer. 

And we will only be getting started. 

Thank you, and good night. 

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