John Kerry knows this. In the end, that's what this election is about. That's not what I'm talking about.
Consensus and compromise will not come easy. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. I've seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward.
And as I listened to him explain why he'd enlisted, the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all that any of us might hope for in a child. But we also know our conscience cannot rest so long as the war goes on in Iraq. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources.
They know those things. They held vigils across this country when four little girls were killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church. It got hijacked. But Moses says: What I am commanding you is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. We are more compassionate than a government that lets veterans sleep on our streets and families slide into poverty; that sits on its hands while a major American city drowns before our eyes. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight. It is costly and politically difficult to continue this conflict. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress. Too much blood has been shed.
God bless you.