The following is a transcript of a speech by California Rep. Xavier Becerra, Democratic Caucus vice chair, at the Democratic National Convention.
The American dream—it's built not with words or speeches, but from sweat and tears. Its heart and soul reside not in the boardrooms on Wall Street, but in the shops and factories on Main Street. Its promise is simple: work hard, play by the rules, and you can make it in America. That's Barack and Michelle Obama's story.
Like so many of you, that's my parents' story, too. My father was a construction worker who dug the ditches and laid the pipe and concrete to build our highways. My mother arrived in this country as a newlywed with no money, no English and no family of her own. Together they realized their dream of sending their four children where no man or woman in our family in America had ever gone before—college.
El su eño Americano—the American dream! In any language, that's what this election is about. We need President Obama for four more years to keep that dream alive. When President Obama was elected, the American dream was on life support. The middle class was being hollowed out. We cannot afford to go back to the failed policies of the past.
Maybe Governor Romney has forgotten how we got into the mess that President Obama faced, but we haven't—two wars, tax breaks for the wealthiest, the Wall Street bailout, Katrina! Eight million Americans lost their jobs because of the Great Recession. Our neighbors lost their homes. Our teachers, firefighters and police officers were laid off. And small businesses couldn't get the bailed-out banks to offer them any credit. How many construction workers like my father do you think could dream of reaching the middle class under those conditions?
We've all heard the saying, "Put your money where your mouth is." Well, Governor Romney, ante up! Show us how your economic policies differ from President Bush's. If you believe in America, you invest in America. That's why it's not courageous to cut funding for college loans.
It's not responsible to reward companies that ship American jobs overseas with more tax loopholes. It's not bold to say our country is broke and then hand out yet another deficit-busting tax break to millionaires and billionaires. And, Governor Romney, you should know it's not right to tell older Americans after a lifetime of hard work that you're going to pull the rug out from under them and turn Medicare into a voucher system—Couponcare!
I'm not impressed by politicians who vow to veto the dream for immigrant children. That's not the America my parents built. If you want to save the middle class, you don't outsource it, you strengthen it. If you want to get America back to work, you don't fire cops, teachers, nurses and firefighters. You invest in them.
President Obama is fighting for the middle class to put Americans back to work and our country back on track. President Obama believes in the promise of America. President Obama believes in you. That's the American dream—el su eño Americano. Dr. King marched for it. Cesar Chavez organized for it. And this fall, we have to vote for it. Together we're going to re-elect Barack Obama president of the United States!