Presidential Campaign and Candidates

 

Ed Muskie 1972 Announcement Speech

FOR RELEASE AFTER 6:00 P.M. EST.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 4, 1972

 

This is the complete text of the announcement by Senator Edmund S. Muskie (D-Me) to seek the Presidency of the United States. The announcement was videotaped for broadcast over CBS television and radio at 8:20 p.m., EST, January 4, 1972.

 

“A NEW BEGINNING”

 

I have come home to Maine to announce my decision to seek the office of President of the United States.

 

I believe America can once again be a nation of moral leadership and high purpose . . . a symbol of hope for all mankind.

 

But tonight, our bombs are still falling on Indochina. Tonight, forty of us will be murdered and a thousand of us will be robbed on our own streets . . . and even in our own homes.

 

Tonight, five million of us will go to bed knowing that there is no job to wake up for in the morning.

 

Tonight, we are a divided and doubtful people, lacking a sense of purpose . . . worried about the lives we lead . . . and the lives we will leave our children.

 

This is not what America should be.

 

This is not the fulfillment of two centuries of hope and sacrifice.

 

A hundred years ago, the British scientist Thomas Huxley wrote of this nation: "I cannot say that I am in the slightest degree impressed by your bigness, or your material resources as such . . . the great issue . . . is what are you going to do with all these things?"

 

For a generation, what we have done has not been good enough.

 

It is not good enough to pile arms upon arms -- increasing daily in complexity, killpower, and cost -- arms which do not buy security.
 

It is not good enough to pile up concentrations of wealth and resources which do not touch the needs of hungry children, poor schools, inadequate housing, decaying cities, and insecure old age.

 

It is not good enough to produce a trillion dollars worth of goods and services each year, without adequate protection of the land, air, and water from which they come.

 

It is not good enough to pay ever heavier taxes which do not buy decent public services . . . which bear too heavily on those least able to pay . . . and which permit too many to escape their fair share of the burden.

 

It is not good enough when health care is beyond the reach of the sick because they are poor or old . . . because they live in ghettos or remote rural areas.

 

It is not good enough when so much productive work must be done, to see so many unskilled hands untrained, so many skilled hands idle, and so many farmers unable to earn a decent living from their land.

 

It is not good enough that so many of our children cannot break out of the cycle of poverty, or are subject to the temptations of drugs and crime, or are turned off by the misplaced values of our society.

 

It is not good enough that our freedom to move about freely without fear -- to enjoy our surroundings and make new friends -- has been narrowed and constricted by the need to protect ourselves from crime.

 

It is not good enough -- indeed it is indefensible -- that people are still dying, at our hands, in a war that is wrong . . . a war most Americans rejected long ago.

 

Most of us feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. Many feel powerless to stop it.

 

To them I say: we can do something about these problems.

 

Our capacity to work together -- once we talk to one another and understand each other -- is as deep as it was when the first Americans founded the country and when we welcomed the immigrants. There is not a single problem we do not have the resources to solve if our fears and quiet our doubts and renew our search for the common good.

 

And in that effort, the President must lead. A President must find and touch the common chords of our experience . . . challenge us to respond to our instincts . . . to realize America's -- that somewhere on this planet there can be full justice for every member of a society.

 

It would be foolish to blame all the nation's ills on the present administration. Some are part of the stresses of modern society. Others are rooted in the injustices of history. But government can lead. It can be truthful. And if our present leadership had been candid with the country, if they had been straightforward, we could have far more than we have.

 

We were promised an end to the war. We have been given a continuing war -- with more American deaths, more American prisoners taken., and a resumption of the massive bombing which was stopped in 1968.

 

We were promised price stability and prosperity. We have been given 6% inflation, 6% unemployment, the first trade deficit since 1893, an astronomical balance of payments deficit, a world monetary crisis, and forced devaluation of the dollar.

 

We were promised domestic peace. We have been given rising crime, a spreading drug culture, intimidation of the press, surveillance of private citizens, restriction of constitutional liberties, and growing distrust of each other and our government.

 

An administration that has so failed us in the past cannot take us to the future.

 

So this is what I offer and ask if you . . .

 

Not a promise to solve our problems overnight . . . but a commitment to make a new beginning.

 

I am seeking the Presidency . . . not merely to change presidents, but to change the country. I intend to lead -- to ask you to make America what it was to Abraham Lincoln -- “The last best hope of mankind.” I intend to ask you to try – and to be willing to try again if we fail.  And I intend to ask everyone of you to pay a fair share of the costs of a decent society.

 

That challenge is great, but we can meet it.

 

We can bring freedom within the reach of every American . . . the freedom to escape poverty, deprivation, discrimination, and disease.

 

We can ensure that government shall be the servant, not the master of our people . . . responsive to our needs and voices and solicitous of our liberties.

 

We can enlarge our country’s influence and prestige around the world by demonstrating in all our policies, at home and abroad, our commitment to human dignity.

 

This is my commitment to you

 

The decision to run for the Presidency has not been an easy one. It will deeply change my life . . . and it will affect the members of my family for the rest of their lives. I take this step with their support . . . because they feel as strongly as I do about the country’s future.

 

Ultimately, of course, what is at stake is your future. I am not telling you that I can guarantee the best of all possible worlds. All I am asking is that we pledge a new beginning.

 

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Source:      'Muskie News' Press Release, Muskie for President Committee

Courtesy:    The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College

 

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