Good morning. This is Lois Murphy of Pennsylvania.
On Tuesday, Americans from every city and town will go to their local high schools or churches or meeting halls, and we will pick up a ballot, and we will vote.
And at this important crossroads we face a clear choice between fear and a new direction for our country.
And as we pull that curtain back we can choose the ugly side of this campaign season — the threats, the negativity, the 30-second attack ads and the angry talking heads on TV.
Or this time, we can choose to change the way our government works.
We can choose based on the fact that right now, there are 140,000 of our bravest sons and daughters fighting a war they did not ask for half a world away. As of today, more than 2800 of them will never come home, including 136 from right here in Pennsylvania.
We can choose based on the fact that no matter how bad Iraq gets or how many respected Americans say that our strategy is not working — no matter how many times former Secretaries of State Colin Powell or James Baker say that we need to change course; no matter how many different intelligence agencies tell us that Iraq is creating more terrorists than we had before; and no matter how many generals say Rumsfeld should go — our President and his Republican Congress have promised not to change a thing if they are returned to power.
This pattern of being out-of-touch and out-of-sync with the American people -this failure to take responsibility- has carried over to the corruption that plagues our Congress; the deficit that threatens our children; and the health care costs that burden our families.
This time, there are everyday Americans all across the country who are running to take this country in a new direction. They are veterans and local leaders and concerned citizens who have listened to the people in their communities, as I have, and understand their desire for change and their hunger for leadership.
All across America, they have joined the party that is focused on our future — the Democratic Party — a clear alternative- a hopeful alternative.
From the outset when this new Congress convenes in January, Democrats will tackle the challenges that we face head on. We will fight for a new direction in Iraq to change the President's failed course so that our troops can finally come home.
In the first days of a new Congress, we will make our homeland security a top priority and finally enact all of the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission to make America safer.
We will raise the minimum wage in this country to ensure that no working American lives in poverty.
To get our fiscal house in order, we will restore pay-as-you-go budgeting, no new deficit spending.
We will break the link between lobbyists and legislators by passing meaningful ethics and lobbying reform to restore faith in our government.
We will put seniors first by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.
We will give hope to millions of American families touched by devastating diseases by respecting science and promoting life-saving cures through stem cell research.
And we will cut in half the interest rate on student loans to make college education more affordable for our young people.
I talk about these issues every day as I travel across Pennsylvania's beautiful, diverse sixth congressional district. Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike have spoken to me of the need to address these issues and the need for change. These are common-sense goals that do not belong to me or to Democrats alone.
It's time we had a representative and a Congress that feel the same way.
The challenges we face are great. Progress will not come through partisan infighting or the silencing of the opposition, but through working together on behalf of the American people to get the job done. After all, common sense does not depend on party affiliation, and our common good should rise far above it.
I realize that some see the prospect of Democrats and Republicans working together as inconceivable. But the only thing I see as inconceivable is another two years of the same partisan Washington we've had for the last six years.
It's time that politicians in Washington didn't dismiss good ideas just because they came from another party.
We need a Congress that is known for its dialogue, not its discord.
It's time for a New Direction for this country. It's time for a change. It's time to vote based on our hopes rather than our fears.
This Tuesday, when you close that curtain and look hard at that ballot, the choice you face will be clear.
If you are satisfied with the way things are going...if you think this is the best America can do...that we should stay in Iraq without changing a thing; that we should keep spending our children's money; that we should sit idly by while the cost of health care and tuition and energy continue to soar; that we should look at scandal and corruption as just another part of Washington life, then you should return my opponent and his Republican colleagues to Congress for another two years.
But if you believe that things can be different; that we can do better; that hope can win over fear and that what unites us is stronger than what divides us — then you have another choice on the ballot on Tuesday — I urge you to choose that new direction.
This is our vision for America, and I hope you will join me in making it a reality. I'll see you at the polls.
This is Lois Murphy of Pennsylvania. Thank you for listening.