By Thomas Kaplan
DENVER, 4:39 p.m. — Like many other Democrats, Eleanor Holmes Norton GRD ’63 LAW ’64, Washington’s non-voting member of the House of Representatives, came here this week to push for change.
But Norton has one specific change in mind: to give residents of the District of Columbia a vote in Congress. And electing Senator Barack Obama as president will help that cause, Norton said in a speech this afternoon at the Democratic National Convention
“Forty-five years ago this week, Martin Luther King Jr. inspired us to act on the principle that all Americans must have equal rights. Democrats will finish King’s unfinished business for equal voting rights for the citizens of our capital,” Norton said. “King’s vision that change is best achieved when wrapped in unchanging principles is the hallmark of Democrats — from Martin Luther King Jr. to the next President of the United States, Barack Obama.”
Norton, who has served in Congress for nine terms, was Yale’s Class Day speaker in 2005. Her full speech is after the jump.
With the wind at our backs, we come to Denver as change-making, Obama-Biden Democrats. At the same time, we embrace our nation’s great unchanging principles, as we seek to change the policies that have betrayed those principles.
The nation’s founders staked everything on creating a country where there would be “no taxation without representation” anywhere in America. In that tradition, Democrats proudly support the vote in Congress for the 600,000 citizens of our nation’s capital. The District of Columbia is not yet the 51st state, but no one can doubt that the revolutionaries who invented America’s most quoted national slogan did not create a new nation to get the vote, only to turn around and deny the vote to the citizens of their own capital.
Forty-five years ago this week, Martin Luther King Jr. inspired us to act on the principle that all Americans must have equal rights. Democrats will finish King’s unfinished business for equal voting rights for the citizens of our capital. King’s vision that change is best achieved when wrapped in unchanging principles is the hallmark of Democrats–from Martin Luther King Jr. to the next President of the United States, Barack Obama.
The first residents of the District volunteered at the battles of Lexington and Concord on the promise of the vote. Democrats will keep that promise as, yet again, D.C. residents risk their lives in battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will keep the promise made to the unknown soldier who was the first to die from the District in the war against taxation without representation, and we will keep that promise for 21-year-old D.C. National Guard Specialist Darryl Dent, the first D.C. resident to die for his country in Iraq.
The new Democratic Congress already has swiftly led the change to resolve the nation’s oldest unresolved human rights issue. We thank the Democratic House of Representatives for passing the D.C. Voting Rights Act. The Senate came within three votes.
Tonight, we challenge the Senate, especially the Republicans, to match the House this session and pass that bill. Then, have no doubt, if George Bush won’t sign the D.C. Voting Rights Act, its most prominent co-sponsor, our next president, Barack Obama, will.