The protectors of the status quo are a powerful force in Washington. And over the last four years, every time we’ve tried to make a change, they’ve fought back with everything they’ve got. They spent millions to stop us from reforming health care and Wall Street and student loans. And their strategy from the start was to engineer pure gridlock in Congress, refusing to compromise on ideas that both Democrats and Republicans had supported in the past.
And what they’re counting on now, Wisconsin, is that the American people will be so worn down by all the squabbling, so tired of all the dysfunction, that you’ll actually reward obstruction, and put people back in charge who advocate the very policies that got us into this mess.
In other words, their bet is on cynicism. But, Wisconsin, my bet is on you. My bet is on the decency and good sense of the America people—because despite all the resistance, despite all the setbacks, we’ve won some great fights. And I’ve never lost sight of the vision we share that you would have a voice; that there would be somebody at the table fighting every single day for middle-class Americans who work hard.
Sometimes, Republicans in Congress have worked with me to meet our goals—to cut taxes for small businesses and families like yours, to open new markets for American goods, or finally repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
And sometimes we’ve had big fights—fights that were worth having. Like when we forced the banks to stop overcharging for student loans, and made college more affordable for millions. Like when we forced Wall Street to abide by the toughest rules since the 1930s. Like when we stopped insurance companies from discriminating against Americans with pre-existing conditions like cancer or diabetes, so that nobody in America goes bankrupt just because they get sick.
I didn’t fight those fights for any partisan advantage. I’ve shown my willingness to work with anybody, of any party, to move this country forward. And if you want to break the gridlock in Congress, you’ll vote for leaders—whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or Independents—who feel the same way.
But if the price of peace in Washington is cutting deals that will kick students off of financial aid, or get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood, or eliminate health care for millions on Medicaid who are poor, or elderly, or disabled, just to give a millionaire a tax cut, I’m not having it. That’s not a deal worth having. That’s not bipartisanship. That’s not change. That’s surrender to the same status quo that has hurt middle-class families for way too long. And I’m not ready to give up on that fight.
I hope you aren’t either, Wisconsin.