Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at an event honoring People For The American Way Founder Norman Lear. Below are the Leader's remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you Julian [Bond]. The Library of Congress recognized Julian Bond with the Living Legend Award - we all agree that Julian is indeed a living legend.
“Thank you to the entire board of the People For the American Way, which is filled with so many leading lights, for the privilege of joining you tonight, on behalf of the Congress of the United States, to honor Norman Lear. I first learned about People for the American Way 30 years ago from Sally Lilienthal. I would like to acknowledge the Board Members who join us tonight: Ambassador James Hormel, my constituent; another Californian and Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee, Dolores Huerta; friends in so many important efforts over the years: Kathleen Turner, Mary Frances Berry and Rabbi David Saperstein.
“A special thank you to all of you, especially Jane Lynch, for raising your voices against DOMA. The issue of marriage equality is a fundamental American value. We look forward to the day when we discard this discriminatory law in the dustbin of history and when all of America's families enjoy the blessings of equal protection under the law.
“More than 200 years ago, our founding fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution - thank goodness they made it amendable, and the Bill of Rights, making us the freest nation in the history of the world, founded on a principle that all people are created equal. This is the American way, our founders were the original people for the American way. Thirty years ago, Norman Lear established People For the American Way to honor the vision of our founding fathers for every American. That vision was founded with great optimism; so confident were they that our founders established what they called ‘novus ordo seclorum' - a new order for the ages. Central to their optimism was their belief that every generation has an obligation to make the future better for the next generations. Nobody said that better than President John Adams, who wrote to Abigail: “I must study politics and war so that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy… in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music…”
“Expanding opportunity for young people is what the Young Elected Officials Network is about. Norman Lear knows that America's future lies with its young people - like Andrew Gillum, Angie Buhl, Melvin Carter, and Kesha Ram. The single best action we can take to involve many more young people, women, and minorities in government is to reduce the role of money in politics. Across the country, attempts are being made to suffocate elections with unlimited, special interest dollars; suppress the vote; and poison the debate. People For the American Way will not let this stand.
“Together, we will fight for a new politics free from special interest money. We will ‘DARE' - to disclose, amend, reform, and elect reformers. We must fight for disclosure, to pass the DISCLOSE Act and get unlimited, secret, special interest money out of our politics. We must amend our Constitution to overturn the Citizens United decision that strengthens the hands of special interests at the expense of the people's interest. We must fight for reform to empower the grassroots with a greater role in our elections and with citizen funding for campaigns. We must elect reform-minded leaders to fight for the American dream. Our founders established a democracy - not a plutocracy. We must make certain that the votes of the many determine the outcome of our elections, not the checkbooks of the few. We must fight voter suppression and protect the right of every citizen to vote and every vote to be counted. I believe the attempt to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress is really an attempt to weaken his strong voice in fighting voter suppression.
“Norman Lear created People For the American Way as a way forward for our democracy. People say Norman Lear is a creative genius, but he is much more than that. On the 250th anniversary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthday, the San Francisco Chronicle asked the question: “how is it that an ordinary mortal can walk into a room and come out with the B-Minor Mass?” In their answer, they quoted mathematician Mark Kac: “an ordinary genius is a fellow whom you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. There is no mystery as to how his mind works. Once we understand what they've done, we feel certain that we, too, could have done it. It is different with the magicians. Even after we understand what they have done it is completely dark.” The Chronicle continued: “Mozart…was a magician. Mozart's [work] was like a series of lightning strokes, producing one unimprovable masterpiece after another.” Norman Lear is no ordinary genius. He is a magician, producing one unimprovable masterpiece after another.
“Norman created Archie and Edith Bunker, George and Louise Jefferson, and, of course, Maude, among others. With television and film, he reflected the diversity of the American experience. As President Clinton said when he honored Norman with the National Medal of Arts, “Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.” He is also a great patriot who inspired many Americans to better know our history and leaders like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Norman, and his wife Lyn, personally sent the Declaration of Independence on a road trip across America so that millions more could experience our history. And they have reached out to young people, sometimes even through hip hop, to get them to ‘declare themselves' and vote. Thank you Norman and Lyn for strengthening our democracy and reigniting the American dream.
“Now let's take a look at the wonderful world of Norman Lear.”