Why I'm running for President: FB LIVE where my American Dream began in my hometown of Wood-Ridge, New Jersey

July 29, 2017

Hello, everyone.  This is Congressman John Delaney and you've probably heard the big news, which is that I'm running for president.  And that's what I'm here to talk to you about.

I'm in my hometown of Wood-Ridge, New Jersey,the place where I grew up.  I'm here with my family—my sister and my mom.  Like so many of you, my hometown made me the person I am today, and like so many of you, I never forget where I'm from.

Wood-Ridge is a small town, full of hard-working people, many of which work in solid, blue-collar jobs.  These are good people, who care about their family, their kids, their faith and their country.  When my sister and I grew up in our small house on North Avenue, life was simple but it was really good.  My dad was an electrician.  He passed away last year and behind me is his truck, his last of his many pickup trucks he had across his whole life.  I spent my summers working with my dad on construction sites.  He taught me some very valuable lessons.  He taught me to work hard, to never back down, to stand up for your friends and most importantly to take care, protect and love your family.  He called it being a man.

For me the goal was to be a responsible adult, and its worked.  Even though neither of my parents went to college, my mom pushed me hard to get a great education.  I ended up going to college right across the river, at Columbia University, paid for in part by scholarships from my dad's electrical union, the IBEW.  Every year I would go to Jersey City and thank the members of that union for giving me that scholarship—an opportunity that they were giving me that none of them had ever had for themselves. 

Stepping on the campus of Columbia University changed my life, like an education does for so many.  After that I went to Georgetown for law school, where the best thing imaginable happend to me.  I met April, my wonderful, amazing wife of almost 28 years, and we've been blessed with four terrific daughters.

Because of my education, I was able to become an entrepreneur.  I started two businesses from scratch, and I created thousands of jobs in the great state of Maryland, which is where we now call home.  One of the best memories I have was ringing the bell on the New York Stock Exchange with my first company.  I was in my early 30s at the time.  I could look across the river at Jersey City and imagine all those wonderful electricians I used to thank for helping pay my way through college.

You see none of us do it alone.  I could also see Ellis Island, where one of my grandfathers came through.  He came from England as a boy, but he was detained because he only had one arm.  You see back then we used to discriminate against people with disabilities.  After holding him for a while he was let into the United States by a judge, a judge that also had one arm.  Who knows what would have happened otherwise.  He ended up working in a pencil factory in Jersey City, not far from where my other grandfather, an Irishman named John Delaney as well, worked as a dockworker.  As you can tell, hard work runs in our family.

What also runs in our family is an appreciation for the American Dream.  Within two generations of the one-armed boy being detained at Ellis Island, his grandson goes on to become the CEO of two New York Stock Exchange-listed companies and has the privilege of serving in the Congress of the United States represnting the great state of Maryland and some of the finest people in the country, the citizens of Maryland Sixth.  That's the American Dream.

But is the American Dream still alive?  That's the question we have to ask ourselves.  Or do you have to be born in the right family or the right town to have a shot?  We need to make sure we stay the land of opportunity, and the best way to do that is to focus on the future.  And that's the work I want to do, which is why I'm running for president.  I want to work to advance an exciting and original approach to governing, which is all about the future, about getting things done to grow our economy, create jobs, and most importantly ensure a better future for all Americans.

The American people are so much greater than the sum of our political parts.  As a country we have accomplished amazing things, and if we come together and rise up above our broken politics we can do it again.

Today our goal(s?) should be to have higher economic growth and a more inclusive economy, lead the world through some very difficult times and very difficult threats, and take action to leave our country and the world better off for generations to come.  All of this is certainly possible if we focus on the future and work together. 

I envisage a future far better than the world today, a future where responsible businesses and the power of our economic model work with a smarter government to not onlly lead the world in innovation and growth, but also drive positive changes in society, including higher wages for our workers and better health, educational, and environmental outcomes.  A future where America's standing in the world is reasserted with real leadership to stronger global alliances that work for peace and security to keep Americans safe. 

To achieve this goal we have to be honest about what is actually happening in the world.  Technology, automation and globalization are the most powerful forces in the world today.  Across our country and the world, these forces have been enormously positive, but they have not been positive for everyone.  They will continue to make live better, enhance productivity, solve some of the most difficult problems in society and open up societies.  Sadly these forces will also eliminate certain jobs and require our workers to learn new skills much more quickly.  They will create security risks and strain our resources. 

As a nation we need to respond to these opportunities and challenges by investing in infrastructure, innovation and promoting start-ups.  We need to improve education and make it easier for our workers to acquire new skills and switch jobs.  We need to encourage a more inclusive form of capitalism, take steps to help our businesses compete and grow, strengthen our safety net and benefit programs, and think about fiscal, climate and security risks entirely differently.

To me these are not vague promises.  I have very specific plans for each.  These goals can only be accomplished by focusing on the facts, making government work better, and reinventing the basic social contract, and coming together as a nation to pursue big ideas. 

We can no longer allow petty and pointless political debates to get in the way of real progress for the American people.  Much more unites us than divides us, and it's time to stop fighting and time to get things done.  In truth the real enemy of progress is hyperpartisan politics that tries to convince the American people that half the country is entirely wrong about what they believe, and prioritizes political victories over the common good of our citizens.

No country's better positioned to capitalize on this change than the United States of America.  We're the undisputed center of technology, our workers are the most talented in the world, and our businesses lead the world.  Our universities are beacons to talent, and our multi-ethnic, multi-religious free society is the envy of people around the world.  Our armed services are the finest in the world, and we have free press, free markets and the rule of law.

Unfortunately we're in a tough spot right now as a country.  We have a president who has an unhealthy disregard for the truth and the administration of justice.  He has shown himself to be an unsteady, self-absorbed leader and much of his agenda will hurt working families, exacerbate our challenges and cause us to miss significant opportunities.

Fortunately we stopped his latest assault on something that should be a right for every American—health care—and we did it in a bipartisan way, by getting a few brave Republicans to look at the facts and understand that this would actually hurt so many people. 

President Trump is not showing the business skills he promised.  In truth.Trump isn't and never was a successful business leader.  He was a successful business promoter, which is an entirely different thing.  Successful business leaders innovate, create jobs, pay their bills, and don't file for bankruptcy,  and hire the most talented, not those who are the best connected.  This is what I did in building two companies from scratch.  Trump does the opposite.  He's betraying and hurting the good people he claims to support, and he has deepened our divisions.  And Trump has used his success to bully and intimidate people to get his way.

I think about success from a different perspective.  I try to be a steward of the blessings that I've had, and use them to help people and to give back. Whe I came to Congress, I said I would use my experience as a business leader to come up with new bipartisan ideas to improve the economy and create jobs. 

That is exactly what I did when I put forth the most significant infrastructure and tax reform proposal in the Congress, which would invest over $1 trillion in infrastructure and create a pathway for trillions of dollars of trapped overseas cash to come back to the United States.  This proposal has had over 40 Democrats and 40 Republicans supporting it.  That's the kind of approach real business leaders take in government.  That's the real art of the deal in politics.

These are my genuine thoughts, none of which are poll-tested nor developed by consultants. They come from my experience, my work, my values and my heart, and I have the skills to make them happen. 

April and I will spend the next year preparing for the 2020 election by talking to people all across this country and discussing our plans for an alternative vision rooted in a more dynamic economy and a renewed social contract, and an overall respectful, bipartisan, get-things-done approach to governing.

Resistance to the Trump agenda is critical, but what will really matter in the long term is rebuilding our country, renewing our spirit of generosity towards each other, and repositioning our time-tested economic model towards broadly shared success.  That's what I want to do.  God bless you.

[11 minutes long--actually 10min45sec]

Ed. Note:  This is effectively Delaney's announcement speech.  He formally announced in an opinion piece that appeared in the Washington Post the day before, on July 28.