And we do this -- we do this for each other in America. We don't turn away from a neighbor in their time of need. Because every one of us knows that what -- but for the grace of God, there goes us. The American people have never stopped doing this, even when their government walked away, and walked away it has from hardworking people, and, yes, from the poor, those who live in poverty in this country.
For decades, we stopped focusing on those struggles. They didn't register in political polls, they didn't get us votes and so we stopped talking about it. I don't know how it started. I don't know when our party began to turn away from the cause of working people, from the fathers who were working three jobs literally just to pay the rent, mothers sending their kids to bed wrapped up in their clothes and in coats because they couldn't afford to pay for heat.
We know that our brothers and sisters have been bullied into believing that they can't organize and can't put a union in the workplace. Well, in this campaign, we didn't turn our heads. We looked them square in the eye and we said, "We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. And we will never forget you." And I have a feeling that if the leaders of our great Democratic Party continue to hear the voices of working people, a proud progressive will occupy the White House.
All of you who have been involved in this campaign and this movement for change and this cause, we need you. It is in our hour of need that your country needs you. Don't turn away, because we have not just a city of New Orleans to rebuild. We have an American house to rebuild.
This work goes on. It goes on right here in Musicians' Village. There are homes to build here, and in neighborhoods all along the Gulf. The work goes on for the students in crumbling schools just yearning for a chance to get ahead. It goes on for day care workers, for steel workers risking their lives in cities all across this country. And the work goes on for two hundred thousand men and women who wore the uniform of the United States of America, proud veterans, who go to sleep every night under bridges, or in shelters, or on grates, just as the people we saw on the way here today. Their cause is our cause.
Their struggle is our struggle. Their dreams are our dreams.
Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what's possible, because it's time for all of us, all of us together, to make the two Americas one.
Thank you. God bless you, and let's go to work. Thank you all very much.
This message - that the only way to change the corporatist direction of this country is through unrelenting political action of regular people - is the most important one that Edwards could have chosen to share today. I've written about it here. I live it in my professional and personal life. But here's the thing - we must have leaders to inspire us. There's no way around it and believe me, I wish there were because finding these people and keeping them alive literally and figuratively is hard as hell to do. They are the match that lights the fire. They need to inspire us to fight peacefully - not to get along passively. Maybe Edwards is that guy. He sounded today like he wants to be and I think he'll be more effective without a failing presidential campaign to drag along. But words are cheap so we'll have to see what happens. In the meantime, it's back to the trenches. Pick your issue and be the leader your community needs to get to work. That way, when a national leader comes along, you'll be ready or maybe you'll be it.