Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to speak today on this very important subject that captivated the attention of my constituents and rightfully so. I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to debate this issue because let's face it-no floor speech that I know of has changed anyone's vote.
I am very fortunate and blessed to have been given the honor to represent the great people of the 10th District. It is located in Northwest Detroit, which is a long way from here both figuratively and literally. I come from a humble background. My parents were never wealthy or politically connected. I am the first in my family to ever seek and hold public office. I have an obligation to speak on behalf of those who are voiceless, those who are powerless and those who believe their views no longer matters.
AMERICAN HISTORY X
This piece of legislation defies a history of freedom and liberty in our country. A freedom and a liberty that could only be found in the United States of America. I think it is important for this legislative body to be reminded of what it took for us to achieve this sacred right of voting.
Our country has accomplished something that other countries around the world are still trying to obtain. In fact this type of debate is typically resolved through political assassinations genocide or ethnic cleansing. I believe it is important for this legislative body to remember what it took us to build this republic. A republic that has a strong democratic tradition and stands as a vision of hope for so many around this world.
Our country was founded on a simple belief: our freedom does not come from our government, it comes from our God. It is the role of government to protect that freedom, it is our role as legislators to make that happen. Today, I fear that legislators in this House are going to betray their oath, turn their back on freedom, and ignore their responsibility to the values they say they believe in.
It took a rebellion against British oppression by farmers and lay people to achieve independence. People with no military training or advanced weapons took on a superior army. What kind of courage and belief in freedom did that require?
It took a bloody Civil War that cost the lives of 625,000 people to answer a simple question. What kind of government will we have a union or a confederacy? That war led to 4 million African slaves being freed from their bondage. It took a hundred years after that for African Americans to receive full equality under the law.
It took a petite woman who sat down on a bus and said, "That's it! I'm tired! I refuse to get up!" That petite woman sparked then what we now recognize as the modern day civil rights movement.
Today the struggle for equality, freedom and fairness continues because of oppressive legislation like this before us here today. This is a direct and subversive attack on the petition drive that led to 226,000 Michiganders signing a petition that supports freedom. This is an attempt to strip the power of the people away from them.
I'm an American. I'm very proud of that label because I work hard every day to earn that privilege. I'm also a patriot. In serving four honorable years in the United States Navy, I have traveled the world twice and have been to 32 countries. I've seen what a third world country looks like. On one side of the street was the living and on the other side was the dead. And I swear to you that the dead were better off than those walking the earth. What was so striking to me is that they had been denied the right of a representative Democracy.
Ideology has trumped reason in this legislative body. The history of world politics teaches us that when governments topple other governments and replace them with dictators. that a worse result typically happens.
I'm proud to be an American because in another country this debate would be solved through bloodshed, genocide, civil war and atrocities so callous I dare not name them.
No other country in the world has done what we have been able to accomplish in our republic: maintain liberty and individual Freedom for our citizens. I ask you, Mr. Speaker. how does House Bill 5063 accomplish this?
We all are all united in our common journey moving forward toward achieving the change we need.
Understanding of public service alone does not equate to mastery. True mastery can only be achieved with perfect balance. Therein lies the challenge of leadership. Any leader deficient in one aspect is doomed to fail and therefore, ask yourself if your values are perfect? Are you unerring in your duty?
Is your loyalty to freedom and liberty beyond reproach? Every leader's life is the impasse to every leader's soul. This balance is a quest that may require a lifetime to fulfill. It is not a lesson that can be taught. It is something that we must discover for ourselves. What is public service? It is the absolute and unselfish adherence to all virtues
But I'm afraid that this democracy will further erode in a few short moments due to the gentle depression of 56 votes on a green button that will once again turn back the hands of time to a prehistoric age.
I AM DETROIT
If you look into the eyes of any Detroiter, any real Detroiter, what you will see in their soul is pain, suffering, frustration and defiance.
A defiance that prevents Detroiters from quitting, from giving up, from walking away from a problem because it seems too difficult even though others have turned their back, betrayed us, and used political strength to rewrite legislation that took much needed revenue away from us.
We are defiant because we reject an idea that we are incapable of governing ourselves. Today, I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my Detroit colleagues in the spirit of defiance.
Because I am Detroit.
These bills are not about what needs to be done it's about what some want to take.
These bills are not about getting things right. It's about getting the "right" people to do someone else's bidding.
It's not about making ends meet, it's about justifying the means to your end.
The truth endures forever.
You can try to marginalize our existence, lock us up, confine us, restrict us, throwaway the key but Houdini ain't got nothing on us.