200 Boos

What follows is a speech I gave to Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District Convention in 1992. I then put it n the back a book I wrote and hoped to sell to raise money to run for Congress. It was an interesting, if flawed, idea . An unendorsed candidate in his opponent's safe district can't be expected to raise anywhere near enough money to be noticed by voters. This was my means of accomplishing this. Also, lots of politicians, notably presidential candidates, write biographies with ghost writers to win voter interest. My book however was an adventure story for adolescents not a campaign book.

The introduction to the speech says I would be running for the Republican nomination. In fact, after the book was published I changed my mind an ran as an independent candidate. It was the year of Ross Perot and I decided that my views would get a better hearing if I ran as an independent. Besides, I couldn't have won the Republican primary and I wanted on the general election ballot. Hey, I got 19,000 votes, seven percent of the vote. Unfortunately, the Perot people got as paranoid as their candidate and I made them as mad as I made Republicans and Democrats. Now that's a real maverick for you. 

After the election was over I was stuck with seven thousand books with inflammatory speeches in them.. Not very marketable. They're still sitting in my garage fourteen years later. I just can't bring myself to landfill them.


On the Politics of the Author

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

        Martin Luther King

". . . moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

        Barry Goldwater

On May 2nd, 1992, at the Radison Hotel in Duluth, Minnesota I gave a speech asking for my party's endorsement for Congress. I knew the Republican Convention would not endorse me. The rift between the people who have taken over my party and those of us who have been forced to the margins of the party are too great. This is tragic because it is only by working together for a common purpose that solutions can be achieved. This lack of common purpose afflicts more than my local party. It is also the chief obstacle for our nation.

Before beginning my speech I explained that I had finished writing it a few hours before a California jury ruled that the police beating of Rodney King was not excessive. I further told the delegates that the events which followed that verdict lent authority to my words.

I spoke from the heart. I told uncomfortable truths. The delegates listened intently. When my speech ended there was a brief pause and then the stunned convention hall erupted in thunderous booing mixed with scattered applause. The vote was a formality. I was out polled 15 to one. I will be running in the primary against the official, Republican nominee.

Here follows my speech.

May 2, 1992


By Harry Robb Welty


The first time I addressed a Republican convention was right here in this very hallway. That was twenty years ago last April. It was not my finest hour. I was campaigning to be the President of the Minnesota State College Republicans. My only rival did not want the job. He left the Convention without even addressing the delegates to ask for their vote. It might just as well have been an uncontested election. I was certain of victory. As I addressed the convention my rival was already in his car heading home. - I lost.

When I got up to speak I was seized by such a violent attack of nerves that I astonished the expectant delegates. I gibbered for five nervous minutes. It was an out of body experience for me. My spirit slipped away from me, and hovered overhead watching my body blather incoherently. Today I plan to set that failure to rights. There will be no ad-libbing this time. I've typed out my speech and my spirit is very much inside my body. Its too bad the results will be the same as they were twenty years ago.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Grand Old Party: I am troubled about the unsteady course America is steering. Our children are about inherit problems as great or greater than those we faced in our childhood. Unfortunately, our children will not have the advantage of an unrivaled America with unparalleled resources. Instead our children will inherit a crippled, debtor, nation with a large population of economically marginal citizens. We can not allow this to continue. It is time for us to sacrifice for our children. We must stop making our children sacrifice for us.

I speak from personal experience. Let me explain: Most of you are aware of the difficulties that have bedeviled the Duluth Schools. Several years have passed and problems which were once merely monumental have become intractable. My children will survive these difficulties just as sheltered, upper, middle-class children have for generations. I wish I could say the same for less fortunate children.

Last year when I ran for the school Board, I discovered a dirty little secret. I discovered that twenty percent of Duluth's children drop out of school. If you walk into one of our elementary classrooms, look hard. One in five of the children you see, will not graduate. This is a public relations nightmare for our School Administration which insists that we have a mere six percent dropout rate. But this claim is purely self delusion. It is a delusion which is self destructive. It is a delusion that is symbolic of an America we would rather not acknowledge. We are a nation wearing blinders. Ignorance, is our narcotic, and it is a powerful narcotic.

Let me tell you about my children's elementary school. In rainy weather, the custodians set out dozens of trash cans to collect the water which seeps through a sodden roof. No matter. Our city has twice turned down school bonds in recent years. Ironically, my children's elementary school wasn't even included in the bonds because it is one of the better buildings.

This is Duluth. A city which will not voluntarily raise money to repair the roofs of its schools, but just seven blocks from my house is a federal project which cost One-Quarter-of-a-Billion-Dollars, seven times as much as the most recent school bond. This federal project is a vast concrete tunnel carved into Duluth's hard, basaltic, rock for an interstate highway which, when it is completed, will save me two minutes when I drive down town.

A nation that gives precedence to two minutes of my life over the future of my child has it priorities tragically backwards. Who do I blame? I blame myself. I blame you. I blame all of us for electing representatives, like our Congressman James Oberstar, who are responsible for our vast, misdirected, national budget. Its our fault that we haven't sent our Congress a clear, unselfish message. It has been half a century since there was a serious general election campaign for Congress in Minnesota's Eighth Congressional District. That was 1946! We must not wait any longer. Ladies and gentleman. This is the Twentieth Century! Its time for us to follow Russia's example, and have real democratic elections in northern Minnesota. This Congress must be challenged. Congressman Oberstar must be challenged. We can not - We must not - allow our Congress to impoverish our children for our temporary convenience.

My fellow Republicans, I regret to tell you, that your candidate, Phil Herwig, is not the man to challenge Congressman Oberstar. Even though he will certainly win your endorsement, I will do my best to be the Party's candidate in November by winning the September primary. Sadly, I suspect that if I win the primary, many of you will quietly vote for Jim Oberstar. If you do vote for Jim Oberstar I will understand. You have no choice. Jim Oberstar is Pro-life and I am pro-choice.

I have not come here in anger. Unlike many pro-choice partisans I have a deep respect for the motives which have impelled you to join and take over the Republican party.

I don't keep track of aborted babies but I know there have been millions since Roe vs. Wade. I know you would prefer to blame these callous, medical, procedures on those of us who are stubbornly pro-choice. Certainly, no one can accuse the pro-life lobby of sitting back idly over the past twenty years. But if you truly want to end what you regard as a slaughter of innocents, I urge you to ask yourselves these questions. Why, have you failed so utterly to stem the tide of abortion? Why, have you failed to rally a clear majority of the electorate to your cause? Why, have so many of your formerly stalwart pro-life representatives, like Congressman Sikorski, jumped ship as Roe v Wade slips into the judicial sunset.

Take a minute to look beyond the imminent Supreme Court reversal of Roe. What will happen then? Will abortions end? No! They will not! What will you do when you discover that Roe's reversal is only a pyrrhic victory? What will you do when abortions continue largely unabated. The war between our respective sides will continue state by state, and in the Congress, but abortions will continue.

I am pro-choice. I will go further; I am fiercely pro-choice. I have been pro-choice for a quarter of a century, ever since I was a virginal, high school Junior. Ironically, I too want to see an end to abortion as a method of birth control. Listen to me. It is only in alliance with people like me that abortion will ever be ended in this nation. You will not legislate it out of existence.

Let me leave you with this bitter observation. The Republican party has become a party which revels in its criticism of Welfare Queens and become a party which tolerates, even worships, the Donald Trumps, Michael Milkins, Charles Keatings and Ivan Boeskies of the world.

We are a political party which abhors the redistribution of wealth and yet, in the last twelve years America's rich have gotten richer while America's poor have gotten poorer. There has been such disintegration of society that one American child in 5 lives in poverty. There are more abortions in this nation than you realize, because for many children life is an abortion. These children are, homeless; neglected; ill educated; prone to prostitution, AIDS, crack cocaine, guns, violent deaths, joblessness, and hopelessness. These children live lives that are a prolonged bath of scalding salt.

How can the party of Lincoln ever hope to end abortion, or win the public's sympathy, when it turns its back on the very children it is determined to see born?