Archive for September, 2011
Conservatives and progressives approach almost every issue with completely different philosophies and perspectives. Conservatives believe in American exceptionalism, freedom and personal responsibility. Progressives believe in social justice and mandate government to create solutions that improve the health and welfare of all Americans. It has been said by others that two heads are better than one and that two sticks stacked together are harder to break than one stick on its own. Are these two philosophical systems compatible and can the work together to create solutions that benefit all Americans, and even the world.
Below is a description of some differences between conservatives and progressives. Keep in mind that these are broad generalizations that are being used to illustrate the differences.
a) Conservatives believe that judges should act like umpires rather than legislating from the bench. Judges should determine whether laws are permissible under the US Constitution and settle debates about the meaning of laws, not impose their will based on their ideology. Progressives believe that it is the role of a judge to create fairness and equity.
b) Conservatives believe that individual Americans have a right to defend themselves and their families with guns and that right cannot be taken away by any method short of a Constitutional Amendment, which conservatives would oppose. Progressives believe that taking guns away from most citizens would reduce violent crime because criminals would not have access to a gun.
c) Conservatives believe that we should live in a color blind society where every individual is judged on the content of his character and the merits of his actions. Progressives believe that it is necessary to impose laws that improve social justice and equity, even if it hurts certain groups, because the end goal is more important than the method that was used to get there.
d) Conservatives are capitalists and believe that entrepreneurs who amass great wealth through their own efforts are good for the country and shouldn’t be punished for being successful. Progressives are socialists who view successful business owners as people who cheated the system and exploited others along the way. Their money should be taken away by the government and given to those more deserving in order to improve social justice and equity.
e) Conservatives believe that abortion ends the life of an innocent child and that infanticide is wrong. Progressives believe that a mother’s right to choose is much more important than the life of the fetus.
f) Conservatives believe that the best defense is a good offense. The best way to prevent harm to American citizens is a strong show of force. Progressives believe that enemies of the United States have as much right to their opinion as American’s have to theirs; that hatred towards the United States is caused by its social inequities; and that these enemies can be pacified through civilized discussion and debate.
g) Conservatives believe that it is vitally important to the future of the country to reduce the size of government, keep taxes low, balance the budget, and get this country out of debt in order to promote capitalism and freedom. Progressives believe that government is the best agent to create social justice and equity. Higher taxes and more regulation are just the vehicles to accomplish this goal.
h) Conservatives believe that government, by its very nature, tends to be inefficient, incompetent, wasteful and power hungry. They believe that the government that governs least, governs best. Progressives believe that the stronger and more well funded the government is, the better it can accomplish its mission and improving the lives of those who do not have the ability to do it themselves.
i) Conservatives believe in the uniqueness and greatness of the American culture and society. It is the reason why the United States of America is the most successful country in the history of the world. Progressives are internationalists who believe that other countries have great ideas as well and that in order to reduce tension and increase international harmony, the US should be more like these other nations.
j) Conservatives believe in God and believe that it is necessary, at least in a personal way, to follow certain guidelines and principles laid out within Holy Scriptures. Progressives believe that God should not be involved in government. They adamantly believe in the separation of church and state.
k) Conservatives begin political conversations with “I think.” Progressives begin political conversations with “I feel.”
l) Conservatives believe that social inequities are part of life and that most of them are created by the character and actions of the individual. Progressives believe that social inequities are a scurge on this planet and should be addressed through government action.
As shown above, Americans are deeply divided by their most deeply held beliefs: access to wealth, the role of God in society, the role of government in society, a woman’s right to choose, the preservation and caretaking of other species, and personal liberty. As a result, individuals who represent the government, and the Nation as a whole, are pulled in many, often times opposite, directions. Compromise is a word commonly heard when different philosophies cannot agree on solutions to various issues. But is compromise the best solution, does it make the country stronger, and is it possible?
As you read through the list of differences above, it becomes quite obvious that these two philosophies are not only significantly different, but polar opposites that generate much political conflict. President Theodore Roosevelt was one President who attempted throughout his entire Presidency to saddle both horses. He was a progressive conservative. On one hand he promoted bills that strongly regulated large corporations, created the National Park System, and signed the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. And on the other hand, he encouraged the development of a strong Navy, forced the end of a labor strike, and governed the Philippines after the capture of President Aguinaldo in 1902. Many historians declare Theodore Roosevelt to be one of the best Presidents of all time, behind (in order) George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson. And it is four out of five of these Presidents (the fifth actively serving) that were immortalized in Mt. Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota. So, according to this, it may be possible to find common ground between these two divergent philosophies that, in the end, strengthen American society.
However, folly could ensue should the President, or other leaders, fail to at least acknowledge the importance of American ingenuity and character. Shelby Steele, a Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal on September 1, 2011, that accurately describes the difficulties a President faces should he not accept the premise that America is unique in the world.
2004 Democratic National Convention Speech
July 28, 2004
Thank you. Now you know why Elizabeth is so amazing, right?
I am a lucky man to have the love of my life at my side. Both of us have been blessed with four extraordinary children: Wade, Cate who you heard from, Emma Clair and Jack.
We are having such an extraordinary time, myself and my entire family, at this convention.
And by the way, how great was Teresa Heinz Kerry last night?
My father and mother, Wallace and Bobbie Edwards, are also here tonight.
You taught me the values that I carry in my heart: faith, family, responsibility, opportunity for everyone. You taught me that there’s dignity and honor in a hard day’s work. You taught me to always look out for our neighbors, to never look down on anybody, and treat everybody with respect.
Those are the values that John Kerry and I believe in. And nothing makes me prouder than standing with him in this campaign. I am so humbled to be your candidate for vice president of the United States.
I want to talk about our next president. For those who want to know what kind of leader he’ll be, I want to take you back about 30 years. When John Kerry graduated college, he volunteered for military service, volunteered to go to Vietnam, volunteered to captain a swiftboat, one of the most dangerous duties in Vietnam that you could have. As a result, he was wounded, honored for his valor.
If you have any question about what he’s made of, just spend three minutes with the men who served with him then and who stand with him now. They saw up close what he’s made of.
They saw him reach into the river and pull one of his men to safety and save his life. They saw him in the heat of battle make a decision in a split second to turn his boat around, drive it through an enemy position, and chase down the enemy to save his crew. Decisive, strong: Is this not what we need in a commander in chief?
You know, we hear a lot of talk about values. Where I come from, you don’t judge somebody’s values based upon how they use that word in a political ad. You judge their values based upon what they’ve spent their life doing.
So when a man volunteers to serve his country, the man volunteers and puts his life on the line for others, that’s a man who represents real American values.
This is a man who is prepared to keep the American people safe, to make America stronger at home and more respected in the world.
John is a man who knows the difference between right and wrong. He wants to serve you. Your cause is his cause. And that is why we must and we will elect him the next president of the United States.
You know, for the last few months, John’s been traveling around the country talking about his positive, optimistic vision for America, talking about his plan to move this country in the right direction.
But what have we seen? Relentless negative attacks against John. So in the weeks ahead, we know what’s coming, don’t we?
… more negative attacks — aren’t you sick of it?
They are doing all they can to take the campaign for the highest office in the land down the lowest possible road.
But this is where you come in: Between now and November, you, the American people, you can reject the tired, old, hateful, negative politics of the past. And instead you can embrace the politics of hope, the politics of what’s possible because this is America, where everything is possible.
I am here tonight for a very simple reason: because I love my country. And I have every reason to love my country. I have grown up in the bright light of America.
I grew up in a small town in rural North Carolina, a place called Robbins.
My father, he worked in a mill all his life, and I still remember vividly the men and women who worked in that mill with him. I can see them. Some of them had lint in their hair; some of them had grease on their faces. They worked hard, and they tried to put a little money away so that their kids and their grand-kids could have a better life.
The truth is, they’re just like the auto workers, the office workers, the teachers and shop keepers on main streets all across this country.
My mother had a number of jobs. She worked at the post office so she and my father could have health care. She owned her own small business. She refinished furniture to help pay for my education.
I have had such incredible opportunities in my life. I was blessed to be the first person in my family to go to college. I worked my way through, and I had opportunities beyond my wildest dreams.
And the heart of this campaign — your campaign, our campaign — is to make sure all Americans have exactly the same kind opportunities that I had no matter where you live, no matter who your family is, no matter what the color of your skin is.
This is the America we believe in.
I have spent my life fighting for the kind of people I grew up with.
For two decades, I stood with kids and families against big HMOs and big insurance companies.
When I got to the Senate, I fought those same fights against the Washington lobbyists and for causes like the Patients’ Bill of Rights.
I stand here tonight ready to work with you and John to make America stronger. And we have much work to do, because the truth is, we still live in a country where there are two different Americas…
… one, for all of those people who have lived the American dream and don’t have to worry, and another for most Americans, everybody else who struggle to make ends meet every single day. It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can build one America where we no longer have two health care systems: one for families who get the best health care money can by, and then one for everybody else rationed out by insurance companies, drug companies, HMOs.
Millions of Americans have no health coverage at all.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We have a plan…
We have a plan that will offer all Americans the same health care that your senator has. We can give you tax breaks to help you pay for your health care. And when we’re in office, we will sign a real patients’ bill of rights into law so that you can make your own health care decisions.
We shouldn’t have two public school systems in this country: one for the most affluent communities, and one for everybody else.
None of us believe that the quality of a child’s education should be controlled by where they live or the affluence of the community they live in.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can build one school system that works for all our kids, gives them a chance to do what they’re capable of doing.
Our plan will reform our schools and raise standards. We can give our schools the resources that they need. We can provide incentives to put our best teachers in the subjects and the places where we need them the most. And we can ensure that 3 million children have a safe place to go when they leave school in the afternoon.
We can do this together, you and I.
John Kerry and I believe that we shouldn’t have two different economies in America: one for people who are set for life, they know their kids and their grand-kids are going to be just fine; and then one for most Americans, people who live paycheck to paycheck. You don’t need me to explain this to you do you?
You know exactly what I’m talking about. Can’t save any money, can you?
Takes every dime you make just to pay your bills.
And you know what happens if something goes wrong, if you have a child that gets sick, a financial problem, a layoff in the family — you go right off the cliff. And when that happens, what’s the first thing that goes? Your dreams.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We can strengthen and lift up your families. Your agenda is our agenda.
So let me give you some specifics.
First, we can create good-paying jobs in this country again. We’re going to get rid of tax cuts for companies who are outsourcing your jobs…
… and, instead, we’re going to give tax breaks to American companies that are keeping jobs right here in America.
And we will invest in the jobs of the future and in the technologies and innovation to ensure that America stays ahead of the competition. And we’re going to do this because John and I understand that a job is about more than a paycheck; it’s about dignity and self- respect.
Hard work should be valued in this country, so we’re going to reward work, not just wealth.
We don’t want people to just get by; we want people to get ahead.
So let me give you some specifics about what we’re going to do.
First, we’re going to help you pay for your health care by having a tax break and health care reform that can save you up to $1,000 on your premiums.
We’re going to help you cover the rising costs of child care with a tax credit up to $1,000 so that your kids have a place to go when you’re at work that they’re safe and well taken care of.
If your child — if your child wants to be the first in your family to go to college, we’re going to give you a tax break on up to $4,000 in tuition.
And everybody listening here and at home is thinking one thing right now: OK, how are you going to pay for it? Right?
Well, let me tell you how we’re going to pay for it. And I want to be very clear about this. We are going to keep and protect the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans — 98 percent. We’re going to roll back — we’re going to roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. And we’re going to close corporate loopholes.
We’re going to cut government contractors and wasteful spending. We can move this country forward without passing the burden to our children and our grandchildren.
We can also do something about 35 million Americans who live in poverty every day. And here’s why we shouldn’t just talk about, but do something about the millions of Americans who live in poverty: because it is wrong. And we have a moral responsibility to lift those families up.
I mean, the very idea that in a country of our wealth and our prosperity, we have children going to bed hungry? We have children who don’t have the clothes to keep them warm? We have millions of Americans who work full-time every day to support their families, working for minimum wage, and still live in poverty. It’s wrong.
These are men and women who are living up to their bargain. They’re working hard, they’re supporting their families. Their families are doing their part; it’s time we did our part.
And that’s what we’re going to do — that’s what we’re going to do when John is in the White House, because we’re going to raise the minimum wage, we’re going to finish the job on welfare reform, and we’re going to bring good-paying jobs to the places where we need them the most.
And by doing all those things, we’re going to say no forever to any American working full-time and living in poverty. Not in our America, not in our America, not in our America.
Let me talk about — let me talk about why we need to build one America.
Because I, like many of you, I saw up close what having two Americas can do to our country.
From the time I was very young, I saw the ugly face of segregation and discrimination. I saw young, African-American kids being sent upstairs in movie theaters.
I saw “White only” signs on restaurant doors and luncheon counters.
I feel such an enormous personal responsibility when it comes to issues of race and equality and civil rights.
And I’ve heard some discussions and debates around America about where and in front of what audiences we ought to talk about race and equality and civil rights. I have an answer to that questions: Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
This is not an African-American issue. This is not a Latino issue. This is not an Asian-American issue. This is an American issue.
It is about who we are, what our values are and what kind of country we live in.
The truth is, the truth is that what John and I want, what all of us want if for our children and our grandchildren to be the first generations that grown up in an America that’s no longer divided by race. We must build one America. We must be one America, strong and united for another very important reason: because we are at war.
None of us will ever forget where we were on September the 11th. We all share the same terrible images, the towers falling in New York, the Pentagon in flames, a smoldering field in Pennsylvania. We share a profound sadness for the nearly 3,000 lives that were lost.
And as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I know that we have to do more to fight the war on terrorism and keep the American people safe. We can do that.
We are approaching the third anniversary of September 11th, and one thing I can tell you: When we’re in office, it won’t take three years to get the reforms in our intelligence that are necessary to keep the American people safe.
We will do whatever it takes, as long as it takes, to make sure this never happens again in our America.
And when John is president, we will listen to the wisdom of the September 11th commission. We will lead strong alliances. We will safeguard and secure our weapons of mass destruction. We will strengthen our homeland security, protect our ports, protect our chemical plants, and support our firefighters, police officers, EMTs. We will always…
We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe.
And we, John and I, we will have one clear unmistakable message for Al Qaida and these terrorists: You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you.
John understands personally about fighting in a war. And he knows what our brave men and women are going through right now in another war, the war in Iraq.
The human cost and the extraordinary heroism of this war, it surrounds us. It surrounds us in our cities and our towns. And we’ll win this war because of the strength and courage of our own people.
Some of our friends and neighbors, they saw their last images in Baghdad. Some took their last steps outside of Fallujah. Some buttoned their uniform for the last time before they went out and saved their unit.
Men and women who used to take care of themselves, they now count on others to see them through the day. They need their mother to tie their shoe, their husband to brush their hair, their wife’s arm to help them across the room.
The stars and stripes wave for them. The word “hero” was made for them. They are the best and the bravest. And they will never be left behind.
You understand that. And they deserve a president who understands that on the most personal level what they’ve gone through, what they’ve given and what they’ve given up for their country.
To us, the real test of patriotism is how we treat the men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect our values.
And let me tell you, the 26 million veterans in this country will not have to wonder when we’re in office whether they’ll have health care next week or next year. We will take care of them because they have taken care of us.
But today, our great United States military is stretched thin. We’ve got more than 140,000 troops in Iraq, almost 20,000 in Afghanistan. And I visited the men and women there, and we’re praying as they try to give that country hope.
Like all of those brave men and women, John put his life on the line for our country. He knows that when authority is given to a president, much is expected in return.
That’s why we will strengthen and modernize our military. We will double our Special Forces. We will invest in the new equipment and technologies so that our military remains the best equipped and best prepared in the world. This will make our military stronger. It’ll make sure that we can defeat any enemy in this new world.
But we can’t do this alone. We have got to restore our respect in the world to bring our allies to us and with us.
It is how we won the Cold War. It is how we won two World Wars. And it is how we will build a stable Iraq.
With a new president who strengthens and leads our alliances, we can get NATO to help secure Iraq. We can ensure that Iraq’s neighbors, like Syria and Iran, don’t stand in the way of a democratic Iraq. We can help Iraq’s economy by getting other countries to forgive their enormous debt and participate in the reconstruction.
We can do this for the Iraqi people. We can do it for our own soldiers. And we will get this done right.
A new president will bring the world to our side, and with it a stable Iraq, a real chance for freedom and peace in the Middle East, including a safe and secure Israel.
And John and I will bring the world together…
John and I will bring the world together to face the most dangerous threat we have: the possibility of terrorists getting their hands on a chemical, biological weapon or nuclear weapon.
With our credibility restored, we can work with other nations to secure stockpiles of the world’s most dangerous weapons and safeguard this extraordinarily dangerous material. We can finish the job and secure the loose nukes in Russia. We can close the loophole in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that allows rogue nations access to the tools they need to develop these weapons.
That’s how we can address the new threats we face. That’s how we can keep you safe. And that’s how we can restore America’s respect around the world.
And together, we will ensure that the image of America — the image all of us love — America, this great shining light, this beacon of freedom, democracy and human rights that the world looks up to, is always lit.
And the truth is — the truth is, that every child, every family in America will be safer and more secure if they grow up in a world where America is once again looked up to and respected. That is the world we can create together.
Tonight, as we celebrate in this hall, somewhere in America, a mother sits at the kitchen table. She can’t sleep because she’s worried she can’t pay her bills. She’s working hard trying to pay her rent, trying to feed her kids, but she just can’t catch up.
It didn’t use to be that way in her house. Her husband was called up in the Guard. Now he’s been in Iraq for over a year. They thought he was going to come home last month, but now he’s got to stay longer.
She thinks she’s alone. But tonight in this hall and in your homes, you know what? She’s got a lot of friends.
We want her to know that we hear her.
It is time to bring opportunity and an equal chance to her door.a
We’re here to make America stronger at home so that she can get ahead.
And we’re here to make America respected in the world again so that we can bring him home. And American soldiers don’t have to fight this war in Iraq or this war on terrorism alone.
So, when you return home some night, you might pass a mother on her way to work the late shift, you tell her: Hope is on the way.
When your brother calls and says he’s spending his entire life at the office and he still can’t get ahead, you tell him: Hope is on the way.
When your parents call and tell you their medicine’s going through the roof, they can’t keep up, you tell them: Hope is on the way.
And when your neighbor calls and says her daughter’s worked hard and she want’s to go to college, you tell her: Hope is on the way.
And when your son or daughter, who is serving this country heroically in Iraq calls, you tell them: Hope is on the way.
When you wake up and you’re sitting at the kitchen table with your kids, and you’re talking about the great possibilities in America, your kids should know that John and I believe, to our core, that tomorrow can be better than today.
Like all of us, I have learned a lot of lessons in my life.
Two of the most important are that, first, there will always be heartache and struggle; we can’t make it go away. But the second is that people of good and strong will can make a difference.
One is a sad lesson, and the other is inspiring.
We are Americans and we choose to be inspired. We choose hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what’s right even when those around us say, “You can’t do that,” we choose to be inspired, because we know that we can do better, because this is America where everything is still possible.
What we believe — what John Kerry and I believe is that you should never look down on anybody. We ought to lift people up. We don’t believe in tearing people apart. We believe in bringing them together. What we believe — what I believe — is that the family you’re born into and the color of your skin in our America should never control your destiny.
Join us in this cause.
Let’s make America stronger at home and more respected in the world. Let’s ensure that once again, in our one America — our one America — tomorrow will always be better than today.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio
August 24, 2011
Thank you very much for this opportunity. Gerald, let me thank you for that introduction, you talking about my communications skills, or so called communications skills, I appreciate you not setting the bar too high. Thanks so much.
Mrs. Reagan, thank you for this opportunity. And in a moment I’ll talk a little about what this opportunity means to me in general, but let me just say it is one of the highest privileges and honors I’ve ever had to be able to come here and speak in this place.
And earlier today I was able to walk through here, and not just to see the exhibits, but to meet the people, some from all over the world, that were touched by the extraordinary life of an extraordinary man. The contributions that he made to this country were tremendous, but the contributions he made to the world were even greater.
And in just an hour and a half of walking through here and meeting people who had been touched by those contributions, it reminded me what a privilege it is that I would get to stand here today and speak to all of you from a place like this and I am honored beyond any words that I could use to describe it and I thank you for this invitation. Thank you.
In fact I have a distinct honor because, not many people can say, that the only two people I have ever walked down the aisle with are here today. One is my wife Jeanette and the other is Mrs. Reagan that we just walked down here, so …
I tell people all the time that I was born and raised in Ronald Reagan’s America. I was raised in Ronald Reagan’s America. He was elected when I was in fourth grade and he left … he left office when I was in high school. Those are very important years, fourth grade through high school, they were the years that formed so much of what today what I believe and know to be true about the world and about our nation.
Ronald Reagan’s era can be defined, number one in most people’s minds, by the Cold War and by the end of it — and by the strong principles he stood for. Ronald Reagan didn’t just believe that the Soviet Union and communism could fail, he believed it was inevitably destined to fail. And that it was our obligation to accelerate that process, that all we had to do was be America and that that would happen.
And that defined his presidency. And that defined Ronald Reagan’s America in the time that I lived. The time that I grew up during that era.
There was something else though that defined the Reagan presidency and that was defining the proper role of government. He did that better than any American has done ever before. And I stand before you, it has always been important for Americans and America to do that, but I stand here before you today all of us gathered here today at a time when defining the proper role of government is as important as it has ever been.
The answer to what the proper role of government is really lies in what kind of country we want to have. And I think the vast majority of Americans share a common vision for what they want our nation to be. They want our nation to be two things at the same time.
Number one: they want it to be free and prosperous, a place where your economic hopes and dreams can be accomplished and brought up to fruition. That through hard work and sacrifice you can be who God meant you to be. No matter who your parents were, no matter where you were born, no matter how much misfortune you may have met in your life, if you have a good idea, you can be anything if you work hard and play by the rules. Most, if not all, Americans share that vision of a free and prosperous America.
But they also want us to be a compassionate America, a place where people are not left behind. We are a nation that is not going to tolerate those who cannot take care of themselves being left to fend for themselves. We’re not going to tolerate our children being punished for the errors of their parents and society.
So, we are a nation that aspires to two things – prosperity and compassion. And Ronald Reagan understood that. Perhaps better, again, than any voice I’ve ever heard speak on it.
Now America’s leaders during the last century set out to accomplish that, but they reached a conclusion that has placed us on this path, except for the Reagan Administration to be quite frank.
Both Republicans and Democrats established a role for government in America that said, yes, we’ll have a free economy, but we will also have a strong government, who through regulations and taxes will control the free economy and through a series of government programs, will take care of those in our society who are falling behind.
That was a vision crafted in the twentieth century by our leaders and though it was well intentioned, it was doomed to fail from the start. It was doomed to fail from the start first and foremost because it forgot that the strength of our nation begins with its people and that these programs actually weakened us as a people.
You see, almost in forever, it was institutions and society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to.
We took these things upon ourselves and our communities and our families and our homes and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of the sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.
For those who met misfortune, that wasn’t our obligation to take care of them, that was the government’s job. And as government crowded out the institutions in our society that did these things traditionally, it weakened our people in a way that undermined our ability to maintain our prosperity.
The other thing is that we built a government and its programs without any account whatsoever for how we were going to pay for it. There was not thought given into how this was going to be sustained. When Social Security first started, there was 16 workers for every retiree. Today there are only three for every retiree and soon there will only be two for every retiree.
Program after program was crafted without any thought as to how they will be funded in future years or the impact it would have on future Americans. They were done with the best of intentions, but because it weakened our people and didn’t take account the simple math of not being able to spend more money than you have, it was destined to fail and brought us to the point at which we are at today.
It is a startling place to be, because the 20th Century was not a time of decline for America, it was the American Century. Americans in the 20th Century built here –- we built here –- the richest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world. And yet today we have built for ourselves a government that not even the richest and most prosperous nation in the face of the Earth can fund or afford to pay for. An extraordinary tragic accomplishment, if you can call it that.
And that is where we stand today.
And so, if defining the proper role of government was one of the central issues of the Reagan era, it remains that now. The truth is that people are going around saying that, well, we’re worried about – let me just add something to this because I think this is an important forum for candor.
I know that it is popular in my party to blame the president, the current president. But the truth is the only thing this president has done is accelerate policies that were already in place and were doomed to fail. All he is doing through his policies is making the day of reckoning come faster, but it was coming nonetheless.
What we have now is not sustainable. The role of government and the role that government plays now in America cannot be sustained the way it is. Now some are worried about how it has to change, we have to change it. The good news is it is going to change. It has to change. That’s not the issue.
The issue is not whether the role that government now plays in America will change. The question is how will it change. Will it change because we make the changes necessary? Or, will it change because our creditors force us to make these changes?
And over the next few moments I hope to advocate to you –- I don’t think that I have to given the make up of the crowd –- but I hope to advocate to you that, in fact, what we have before us is a golden opportunity afforded to few Americans.
We have the opportunity –- within our lifetime –- to actually craft a proper role for government in our nation that will allow us to come closer than any Americans have ever come to our collective vision of a nation where both prosperity and compassion exist side-by-side.
To do that, we must begin by embracing certain principles that are absolutely true. Number one: the free enterprise system does not create poverty. The free enterprise system does not leave people behind.
People are poor and people are left behind because they do not have access to the free enterprise system because something in their lives or in their community has denied them access to the free enterprise system. All over the world this truism is expressing itself every single day. Every nation on the Earth that embraces market economics and the free enterprise system is pulling millions of its people out of poverty. The free enterprise system creates prosperity, not denies it.
The second truism that we must understand is that poverty does not create our social problems, our social problems create our poverty. Let me give you an example. All across this country, at this very moment, there are children who are born into and are living with five strikes against them, already, through no fault of their own.
They’re born into substandard housing in dangerous neighborhoods, to broken families, being raised by their grandmothers because they never knew their father and their mom is either working two jobs to make ends meet or just not home. These kids are going to struggle to succeed unless something dramatic happens in their life.
These truisms are important because they lead the public policies that define the proper role of government. On the prosperity side, the number one objective of our economic policy, in fact the singular objective of our economic policy from a government perspective is simple — it’s growth. It’s not distribution of wealth; it’s not picking winners and losers.
The goal of our public policy should be growth. Growth in our economy, the creation of jobs and of opportunity, of equality of opportunity through our governmental policies.
Now often when I give these speeches, members of the media and others get frustrated because there is nothing new or novel in it. We don’t have to reinvent this. It’s worked before and it will work again and they are simple things. Like a tax code that’s fair, predictable, easy to comply with. Like a regulatory framework that doesn’t exist to justify the existence of the regulators, that doesn’t exist to accomplish through regulation and rule-making what they couldn’t accomplish through the Congress.
And it is the proper role of government to invest in infrastructure. Yes, government should build roads and bridges, but it should do so as part of economic development as part of infrastructure. Not as a jobs program.
And government should invest in our people at the state level. Education is important, critically important. We must educate and train our children to compete and succeed in the 21st century. Our kids are not going to grow up to compete with children in Alabama or Mississippi. They’re going to grow up to compete with kids in India, and China, all over the world; children who are learning to compete and succeed in the 21st century themselves.
These are proper roles of government within the framework of creating an environment where economic security and prosperity is possible.
And on the compassion side of the ledger, which is also important to Americans, and it’s important that we remind ourselves of that. I don’t really like labels in politics, but I will gladly accept the label of conservatism. Conservatism is not about leaving people behind. Conservatism is about empowering people to catch up, to give them the tools at their disposable that make it possible for them to access all the hope, all the promise, all the opportunity that America offers. And our programs to help them should reflect that.
Now, yes, there are people that cannot help themselves. And those folks we will always help. We are too rich and prosperous a nation to leave them to fend for themselves. But all the others that can work should be given the means of empowering themselves to enter the marketplace and the workforce. And our programs and our policies should reflect that. We do need a safety net, but it cannot be a way of life. It must be there to help those who have fallen, to stand up and try again.
And by the way, I believe in America’s retirement programs. But I recognize that these programs as they are currently structured are not sustainable for future generations. And so we must embrace public policy changes to these programs.
Now, I personally believe that you cannot make changes to these programs for the people that are currently in them right now. My mother just – well she gets mad when I say this. She is in her eighth decade of life and she is on both of these programs. I can’t ask my mom to go out and get another job. She paid into the system. But the truth is that Social Security and Medicare, as important as they are, cannot look for me how they look for her.
My generation must fully accept, the sooner the better, that if we want there to be a Social Security and a Medicare when we retire, and if we want America as we know it to continue when we retire, then we must accept and begin to make changes to those programs now, for us.
These changes will not be easy. Speeches are easy. Actually going out and doing them will be difficult. It’s never easy to go to people and say what you’ve always known we have to change. It isn’t. It will be hard. It will actually really call upon a specific generation of Americans, those of us, like myself, decades away from retirement, to assume certain realities -– that we will continue to pay into and fund for a system that we will never fully access -– that we are prepared to do whatever it takes in our lives and in our generation so that our parents and grandparents can enjoy the fruits of their labor and so that our children and our grandchildren can inherit the fullness of America’s promise.
But you see, every generation of Americans has been called to do their part to ensure that the American promise continues. We’re not alone; we’re not unique; we’re not the only ones. In fact, I would argue to you that we have it pretty good.
And yet I think it’s fully appropriate that those of us raised in Ronald Reagan’s America are actually the ones who are being asked to stand up and respond to the issues of the day. For we, perhaps better than any other people who have ever lived in this nation, should understand how special and unique America truly is.
When I was a boy, the world looked very different than it does now. I remember vividly how many assumed and believed that Soviet-style communism was destined to at least rule half the world, and they urged our public policy leaders to accept that and to understand that America would have to share this planet with a godless, oppressive form of government that perhaps was destined to overtake us one day as well.
There were many who discouraged our leaders from talking about the inevitability of decline for communism and how it was destined to fail. There were many who encouraged us to simply accept this as the way it has to be, and who told us that America could no longer continue to be what America had been – the world was just too complicated and too difficult, it had changed too much. Sounds familiar, but that’s what they told us.
But one person at least didn’t believe them, and he happened to be the president of the United States. He actually believed that all we had to do is be America, that our example alone would one day lead to the decline and fall of a system that was unsustainable, because he understood that the desire to be free, prosperous and compassionate, although shared by all Americans, was universal. The desire to leave your children better off than yourself is something we hold as Americans, but so do people all over the world.
Because he understood that the principles that this nation was founded upon was not that we are all people in North America are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights, but that all people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that transcribed in our hearts is the desire to live in freedom and in liberty, that it is our natural right, and that government’s job is to protect those rights, not to grant them to us.
This is the natural state of man, and anything that prevents it is unnatural and doomed to fail and that all we had to do was be America, that all we had to do was be prosperous and be free. All we had to do was live our republic. All we had to do was be a voice for these principles anywhere in the world where these principles were challenged and oppressed, and eventually time was on our side. And how right he was.
When I was in fourth grade, the Soviet Union was a co-equal power to the United States. Before I finished college, the Soviet Union didn’t even exist. And so many people born since then have no idea what it even was.
To me, this is extremely special, and I’ll tell you why. During the ’80s, politically especially, there were two people that deeply influenced me. One clearly was Ronald Reagan, the other was my grandfather, who lived with us most of the time in our home.
We lived part of our life, especially the key years, ’80-’84, in Las Vegas, Nev. And my grandfather loved to sit on the porch of our home and smoke cigars. He was Cuban. Three cigars a day, he lived to be 84. This is not an advertisement for cigar smoking, I’m just saying to you that …
He loved to talk about politics. My grandfather was born in 1899. He was born to an agricultural family in Cuba. He was stricken with polio when he was a very young man, he couldn’t work the fields, so they sent him to school. He was the only member of his family that could read. And because he could read, he got a job at the local cigar rolling factory.
They didn’t have radio or television, so they would hire someone to sit at the front of the cigar factory and read to the workers while they worked. So, the first thing he would read every day, of course, was the daily newspaper. Then he would read some novel to entertain them.
And then, when he was done reading things he actually went out and rolled the cigars because he needed the extra money. But through all of those years of reading, he became extremely knowledgeable about history, not to mention all the classics.
He loved to talk about history. My grandfather loved being Cuban. He loved being from Cuba. He never would have left Cuba if he didn’t have to. But he knew America was special. He knew that without America, Cuba would still be a Spanish colony. He knew that without America, the Nazis and Imperial Japan would have won World War II. When he was born in 1899 there weren’t even airplanes. By the time I was born, an American had walked on the surface of the moon.
And he knew something else. He knew that he had lost his country. And that the only thing from preventing other people in the world from losing theirs to communism was this country – this nation.
It is easy for us who are born here –- like me –- and so many of you, to take for granted how special and unique this place is. But when you come from somewhere else, when what you always knew and loved, you lost, you don’t have that luxury.
My grandfather didn’t know America was exceptional because he read about it in a book. He knew about it because he lived it and saw it with his eyes. That powerful lesson is the story of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. It’s our legacy as a people. And it’s who we have a chance to be again. And I think that’s important for all of us because being an American is not just a blessing, it’s a responsibility.
As we were commanded to do long ago, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Well, as we gather here today in this place, that pays homage and tribute to the greatest American of the twentieth century, we are reminded that for him and for our nation, being a light to the world, that’s not just our common history, it remains our common destiny. Thank you.
Reverend Jesse Jackson
1984 Democratic National Convention Address
July 18, 1984
Thank you very much.
Tonight we come together bound by our faith in a mighty God, with genuine respect and love for our country, and inheriting the legacy of a great Party, the Democratic Party, which is the best hope for redirecting our nation on a more humane, just, and peaceful course.
This is not a perfect party. We are not a perfect people. Yet, we are called to a perfect mission. Our mission: to feed the hungry; to clothe the naked; to house the homeless; to teach the illiterate; to provide jobs for the jobless; and to choose the human race over the nuclear race.
We are gathered here this week to nominate a candidate and adopt a platform which will expand, unify, direct, and inspire our Party and the nation to fulfill this mission. My constituency is the desperate, the damned, the disinherited, the disrespected, and the despised. They are restless and seek relief. They have voted in record numbers. They have invested the faith, hope, and trust that they have in us. The Democratic Party must send them a signal that we care. I pledge my best not to let them down.
There is the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity. Leadership must heed the call of conscience, redemption, expansion, healing, and unity, for they are the key to achieving our mission. Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.
No generation can choose the age or circumstance in which it is born, but through leadership it can choose to make the age in which it is born an age of enlightenment, an age of jobs, and peace, and justice. Only leadership — that intangible combination of gifts, the discipline, information, circumstance, courage, timing, will and divine inspiration — can lead us out of the crisis in which we find ourselves. Leadership can mitigate the misery of our nation. Leadership can part the waters and lead our nation in the direction of the Promised Land. Leadership can lift the boats stuck at the bottom.
I have had the rare opportunity to watch seven men, and then two, pour out their souls, offer their service, and heal and heed the call of duty to direct the course of our nation. There is a proper season for everything. There is a time to sow and a time to reap. There’s a time to compete and a time to cooperate.
I ask for your vote on the first ballot as a vote for a new direction for this Party and this nation — a vote of conviction, a vote of conscience. But I will be proud to support the nominee of this convention for the Presidency of the United States of America. Thank you.
I have watched the leadership of our party develop and grow. My respect for both Mr. Mondale and Mr. Hart is great. I have watched them struggle with the crosswinds and crossfires of being public servants, and I believe they will both continue to try to serve us faithfully.
I am elated by the knowledge that for the first time in our history a woman, Geraldine Ferraro, will be recommended to share our ticket.
Throughout this campaign, I’ve tried to offer leadership to the Democratic Party and the nation. If, in my high moments, I have done some good, offered some service, shed some light, healed some wounds, rekindled some hope, or stirred someone from apathy and indifference, or in any way along the way helped somebody, then this campaign has not been in vain.
For friends who loved and cared for me, and for a God who spared me, and for a family who understood, I am eternally grateful.
If, in my low moments, in word, deed or attitude, through some error of temper, taste, or tone, I have caused anyone discomfort, created pain, or revived someone’s fears, that was not my truest self. If there were occasions when my grape turned into a raisin and my joy bell lost its resonance, please forgive me. Charge it to my head and not to my heart. My head — so limited in its finitude; my heart, which is boundless in its love for the human family. I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient: God is not finished with me yet.
This campaign has taught me much; that leaders must be tough enough to fight, tender enough to cry, human enough to make mistakes, humble enough to admit them, strong enough to absorb the pain, and resilient enough to bounce back and keep on moving.
For leaders, the pain is often intense. But you must smile through your tears and keep moving with the faith that there is a brighter side somewhere.
I went to see Hubert Humphrey three days before he died. He had just called Richard Nixon from his dying bed, and many people wondered why. And I asked him. He said, “Jesse, from this vantage point, the sun is setting in my life, all of the speeches, the political conventions, the crowds, and the great fights are behind me now. At a time like this you are forced to deal with your irreducible essence, forced to grapple with that which is really important to you. And what I’ve concluded about life,” Hubert Humphrey said, “When all is said and done, we must forgive each other, and redeem each other, and move on.”
Our party is emerging from one of its most hard fought battles for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in our history. But our healthy competition should make us better, not bitter. We must use the insight, wisdom, and experience of the late Hubert Humphrey as a balm for the wounds in our Party, this nation, and the world. We must forgive each other, redeem each other, regroup, and move one. Our flag is red, white and blue, but our nation is a rainbow — red, yellow, brown, black and white — and we’re all precious in God’s sight.
America is not like a blanket — one piece of unbroken cloth, the same color, the same texture, the same size. America is more like a quilt: many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, all woven and held together by a common thread. The white, the Hispanic, the black, the Arab, the Jew, the woman, the native American, the small farmer, the businessperson, the environmentalist, the peace activist, the young, the old, the lesbian, the gay, and the disabled make up the American quilt.
Even in our fractured state, all of us count and fit somewhere. We have proven that we can survive without each other. But we have not proven that we can win and make progress without each other. We must come together.
From Fannie Lou Hamer in Atlantic City in 1964 to the Rainbow Coalition in San Francisco today; from the Atlantic to the Pacific, we have experienced pain but progress, as we ended American apartheid laws. We got public accommodations. We secured voting rights. We obtained open housing, as young people got the right to vote. We lost Malcolm, Martin, Medgar, Bobby, John, and Viola. The team that got us here must be expanded, not abandoned.
Twenty years ago, tears welled up in our eyes as the bodies of Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney were dredged from the depths of a river in Mississippi. Twenty years later, our communities, black and Jewish, are in anguish, anger, and pain. Feelings have been hurt on both sides. There is a crisis in communications. Confusion is in the air. But we cannot afford to lose our way. We may agree to agree; or agree to disagree on issues; we must bring back civility to these tensions.
We are co-partners in a long and rich religious history — the Judeo-Christian traditions. Many blacks and Jews have a shared passion for social justice at home and peace abroad. We must seek a revival of the spirit, inspired by a new vision and new possibilities. We must return to higher ground. We are bound by Moses and Jesus, but also connected with Islam and Mohammed. These three great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, were all born in the revered and holy city of Jerusalem.
We are bound by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Heschel, crying out from their graves for us to reach common ground. We are bound by shared blood and shared sacrifices. We are much too intelligent, much too bound by our Judeo-Christian heritage, much too victimized by racism, sexism, militarism, and anti-Semitism, much too threatened as historical scapegoats to go on divided one from another. We must turn from finger pointing to clasped hands. We must share our burdens and our joys with each other once again. We must turn to each other and not on each other and choose higher ground.
Twenty years later, we cannot be satisfied by just restoring the old coalition. Old wine skins must make room for new wine. We must heal and expand. The Rainbow Coalition is making room for Arab Americans. They, too, know the pain and hurt of racial and religious rejection. They must not continue to be made pariahs. The Rainbow Coalition is making room for Hispanic Americans who this very night are living under the threat of the Simpson-Mazzoli bill; and farm workers from Ohio who are fighting the Campbell Soup Company with a boycott to achieve legitimate workers’ rights.
The Rainbow is making room for the Native American, the most exploited people of all, a people with the greatest moral claim amongst us. We support them as they seek the restoration of their ancient land and claim amongst us. We support them as they seek the restoration of land and water rights, as they seek to preserve their ancestral homeland and the beauty of a land that was once all theirs. They can never receive a fair share for all they have given us. They must finally have a fair chance to develop their great resources and to preserve their people and their culture.
The Rainbow Coalition includes Asian Americans, now being killed in our streets — scapegoats for the failures of corporate, industrial, and economic policies.
The Rainbow is making room for the young Americans. Twenty years ago, our young people were dying in a war for which they could not even vote. Twenty years later, young America has the power to stop a war in Central America and the responsibility to vote in great numbers. Young America must be politically active in 1984. The choice is war or peace. We must make room for young America.
The Rainbow includes disabled veterans. The color scheme fits in the Rainbow. The disabled have their handicap revealed and their genius concealed; while the able-bodied have their genius revealed and their disability concealed. But ultimately, we must judge people by their values and their contribution. Don’t leave anybody out. I would rather have Roosevelt in a wheelchair than Reagan on a horse.
The Rainbow is making room for small farmers. They have suffered tremendously under the Reagan regime. They will either receive 90 percent parity or 100 percent charity. We must address their concerns and make room for them. The Rainbow includes lesbians and gays. No American citizen ought be denied equal protection from the law.
We must be unusually committed and caring as we expand our family to include new members. All of us must be tolerant and understanding as the fears and anxieties of the rejected and the party leadership express themselves in many different ways. Too often what we call hate — as if it were some deeply-rooted philosophy or strategy — is simply ignorance, anxiety, paranoia, fear, and insecurity. To be strong leaders, we must be long-suffering as we seek to right the wrongs of our Party and our nation. We must expand our Party, heal our Party, and unify our Party. That is our mission in 1984.
We are often reminded that we live in a great nation — and we do. But it can be greater still. The Rainbow is mandating a new definition of greatness. We must not measure greatness from the mansion down, but the manger up. Jesus said that we should not be judged by the bark we wear but by the fruit that we bear. Jesus said that we must measure greatness by how we treat the least of these.
President Reagan says the nation is in recovery. Those 90,000 corporations that made a profit last year but paid no federal taxes are recovering. The 37,000 military contractors who have benefited from Reagan’s more than doubling of the military budget in peacetime, surely they are recovering. The big corporations and rich individuals who received the bulk of a three-year, multibillion tax cut from Mr. Reagan are recovering. But no such recovery is under way for the least of these.
Rising tides don’t lift all boats, particularly those stuck at the bottom. For the boats stuck at the bottom there’s a misery index. This Administration has made life more miserable for the poor. Its attitude has been contemptuous. Its policies and programs have been cruel and unfair to working people. They must be held accountable in November for increasing infant mortality among the poor. In Detroit one of the great cities of the western world, babies are dying at the same rate as Honduras, the most underdeveloped nation in our hemisphere. This Administration must be held accountable for policies that have contributed to the growing poverty in America. There are now 34 million people in poverty, 15 percent of our nation. 23 million are White; 11 million Black, Hispanic, Asian, and others — mostly women and children. By the end of this year, there will be 41 million people in poverty. We cannot stand idly by. We must fight for a change now.
Under this regime we look at Social Security. The ’81 budget cuts included nine permanent Social Security benefit cuts totaling 20 billion over five years. Small businesses have suffered under Reagan tax cuts. Only 18 percent of total business tax cuts went to them; 82 percent to big businesses. Health care under Mr. Reagan has already been sharply cut. Education under Mr. Reagan has been cut 25 percent. Under Mr. Reagan there are now 9.7 million female head families. They represent 16 percent of all families. Half of all of them are poor. 70 percent of all poor children live in a house headed by a woman, where there is no man. Under Mr. Reagan, the Administration has cleaned up only 6 of 546 priority toxic waste dumps. Farmers’ real net income was only about half its level in 1979.
Many say that the race in November will be decided in the South. President Reagan is depending on the conservative South to return him to office. But the South, I tell you, is unnaturally conservative. The South is the poorest region in our nation and, therefore, [has] the least to conserve. In his appeal to the South, Mr. Reagan is trying to substitute flags and prayer cloths for food, and clothing, and education, health care, and housing.
Mr. Reagan will ask us to pray, and I believe in prayer. I have come to this way by the power of prayer. But then, we must watch false prophecy. He cuts energy assistance to the poor, cuts breakfast programs from children, cuts lunch programs from children, cuts job training from children, and then says to an empty table, “Let us pray.” Apparently, he is not familiar with the structure of a prayer. You thank the Lord for the food that you are about to receive, not the food that just left. I think that we should pray, but don’t pray for the food that left. Pray for the man that took the food to leave. We need a change. We need a change in November.
Under Mr. Reagan, the misery index has risen for the poor. The danger index has risen for everybody. Under this administration, we’ve lost the lives of our boys in Central America and Honduras, in Grenada, in Lebanon, in nuclear standoff in Europe. Under this Administration, one-third of our children believe they will die in a nuclear war. The danger index is increasing in this world. All the talk about the defense against Russia; the Russian submarines are closer, and their missiles are more accurate. We live in a world tonight more miserable and a world more dangerous.
While Reaganomics and Reaganism is talked about often, so often we miss the real meaning. Reaganism is a spirit, and Reaganomics represents the real economic facts of life. In 1980, Mr. George Bush, a man with reasonable access to Mr. Reagan, did an analysis of Mr. Reagan’s economic plan. Mr. George Bush concluded that Reagan’s plan was ”voodoo economics.” He was right. Third-party candidate John Anderson said “a combination of military spending, tax cuts, and a balanced budget by ’84 would be accomplished with blue smoke and mirrors.” They were both right.
Mr. Reagan talks about a dynamic recovery. There’s some measure of recovery. Three and a half years later, unemployment has inched just below where it was when he took office in 1981. There are still 8.1 million people officially unemployed; 11 million working only part-time. Inflation has come down, but let’s analyze for a moment who has paid the price for this superficial economic recovery.
Mr. Reagan curbed inflation by cutting consumer demand. He cut consumer demand with conscious and callous fiscal and monetary policies. He used the Federal budget to deliberately induce unemployment and curb social spending. He then weighed and supported tight monetary policies of the Federal Reserve Board to deliberately drive up interest rates, again to curb consumer demand created through borrowing. Unemployment reached 10.7 percent. We experienced skyrocketing interest rates. Our dollar inflated abroad. There were record bank failures, record farm foreclosures, record business bankruptcies; record budget deficits, record trade deficits.
Mr. Reagan brought inflation down by destabilizing our economy and disrupting family life. He promised — he promised in 1980 a balanced budget. But instead we now have a record 200 billion dollar budget deficit. Under Mr. Reagan, the cumulative budget deficit for his four years is more than the sum total of deficits from George Washington to Jimmy Carter combined. I tell you, we need a change.
How is he paying for these short-term jobs? Reagan’s economic recovery is being financed by deficit spending — 200 billion dollars a year. Military spending, a major cause of this deficit, is projected over the next five years to be nearly 2 trillion dollars, and will cost about 40,000 dollars for every taxpaying family. When the Government borrows 200 billion dollars annually to finance the deficit, this encourages the private sector to make its money off of interest rates as opposed to development and economic growth.
Even money abroad, we don’t have enough money domestically to finance the debt, so we are now borrowing money abroad, from foreign banks, governments and financial institutions: 40 billion dollars in 1983; 70-80 billion dollars in 1984 — 40 percent of our total; over 100 billion dollars — 50 percent of our total — in 1985. By 1989, it is projected that 50 percent of all individual income taxes will be going just to pay for interest on that debt. The United States used to be the largest exporter of capital, but under Mr. Reagan we will quite likely become the largest debtor nation.
About two weeks ago, on July the 4th, we celebrated our Declaration of Independence, yet every day supply-side economics is making our nation more economically dependent and less economically free. Five to six percent of our Gross National Product is now being eaten up with President Reagan’s budget deficits. To depend on foreign military powers to protect our national security would be foolish, making us dependent and less secure. Yet, Reaganomics has us increasingly dependent on foreign economic sources. This consumer-led but deficit-financed recovery is unbalanced and artificial. We have a challenge as Democrats to point a way out.
Democracy guarantees opportunity, not success.
Democracy guarantees the right to participate, not a license for either a majority or a minority to dominate.
The victory for the Rainbow Coalition in the Platform debates today was not whether we won or lost, but that we raised the right issues. We could afford to lose the vote; issues are non-negotiable. We could not afford to avoid raising the right questions. Our self-respect and our moral integrity were at stake. Our heads are perhaps bloody, but not bowed. Our back is straight. We can go home and face our people. Our vision is clear.
When we think, on this journey from slave-ship to championship, that we have gone from the planks of the Boardwalk in Atlantic City in 1964 to fighting to help write the planks in the platform in San Francisco in ’84, there is a deep and abiding sense of joy in our souls in spite of the tears in our eyes. Though there are missing planks, there is a solid foundation upon which to build. Our party can win, but we must provide hope which will inspire people to struggle and achieve; provide a plan that shows a way out of our dilemma and then lead the way.
In 1984, my heart is made to feel glad because I know there is a way out — justice. The requirement for rebuilding America is justice. The linchpin of progressive politics in our nation will not come from the North; they, in fact, will come from the South. That is why I argue over and over again. We look from Virginia around to Texas, there’s only one black Congressperson out of 115. Nineteen years later, we’re locked out of the Congress, the Senate and the Governor’s mansion. What does this large black vote mean? Why do I fight to win second primaries and fight gerrymandering and annexation and at-large [elections]. Why do we fight over that? Because I tell you, you cannot hold someone in the ditch unless you linger there with them. Unless you linger there.
If you want a change in this nation, you enforce that Voting Rights Act. We’ll get 12 to 20 Black, Hispanics, female and progressive congresspersons from the South. We can save the cotton, but we’ve got to fight the boll weevils. We’ve got to make a judgment. We’ve got to make a judgment.
It is not enough to hope ERA will pass. How can we pass ERA? If Blacks vote in great numbers, progressive Whites win. It’s the only way progressive Whites win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics, and progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and children win, workers win. We must all come up together. We must come up together.
For all of our joy and excitement, we must not save the world and lose our souls. We should never short-circuit enforcing the Voting Rights Act at every level. When one of us rise[s], all of us will rise. Justice is the way out. Peace is the way out. We should not act as if nuclear weaponry is negotiable and debatable.
In this world in which we live, we dropped the bomb on Japan and felt guilty, but in 1984 other folks [have] also got bombs. This time, if we drop the bomb, six minutes later we, too, will be destroyed. It’s not about dropping the bomb on somebody. It is about dropping the bomb on everybody. We must choose to develop minds over guided missiles, and think it out and not fight it out. It’s time for a change.
Our foreign policy must be characterized by mutual respect, not by gunboat diplomacy, big stick diplomacy, and threats. Our nation at its best feeds the hungry. Our nation at its worst, at its worst, will mine the harbors of Nicaragua, at its worst will try to overthrow their government, at its worst will cut aid to American education and increase the aid to El Salvador; at its worst, our nation will have partnerships with South Africa. That’s a moral disgrace. It’s a moral disgrace. It’s a moral disgrace.
We look at Africa. We cannot just focus on Apartheid in Southern Africa. We must fight for trade with Africa, and not just aid to Africa. We cannot stand idly by and say we will not relate to Nicaragua unless they have elections there, and then embrace military regimes in Africa overthrowing democratic governments in Nigeria and Liberia and Ghana. We must fight for democracy all around the world and play the game by one set of rules.
Peace in this world. Our present formula for peace in the Middle East is inadequate. It will not work. There are 22 nations in the Middle East. Our nation must be able to talk and act and influence all of them. We must build upon Camp David, and measure human rights by one yard stick. In that region we have too many interests and too few friends.
There is a way out — jobs. Put America back to work. When I was a child growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, the Reverend Sample used to preach every so often a sermon relating to Jesus. And he said, “If I be lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me.” I didn’t quite understand what he meant as a child growing up, but I understand a little better now. If you raise up truth, it’s magnetic. It has a way of drawing people.
With all this confusion in this Convention, the bright lights and parties and big fun, we must raise up the simple proposition: If we lift up a program to feed the hungry, they’ll come running; if we lift up a program to study war no more, our youth will come running; if we lift up a program to put America back to work, and an alternative to welfare and despair, they will come working.
If we cut that military budget without cutting our defense, and use that money to rebuild bridges and put steel workers back to work, and use that money and provide jobs for our cities, and use that money to build schools and pay teachers and educate our children and build hospitals and train doctors and train nurses, the whole nation will come running to us.
As I leave you now, we vote in this convention and get ready to go back across this nation in a couple of days. In this campaign, I’ve tried to be faithful to my promise. I lived in old barrios, ghettos, and reservations and housing projects. I have a message for our youth. I challenge them to put hope in their brains and not dope in their veins. I told them that like Jesus, I, too, was born in the slum. But just because you’re born in the slum does not mean the slum is born in you, and you can rise above it if your mind is made up. I told them in every slum there are two sides. When I see a broken window — that’s the slummy side. Train some youth to become a glazier — that’s the sunny side. When I see a missing brick — that’s the slummy side. Let that child in the union and become a brick mason and build — that’s the sunny side. When I see a missing door — that’s the slummy side. Train some youth to become a carpenter — that’s the sunny side. And when I see the vulgar words and hieroglyphics of destitution on the walls — that’s the slummy side. Train some youth to become a painter, an artist — that’s the sunny side.
We leave this place looking for the sunny side because there’s a brighter side somewhere. I’m more convinced than ever that we can win. We will vault up the rough side of the mountain. We can win. I just want young America to do me one favor, just one favor. Exercise the right to dream. You must face reality — that which is. But then dream of a reality that ought to be — that must be. Live beyond the pain of reality with the dream of a bright tomorrow. Use hope and imagination as weapons of survival and progress. Use love to motivate you and obligate you to serve the human family.
Young America, dream. Choose the human race over the nuclear race. Bury the weapons and don’t burn the people. Dream — dream of a new value system. Teachers who teach for life and not just for a living; teach because they can’t help it. Dream of lawyers more concerned about justice than a judgeship. Dream of doctors more concerned about public health than personal wealth. Dream of preachers and priests who will prophesy and not just profiteer. Preach and dream!
Our time has come. Our time has come. Suffering breeds character. Character breeds faith. In the end, faith will not disappoint. Our time has come. Our faith, hope, and dreams will prevail. Our time has come. Weeping has endured for nights, but now joy cometh in the morning. Our time has come. No grave can hold our body down. Our time has come. No lie can live forever. Our time has come. We must leave racial battle ground and come to economic common ground and moral higher ground. America, our time has come. We come from disgrace to amazing grace. Our time has come. Give me your tired, give me your poor, your huddled masses who yearn to breathe free and come November, there will be a change because our time has come.
“A Tale of Two Cities”
1984 Democratic National Convention Keynote Address
July 16, 1984 in San Francisco
Thank you very much.
On behalf of the great Empire State and the whole family of New York, let me thank you for the great privilege of being able to address this convention. Please allow me to skip the stories and the poetry and the temptation to deal in nice but vague rhetoric. Let me instead use this valuable opportunity to deal immediately with the questions that should determine this election and that we all know are vital to the American people.
Ten days ago, President Reagan admitted that although some people in this country seemed to be doing well nowadays, others were unhappy, even worried, about themselves, their families, and their futures. The President said that he didn’t understand that fear. He said, “Why, this country is a shining city on a hill.” And the President is right. In many ways we are a shining city on a hill.
But the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city’s splendor and glory. A shining city is perhaps all the President sees from the portico of the White House and the veranda of his ranch, where everyone seems to be doing well. But there’s another city; there’s another part to the shining the city; the part where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one; where students can’t afford the education they need, and middle-class parents watch the dreams they hold for their children evaporate.
In this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where the glitter doesn’t show. There are ghettos where thousands of young people, without a job or an education, give their lives away to drug dealers every day. There is despair, Mr. President, in the faces that you don’t see, in the places that you don’t visit in your shining city.
In fact, Mr. President, this is a nation — Mr. President you ought to know that this nation is more a “Tale of Two Cities” than it is just a “Shining City on a Hill.”
Maybe, maybe, Mr. President, if you visited some more places; maybe if you went to Appalachia where some people still live in sheds; maybe if you went to Lackawanna where thousands of unemployed steel workers wonder why we subsidized foreign steel. Maybe — Maybe, Mr. President, if you stopped in at a shelter in Chicago and spoke to the homeless there; maybe, Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn’t afford to use.
Maybe — Maybe, Mr. President. But I’m afraid not. Because the truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is how we were warned it would be. President Reagan told us from the very beginning that he believed in a kind of social Darwinism. Survival of the fittest. “Government can’t do everything,” we were told, so it should settle for taking care of the strong and hope that economic ambition and charity will do the rest. Make the rich richer, and what falls from the table will be enough for the middle class and those who are trying desperately to work their way into the middle class.
You know, the Republicans called it “trickle-down” when Hoover tried it. Now they call it “supply side.” But it’s the same shining city for those relative few who are lucky enough to live in its good neighborhoods. But for the people who are excluded, for the people who are locked out, all they can do is stare from a distance at that city’s glimmering towers.
It’s an old story. It’s as old as our history. The difference between Democrats and Republicans has always been measured in courage and confidence. The Republicans — The Republicans believe that the wagon train will not make it to the frontier unless some of the old, some of the young, some of the weak are left behind by the side of the trail. “The strong” — “The strong,” they tell us, “will inherit the land.”
We Democrats believe in something else. We democrats believe that we can make it all the way with the whole family intact, and we have more than once. Ever since Franklin Roosevelt lifted himself from his wheelchair to lift this nation from its knees — wagon train after wagon train — to new frontiers of education, housing, peace; the whole family aboard, constantly reaching out to extend and enlarge that family; lifting them up into the wagon on the way; blacks and Hispanics, and people of every ethnic group, and native Americans — all those struggling to build their families and claim some small share of America. For nearly 50 years we carried them all to new levels of comfort, and security, and dignity, even affluence. And remember this, some of us in this room today are here only because this nation had that kind of confidence. And it would be wrong to forget that.
So, here we are at this convention to remind ourselves where we come from and to claim the future for ourselves and for our children. Today our great Democratic Party, which has saved this nation from depression, from fascism, from racism, from corruption, is called upon to do it again — this time to save the nation from confusion and division, from the threat of eventual fiscal disaster, and most of all from the fear of a nuclear holocaust.
That’s not going to be easy. Mo Udall is exactly right — it won’t be easy. And in order to succeed, we must answer our opponent’s polished and appealing rhetoric with a more telling reasonableness and rationality.
We must win this case on the merits. We must get the American public to look past the glitter, beyond the showmanship to the reality, the hard substance of things. And we’ll do it not so much with speeches that sound good as with speeches that are good and sound; not so much with speeches that will bring people to their feet as with speeches that will bring people to their senses. We must make — We must make the American people hear our “Tale of Two Cities.” We must convince them that we don’t have to settle for two cities, that we can have one city, indivisible, shining for all of its people.
Now, we will have no chance to do that if what comes out of this convention is a babel of arguing voices. If that’s what’s heard throughout the campaign, dissident sounds from all sides, we will have no chance to tell our message. To succeed we will have to surrender some small parts of our individual interests, to build a platform that we can all stand on, at once, and comfortably — proudly singing out. We need — We need a platform we can all agree to so that we can sing out the truth for the nation to hear, in chorus, its logic so clear and commanding that no slick Madison Avenue commercial, no amount of geniality, no martial music will be able to muffle the sound of the truth.
And we Democrats must unite. We Democrats must unite so that the entire nation can unite, because surely the Republicans won’t bring this country together. Their policies divide the nation into the lucky and the left-out, into the royalty and the rabble. The Republicans are willing to treat that division as victory. They would cut this nation in half, into those temporarily better off and those worse off than before, and they would call that division recovery.
Now, we should not — we should not be embarrassed or dismayed or chagrined if the process of unifying is difficult, even wrenching at times. Remember that, unlike any other Party, we embrace men and women of every color, every creed, every orientation, every economic class. In our family are gathered everyone from the abject poor of Essex County in New York, to the enlightened affluent of the gold coasts at both ends of the nation. And in between is the heart of our constituency — the middle class, the people not rich enough to be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare; the middle class — those people who work for a living because they have to, not because some psychiatrist told them it was a convenient way to fill the interval between birth and eternity. White collar and blue collar. Young professionals. Men and women in small business desperate for the capital and contracts that they need to prove their worth.
We speak for the minorities who have not yet entered the mainstream. We speak for ethnics who want to add their culture to the magnificent mosaic that is America. We speak — We speak for women who are indignant that this nation refuses to etch into its governmental commandments the simple rule “thou shalt not sin against equality,” a rule so simple —
I was going to say, and I perhaps dare not but I will. It’s a commandment so simple it can be spelled in three letters: E.R.A.
We speak — We speak for young people demanding an education and a future. We speak for senior citizens. We speak for senior citizens who are terrorized by the idea that their only security, their Social Security, is being threatened. We speak for millions of reasoning people fighting to preserve our environment from greed and from stupidity. And we speak for reasonable people who are fighting to preserve our very existence from a macho intransigence that refuses to make intelligent attempts to discuss the possibility of nuclear holocaust with our enemy. They refuse. They refuse, because they believe we can pile missiles so high that they will pierce the clouds and the sight of them will frighten our enemies into submission.
Now we’re proud of this diversity as Democrats. We’re grateful for it. We don’t have to manufacture it the way the Republicans will next month in Dallas, by propping up mannequin delegates on the convention floor. But we, while we’re proud of this diversity, we pay a price for it. The different people that we represent have different points of view. And sometimes they compete and even debate, and even argue. That’s what our primaries were all about. But now the primaries are over and it is time, when we pick our candidates and our platform here, to lock arms and move into this campaign together.
If you need any more inspiration to put some small part of your own difference aside to create this consensus, then all you need to do is to reflect on what the Republican policy of divide and cajole has done to this land since 1980. Now the President has asked the American people to judge him on whether or not he’s fulfilled the promises he made four years ago. I believe, as Democrats, we ought to accept that challenge. And just for a moment let us consider what he has said and what he’s done.
Inflation — Inflation is down since 1980, but not because of the supply-side miracle promised to us by the President. Inflation was reduced the old-fashioned way: with a recession, the worst since 1932. Now how did we — We could have brought inflation down that way. How did he do it? 55,000 bankruptcies; two years of massive unemployment; 200,000 farmers and ranchers forced off the land; more homeless — more homeless than at any time since the Great Depression in 1932; more hungry, in this world of enormous affluence, the United States of America, more hungry; more poor, most of them women. And — And he paid one other thing, a nearly 200 billion dollar deficit threatening our future.
Now, we must make the American people understand this deficit because they don’t. The President’s deficit is a direct and dramatic repudiation of his promise in 1980 to balance the budget by 1983. How large is it? The deficit is the largest in the history of the universe. It — President Carter’s last budget had a deficit less than one-third of this deficit. It is a deficit that, according to the President’s own fiscal adviser, may grow to as much 300 billion dollars a year for “as far as the eye can see.” And, ladies and gentlemen, it is a debt so large — that is almost one-half of the money we collect from the personal income tax each year goes just to pay the interest. It is a mortgage on our children’s future that can be paid only in pain and that could bring this nation to its knees.
Now don’t take my word for it — I’m a Democrat. Ask the Republican investment bankers on Wall Street what they think the chances of this recovery being permanent are. You see, if they’re not too embarrassed to tell you the truth, they’ll say that they’re appalled and frightened by the President’s deficit. Ask them what they think of our economy, now that it’s been driven by the distorted value of the dollar back to its colonial condition. Now we’re exporting agricultural products and importing manufactured ones. Ask those Republican investment bankers what they expect the rate of interest to be a year from now. And ask them — if they dare tell you the truth — you’ll learn from them, what they predict for the inflation rate a year from now, because of the deficit.
Now, how important is this question of the deficit. Think about it practically: What chance would the Republican candidate have had in 1980 if he had told the American people that he intended to pay for his so-called economic recovery with bankruptcies, unemployment, more homeless, more hungry, and the largest government debt known to humankind? If he had told the voters in 1980 that truth, would American voters have signed the loan certificate for him on Election Day? Of course not! That was an election won under false pretenses. It was won with smoke and mirrors and illusions. And that’s the kind of recovery we have now as well.
But what about foreign policy? They said that they would make us and the whole world safer. They say they have. By creating the largest defense budget in history, one that even they now admit is excessive — by escalating to a frenzy the nuclear arms race; by incendiary rhetoric; by refusing to discuss peace with our enemies; by the loss of 279 young Americans in Lebanon in pursuit of a plan and a policy that no one can find or describe.
We give money to Latin American governments that murder nuns, and then we lie about it. We have been less than zealous in support of our only real friend — it seems to me, in the Middle East — the one democracy there, our flesh and blood ally, the state of Israel. Our — Our policy — Our foreign policy drifts with no real direction, other than an hysterical commitment to an arms race that leads nowhere — if we’re lucky. And if we’re not, it could lead us into bankruptcy or war.
Of course we must have a strong defense! Of course Democrats are for a strong defense. Of course Democrats believe that there are times that we must stand and fight. And we have. Thousands of us have paid for freedom with our lives. But always — when this country has been at its best — our purposes were clear. Now they’re not. Now our allies are as confused as our enemies. Now we have no real commitment to our friends or to our ideals — not to human rights, not to the refuseniks, not to Sakharov, not to Bishop Tutu and the others struggling for freedom in South Africa.
We — We have in the last few years spent more than we can afford. We have pounded our chests and made bold speeches. But we lost 279 young Americans in Lebanon and we live behind sand bags in Washington. How can anyone say that we are safer, stronger, or better?
That — That is the Republican record. That its disastrous quality is not more fully understood by the American people I can only attribute to the President’s amiability and the failure by some to separate the salesman from the product.
And, now — now — now it’s up to us. Now it’s up to you and to me to make the case to America. And to remind Americans that if they are not happy with all that the President has done so far, they should consider how much worse it will be if he is left to his radical proclivities for another four years unrestrained. Unrestrained.
Now, if — if July — if July brings back Ann Gorsuch Burford — what can we expect of December? Where would — Where would another four years take us? Where would four years more take us? How much larger will the deficit be? How much deeper the cuts in programs for the struggling middle class and the poor to limit that deficit? How high will the interest rates be? How much more acid rain killing our forests and fouling our lakes?
And, ladies and gentlemen, please think of this — the nation must think of this: What kind of Supreme Court will we have?
Please. [beckons audience to settle down]
We — We must ask ourselves what kind of court and country will be fashioned by the man who believes in having government mandate people’s religion and morality; the man who believes that trees pollute the environment; the man that believes that — that the laws against discrimination against people go too far; a man who threatens Social Security and Medicaid and help for the disabled. How high will we pile the missiles? How much deeper will the gulf be between us and our enemies? And, ladies and gentlemen, will four years more make meaner the spirit of the American people? This election will measure the record of the past four years. But more than that, it will answer the question of what kind of people we want to be.
We Democrats still have a dream. We still believe in this nation’s future. And this is our answer to the question. This is our credo:
We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need.
We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn’t distort or promise to do things that we know we can’t do.
We believe in a government strong enough to use words like “love” and “compassion” and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities.
We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.
We — Our — Our government — Our government should be able to rise to the level where it can fill the gaps that are left by chance or by a wisdom we don’t fully understand. We would rather have laws written by the patron of this great city, the man called the “world’s most sincere Democrat,” St. Francis of Assisi, than laws written by Darwin.
We believe — We believe as Democrats, that a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world’s history, one that can spend trillions on instruments of destruction, ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute. And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war because life is better than death.
We believe in firm — We believe in firm but fair law and order.
We believe proudly in the union movement.
We believe in a — We believe — We believe in privacy for people, openness by government.
We believe in civil rights, and we believe in human rights.
We believe in a single — We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another’s pain, sharing one another’s blessings — reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.
We believe we must be the family of America, recognizing that at the heart of the matter we are bound one to another, that the problems of a retired school teacher in Duluth are our problems; that the future of the child — that the future of the child in Buffalo is our future; that the struggle of a disabled man in Boston to survive and live decently is our struggle; that the hunger of a woman in Little Rock is our hunger; that the failure anywhere to provide what reasonably we might, to avoid pain, is our failure.
Now for 50 years — for 50 years we Democrats created a better future for our children, using traditional Democratic principles as a fixed beacon, giving us direction and purpose, but constantly innovating, adapting to new realities: Roosevelt’s alphabet programs; Truman’s NATO and the GI Bill of Rights; Kennedy’s intelligent tax incentives and the Alliance for Progress; Johnson’s civil rights; Carter’s human rights and the nearly miraculous Camp David Peace Accord.
Democrats did it — Democrats did it and Democrats can do it again. We can build a future that deals with our deficit. Remember this, that 50 years of progress under our principles never cost us what the last four years of stagnation have. And we can deal with the deficit intelligently, by shared sacrifice, with all parts of the nation’s family contributing, building partnerships with the private sector, providing a sound defense without depriving ourselves of what we need to feed our children and care for our people. We can have a future that provides for all the young of the present, by marrying common sense and compassion.
We know we can, because we did it for nearly 50 years before 1980. And we can do it again, if we do not forget — if we do not forget that this entire nation has profited by these progressive principles; that they helped lift up generations to the middle class and higher; that they gave us a chance to work, to go to college, to raise a family, to own a house, to be secure in our old age and, before that, to reach heights that our own parents would not have dared dream of.
That struggle to live with dignity is the real story of the shining city. And it’s a story, ladies and gentlemen, that I didn’t read in a book, or learn in a classroom. I saw it and lived it, like many of you. I watched a small man with thick calluses on both his hands work 15 and 16 hours a day. I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet, a man who came here uneducated, alone, unable to speak the language, who taught me all I needed to know about faith and hard work by the simple eloquence of his example. I learned about our kind of democracy from my father. And I learned about our obligation to each other from him and from my mother. They asked only for a chance to work and to make the world better for their children, and they — they asked to be protected in those moments when they would not be able to protect themselves. This nation and this nation’s government did that for them.
And that they were able to build a family and live in dignity and see one of their children go from behind their little grocery store in South Jamaica on the other side of the tracks where he was born, to occupy the highest seat, in the greatest State, in the greatest nation, in the only world we would know, is an ineffably beautiful tribute to the democratic process.
And — And ladies and gentlemen, on January 20, 1985, it will happen again — only on a much, much grander scale. We will have a new President of the United States, a Democrat born not to the blood of kings but to the blood of pioneers and immigrants. And we will have America’s first woman Vice President, the child of immigrants, and she — she — she will open with one magnificent stroke, a whole new frontier for the United States.
Now, it will happen. It will happen if we make it happen; if you and I make it happen. And I ask you now, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, for the good of all of us, for the love of this great nation, for the family of America, for the love of God: Please, make this nation remember how futures are built.
Thank you and God bless you.
Adopted initially on September 17, 1787, the US Constitution and its twenty-seven amendments enacted between 1791 and 1992 are the supreme law of the land. They create “balance of power” between three co-equal branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial), limit the power of the federal government, empower the individual citizen to maintain control of government officials, and create a series of individual rights that government cannot remove.
The Preamble to the US Constitution:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Creating Legislation: An Overview:
1. A member of the community or a council member has an idea for a law.
2. A council member proposes or introduced the idea.
3. City council members (or village trustees) often form a committee to evaluate the proposed law, or assign the proposal to an appropriate committee. This step is not required.
4. A public hearing is required for some ordinances, such as zoning ordinances. Citizens must have at least 10 days notice of the hearing.
5. The members of the committee vote on whether or not to adopt the ordinance.
6. The committee recommendation goes to the Council. A majority of the Council must approve the ordinance for it to pass. Usually the mayor or village president does not vote except in the case of a tie.
7. The mayor or village president can veto an ordinance, but only if it
a) Creates liability against the city
b) Provides for spending of money
c) Involves selling any city property
8. The members can override the executive’s veto with a 2/3 vote.
The detailed process for how a bill becomes a law can be complicated and tedious. The system of checks and balances is designed to make sure that there is significant agreement before a new law is enacted.
1. Where does a bill start?
An individual or group gets an idea for a new law or a change to an old law.
2. What is a bill?
An idea that is written as a proposed law.
3. After a bill is drafted, Representative(s) (either Congresspersons or Senators) propose(s) a bill in the House or Senate.
4. The bill is read to the representatives on the floor of the House or Senate (a proposed bill must be read into the Congressional record three times before it moves forward).
5. The bill is sent to the appropriate House or Senate committee (For example, an issue dealing with education would be sent to the Education Committee; an issue dealing with the interstate highway system would be sent to the Transportation Committee).
6. The committee holds public hearings on the bill where individuals or interested groups can give public comment or testimony on their opinions of the bill.
7. The committee debates and votes on whether to approve the bill and send the bill back to the floor (with or without amendments), or to “kill” the bill by keeping it in committee for further debate.
8. If the committee approves the bill, it goes to the floor of the originating house where it is read a second time. At this point, any amendments made to the bill are debated by the members of this house of Congress.
9. After the debate is finished, the bill is read a third time. The members debate again, and vote on the bill.
10. If the first house passes the bill, it goes to the second house (for example, if the bill started in the House of Representatives, it would then go on to the Senate).
11. The whole process starts over again in this second house.
12. If the House and Senate pass different versions of the same bill, the bill is sent to a conference committee made up of members from both houses to try and reach a compromise on the bill. Both houses must then agree to the compromise by majority vote.
13. If both houses agree on a final version of the bill, it goes to the President for his or her signature.
14. The President can sign the bill into law or veto the bill.
15. If the President vetoes the bill, it is sent back to Congress. Congress can then re-vote on the bill. If each house of Congress votes to override the veto by a 2/3 majority vote, the bill becomes a law.
Voting is a Right, not a Privilege:
Election Day in the United States of America is the day set by law for the election of public officials, initiatives and referendums. For federal offices (United States Congress, President and Vice President), it occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years; the earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest is November 8. Presidential elections are held every four years, elections to the United States House of Representatives are held every two years, and a US Senator runs for election every six years. General elections in which Presidential candidates are not on the ballot are referred to as midterm elections. Many state and local government offices are also voted upon on Election Day as a matter of convenience and cost savings. Election Day is a civic holiday in some states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.
William F. Buckley at Yale Commencement Ceremony
New Haven, Connecticut
June 11, 1950
A year ago, the orator for the class of 1949 stood here and told his classmates that the troubles of the United States in particular and of Western democracy in general were attributable to the negativism of our front against Communism. His was not a lone voice jarring smug opinion in mid-twentieth-century America. Rather he is part of the swelling forefront of men and women who are raising a hue and a cry for what they loosely call positivism, by which they mean bold new measures, audacious steps forward, a reorientation towards those great new horizons and that Brave New World.
It is natural at this point to realize that (although we must be very careful how we put it) we are, as Yale men, priveleged members of our society, and to us falls the responsiblity of leadership in this great new positivist movement. For we had had a great education, and our caps and gowns weigh heavy upon us as we face our responsibilities to mankind.
All of us here have been exposed to four years’ education in one of the most enlightened and advanced liberal-arts colleges in the world. Here we can absorb the last word in most fields of academic endeavor. Here we find the headquarters of a magazine devoted exclusively to metaphysics, and another devoted entirely to an analysis of French existentialism. And here, for better or worse, we have been jolted forcefully away from any preconceived judgments we may have had when we come. Here we can find men who will tell us that Jesus Crist was the greatest fraud that history has known. Here we can find men who will tell us that morality is an anachronistic conception, rendered obsolete by the advances of human thought. From neo-Benthamines at Yale we can learn that laws are a sociological institution, to be wielded to facilitate the sacrosanct will of the enlightened minority.
Communism is a real force to cope with only because of the deficiencies of democracy. Our fathers, who worked to send us to Yale, their fathers and their fathers, who made Yale and the United States, were hardworking men, shrewd men, and performed a certain econmic service, but they were dreadfully irrresponsible, y’know, in view of today’s enlightenment.
And it so goes: two and two make three, the shortest distance between two points is a crooked line, good is bad and bad is good, and from this morass we are to extract a workable, enlightened synthesis to govern our thoughts and our actions, for today we are educated men.
Nothing, it is true, is healthier than honest scrutiny, with maybe even a little debunking thrown in. When a dean tells us that our task is to go out and ennoble mankind, we nod our heads and wonder whether the opening in the putty-knife factory or in the ball-bearing works will pay more. When we are told that Lincoln was totally unconcerned with politics, we might ponder the occasion in 1863 when he could not focus his attention on the questions of a distinguished visitor because he was terribly worried over what Republican to appoint postmaster of Chicago. In 1913 Charles Beard wrote his Economic Interpretation of the Constitution. It was banned in seven state universities and brought almost nationwide ostracism for the author. Today a study of this analysis is a prerequisite to a doctoral degree in American history.
Certainly civilization cannot advance without freedom of inquiry. The fact is self-evident. What seems eqally self-evident is that in the process of history certain immutable truths have been revealed and discovered and that their value is not subject to the limitations of time and space. The probing, the relentless debunking, has engendered a skepticism that threatens to pervade and atrophy all our values. In apologizing for our beliefs and our traditions we have bent over backwards so far that we have lost our balance, and we see a topsy-turvy world and we say topsy-turvy things, such as that the way to beat Communism is by making our democracy better. What a curious self-examination! Beat the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics by making America socialistic. Beat atheism by denying God.Uphold individual freedom by denying naural rights. We neglect to say to the Communist, “In the name of heaven look at what we now have. Your standards don’t interest us.” As Emerson threatened to say to the obstreperous government tax collector, “If you pursue, I will slit your throat, sir”
The credo of the so-called positivists is characterized by the advocacy of change. Republicanism, on the other hand, is negativism because conservatives believe that America has grown and has prospered, has put muscle on her bones, by rewarding initiative and industry, by conceding to her citizens not only the right and responsibilities of self-government, but also the right and responsibilities of self-care, of individually earned security. The role of the so-called conservative is a difficult one. A starry-eyed young man, nevertheless agressive in his wisdom, flaunting the badge of custodian of the common man, approaches our neat, sturdy white house and tells us we must destroy it, rebuild it of crystallized cold cream, and paint it purple. “But we like it the way it is,” we retort feebly.
“Rip ‘er down! This is a changing world.”
Is our effort to achieve perspective all the more difficult by virtue of our having gone to Yale? In many respects it is, because the university does not actively aid us in forming an enlightened synthesis. That job is for us to perform: to reject those notions that do not square with the enlightenment that should be ours as moral, educated men, beneficiaries of centuries of historical experience. Yale has given us much. Not least is an awesome responsibility to withstand her barrage, to emerge from her halls with both feet on the ground, with a sane head and a reinforced set of values. If our landing is accomplished, we are stronger men for our flight.
Keenly aware, then, of the vast deficiencies in American life today – the suffering, the injustice, the want – we must nevertheless spend our greatest efforts, it seems to me, in preserving the framework that supports the vaster bounties that make our country an oasis of freedom and prosperity. Our concern for deficiencies in America must not cause us to indict the principles that have allowed our country, its faults notwithstanding, to tower over the nations of the world as a citadel of freedom and wealth. With what severity and strength we can muster, we must punch the gasbag of cynicism and skepticism, and thank providence for what we have and must retain. Our distillation of the ideas, concepts, and theories expounded at Yale must serve to enhance our devolution to the good in what we have, to reinforce our allegiance to our principles, to convince us that our outlook is positive: that the retention of the best features of our way of life is the most enlightened and noble of goals. Insofar as the phrase “For God, for Country, and for Yale” is meaningful, we need not be embarrassed to mean “For God as we know him, for country as we know it, and for Yale as we have known her.”
-> Newt Gingrich Inaugural Address Opening of the 1995 Congress – January 4, 1995
Newt Gingrich Inaugural Address Opening of the 1995 Congress
January 4, 1995
Let me say first of all that I am very deeply grateful to my good friend, Dick Gephardt. I couldn’t help but — when my side maybe overreacted to your statement ending 40 years of Democratic rule — that I couldn’t help but look over at Bob Michel, who has often been up here and who knows that everything Dick said was true — that this is difficult and painful to lose, and on my side of the aisle, we have for 20 elections been on the losing side.
And yet there is something so wonderful about the process by which a free people decides things — that, in my own case, I lost two elections, and with the good help of my friend Vic Fazio, came close to losing two others. And I’m sorry, guys, it just didn’t quite work out. And yet I can tell you that every time when the polls closed and I waited for the votes to come in, I felt good, because win or lose, we’ve been part of this process. In a little while, I’m going to ask the dean of the House, John Dingell, to swear me in, to insist on the bipartisan nature of the way in which we together work in this House. John’s father was one of the great stalwarts of the New Deal, a man who, as an FDR Democrat, created modern America. And I think that John and his father represent a tradition that we all have to recognize and respect, and recognize that the America we are now going to try to lead grew from that tradition and is part of that great heritage.
I also want to take just a moment to thank Speaker Foley, who was extraordinarily generous, both in his public utterances and in everything that he and Mrs. Foley did to help Marianne and me, and to help our staff make the transition. I think that he worked very hard to reestablish the dignity of the House. And I think that we can all be proud of the reputation that he takes and of the spirit with which he led the speakership. And our best wishes go to Speaker and Mrs. Foley.
I also want to thank the various House officers, who have been just extraordinary. And I want to say for the public record that faced with a result none of them wanted, in a situation I suspect none of them expected, but within 48 hours every officer of this House reacted as a patriot, worked overtime, bent over backwards, and in every way helped us. And I am very grateful, and this House I think owes a debt of gratitude to every officer that the Democrats elected two years ago. Thank you.
This is a historic moment. I was asked over and over, how did it feel, and the only word thats [sic] comes close to adequate is “overwhelming.” I feel overwhelmed in every way, overwhelmed by all the Georgians who came up, overwhelmed by my extended family that is here, overwhelmed by the historic moment. I walked out and stood on the balcony just outside the Speaker’s office, looking down the Mall this morning, very early. And I was just overwhelmed by the view, which two men I’ve introduced and know very, very well — [indecipherable] of us know very, very well. Just the sense of being part of America, being part of this — this great tradition.
I have two gavels, actually. Dick happened to use one that — maybe this was appropriate. This is a Georgia gavel I just got this morning, done by Dorsey Newman of Tallapoosa, who decided that the gavels he saw on TV weren’t big enough or strong enough, so he cut down a walnut tree in his backyard, made a gavel, put a commemorative item [on it] and sent it up here. So this is a genuine Georgia gavel. I’m the first Georgia Speaker in over a hundred years. The last one, by the way, had a weird accent, too. Speaker Crisp was born in Britain. His parents were actors and they came to the U.S. — a good word, by the way, for the value we get from immigration.
And secondly, this is the gavel that Speaker Martin used. Now I’m not sure what it says about the inflation of Government, if you put them side by side, but this was the gavel used by the last Republican Speaker. And — And I want to comment for a minute on two men who served as my leader, and from whom I learned so much and who are here today.
When I arrived as a freshman, the Republican Party, deeply dispirited by Watergate and by the loss of the Presidency, banded together and worked with a leader who helped pave the way for our great Party victory of 1980, and a man who just did a marvelous job. And I can’t speak too highly of what I learned about integrity and leadership and courage from serving with him in my freshman term. And he’s here with us again today. Hope all of you will recognize Congressman John Rhodes of Arizona. Let me say also that at our request, he wasn’t sure he should be here at all, then he thought he was going to hide in the back of the room. And then I insisted that he come down front, somebody who I regard as a mentor. I think virtually every Democrat in the House will say is a man who genuinely cares about and loves the House and who represents the best spirit of the House, a man who I’ve under and who I hope as Speaker I can always rely on for advice; and who I hope frankly I can emulate in his commitment to this institution and in his willingness to try to reach beyond his personal interest and his personal partisanship. I hope all of you will join me in thanking for his years of service, Congressman Bob Michel of Illinois.
I’m — I’m very fortunate today. I have my Mom and my Dad are here. They’re right up there — Bob and Kit Gingrich. And I am so delighted that they were both able to be here. You know, sometimes when you get to my age, you can’t have everyone near you you’d like to. I can’t say how much I learned from my Dad and his years of serving the U.S. Army and how much I learned from my Mother, who is clearly my most enthusiastic cheerleader. My daughters are here up there [in the gallery] — Kathy Lovewith and her husband Paul, and Jackie and her husband Mark Zyler. And the person who clearly is my closest friend and my best adviser and who, if I listened to about 20 percent more, I’d get in less trouble, my wife Marianne, is there.
I have a very large extended family between Marianne and me. And they’re virtually all in town, and we’ve done our part for the Washington tourist season. But I couldn’t help — ’cause when I first came on the floor earlier, I went around and saw a number of the young people who are here — a number of the children who are on the floor, the young adults, who are close to 12 years of age. And I couldn’t help but think that sitting in the back rail near the center of…the House are my — one of my nephews, Kevin McPherson, who is five; and Susan Brown, who is six; and Emily Brown, who is eight; and Laura McPherson, who is nine. And they’re all back there — I think probably more than allowed to bring on, but they’re my nieces and my nephew. And I have two other nephews who are a little older who are actually up in the gallery.
I couldn’t help but think, as a way I wanted to start the Speakership and to talk with every Member, that in a sense these young people you see around you are really what, at its best, this is all about. Much more than the — the negative advertising and the interest groups and the — all the different things that make politics all too often cynical and nasty and sometimes frankly just plain miserable. What makes politics worthwhile is that the choice, as Dick Gephardt said, between what we see so tragically on the evening news and the way we try to do it is to work very hard to make this system of free, representative self-government work.
And the ultimate reason for doing that is these children, and the country they will inherit, and the world they will live in. I — we’re starting the 104th Congress. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about the concept, but for 208 years, we gather together — the most diverse country in the history of the world. We send all sorts of people. Each of us could find at least one Member we thought was weird. And I’ll tell you, if you went around the room the person chosen to be weird would be different for virtually every one of us. Because we do allow and insist upon the right of a free people to send an extraordinary diversity of people here.
Brian Lamb of C-SPAN read to me Friday a phrase from de Tocqueville that was so central to the House. I’ve been reading Remini’s biography of Henry Clay. And Henry Clay always preferred the House. He was the first strong Speaker. And he preferred the House to the Senate, although he served in both. Well he said the House is more vital, more active, more dynamic, more common.
And this is what de Tocqueville wrote (quote):
“Often there is not a distinguished man in the whole number. Its members are almost all obscure individuals whose names bring no associations to mind. They are mostly village lawyers, men in trade, or even persons belonging to the lower classes of society.”
Now, if you put women in with men, I don’t know that we’d change much.
But the word “vulgar” in de Tocqueville’s time had a very particular meaning. And it’s a meaning the world would do well to study in this room. You see, de Tocqueville was an aristocrat. He lived in a world of kings and princes. And the folks who come here come here by the one single act that their citizens freely chose them.
And I don’t care what your ethnic background — what your ideology. I don’t care whether you’re younger or older. I don’t care whether you were born in America or you’re a naturalized citizen. Every one of the 435 people have equal standing because their citizens freely sent them, and their voice should be heard, and they should have a right to participate. And it is the most marvelous act of a complex, giant country trying to argue and talk — and, as Dick [Gephardt] said, to have a great debate, to reach great decisions, not through a civil war, not by bombing one of our regional capitals, not by killing a half million people, not by having snipers — and let me say unequivocally I condemn all acts of violence against the law by all people for all reasons. This is a society of law and a society of civil behavior.
Here we are as commoners together, to some extent Democrats and Republicans, to some extent liberals and conservatives, but Americans all. Steve Gunderson today gave me a copy of the “Portable Abraham Lincoln.” He suggested there is much for me to learn about our party, but I would also say that it does not hurt to have a copy of the portable F.D.R. This is a great country of great people. If there is any one factor or acts of my life that strikes me as I stand up here as the first Republican in 40 years to do so. When I first became whip in 1989, Russia was beginning to change, the Soviet Union as it was then. Into my whip’s office one day came eight Russians and a Lithuanian, members of the Communist Party, newspaper editors. They asked me, “What does a whip do?” They said, “In Russia we have never had a free parliament since 1917 and that was only for a few months, so what do you do?” I tried to explain, as Dave Bonior or Tom DeLay might now. It is a little strange if you are from a dictatorship to explain you are called the whip but you do not really have a whip, you are elected by the people you are supposed to pressure — other members. If you pressure them too much they will not reelect you. On the other hand If you do not pressure them enough they will not reelect you.
Democracy is hard. It is frustrating. So our group came into the Chamber. The Lithuanian was a man in his late sixties, and I allowed him to come up here and sit and be Speaker, something many of us have done with constituents. Remember, this is the very beginning of perestroika and glasnost. When he came out of the chair, he was physically trembling. He was almost in tears. He said, “Ever since World War II, I have remembered what the Americans did and I have never believed the propaganda. But I have to tell you, I did not think in my life that I would be able to sit at the center of freedom.” It was one of the most overwhelming, compelling moments of my life. It struck me that something I could not help but think of when we were here with President Mandela. I went over and saw Ron Dellums and thought of the great work Ron had done to extend freedom across the planet. You get that sense of emotion when you see something so totally different than you had expected. Here was a man who reminded me first of all that while presidents are important, they are in effect an elected kingship, that this and the other body across the way are where freedom has to be fought out. That is the tradition I hope that we will take with us as we go to work.
Today we had a bipartisan prayer service. Frank Wolf made some very important points. He said, “We have to recognize that many of our most painful problems as a country are moral problems, problems of dealing with ourselves and with life.” He said character is the key to leadership and we have to deal with that. He preached a little bit. I do not think he thought he was preaching, but he was. It was about a spirit of reconciliation. He talked about caring about our spouses and our children and our families. If we are not prepared to model our own family life beyond just having them here for 1 day, if we are not prepared to care about our children and we are not prepared to care about our families, then by what arrogance do we think we will transcend our behavior to care about others?
That is why with Congressman Gephardt’s help we have established a bipartisan task force on the family. We have established the principle that we are going to set schedules we stick to so families can count on time to be together, built around school schedules so that families can get to know each other, and not just by seeing us on C-SPAN. I will also say that means one of the strongest recommendations of the bipartisan committee, is that we have 17 minutes to vote. This is the bipartisan committee’s recommendations, not just mine. They pointed out that if we take the time we spent in the last Congress where we waited for one more Member, and one more, and one more, that we literally can shorten the business and get people home if we will be strict and firm. At one point this year we had a 45-minute vote. I hope all of my colleagues are paying attention because we are in fact going to work very hard to have 17 minute votes and it is over.
So, leave on the first bell, not the second bell. Okay?
This may seem particularly inappropriate to say on the first day because this will be the busiest day on opening day in congressional history. I want to read just a part of the Contract With America. I don’t mean this as a partisan act, but rather to remind all of us what we are about to go through and why. Those of us who ended up in the majority stood on these steps and signed a contract, and here is part of what it says: On the first day of the 104th Congress the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following reforms aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:
First, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also to apply equally to the Congress.
Second, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Congress for waste, fraud or abuse.
Third, cut the number of House committees and cut committee staffs by a third.
Fourth, limit the terms of all committee chairs.
Fifth, ban the casting of proxy votes in committees.
Sixth, require committee meetings to be open to the public.
Seven, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase.
Eight, guarantee an honest accounting of our federal budget by implementing zero baseline budgeting.
Now, I told Dick Gephardt last night that if I had to do it over again we would have pledged within 3 days that we will do these things, but that is not what we said. So we have ourselves in a little bit of a box here.
Then we go a step further. I carry the TV Guide version of the contract with me at all times. We then say that within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress we shall bring to the House floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a full and clear vote, and each to be immediately available for inspection. We made it available that day. We listed 10 items.
A balanced budget amendment and line-item veto,
A bill to stop violent criminals, emphasizing among other things an effective and enforceable death penalty.
Third was welfare reform.
Fourth, legislation protecting our kids.
Fifth was to provide tax cuts for families.
Sixth was a bill to strengthen our national defense.
Seventh was a bill to raise the senior citizens` earning limit.
Eighth was legislation rolling back Government regulations.
Ninth was a commonsense legal reform bill, and
tenth was congressional term limits legislation.
Our commitment on our side, and this is an absolute obligation, is first of all to work today until we are done. I know that is going to inconvenience people who have families and supporters. But we were hired to do a job, and we have to start today to prove we will do it. Second, I would say to our friends in the Democratic Party that we are going to work with you, and we are really laying out a schedule working with the minority leader to make sure that we can set dates certain to go home. That does mean that if 2 or 3 weeks out we are running short we will, frankly, have longer sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We will try to work this out on a bipartisan basis to, in a workmanlike way, get it done. It is going to mean the busiest early months since 1933.
Beyond the Contract I think there are two giant challenges. I know I am a partisan figure. But I really hope today that I can speak for a minute to my friends in the Democratic Party as well as my own colleagues, and speak to the country about these two challenges so that I hope we can have a real dialog.
One challenge is to achieve a balanced budget by 2002. I think both Democratic and Republican Governors will say we can do that but it is hard. I do not think we can do it in a year or two. I do not think we ought to lie to the American people. This is a huge, complicated job.
The second challenge is to find a way to truly replace the current welfare state with an opportunity society. Let me talk very briefly about both challenges. First, on the balanced budget I think we can get it done. I think the baby boomers are now old enough that we can have an honest dialog about priorities, about resources, about what works, and what does not work. Let me say I have already told Vice President Gore that we are going to invite him to address a Republican conference. We would have invited him in December but he had to go to Moscow, I believe there are grounds for us to talk together and to work together, to have hearings together, and to have task forces together.
If we set priorities, if we apply the principles of Edwards, Deming and of Peter Drucker we can build on the Vice President’s reinventing government effort and we can focus on transforming, not just cutting. The choice becomes not just do you want more or do you want less, but are there ways to do it better? Can we learn from the private sector, can we learn from Ford, IBM, from Microsoft, from what General Motors has had to go through? I think on a bipartisan basis we owe it to our children and grandchildren to get this Government in order and to be able to actually pay our way. I think 2002 is a reasonable time frame. I would hope that together we could open a dialog with the American people.
I have said that I think Social Security ought to be off limits, at least for the first 4 to 6 years of the process, because I think it will just destroy us if we try to bring it into the game. But let me say about everything else, whether it is Medicare, or it is agricultural subsidies, or it is defense or anything that I think the greatest Democratic President of the 20th century, and in my judgment the greatest President of the 20th century, said it right.
On March 4, 1933, he stood in braces as a man who had polio at a time when nobody who had that kind of disability could be anything in public life. He was President of the United States, and he stood in front of this Capitol on a rainy March day and he said, `We have nothing to fear but fear itself.` I want every one of us to reach out in that spirit and pledge to live up to that spirit, and I think frankly on a bipartisan basis. I would say to Members of the Black and Hispanic Caucuses that I would hope we could arrange by late spring to genuinely share districts.
You could have a Republican who frankly may not know a thing about your district agree to come for a long weekend with you, and you will agree to go for a long weekend with them. We begin a dialog and an openness that is totally different than people are used to seeing in politics in America. I believe if we do that we can then create a dialog that can lead to a balanced budget. But I think we have a greater challenge. I do want to pick up directly on what Dick Gephardt said, because he said it right. No Republican here should kid themselves about it. The greatest leaders in fighting for an integrated America in the 20th century were in the Democratic Party. The fact is, it was the liberal wing of the Democratic Party that ended segregation. The fact is that it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who gave hope to a Nation that was in distress and could have slid into dictatorship. Every Republican has much to learn from studying what the Democrats did right.
But I would say to my friends in the Democratic Party that there is much to what Ronald Reagan was trying to get done. There’s much to what is being done today by Republicans like Bill Weld, and John Engler, and Tommy Thompson, and George Allen, and Christy Whitman, and Pete Wilson. There is much we can share with each other.
We must replace the welfare state with an opportunity society. The balanced budget is the right thing to do. But it does not in my mind have the moral urgency of coming to grips with what is happening to the poorest Americans. I commend to all Marvin Olasky’s “The Tragedy of American Compassion.” Olasky goes back for 300 years and looked at what has worked in America, how we have helped people rise beyond poverty, and how we have reached out to save people. He may not have the answers, but he has the right sense of where we have to go as Americans. I do not believe that there is a single American who can see a news report of a 4-year-old thrown off of a public housing project in Chicago by other children and killed and not feel that a part of your heart went, too.
I think of my nephew in the back, Kevin, and how all of us feel about our children. How can any American read about an 11-year-old buried with his Teddy bear because he killed a 14-year-old, and then another 14-year-old killed him, and not have some sense of “My God, where has this country gone?” How can we not decide that this is a moral crisis equal to segregation, equal to slavery? How can we not insist that every day we take steps to do something? I have seldom been more shaken than I was after the election when I had breakfast with two members of the Black Caucus. One of them said to me, “Can you imagine what it is like to visit a first-grade class and realize that every fourth or fifth young boy in that class may be dead or in jail within 15 years? And they are your constituents and you are helpless to change it?”
For some reason, I do not know why, maybe because I visit a lot of schools, that got through. I mean, that personalized it. That made it real, not just statistics, but real people. Then I tried to explain part of my thoughts by talking about the need for alternatives to the bureaucracy, and we got into what I think frankly has been a pretty distorted and cheap debate over orphanages. Let me say, first of all, my father, who is here today, was a foster child. He was adopted as a teenager. I am adopted. We have relatives who were adopted. We are not talking out of some vague impersonal Dickens “Bleak House” middle-class intellectual model. We have lived the alternatives. I believe when we are told that children are so lost in the city bureaucracies that there are children who end up in dumpsters, when we are told that there are children doomed to go to schools where 70 or 80 percent of them will not graduate, when we are told of public housing projects that are so dangerous that if any private sector ran them they would be put in jail, and the only solution we are given is, `Well, we will study it, we will get around to it,` my only point is that this is unacceptable.
We can find ways immediately to do things better, to reach out, break through the bureaucracy and give every young American child a better chance. Let me suggest to you Morris Schectman’s new book. I do not agree with all of it, but it is fascinating. It is entitled “Working Without a Net.” It is an effort to argue that in the 21st century we have to create our own safety nets. He draws a distinction between caring and caretaking. It is worth every American reading. He said caretaking is when you bother me a little bit, and I do enough, I feel better because I think I took care of you. That is not any good to you at all. You may be in fact an alcoholic and I just gave you the money to buy the bottle that kills you, but I feel better and go home. He said caring is actually stopping and dealing with the human being, trying to understand enough about them to genuinely make sure you improve their life, even if you have to start with a conversation like, “If you will quit drinking, I will help you get a job.” This is a lot harder conversation than, “I feel better. I gave him a buck or 5 bucks.”
I want to commend every Member on both sides to look carefully. I say to those Republicans who believe in total privatization, you cannot believe in the Good Samaritan and explain that as long as business is making money we can walk by a fellow American who is hurt and not do something. I would say to my friends on the left who believe there has never been a government program that was not worth keeping, you cannot look at some of the results we now have and not want to reach out to the humans and forget the bureaucracies. If we could build that attitude on both sides of this aisle, we would be an amazingly different place, and the country would begin to be a different place. We have to create a partnership. We have to reach out to the American people. We are going to do a lot of important things.
Thanks to the House Information System and Congressman Vern Ehlers, as of today we are going to be on line for the whole country, every amendment, every conference report. We are working with C-SPAN and others, and Congressman Gephardt has agreed to help on a bipartisan basis to make the building more open to television, more accessible to the American people. We have talk radio hosts here today for the first time. I hope to have a bipartisan effort to make the place accessible for all talk radio hosts of all backgrounds, no matter their ideology. The House Historian’s office is going to be more aggressively run on a bipartisan basis to reach out to Close Up, and to other groups to teach what the legislative struggle is about. I think over time we can and will this Spring rethink campaign reform and lobbying reform and review all ethics, including the gift rule.
But that isn’t enough. Our challenge shouldn’t be just to balance the budget or to pass the Contract. Our challenge should not be anything that is just legislative. We are supposed to, each one of us, be leaders. I think our challenge has to be to set as our goal, and maybe we are not going to get there in 2 years. This ought to be the goal that we go home and we tell people we believe in: that there will be a Monday morning when for the entire weekend not a single child was killed anywhere in America; that there will be a Monday morning when every child in the country went to a school that they and their parents thought prepared them as citizens and prepared them to compete in the world market; that there will be a Monday morning where it was easy to find a job or create a job, and your own Government did not punish you if you tried. We should not be happy just with the language of politicians and the language of legislation.
We should insist that our success for America is felt in the neighborhoods, in the communities, is felt by real people living real lives who can say, “Yes, we are safer, we are healthier, we are better educated, America succeeds.” This morning’s closing hymn at the prayer service was the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It is hard to be in this building, look down past Grant to the Lincoln Memorial and not realize how painful and how difficult that battle hymn is. The key phrase is, “As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.”
It is not just political freedom, although I agree with everything Congressman Gephardt said earlier. If you cannot afford to leave the public housing project, you are not free. If you do not know how to find a job and do not know how to create a job, you are not free. If you cannot find a place that will educate you, you are not free. If you are afraid to walk to the store because you could get killed, you are not free. So as all of us over the coming months sing that song, “As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free.”
I want us to dedicate ourselves to reach out in a genuinely nonpartisan way to be honest with each other. I promise each of you that without regard to party my door is going to be open. I will listen to each of you. I will try to work with each of you. I will put in long hours, and I will guarantee that I will listen to you first. I will let you get it all out before I give you my version, because you have been patient with me today, and you have given me a chance to set the stage. But I want to close by reminding all of us of how much bigger this is than us. Because beyond talking with the American people, beyond working together, I think we can only be successful if we start with our limits.
I was very struck this morning with something Bill Emerson used, a very famous quote of Benjamin Franklin, at the point where the Constitutional Convention was deadlocked. People were tired, and there was a real possibility that the Convention was going to break up. Franklin, who was quite old and had been relatively quiet for the entire Convention, suddenly stood up and was angry, and he said: “I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men, and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid?” At that point the Constitutional Convention stopped. They took a day off for fasting and prayer. Then, having stopped and come together, they went back, and they solved the great question of large and small States. They wrote the Constitution, and the United States was created.
All I can do is pledge to you that, if each of us will reach out prayerfully and try to genuinely understand each other, if we will recognize that in this building we symbolize America, and that we have an obligation to talk with each other, then I think a year from now we can look on the 104th Congress as a truly amazing institution without regard to party, without regard to ideology. We can say, “Here America comes to work, and here we are preparing for those children a better future.” Thank you. Good luck and God bless you.
Ronald Reagan Barry Goldwater Speech
October 27, 1964
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn’t been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks.
I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, “We’ve never had it so good.”
But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn’t something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector’s share, and yet our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven’t balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We’ve raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world. We have 15 billion dollars in gold in our treasury; we don’t own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are 27.3 billion dollars. And we’ve just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value.
As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We’re at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it’s been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.
Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, “We don’t know how lucky we are.” And the Cuban stopped and said, “How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to.” And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.
And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.
This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.
In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the “Great Society,” or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they’ve been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, “The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism.” Another voice says, “The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state.” Or, “Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century.” Senator Fulbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as “our moral teacher and our leader,” and he says he is “hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document.” He must “be freed,” so that he “can do for us” what he knows “is best.” And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as “meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government.”
Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as “the masses.” This is a term we haven’t applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, “the full power of centralized government” — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.
Now, we have no better example of this than government’s involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming — that’s regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we’ve spent 43 dollars in the feed grain program for every dollar bushel of corn we don’t grow.
Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater, as President, would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he’ll find out that we’ve had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He’ll also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress [an] extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He’ll find that they’ve also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn’t keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil.
At the same time, there’s been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There’s now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can’t tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore.
Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but how — who are farmers to know what’s best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down.
Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a “more compatible use of the land.” The President tells us he’s now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we’ve only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they’ve taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we’ve sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency.
They’ve just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over 30 million dollars on deposit in personal savings in their banks. And when the government tells you you’re depressed, lie down and be depressed.
We have so many people who can’t see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they’re going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer — and they’ve had almost 30 years of it — shouldn’t we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing?
But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we’re told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We’re spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you’ll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we’d be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.
Now — so now we declare “war on poverty,” or “You, too, can be a Bobby Baker.” Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we’re spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have — and remember, this new program doesn’t replace any, it just duplicates existing programs — do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain there is one part of the new program that isn’t duplicated. This is the youth feature. We’re now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps [Civilian Conservation Corps], and we’re going to put our young people in these camps. But again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we’re going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person we help 4,700 dollars a year. We can send them to Harvard for 2,700! Course, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency.
But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who’d come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning 250 dollars a month. She wanted a divorce to get an 80 dollar raise. She’s eligible for 330 dollars a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who’d already done that very thing.
Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we’re always “against” things — we’re never “for” anything.
Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.
Now — we’re for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we’ve accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.
But we’re against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They’ve called it “insurance” to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term “insurance” to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they’re doing just that.
A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary — his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he’s 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can’t put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they’re due — that the cupboard isn’t bare?
Barry Goldwater thinks we can.
At the same time, can’t we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provision for the non-earning years? Should we not allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn’t you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under this program, which we cannot do? I think we’re for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we’re against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as was announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program is now bankrupt. They’ve come to the end of the road.
In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate, planned inflation, so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar’s worth, and not 45 cents worth?
I think we’re for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we’re against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world’s population. I think we’re against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in the Soviet colonies in the satellite nations.
I think we’re for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we’re against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We’re helping 107. We’ve spent 146 billion dollars. With that money, we bought a 2 million dollar yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenya[n] government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought 7 billion dollars worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country.
No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments’ programs, once launched, never disappear.
Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.
Federal employees — federal employees number two and a half million; and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation’s work force employed by government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man’s property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury? And they can seize and sell his property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier over-planted his rice allotment. The government obtained a 17,000 dollar judgment. And a U.S. marshal sold his 960-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work.
Last February 19th at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, “If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States.” I think that’s exactly what he will do.
But as a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn’t the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration, because back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his Party was taking the Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his Party, and he never returned til the day he died — because to this day, the leadership of that Party has been taking that Party, that honorable Party, down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England.
Now it doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the — or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.
Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men — that we’re to choose just between two personalities.
Well what of this man that they would destroy — and in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear? Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well I’ve been privileged to know him “when.” I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I’ve never known a man in my life I believed so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing.
This is a man who, in his own business before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent monthly checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn’t work. He provides nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by the floods in the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there.
An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas. And he said that [there were] a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. And then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, “Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such,” and they went down there, and there was a fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in those weeks before Christmas, all day long, he’d load up the plane, fly it to Arizona, fly them to their homes, fly back over to get another load.
During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, “There aren’t many left who care what happens to her. I’d like her to know I care.” This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, “There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start.” This is not a man who could carelessly send other people’s sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all the other problems I’ve discussed academic, unless we realize we’re in a war that must be won.
Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy “accommodation.” And they say if we’ll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he’ll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer — not an easy answer — but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.
We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, “Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters.” Alexander Hamilton said, “A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one.” Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.
Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face — that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand — the ultimatum. And what then — when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he’s heard voices pleading for “peace at any price” or “better Red than dead,” or as one commentator put it, he’d rather “live on his knees than die on his feet.” And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us.
You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said, “The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.
We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.
We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.
Thank you very much.
Hillary Clinton – 1996 Democratic Convention Speech – It Takes a Village to Raise a Child
Thank you all, and good evening. I am overwhelmed by your warm welcome. And I want to thank my friend, Tipper Gore.
You know after this reception, I think you all are ready for the rest of this convention, which has already been so positive and good. I know and you know that Chicago is my kind of town. And Chicago is my kind of village.
I have so many friends here, people who have been important to me all my life. And it seems like every single one of them has given me advice on this speech. One friend suggested that I appear here tonight with Binti, the child saving gorilla from the Brookfield zoo.
You know, as this friend explained, Binti is a typical Chicagoan, tough on the outside but with a heart of gold underneath.
Another friend advised me that I should cut my hair and color it orange and then change my name to Hillary Rodman Clinton.
But, after considering these and countless other suggestions, I decided to do tonight what I’ve been doing for more than 25 years. I want to talk about what matters most in our lives and in our nation, children and families.
I wish we could be sitting around a kitchen table, just us, talking about our hopes and fears about our children’s futures. For Bill and me, family has been the center of our lives. But we also know that our family like your family is part of a larger community that can help or hurt our best efforts to raise our child.
Right now in our biggest cities and our smallest towns there are boys and girls being tucked gently into bed, and there are boys and girls who have no one to call mom or dad and no place to call home.
Right now there are mothers and fathers just finishing a long days work and there are mothers and fathers just going to work, some to their second or third jobs of day. Right now there are parents worrying, what if the babysitter is sick tomorrow or how can we pay for college this fall. And right now there are parents despairing about gang members and drug pushers on the corners in their neighborhoods. Right now there are parents questioning a popular culture that glamorizes sex and violence, smoking and drinking and teaches children that the logos on their clothes are more valued than the generosity in their hearts.
But also, right now, there are dedicated teachers preparing their lessons for the new school year.
There are volunteers tutoring and coaching children. There are doctors and nurses caring for sick children, police officers working to help kids stay out of trouble and off drugs. Of course, parents first and foremost are responsible for their children. But we are all responsible for ensuring that children are raised in a nation that doesn’t just talk about family values, but acts in ways that values families.
Just think — as Christopher Reeve so eloquently reminded us last night, we are all part of one family, the American family, and each one of us has value. Each child who comes into this world should feel special — every body and every girl. Our daughter Chelsea will graduate from college in 2001 at the dawn of the next century. Though that’s not so far away, it is hard for any of us to know what the world will look like then, much less when Chelsea is my age in the year 2028.
But one thing we know for sure is that change is certain. Progress is not. Progress depends on the choices we make today for tomorrow and on whether we meet our challenges and protect our values. We can start by doing more to support parents and the job they have to do. Issues affecting children and families are some of the hardest we face as parents, as citizens, as a nation.
In October, Bill and I will celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. Bill was with me when Chelsea was born in the delivery room, in my hospital room and when we brought our baby daughter home. Not only did I have lots of help, I was able to stay in the hospital as long as my doctor thought I needed to be there.
But today, too many new mothers are asked to get up and get out after 24 hours, and that is just not enough time for many new mothers and babies. That’s why the president is right to support a bill that would prohibit the practice of forcing mothers and babies to leave the hospital in less than 48 hours.
That’s also why more hospitals ought to install 24-hour hotlines to answer questions once new mothers and fathers get home.
That’s why home nurses can make such a difference to parents who may not have grandparents or aunts and uncles around to help. We have to do whatever it takes to help parents meet their responsibilities at home and at work.
The very first piece of legislation that my husband signed into law had been vetoed twice — the Family and Medical Leave Law. That law allows parents time off for the birth or adoption of a child or for family emergencies without fear of losing their jobs. Already it has helped 12 million families, and it hasn’t hurt the economy one bit.
You know, Bill and I are fortunate that our jobs have allowed us to take breaks from work, not only when Chelsea was born, but to attend her school events and take her to the doctor. But millions of other parents can’t get time off. That’s why my husband wants to expand the Family and Medical Leave Law so that parents can take time off for children’s doctors appointments and parent-teacher conferences at school.
We all know that raising kids is a full-time job, and since most parents work, they are, — we are — stretched thin. Just think about what many parents are responsible for on any given day — packing lunches; dropping the kids off at school; going to work; checking to make sure that the kids get home from school safely; shopping for groceries; making dinner; doing the laundry; helping with homework; paying the bills.
And I didn’t even mention taking the dog to the vet. That’s why my husband wants to pass a flex-time law that will give parents the option to take overtime pay either in extra income or in extra time off, depending upon which is ever best for your family.
Our family has been lucky to have been blessed with a child with good health. Chelsea has spent only one night in the hospital after she had her tonsils out. But Bill and I couldn’t sleep at all that night.
But our experience was nothing like the emotional strain on parents when their children are seriously ill. They often worry about where they will get the money to pay the medical bills. That is why my husband has always felt that all American families should have affordable health insurance. Just last week the president signed a bill sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Kassebaum, a Democrat and a Republican that will enable 25 million Americans to keep their health insurance even when they switch jobs or lose a job or a have a family member who’s been sick.
This bill contains some of the key provisions from the president’s proposal for health care reform. It was an important step achieved only after both parties agreed to build, not block progress on making health care available to all Americans. Now the country must take the next step of helping unemployed Americans and their children keep health insurance for six months after losing their jobs.
If you loose your job it’s bad enough. But your daughter shouldn’t have to loose her doctor too. And our nation still must find a way to offer affordable health care coverage to the working poor and the ten million children who lack health insurance today.
The president also hasn’t forgotten that there are thousands of children languishing in foster care who can’t be returned home. That’s why he signed legislation last week that provides for a $5,000 tax credit for parents who adopt a child. It also abolishes the barriers to cross-racial adoptions. Never again will a racial barrier stand in the way of a family’s love.
My husband also understands that parents are their child’s first teachers. Not only do we need to read to our children and talk to them in way that encourage learning, we must support our teachers and our schools in deeds as well as words.
The president announced today an important initiative, called America Reads. This initiative is aimed at making sure all children can read well by the third grade. It will require volunteers, but I know there are thousands and thousands of Americans will volunteer to help every child read well.
For Bill and me, there has been no experience more challenging, more rewarding and more humbling than raising our daughter. And we have learned that to raise a happy, healthy, and hopeful child, it takes a family. It takes teachers. It takes clergy.
It takes business people. It takes community leaders. It takes those who protect our health and safety. It takes all of us. Yes, it takes a village. And it takes a president.
It takes a president who believes not only in the potential of his own child, but of all children, who believes not only in the strength of his own family, but of the American family who believes not only in the promise of each of us as individuals, but in our promise together as a nation.
It takes a president who not only holds these beliefs, but acts on them. It takes Bill Clinton.
Sometimes late at night, when I see Chelsea doing her homework or watching TV or talking to a friend on the phone, I think to myself her life and the lives of millions of boys and girls will be better because of what all of us are doing together.
They will face fewer obstacles and more possibilities. That is something we should all be proud of. And that is what this election is all about. Thank you very much.
-> Andrew Carnegie “Wealth” – January 20, 1914
Andrew Carnegie reading from his book, “Wealth”, published in 1889
Edison Motion Picture Film Studio, Bronx, NY
January 20, 1914
Record format: Edison Kinetophone Cylinder
(00:00 – 01:19)
“I quote from the Gospel of Wealth published twenty-five years ago. This then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth:
First: to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community – the man of wealth thus becoming the mere trustee and agent for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and ability to administer, (…)” [pp.661-662]
(01:20 – 1:56)
“Those who would administer wisely must, indeed be wise, for one of the serious obstacles to the improvement of our race is indiscriminate charity. It were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown into the sea than so spent as to encourage the slothful, the drunken, the unworthy. (…)” [p. 662]
(01:57 – 02:30)
“In bestowing charity, the main consideration should be to help those who help themselves; to provide part of the means by which those who desire to improve may do so; to give to those who (…) desire to rise the aids by which they may rise; to assist, but rarely or never to do all. (…)” [p. 663]
(02:30 – 02:59)
“He is the only true reformer who is as careful and as anxious not to aid the unworthy as he is to lead the worthy, and, perhaps even more so, for in alms-giving more injury is may be done by promoting vice than by relieving virtue. (…)” [p. 663]
(02:59 – 04:14)
“Thus is the problem of the Rich and Poor to be solved. The laws of accumulation should be left free; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will continue, but the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; entrusted for a season with a part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done of itself. The best in minds will thus have reached a stage in the development of the race in which it is clearly seen that there is no mode of disposing of surplus wealth creditable to thoughtful and earnest men into whose hands it flows save by using it year by year for the general good. This day already dawns. (…)” [pp. 663 – 664]
(04:15 – 05:57)
“Men may die without incurring the pity of their fellows, (…) sharers in great business enterprises from which their capital cannot be or has not been withdrawn, (…) which is left entirely at death for public uses, yet the day is not far distant when the man who dies leaving behind him millions of available wealth, which was free for him to administer during life, will pass away “unwept, unhonored, and unsung,” no matter to what use he leaves the dross which he cannot take with him. Of such as these the public verdict will then be: “The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced. Such, in my opinion is the true gospel concerning Wealth, obedience to which is destined someday to solve the problems of the Rich and the Poor, to hasten the coming brotherhood of man, and at last to make our earth a heaven.” [p. 664]
Read “Wealth” by Andrew Carnegie -> Cornell University Archives
Testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities – August 3, 1948
Almost exactly 9 years ago-that is, 2 days after Hitler and Stalin signed their pact-I went to Washington and reported to the authorities what I knew about the infiltration of the United States Government by Communists. For years international communism, of which the United States Communist Party is an integral part, had been in a state of undeclared war with this Republic. With the Hitler-Stalin pact, that war reached a new stage. I regarded my action in going to the Government as a simple act of war, like the shooting of an armed enemy in combat. At that moment in history, I was one of the few men on this side of the battle who could perform this service. I had joined the Communist Party in 1924. No one recruited me. I had become convinced that the society in which we live, western civilization, had reached a crisis, of which the First World War was the military expression, and that it was doomed to collapse or revert to barbarism. I did not understand the causes of the crisis or know what to do about it. But I felt that, as an intelligent man, I must do something. In the writings of Karl Marx I thought that I had found the explanation of the historical and economic causes. In the writings of Lenin I thought I had found the answer to the question, What to do? In 1937 I repudiated Marx’ doctrines and Lenin’s tactics. Experience and the record had convinced me that communism is a form of totalitarianism, that its triumph means slavery to men wherever they fall under its sway, and spiritual night to the human mind and soul. I resolved to break with the Communist Party at whatever risk to my life or other tragedy to myself or my family. Yet, so strong is the hold which the insidious evil of communism secures on its disciples, that I could still say to someone at the time: “I know that I am leaving the winning side for the losing side, but it is better to die on the losing side than to live under communism.” For a year I lived in hiding, sleeping by day and watching through the night with gun or revolver within easy reach. That was what underground communism could do to one man in the peaceful United States in the year 1938. I had sound reason for supposing that the Communists might try to kill me. For a number of years I had myself served in the under-ground, chiefly in Washington, D. C. The heart of my report to the United States Government consisted of a description of the apparatus to which I was attached. It was an underground organization of the United States Communist Party developed, to the best of my knowledge, by Harold Ware, one of the sons of the Communist leader known as “Mother Bloor.” I knew it at its top level, a group of seven or so men, from among whom in later years certain members of Miss Bentley’s organization were apparently recruited. The head of the underground group at the time I knew it was Nathan Witt, an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board. Later, .Tohn Abt became the leader. Lee Pressman was also a member of this group, as was Alger Hiss, who, as a member of the State Department, later organized the conferences at Dumbarton Oaks, San Francisco, and the United States side of the Yalta Conference. The purpose of this group at that time was not primarily espionage. Its original purpose was the Communist infiltration of the American Government. But espionage was certainly one of its eventual objectives. Let no one be surprised at this statement. Disloyalty is a matter of principle with every member of the Communist Party. The Communist Party exists for the specific purpose of overthrowing the Government; at the opportune time, by any and all means; and each of its members, by the fact that he is a member, is dedicated to this purpose. It is 10 years since I broke away from the Communist Party. During that decade I have sought to live an industrious and God-fearing life. At the same time I have fought communism constantly by act and written word. I am proud to appear before this committee. The publicity inseparable from such testimony has darkened, and will no doubt continue to darken, my effort to integrate myself in the community of free men. But that is a small price to pay if my testimony helps to make Americans recognize at last that they are at grips with a secret, sinister, and enormously powerful force whose tireless purpose is their enslavement. At the same time, I should like, thus publicly, to call upon all ex-Communists who have not yet declared themselves, and all men within the Communist Party whose better instincts have not yet been corrupted and crushed by it, to aid in this struggle while there is still time to do so.
“Easy money with the help of the courts is bound to attract opportunists.” – David Warren Peters, CEO and General Counsel of Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed July 26, 1990 as Public Law 101-336 and became effective on January 26, 1992. The ADA is federal legislation that opens up services and employment opportunities to Americans with disabilities. The law was written to strike a balance between the reasonable accommodation of citizens’ needs and the capacity of private and public entities to respond. It is intended to eliminate illegal discrimination and level the playing field for disabled individuals.
California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse reports, “the Americans with Disabilities Act was meant to increase access for disabled people, but a few unscrupulous personal injury lawyers and professional plaintiffs have made fortunes by targeting businesses for shake down lawsuits. These lawsuits don’t ask for any accessibility improvements to be made, they ask for money to make the lawsuit go away.”
California, along with Hawaii, Illinois and Florida, is a particular hotbed for ADA lawsuits and the law firms that bring them to court. California has one of the largest amount of ADA lawsuits in the country, citing several factors for potential abuse, chief among them two California statutes that provide $1,000 or $4,000 in minimum damages, plus attorney fees, per each successful claimant. Many claimants multiply these damage amounts by the number of conditions they observe at a property. This frequently results in $50,000 or more in damage demands. Some serial claimants will file for damages against dozens of businesses they say they have visited on the same day or for repeated visits to an establishment.
Jarek Molski was disabled in a 1985 motorcycle accident that left him a paraplegic. He has filed 400 lawsuits against businesses under the Americans with Disabilities Act, alleging access violations. He was dubbed a “hit-and-run plaintiff” in 2004 by a federal judge and barred from filing any more lawsuits.
Molski’s attorney, Thomas Frankovich, says his client and the dozen or so serial ADA plaintiffs his firm has represented are activists and crusaders. Frankovich dubbed Molski (who does not have a criminal record) “the sheriff” because “he started going into town to clean it up.” Frankovich says he has filed 223 ADA lawsuits on behalf of Molski. Frankovich says Molski began suing only after his letters to offending businesses were ignored. Says Frankovich: “Letters don’t work. Only the hammer of litigation gets them to do what they need.”
But Frankovich himself is being charged by the state bar of California on three counts of misconduct, stemming from ADA lawsuits he filed on behalf of Molski. One count alleges that Frankovich’s litigation strategy amounted to a “scheme to extort money from defendants.” Says Frankovich of the charge: “It’s an absolute fabrication based on absolutely no supportive facts. Using the fact that he filed 223 lawsuits as evidence of a scheme is absurd. His rights were violated in 223 cases where significant architectural barriers existed.”
Disabled plaintiffs in cases like this will team up with a trial attorney. The disabled person will go out to restaurants and other public facilities to specifically look for access violations. The trial attorney will file a lawsuit on his behalf. The location owner may then be looking at over $100,000 in repair costs and legal fees.
After the suit has been filed, the attorney in league with the disabled person would call up the owner and arrange for a $5000 to $10,000 out of court settlement to make the lawsuit go away. It would often cost much more to fight the lawsuit than to pay the settlement, so the location owner will often pay the money to make the lawsuit go away.
California State Senator Bob Dutton reports that emergency legislation which would have stopped these predatory lawyers from filing frivolous lawsuits against small businesses was killed by Democrats during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on July 5, 2011.
While Dutton’s bill honored the ADA laws already in place, Dutton said, “Senate Bill 783 would have required the owner of a property to be notified of an Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) violation before a lawsuit could be filed.” The property owner would have had 120 days to fix the violation. If the violation(s) was not fixed within the time frame, a lawsuit would then be allowed to move forward.”
Donald Shoenholt and Hy Chabbott, owners of Gillies Coffee Company, had a coffee bean roasting plant on 19th St in New York City. The coffee company was established in 1840. This is the year that Antarctica was discovered by Charles Wilkes, Samuel Morse patented the telegraph and William H. Harrison was elected as President of the United States.
In 2002, a city inspector dropped by on an anonymous tip. The inspector issued a $400 fine for “fugitive odors in an industrial area.” The business was ordered to eliminate all coffee odors in the future.
At the city’s Environmental Control Board administrative hearing, Donald stated, “Research has shown that coffee smells like coffee. There is nothing that can reasonably be done to separate the natural small of already roasted coffee from a coffee business. Under the current interpretation [of the NYC Air Pollution Control Code], shoe stores, barber shops, doctor’s offices and flower shops are all in violation of the law.”
Gillies Coffee Company was convicted of the violation on April 2, 2003, and the company accrued $30,000 in legal bills. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, NYC’s Department of Environmental Protection has also fined pickle companies, bagel bakeries and doughnut shops for air quality violations.
“It’s odd that a company would voluntarily dilute its business in the most populous state in the country simply because it’s being asked to collect what is lawfully owed.” – Mark Hedlund, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
Republican Senator Bob Dutton: Rancho Cucamonga, CA on AB 28X
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on California Affiliate Nexus Sales Tax Law
On June 29, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed CA State Bill AB 28X into law. This law, also known as the California Affiliate Nexus Tax, “imposes a tax on retailers… from the sale of tangible personal property sold at retail in this state.” The law specifically includes Internet activity performed by a person who is in the State of California.
Brown signed the measure into law as part of his plan to reduce the state’s budget gap. The California State Board of Equalization expects to increase government revenue by $200 million a year. Brown and some lawmakers responded to critics by saying the measure levels the playing field for California’s brick-and-mortar retailers, which are required to collect sales taxes.
Amazon.com, Overstock.com and other online retailers responded to this new law by terminating all relationships with all affiliates who work in California.
An official letter sent by Amazon to its California affiliates stated:
“We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive… Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue.”
Other states that have passed the so-called “Amazon tax” in recent years include Connecticut, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, Arkansas and Rhode Island. Amazon has dropped the affiliate program in all these states, except New York, where it has filed a lawsuit against the state.
The business environment is an always changing obstacle course. Experienced business leaders, and, in this case, successful Amazon affiliates have already reacted to this government created problem. Instead of getting mad or breaking the law, they simply closed their businesses in California and relocated to a more business friendly state, like Texas, Nevada or Arizona.
As a result of this new tax law, California-based online entrepreneur, Nick Loper, relocated to Nevada. Loper has been quoted to say that 70 other affiliates had already left.
Another online entrepreneur, Erica Douglass, posted a mock “It’s Over” letter to California on her blog. Douglass, who sold an internet company she had built for $1.1 million in 2007 when she was just 26, cited multiple reasons for moving to Austin, Texas. Among them were unnecessary paperwork requirements mandated by the state and high taxes. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was Brown signing the Amazon Tax into law.
On September 15, 2011, Hillsdale College, located in Hillsdale, Michigan, will hold its 2nd annual Constitution Day Celebration featuring US Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, members of the Hillsdale College faculty, and other distinguished guests.
The video from this event will become available for free over the following 6 weeks.
Instructions / Video Archives -> http://constitution.hillsdale.edu/
** Video streaming works best in Internet Explorer **
Week 2: Constitution Day Celebration Webcast
Week 3: “Introduction to the Constitution,” Opening Session
Week 4: “Introduction to the Constitution,” Lecture 1
Week 5: “Introduction to the Constitution,” Lecture 2
Week 6: “Introduction to the Constitution,” Concluding Session
Free US Constitution Videos – Hillsdale College
** You do not have to register. Just click on the Video links listed below **
** Video streaming works best in Internet Explorer **
Released September 15, 2011
Introductory Remarks (30 minutes)
Larry P. Arnn
President, Hillsdale College
“The Rule of Law and America’s Future” (30 minutes)
The Honorable Paul Ryan
U.S. Representative, First District of Wisconsin
Panel Discussion: “American Federalism in Theory and Practice” (90 minutes)
“National Security and the Constitution in the Obama Administration” (165 minutes)
The Honorable Michael Mukasey
Former U.S. Attorney General
“Why We Celebrate Constitution Day” (70 minutes)
FOX News Contributor
Disclosure: StoriesofUSA.com is not affiliated with Hillsdale College or the Free US Constitution Course that it provides. We are simply trying to make it easier to find and view these videos.
There’s a reason al Qaeda operatives targeted the U.S. on 9/11 and not, say, Buenos Aires. They wanted to enrich their act of evil with the gravitas of American exceptionalism. They wanted to steal our thunder. – Shelby Steele
10th Anniversary of September 11 Tribute Video
The authors of StoriesofUSA.com Shall Never Forget!
September 11, 2011
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center (WTC), and a large section of the Pentagon in Washington, DC were destroyed in coordinated attacks plotted by the al Qaeda terror network under the command of Osama bin Laden. The passengers of Flight 93, possibly headed for the White House, overtook the terrorists and crashed the plane into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
America’s Global War on Terror: Afghanistan (October 7, 2001 – Present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and the Afghan United Front (Northern Alliance), launched Operation Enduring Freedom, invading the country, in response to the September 11 attacks on the United States, with the stated goal of dismantling the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and ending its use of Afghanistan as a base. The United States also said that it would remove the Taliban regime from power and create a viable democratic state.
On September 18, 2005, Afghanistan held parliamentary and provincial council elections. There have been several elections since. Although these elections have been marred with violence and corruption, the Afghan people are in charge of their own destiny.
America’s Global War on Terror: Iraq (March 19, 2003 – Present)
The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 led to an occupation and the eventual capture of President Saddam Hussein, who was later tried in an Iraqi court of law and executed by the new Iraqi government on December 30, 2006. As with any new change in power, it is not a perfect transition. However, Iraq is relatively stable and governing itself without being a threat to its neighbors.
FBI 22 Most Wanted Terrorists List 2001 Status
Person – Wanted For – Status
Imad Mughniyah – TWA Flight 847 – Deceased
Hassan Izz-Al-Din – TWA Flight 847 – At Large
Ali Atwa – TWA Flight 847 – At Large
Abdul Rahman Yasin – 1993 WTC Bombing – At Large
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – Bojinka Plot – Captured
Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mughassil – Khobar Towers Bombing – At Large
Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie – Khobar Towers Bombing – At Large
Ibrahim Salih Mohammed Al-Yacoub – Khobar Towers Bombing – At Large
Abdelkarim Hussein Mohamed Al-Nasser – Khobar Towers Bombing – At Large
Mohammed Atef – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Deceased
Osama bin Laden – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Deceased
Ayman Al-Zawahiri – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – At Large
Fazul Abdullah Mohammed – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Deceased
Mustafa Mohamed Fadhil – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Captured
Fahid Mohammed Ally Msalam – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Deceased
Ahmed Ghailani – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Captured
Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Deceased
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – At Large
Anas Al-Liby – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – At Large
Saif Al-Adel – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – At Large
Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – At Large
Mushin Musa Matwalli Atwah – 1998 US Embassy Bombings – Deceased
Arab Spring (الثورات العربية)
The Arab Spring is a series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa. It was sparked by the first protests that occurred in Tunisia on December 18, 2010 following Mohamed Bouazizi’s setting himself on fire in protest of police corruption and ill treatment. Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype have been instrumental tools for communication and organization.
Egypt, Libya, Tunisia,
Protests and Governmental Changes:
Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Syria, Yemen
Algeria, Gaza Strip, Iraq, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, West Bank, Western Sahara
Some say that we deserved to be attacked on September 11, 2001. Others say that al Qaeda awoke a sleeping giant that will not rest until its job of restoring order has been completed. Regardless of your opinion of the Global War on Terror, it has had a lasting impact on the political landscape of the world. Afghanistan and Iraq have become countries in which the general populations are in charge of their own destinies. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are dead. The governments of Eqypt, Libya and Tunisia have been overthrown and replaced. Prior to September 11, 2001, the Middle East was regarded as a monolithic cesspool of terrorism, corruption and violence. And especially now that the Arab Spring has taken place, the entire Middle East and North Africa are in a period of major political upheaval and change. What will be the result of all this? It is too early to tell. But it can be stated clearly that the United States of America has had a major influence in Middle East politics since September 11, 2001.
By SHELBY STEELE – Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a hundred times: President Obama is destroying the country. Some say this destructiveness is intended; most say it is inadvertent, an outgrowth of inexperience, ideological wrong-headedness and an oddly undefined character. Indeed, on the matter of Mr. Obama’s character, today’s left now sounds like the right of three years ago. They have begun to see through the man and are surprised at how little is there.
Yet there is something more than inexperience or lack of character that defines this presidency: Mr. Obama came of age in a bubble of post-’60s liberalism that conditioned him to be an adversary of American exceptionalism. In this liberalism America’s exceptional status in the world follows from a bargain with the devil—an indulgence in militarism, racism, sexism, corporate greed, and environmental disregard as the means to a broad economic, military, and even cultural supremacy in the world. And therefore America’s greatness is as much the fruit of evil as of a devotion to freedom.
Mr. Obama did not explicitly run on an anti-exceptionalism platform. Yet once he was elected it became clear that his idea of how and where to apply presidential power was shaped precisely by this brand of liberalism. There was his devotion to big government, his passion for redistribution, and his scolding and scapegoating of Wall Street—as if his mandate was somehow to overcome, or at least subdue, American capitalism itself.
Anti-exceptionalism has clearly shaped his “leading from behind” profile abroad—an offer of self-effacement to offset the presumed American evil of swaggering cowboyism. Once in office his “hope and change” campaign slogan came to look like the “hope” of overcoming American exceptionalism and “change” away from it.
So, in Mr. Obama, America gained a president with ambivalence, if not some antipathy, toward the singular greatness of the nation he had been elected to lead.
But then again, the American people did elect him. Clearly Americans were looking for a new kind of exceptionalism in him (a black president would show America to have achieved near perfect social mobility). But were they also looking for—in Mr. Obama—an assault on America’s bedrock exceptionalism of military, economic and cultural pre-eminence?
American exceptionalism is, among other things, the result of a difficult rigor: the use of individual initiative as the engine of development within a society that strives to ensure individual freedom through the rule of law. Over time a society like this will become great. This is how—despite all our flagrant shortcomings and self-betrayals—America evolved into an exceptional nation.
Yet today America is fighting in a number of Muslim countries, and that number is as likely to rise as to fall. Our exceptionalism saddles us with overwhelming burdens. The entire world comes to our door when there is real trouble, and every day we spill blood and treasure in foreign lands—even as anti-Americanism plays around the world like a hit record.
At home the values that made us exceptional have been smeared with derision. Individual initiative and individual responsibility—the very engines of our exceptionalism—now carry a stigma of hypocrisy. For centuries America made sure that no amount of initiative would lift minorities and women. So in liberal quarters today—where historical shames are made to define the present—these values are seen as little more than the cynical remnants of a bygone era. Talk of “merit” or “a competition of excellence” in the admissions office of any Ivy League university today, and then stand by for the howls of incredulous laughter.
Our national exceptionalism both burdens and defames us, yet it remains our fate. We make others anxious, envious, resentful, admiring and sometimes hate-driven. There’s a reason al Qaeda operatives targeted the U.S. on 9/11 and not, say, Buenos Aires. They wanted to enrich their act of evil with the gravitas of American exceptionalism. They wanted to steal our thunder.
So we Americans cannot help but feel some ambivalence toward our singularity in the world—with its draining entanglements abroad, the selfless demands it makes on both our military and our taxpayers, and all the false charges of imperial hubris it incurs. Therefore it is not surprising that America developed a liberalism—a political left—that took issue with our exceptionalism. It is a left that has no more fervent mission than to recast our greatness as the product of racism, imperialism and unbridled capitalism.
But this leaves the left mired in an absurdity: It seeks to trade the burdens of greatness for the relief of mediocrity. When greatness fades, when a nation contracts to a middling place in the world, then the world in fact no longer knocks on its door. (Think of England or France after empire.) To civilize America, to redeem the nation from its supposed avarice and hubris, the American left effectively makes a virtue of decline—as if we can redeem America only by making her indistinguishable from lesser nations.
Since the ’60s we have enfeebled our public education system even as our wealth has expanded. Moral and cultural relativism now obscure individual responsibility. We are uninspired in the wars we fight, calculating our withdrawal even before we begin—and then we fight with a self-conscious, almost bureaucratic minimalism that makes the wars interminable.
America seems to be facing a pivotal moment: Do we move ahead by advancing or by receding—by reaffirming the values that made us exceptional or by letting go of those values, so that a creeping mediocrity begins to spare us the burdens of greatness?
As a president, Barack Obama has been a force for mediocrity. He has banked more on the hopeless interventions of government than on the exceptionalism of the people. His greatest weakness as a president is a limp confidence in his countrymen. He is afraid to ask difficult things of them.
Like me, he is black, and it was the government that in part saved us from the ignorances of the people. So the concept of the exceptionalism—the genius for freedom—of the American people may still be a stretch for him. But in fact he was elected to make that stretch. It should be held against him that he has failed to do so.