I saw something, and heard something on the way in that I think confirms what we have been experiencing in the course of the last several weeks. It's something that I've seen in response to the message that I've been articulating at some of the Republican gatherings around the country. It's what encouraged me, in fact, to finally throw my hat into the Presidential race, in spite of, what had been throughout, I'll have to confess to you, my own reluctance to believe, that that was something I was called to do. But I finally decided it was because it appears to be the case that the people of this country have reached an important moment.
It is a moment of recognition -- a moment of recognition that we're probably helped to by Bill Clinton of all people. I tell people I actually think that after the '96 election is over and we have defeated Bill Clinton -- as he certainly deserves to be defeated -- I actually think we all ought to get together and we ought hold a testimonial dinner to Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton for the great contribution they have made to the success of conservatives and Republicans in America.
For all our talk -- for all the things we've tried to tell them over the years -- for all the arguments that we have had and debates we've had in Legislatures -- we were never able to get it across to the American people in terms of what was portended by the liberal philosophy. We tried to tell them what they really represented, and so many people still stood back and said, "No, they're Americans just like us. They have the same values we do. They're just as conservative. They go to work every day, in their coats and ties. They look the way we do and talk the way we do and act the way we do and we can elect them and be safe."
And then they elected Bill Clinton and they found out otherwise. They found out that Joycelyn Elders does not think the way they do. They found out that Donna Shalala does not think the way we do. They found out that Bill Clinton does not think the way we do. He doesn't think the way we do about our families. He doesn't think the way we do about our responsibilities. He doesn't think the way we do about our freedom, and for that reason we are going to tell him in 1996 that he can go home! We want America back!
That's the message, I think, that people sent loud and clear in November. But you know what I was going to tell you about was the poll that came out today. I'm sure some of you have heard about it. Because I have been going around trying to impress on folks what I believe to be the case. That we have finally got to start addressing the real issues in America. We have finally got to stop fooling ourselves with the thought that the richest nation in the earth -- the most prosperous nation, probably, in the history of the world -- suffers from all of these money difficulties, and money problems, and what we have to sit around and debate about is the money every moment of the day.
We know better. What we really have in this country is the consequences of a moral breakdown, begun in the 1960s, that has continued for several decades, and that has to be stopped before this country is destroyed. But we must realize -- but you know, I know that there are people, who after I gave my speech in New Hampshire, and in South Carolina, and elsewhere -- they been going around saying, "It's all well and good. He's so eloquent, and all that. He sounds really good, but this morality stuff, you know, how is it going to really address the problems with the country? We have to be practical. We have to go it there and we have to govern in a practical fashion, right? Because the problems that we face are problems of economics and jobs and the marketplace and so forth, and so on, and what's all this moral rhetoric got to do with that?"
Well at least according to the little poll that came out today -- that actually confirms other things that I've seen over time since November -- when they ask the American people which they though were the most important issues facing us today -- they took this little poll -- now I don't want to give too much credence to these polls, you understand this -- but when one of comes a little close to the mark I might as well mention it. And in this particular case, they asked the American people, "Is it foreign policy? Is it economics? Is it social or moral issues?" You know what they say.
Sixty-one percent said that the major problems facing this country today are the social and moral issues, and I think that sixty-one percent in that poll sample have finally put their finger on the problem. What do you say? We have a problem. Because, if you really want to address those issues, it seems like there are a lot of folks who feel like there are dangers involved, but maybe the risks are too great. And they tell us that we are going to somehow or another divide the Republican party and destroy our prospects for electoral victory in 1996.
Now, I don't know about you, but I look back on the last several years and I see several lessons to be drawn from Republican victories and defeats. I look at the election of 1980 and the election of 1984, and I see a President of the United States who stood up and said -- when all the liberals and all the pundits, and all the media people thought was terrible and unpopular and too blunt and too extreme -- he declared that the Soviet Union and all their ilk were an evil empire, and that we had to be committed, on moral grounds, to defeating that evil. And he led this country to the defeat of the International Communist Empire, when nobody thought it was possible!
And when they told him in the polls, and in the editorials of the Washington Post, that he should back off, and shut up, because it was too controversial, he kept his ground. He stood his ground, and he led this country to victory. He did not compromise his principles!
When we stood up and forthrightly declared the choices we offered to the American people, did we win or lose? As I recall we won. When we stood up and forthrightly declared the alternative that we as Republicans offered to the American people in 1984, did we win or lose? As I recall we won. When we stood up in 1988, and forthrightly declared, before the American people, the successful alternative that we had offered to the American people in eight years of government that stood up on principle, did we win or lose? We won.
Well then I want to ask you -- when we finally decided that we were more confused than certain -- when we finally decided that we didn't know any longer what our agenda was -- when we finally decided that the day had come for compromise and double-talk and retreat from the principles of the Republican party -- when we finally retreated from conservatism -- when we finally decided that we would be pragmatic -- when we finally decided that we would no longer stand forthrightly for the alternatives that were best for this country -- you tell me whether we won or lost! Because I think I remember.
And now we have all those folks who look back at the '92 convention and tell us, that those people who stood forthrightly for the values of family, and faith, who've stood forthrightly for presenting to the American people an alternative that would not compromise on the basic issues of principle. They're trying to tell us that that's why we lost. But I think we remember otherwise. I think we remember that we had offered the American people a great shield in defense of the taxpayer.
And when we decided that we would compromise with a Democrat majority that wanted to tear down that shield, and dig deeper into the pockets of America's working people. I think that the American people remembered our promises, and remembered our failures, and decided to send us home. That's the lesson I draw from 1992. And I see the election of 1994, and Bill Clinton, having finally shown to the American people what the Democrat party really stands for.
And I see people across the United States standing up in their congressional districts -- some of them with no background, nor experience in politics -- many of them standing forthrightly on the great moral principles of this party -- many of them standing forthrightly for defense of the family, the marriage-based two-parent family -- many of them standing forthrightly for the principles that we must defend the rights of the unborn -- many of them standing for the notion that we must address the moral conscience of this country!
And in 1994, whether we had people who had the courage to stand for what was right, whether they had bucks in the bank or not, whether they had the chances or the prospects or not, whether they had the poll numbers or not -- they stood before the people of their districts and, one after another, they marched to victory in 1994 until the pundits, and the journalists and the liberals were proven wrong and we took over this Congress of the United States.
And we look back on that record, and I want you to consult with yourselves, because we're being told many things these days. These folks keep asking me, every time I turn around I have some journalist asking me, "Where are you going to get the twenty million dollars, the forty million dollars, the fifty million dollars, the eighty-five hundred million dollars that is required these days to run for President of the United States?" Does it bother you a little bit, that they have decided that the office of the Presidency is an office to be bargained and bought and sold on the auction block in a marketplace, as it were, not of ideas and values, but the simple bartered marketplace of dollars and cents?
Is that true? Is it really true that we have reached the point that the only thing we can hope for in this country is the best President money can buy? Because, I have a feeling that a lot of those candidates didn't have much money in the bank, who stood forthrightly for Republican principles, and the courage and the loyalty to the values of the American people that no money can buy. I have a feeling that that courage and that spirit and that loyalty hark back to many other Americans -- who fought on battlefields in Korea and the First World War and the Second World War - Americans who marched to their certain death during the Civil War and who understood that there are certain things that money cannot buy. There are certain things money cannot sell. There are certain things money cannot influence.
And that when you think about it, those are the things that make us one nation, one people under God. They are the values and the principles of justice and injustice -- of right and wrong -- that bind us together as a nation. And I think we've reached a time, when it has become seriously practical for us to look at how those principles have been applied and misapplied in our day.
And one great area where they have been misapplied, in my opinion, is the Supreme Court's decision on abortion. I think that it's quite clear that somewhere along the line, they succumbed to those liberal premises that said, "There really is no God. There is no morality. Everything is relative." At the end of the day, we only have one criterion for everything we do and that is the choice, the arbitrary whim of individual wills. And that arbitrary will -- and that choice -- that is our great god now, is it?
But I think that if we take that road, that we fail to appreciate what our founders set down at the beginning. A very simple logic it was. We have our rights and our freedoms as an endowment from God. Out of respect for the authority of God, no government, no power on earth, no individual, has the right to violate the individual rights and dignity of any human being.
Some people say -- the journalists are always out there and the pundits are out there saying, "oh, so what? You restate the principles of the Declaration. What does that matter to us? We've got practical problems to attend to." They don't understand what relationship this could possibly have to welfare reform, and crime in the streets, and education in our schools. They don't understand this.
But I think you and I do understand. We understand that when you corrupt the basic concepts of freedom -- when instead of freedom meaning that we live with respect for, and under the rule of law -- acknowledging the limits on choice which we must respect if we are to retain our freedom.
When you define it instead as a licentious disregard for the rights of others -- a licentious disregard for the requirements of the laws of nature and nature's god -- then you have defined it in such a way that its exercise must destroy itself and this Republic. You have defined it in such a way that that selfish disregard for the rights of others -- for our commitment and obligation to others -- must undermine our family ties and destroy the commitment of spouse to spouse and parents to their children.
You understand that it must undermine the commitment to decent law and order, and therefore, that it will spawn violence and mayhem in the streets. You understand that it must undermine the concept of citizenship that should be the foundation for all education in this free Republic, but has been removed from our schools, as values-free education removed all values and value from our educational system.
You understand that if we forget to require basic principles we have not just made some abstract retreat from principle, we have retreated from the heart and soul of everything on which our institutions are based -- on which our character is formed.
And that has practical consequences. How are you going to reform the welfare system when you never think about the moral alternatives? If you never think that the real objective is to reinstate the marriage-based two- parent family.
I keep watching this discussion. All they want to do is talk about putting mothers back to work, and so forth, and so on. I am all in favor of people working. You know this. I fought hard to get rid of this awful, wasteful, family-destroying welfare system.
But, I'll tell you something. I'm deeply suspicious of a discussion that's taking place today. We've spent thirty or forty years taking fathers out of the home, didn't we? We wrote those regulations. I'm sure everybody had some good purpose and intention at heart. I'm sure they did. They wanted, I guess, to keep the fathers from mooching off women who got welfare checks, and so forth, and so on.
But, as it turned out, all those good intentions resulted in destroying the father's role in the family and discouraging marriage, and facilitating illegitimate births. And now we come along, and we're going to reform the system, and all they want to talk about is putting women to work in the workplace.
And I say to myself, "That's all well and good." But when I think about it -- you spend thirty years driving the father out of the home -- then you rewrite the regs in such a way as to put the mother in the workplace -- somebody tell me who's going to take care of the kids?
It seems to me that our first step was to marry the women to the government, and now our second step will be to surrender the children to the government, and our third step will be to surrender our freedom to the government because we won't have any left.
Whether it's in welfare reform or in our educational system as we drive from the curriculum, this sex education curriculum that is actually teaching our children sexual irresponsibility, and destroying their ability to make and meet their commitments in married life.
I think that it's time that we establish, as the number one priority and objective of everything that we do in this society, the re-establishment of the two-parent marriage-based family. Its destruction is at the root of all our problems. Its re-establishment will be the root of all our solutions.
And I think you know that I could go on and on. And I will in the course of the next weeks and months. But there's something that I have to say to all of you. And I think it's something important and relevant. I don't want to say it in too-pointed a fashion, but I am going to say it anyway. Because I believe all of us have a responsibility.
I'm fond of telling people that you never win an argument you don't make. So one of the reasons I think all these people tell us that they are pro-life in their hearts, and pro-life in the back room, but who refuse to be pro-life on the public platform with debate and discussion in this country -- we need to tell them that we don't have time for silence on the issues when the American people need persuading!
I also think that if you never win an argument you don't make, how can you ever expect that you're going to find a winning candidate -- a candidate who stands for what you believe -- who stands on the right side of the issues -- when you are so busy looking to see if they'll win that you no longer care if they're right?
Don't you think it's about time that we decided to make that leap of faith that was made when this country was founded? When they held the banner up and said, "this is the banner of human freedom." And they looked at the long sweep of history and there was nothing in that history to confirm that people could govern themselves.
As a matter of fact, all the philosophers, and all the pundits, and all the experts stood against this great American experiment. They said that a people could not govern themselves -- that kings, and princes, and tyrants, and despots were the only people fit to govern.
But they made a leap of faith, and they moved ahead. They didn't know if they would win or lose. They only knew that they had seen the right and they would stand for that right.
And as we moved ahead in the history of this country, to the Civil War, and the Civil Rights movement, there were courageous hearts who were told at every junction that it was too soon, that it was wrong, that it was premature, that they could not win the battle against injustice.
And yet they stood up not knowing what the outcome would be -- not knowing whether they would win or lose -- be victors or defeated -- only knowing in their hearts that they stood beneath the banner of God and His righteousness, and that He would make them whole, and they'd move ahead.
That is the spirit that built this country. That's the spirit that built America. And yet in the back rooms of our politics, we are told that we cannot choose the right, that we can only choose the winner. But I'll tell you -- if enough Americans are willing to raise this banner upright in their homes, and in their businesses, and in their churches, and in their schools, then I'll tell you what we have seen time and again in American history.
That when we have the courage to stand where we belong, it turns out that that is the place of victory. That is what I intend to do. I intend to stand firmly on the logic of the Declaration, because I don't know where else to go. It is the logic, in the end, that allows me to stand before you today, and some people wonder why I always talk about it.
I always talk about it because my people were not always a free people. And I know there are those fools who also look back in our history, and say, "Well the founding fathers had slaves. That means that they were awful people." And I say to myself, "Yes, the founders had slaves, but, you know, in spite of all that, in their hearts, they could still recognize the right and justice that God had writ' upon their being. They could still set it up as the great standard of this nation that we would have to live or fall by -- that we would have to strive in every generation to achieve.
And because they set it up, people moved forward, and they fought to make that banner against injustice -- until the slaves were free -- until the free were made citizens -- until the citizens were made strong and bold. And I wouldn't be standing here before you today if the conscience of America had not been shaped by the great logic of the Declaration that human rights come from God, and out of love of God, and respect for His law, we cannot stand the violation of those rights.
Not in the plantations and the cotton fields. And not in the abortion mills and clinics of our time. We must stand for the Declaration! We must stand for its principles! We must stand for the right! And it's in that spirit that our party, the Republican party was born.
And it's in that spirit that I believe that we, as Republicans, should go forward today. So I'm going to raise that banner. It is the banner by which my people won their freedom. It's the banner by which this country shall preserve its liberty.
And what we have to do today, I say, is cease to calculate the efforts -- cease to look at the bank accounts -- cease to look at the polls -- look only in the direction of that clear statement of principle -- and make it known to everyone, that come what may, we shall walk forward into the future determined to preserve for our children, and our children's children, to all the generations that God allows us, the freedom and the dignity promised by that great Declaration of rights.
We are the people shaped by it. And I think if we are loyal to it, and if we live in fear and loyalty to the God whom it declares to be the source of our freedom, that we shall be true to our heritage, and in that truth, we shall preserve, as we are supposed to, the blessings of liberty.
When we say all those words, every now and again there comes a time to decide whether we mean them. For some, it's on the battlefields of war. For us, it is on the quieter, but still decisive battlefields of politics.
And I would appeal to each of you in your conscience to decide, in this election year, where you will stand. Where those stand who they say are the winners, but who will win by abandoning, in silence and indifference, the principles of our party. But by those to whom they give no chance, who stand by the principles that have given America its chance and its greatness.
Will you stand with me to raise that banner? And come what may, to see it flying in this election year. Because, I believe that there are enough decent hearts in America -- enough parents raising their children -- enough people who wish to restore the integrity of our standards to make that banner victorious.
And, I hope that each and every one of you will decide in you hearts, and close your eyes, and put out your hand and trust as our founders did in the divine providence of God. And to move forward, come what may, so that, at least in this we will be certain, that whether we have won or lost, we have fought to make America the winner.