Never a day goes by that another commentator does not fill our ears with prophesies of doom and gloom for the future of our nation and our party. They look at the mess we’re in and just throw their hands in the air and say “I guess the government’s going to have to bail us out.” They look at the election returns and say that change has come, and by change, they mean a future without a conservative Republican Party. However, I stand before you today to declare a timeless truth: there is nothing new under the sun.
Prophecies of the demise of the United States have been heard many times before. We’ve been told that capitalism and democracy were things of the past by many people and nations who are no longer around for us to tell them “I told you so.” The Republican Party has died multiple times throughout its long history, yet we are still here standing strong for the principles that have made this nation prosper and endure.
We call ourselves conservatives because we believe in preserving the principles that this nation was founded upon. Those principles were once called liberalism, but our friends on the left have the proud distinction of being one of the earliest perpetrators of identity theft when they began to call themselves liberals. A true liberal is someone who believes in liberty, and today’s liberals simply do not stand for liberty in America.
Our conservative liberal principles have not changed since the founding because they are timeless treasures of wisdom. We must change our policy positions regularly to further the cause of liberty but our principles and our goals remain the same. This nation was founded as a place where men of all races and backgrounds could come and live independent lives safe from the arbitrary edicts of unrepresentative governments and the oppressive conformity of a state controlled religion and press. This republic was designed to be a unique place in the world where all men could be safe, independent, and free.
As conservatives, this is our goal. It is our credo and our faith. We believe in doing everything possible to keep our people safe from all threats foreign and domestic. We believe in fostering an independent existence for our fellow citizens where no one is dependent on the government for his food or his rights. We believe in protecting the freedom of our fellow citizens to speak, write, and believe what they wish without being subject to official (or unofficial) ridicule and persecution from the government. This is the intellectual foundation of a Republican.
This message has been lost over the years as we get distracted by crises and misled by tongue-tied leadership. Our message is as quintessential Americana as can be because it goes to the core of what being an American is all about. This is what separates us from our opponents. All they want is to be loved by the world while the American public is dependent and silent. They advertise their agenda as a progression from liberalism, but what they don’t understand is that there is nothing more than freedom.
It is our moral duty as Americans to stand up to expanding government power, stop it, and reverse it. Despite the great wisdom employed by our founders in the creation of our republic, it must be said that there is no righteous government because there are no righteous men. Any expansion of government past the markers of absolute necessity and constitutional limitations is a step towards tyranny and away from freedom. Every dollar taxed away from our people is an injury to our independence, and every dollar spent on wasteful corruption is an insult to our history. We must stand up for sanity in our government today or we will face insanity in our society tomorrow.
The Republican Party must state clearly what it intends to do to make this nation more safe, independent, and free. The policies of the party have changes many times and the platform of 1860 has as little to do with the platform of 1920 as the platform of 1980 should have with the platform of 2010. They key to success is to provide a clear mission to lead this nation forward. With our principles as our foundation we must build a vision of the future with our present realities. We must show the people how they can vote for us with confidence that we will competently lead this nation into the future.
We have proven how we can keep them safe and our leadership has consistently done so for many generations. We cannot give in to the siren song of the current regime that insists that popularity in the world should be the barometer by which we judge our performance. If that were the case, we would still be British. It is extremely foolish to expect our adversaries (or our friends for that matter) to put our best interests first. Only the United States can defend the future of the United States.
It is on the matter of independence where we most differ with our left-leaning friends. No one could possibly doubt the intentions of the current government when they expand their own power. It is their open and notorious intention to make the American public more dependent on the government for their social welfare. If they have their way, a clear majority of the American people will be accepting welfare from them in some way in the very near future. Whether it be Social Security, Medicare, or tax credits, welfare is quickly becoming acceptable and even expected by the public. We must make it clear that government dependency is not the future we have planned for them because we want people to plan their own futures.
Independence requires responsibility of the individual and flexibility of the authorities, but most importantly it requires free choices. People must be able to choose how to provide social benefits for their own families according to their own needs and abilities. This requires that the government adopt a policy of free labor that does not mandate provision of social benefits by the government nor does it favor one provider over another in the tax code. People must be free to choose health and retirement benefits on their own and the Republican Party should be the organization that makes that happen.
Responsible independence only works in a society that is educated and well informed. We must make open education the standard policy across America. Our leaders must speak the truth and tell parents that the current school system is broken and not worthy of their children. There is more to education than the consumption of knowledge, but we should at least get that part right first. The digital revolution has made information cheap, so there is no reason why every child cannot get access to all the necessary knowledge and skills they need to be successful adults.
We should strive for an Internet-based school system where the curriculum is free flowing and much larger than today’s outdated model. Students can read assignments, watch lectures and even interact with university level instructors from across the world with a simple Internet connection. They can also do skill assignments and tests without ever setting foot in a classroom. Schools are only needed to perform hands-on instruction, group activities, and social functions. Create a system where the knowledge system is free to everyone in the United States regardless of age or location, and then we can let parents send their children to whatever school they deem fit for their child’s social development. The knowledge system can provide more information to children in less time and create a secondary education system that could soon outperform the university system.
An independent and educated people must be free to pursue the limits of their dreams and believe in what they choose. Increasing freedom for the people mandates we limit the power of the government in how they spend our money and regulate our activities. The power of the courts has expanded to the point that the rule of law itself is under threat from an unrestrained bench and bar. The rule of law requires that everyone follow the rules of the game as they were previously set and accept the outcome no matter how unjust it may seem at the time. An unjust result simply means that the rules must be changed to affect future scenarios. The Left wants judges that deliver “justice,” but too often justice means the arbitrary enforcement of their political agenda without a political mandate from the people.
The slipping power of the rule of law has brought social divisiveness and legal uncertainty. Whenever a judge declares a new right out of thin air, they have acted arbitrarily and outside the rule of law. It is a judge’s job to reason out what rights mean, not declare new rights based on their own personal sense of what is just in a given situation. That is a nation of men, not a nation of laws as John Adams so famously demanded. The simple answer is to appoint judges that follow the law, but we need constitutional reform to protect the people when we’re not the ones appointing the judges.
The legal uncertainty created by an overzealous plaintiff’s bar has created an increasingly timid and cowed people who are afraid to do anything out of fear of being sued for millions of dollars. The common law of torts in most states is now completely divorced from common sense. It is going to take more than tort reform to fix this. We must demand statutory preemption of the tort laws on damages to remove the distinction between compensatory and punitive damages and create a new standard that divides damages between tangible and intangible. Tangible damages are those that can be measured with certainty and intangible damages are everything else. Allow unlimited tangible damages but cap intangibles at an absolute ceiling. This will provide predictability for insurance carriers and limit legal liability so as to reduce the costs of everything for everybody. The rules would be simple: you can get everything you can prove plus a million bucks. Anything above that is just greedy.
Free labor, open education, and legal reform are just the beginning of a new agenda for the Republican Party and the American people. Our message must be clear and it must be true. We must lead America in a new and optimistic direction where we stand for what is solid and reliable. Our adversaries found their moment in the American story by burning draft cards and bras. We can find our moment by burning our credit cards and demanding an end to the lies of our crass, consumer culture. We can be the party that creates wealth for the people by creating a government that actually pays its bills and lives within its means.
We can and we must continue the American Revolution. We must live the American life. We must be safe, independent, and free.