Speech to the Louisiana Republican Convention
January 27, 1996
Afternoon. It is indeed a privilege and an honor to be here today. And
especially I am thankful and grateful to have the opportunity to introduce an
individual who today needs no introduction.
Many, many today across this great land of ours, but not as many as before, are saying, "Who is this man?" I believe Ambassador Keyes is the man who speaks for the nation. I believe Ambassador Keyes is a man who can express what we feel in our hearts. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that Ambassador Keyes is the moral voice of America today. [applause]
It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, again, Ambassador Alan Keyes. [applause]
Alan Keyes: Thank you. Thank you very much. Praise God. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I've got to tell you it feels good to be back. Any of you here last year when I came? It's been a very interesting, its been a very hectic year for me. I'm glad to see that it has also been a good year for Louisiana. I was reminded of that the other day. I visited with Governor Foster and he is one of that new breed of politicians that is starting to come forward now. We are seeing them at work in the Congress of the United States, in the freshman class of Republicans. It's almost enough to destroy my confidence in my bad opinion of politicians. [laughter]
These are folks who don't understand what is the usual way of doing it. They have gotten elected--they have made it clear what it is they believe in, and then they have actually gotten into office. And when they start to act, they remember what it is they are supposed to believe in, and who it is that they are supposed to represent. [applause]
And the Republican freshman have stood firm against the demagoguery of Bill Clinton, insisting that the taxpayers of the United States are finally going to get some respect from their spendthrift government. [applause]
And Governor Foster is standing firm in insisting that finally we are going to return in this state, as we must return around the country, to the real principles of the civil rights movement--which demanded not special privileges, and quotas, and benefits, but equal justice for all people. [applause]
I have got to say that I am personally pleased, as well, to see that there is great promise for the future, as well, because another man of similar conviction, who I deeply believe will be giving us the same example, Woody Jenkins, has decided to get into the Senate race. [applause]
Now, I've got to tell you, I can't stand up here and claim credit for this, but when I was here last time around and we did have occasion to talk, I encouraged him to do that--and I'm so glad that he is doing it. Looking at the challenges that we are faced with right now, I think there is nothing more important than that we should have men and women of principle--who are willing to stand by those principles--in public office in this country.
I think we have come to a crisis in this nation's history when, in fact, the ability to remember and to articulate the great principles of this nation's heart may be the most important and crucial ability of all. The consequences of forgetting who we are, are before us everywhere we look now. It seems like you can't open the newspaper, or watch television, or see anything, just about, without being reminded of the great crisis that we are in. Not a crisis of war, not a crisis of money, economics, but a crisis that is nonetheless threatening the future of this country.
And you can read that threat in the mirror that is held up to our future, the state and condition of our young generations. When you have fourteen-year-olds raping ten-year-olds and fifteen-year-olds killing seventeen-year-olds, when you have kids, as a survey showed recently, going to their school not as if they were going to learn but as if they were going to war--then you know that there is something going awfully wrong. You know a society has got to wake up when it is looking into the face of its future and seeing generations that are now bent, it seems, on self-destruction. And why? Bent on self-destruction because, I believe, that they are no longer getting the courageous leadership, the guidance, the council, the discipline, the sense of principle, and standards that they ought to get from the generation that should be their leaders, that should be their guide, that should be their elders in spirit and in truth. [applause]
And nothing represents this more clearly, than the President we have sitting in the White House today. A President who has taken the lead, along with his wife, Hillary, in standing for everything that tears down the traditional heart, the traditional values, the traditional strength of this nation's life. [applause]
From the moment he got into office, he stood up to champion those causes that will destroy the sense of moral and sexual responsibility and tear down our family lives, to promote gay rights and condom distribution and everything that he could think of to exemplify, before the American people, that licentious concept of freedom that is in fact destroying our nation. [applause]
He stands with those people, as I have often said, these folks like Bill Clinton, they stand before you with an offer that you really have to think hard about. On the one hand, they want to give you the condoms, and on the other hand, they want to take away your guns. Now I want you to think about what this means. [laughter]
There is a serious point in all of this. At the heart of the condom distribution mentality is the same attitude that is at the heart of the gun control mentality. They look at you, and they say, "You are not capable of freedom. You cannot control your sexual passions. Here is a mechanical device that will keep you from suffering the consequences of your licentiousness. You cannot control your violent passions, therefore we can't trust you with these dangerous weapons. The government will have to take them away." In both instances, that mentality is based on the same thought that we are no longer a people capable of self-control, capable of self-discipline, capable of self-government, which is supposed to be the end and aim of this nation's life. [applause]
I believe that in the election to come what we have to do as a people is stand up and with one voice, and one heart, and all our votes, reject that doctrine which says that we are no longer to be a free people. We must reclaim our position under the Declaration and under the Constitution of this country. But we have also got to understand that if we are going to do it, it is going to require more than words, because freedom is not an easy discipline. If we want to remain a free people, then we are going to have to accept, again, the clear understanding of the foundations of freedom. And those foundations set fourth when this nation started have not changed. Some people want us to forget them. Some people are embarrassed to remember them. But they are still the same, and we ignore them at our peril.
When the Founders started out in this country, they put those great words in the Declaration--remember them, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights." And when we hear those words, a lot of people think that that means that this government is based on rights. And they have gotten it partially right, but they don't see to the heart of it. Because what that statement says, what it makes clear as the first principle of America's existence, is not that we have rights, but that there is a God who created us, and who, in that creation, endowed us with those rights. [applause]
And when I say that, there are some people--there may even be some people in this crowd--who will accuse me of bringing religion into politics. I did not write the Declaration. The Declaration was written by the Founders of this country. It was hallowed in the blood of the patriots that fought the Revolution. It is steeped in the blood of those who have fought on every battlefield and in every war in order to vindicate those ideals. And when we return to our nation's principles, we are returning, we must return, to that understanding of our freedom which sees us standing on the common ground of that transcendent authority from which that freedom comes. [applause]
So I'll tell you outright. I'll tell you outright. The first principle of a Keyes administration--it will apply in foreign policy, it will apply in domestic policy, it will apply everywhere. There is a God, and we are not him! [applause]
I will not join the Clinton Democrats who worship government as their god! I will not join the Dole Republicans who worship power as their god! I will not join the Forbes Republicans who worship money as their god! I will stand where the Founders of this nation stood, and I will give my respect and allegiance to the Creator, God, who is the ground of justice, and who is the ground of all our human rights!" (extended applause)
And He is clear. If that is where we stand, then some things are pretty clear. When they come to us in the abortion doctrine, and they say that they will substitute the woman's choice for God's choice in determining the humanity of an unborn child, I will look them in the eye, and I will say, "You stand with that false god of choice, I will stand with the God of justice!" [applause]
When they come to me and they say that they want to substitute the power of government, and government money, and government programs for the power of that natural institution God ordained for human beings to care for one another, I will say, "You stand with the bureaucrats, I will stand with the family! [applause]
And it is time we begin that stance. A lot of folks accuse me of being a preacher. [laughter] I've got to tell you, watching that exchange the other night with Clinton, in his State of the Union Address, and Mr. Dole, there, afterwards--you have got to know something. This guy, Bill Clinton, don't underestimate him. I mean, in 1994 he was just about as politically dead as you get. His corpse was stinking up the political environment so that even his own Democratic colleges did not want to have anything to do with him. And now he is running around just like he is living and breathing in political terms. And the press is out there talking about some sort of comeback for him. And you watch his State of the Union Address the other night, and you have got to marvel. This guy lies! [laughter] But, he lies with passion, though. [laughter] He lies with a certain conviction. He is one of those people who gets up there and he forgets that what he is saying is not true. [laughter] Just long enough to convince you that he really means it.
Now you tell me we have put up against that juicy, passionate, convicted falsehood a bone-dry heartless representative of truth, and you tell me where we are going to end up. It is not going to work. But also that bone-dry presentation, do you know where that comes from? It comes from not remembering what we stand for.
I am not in this battle--just as I did not fight against communism just because communism was bad. I fought against communism because freedom is good. And I don't fight against government spending and government waste and high government regulation and government taxation, as I have done throughout my whole public life, just because I am against government. I stand there because I am for the things that only family can provide. I am for the things that only people in the private sector, in their private businesses, based on their private courage and initiative, can achieve. [applause]
I remember that this is not a debate between the Democrats who care so much that they will spend the government's money, and the Republicans who are out there to get all that money back. See, I don't believe that the American people would want that money back if they thought it was doing any good. The reason we got into this situation in the first place is because the people of this country are decent, good-hearted people. Because you come to them and you say, "There's somebody in need," and they are going to say, "Well, what do I do." And you tell them a whole bunch of falsehoods about how the taxes and the bureaucrats will make that person's life better, and they will reach into their pockets and they will let you take out more, and more, and more.
It was by exploiting the decent conscience of this country that they established this liberal monstrosity in Washington! [applause]
But what we have to remember is that that conscience is still alive. And we can't afford to go before the American people giving the impression we don't care. I care deeply. I care about the children who are dying in the streets. I care about the elderly who may be neglected. But I will tell you I also care deeply about the lies that have been told when people stand up and say a heartless government bureaucracy, through a welfare program that has destroyed families, destroyed the character of children through education that undermines sexual responsibility is the answer to our needs. Because it is not. If we want that answer, then we have got to contrast that impersonal bureaucracy with the real alternative for caring for people.
There is only one institution that lets you care for people the way they should be cared for--which is not with a check, and a handout, and a kiss off from the government. It is with love, and a hand, and a kiss from those who ought to be your stay, your support, your help in this life.
I think we ought to stand before the American people and make it clear that over there you have Bill Clinton offering to continue to send out all those checks that would not be needed if they hadn't have taken the money away in the first place. And he is offering to the elderly a chance to be taken care of by a few digits on a little piece of paper, and a bureaucracy that does not care if you live or die. And what we stand for is doing those things that are necessary to restore the integrity of that institution that will care for the elderly through the love in the eyes of their grandchildren.
It is going to be hard work. But you know, we are not going to do that work if we don't make it our top priority. And this is where I end, because I am finding as I go around the country that lot of people support what I am saying. And I get people all the time saying, "Love your message. Really great message. Keep it in there. You keep that message going," and so forth and so on. But maybe they don't get that message, because the message is very clear. There are people in this race who tell us that money is our top priority. There are people who tell us that trade and foreign policy are our top priority. There are people who have all kinds of things at the top of their list. I think there is only one thing at the top of the list in terms of this nation's top priorities. We must restore the integrity of the marriage-based two parent family, put back together the moral foundations of our most basic institution, or this nation will perish. [applause]
And if you believe that, you have got to understand, nobody in this race has that priority, nobody. Oh, they will put it on their list down at second, or third, or fourth. They will mention it as an afterthought. Some of them even stand against it in their hearts, like I believe that Steven Forbes does, and has written to that affect. But today, because he knows the political reality, he will trot out some words to make you think he is where he belongs. But this is not good enough.
We need to speak from the heart of these issues that matter to the heart of the American people. We must get them moving to save our family institution, and the institution of childhood innocence, and the institution of self-discipline and self-responsibility that go along with it--or you and I both know that we will, before some of us in this room shut our eyes in the sleep of death, see the end of American freedom. Is that what you want? How many elections are you going to waste? How many votes are you going to take before you insist that that which is the nation's greatest danger be made the top priority of the nation's life?
That is the question that my campaign puts before you. It is not just a question about this individual or that individual--because I don't believe that presidential politics is just about standing before people and crowing about what a great guy you are. We have a lot of great people in this race. And we have a great country to save. But I will tell you, we are not going to save it if we fail to understand what comes first. This nation is not suffering from--in the Depression we suffered a money crisis, without a doubt. During the Carter era we faced an international crisis, and we had to find the will and wherewithal to meet it. The crisis we face in this land today--and you know this--is a crisis of the heart and of the character.
We have got to find the wisdom to see it that way, and the courage--even when others tell us it can't win to stand in the right path and insist that this battle be fought and won for the sake of our children and our children's children. We want them, don't we, to grow up in a land where they will know the reality not just the memory of freedom.
But freedom won't last if we don't return to those sound and solid foundations set down by our forebears--a freedom grounded not in what we get, not in what we put in our wallets, not in what some politician will stand up here and promise you that he is going to do for you; a freedom that is grounded, rather, in our claim to dignity and our respect for the almighty will of God from which that dignity comes. Return this nation to those true foundations, and we will walk on strong, on solid, common ground into the better destiny of the next future--standing as we are supposed to stand, as a shining example of what lies ahead in God's hope for this great human race.
Thank you very much.