"Renewing America's Moral Self-Confidence"
June 18, 1999
Good evening. Praise God. Thank
you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Good evening and thank you all for
coming out this evening. Appreciate it.
I hope that before the evening is over you won't, too much, regret coming. No. Well, I say that in all seriousness, because it often occurs to me, especially this spring--we've had such a wonderful spring in many ways. I've been going to different parts of the country, these beautiful days and wonderful weather, and then I have to get up and I give a talk that, well, to say the least, it's not a "sunshiny" talk. And that's because, in spite of the wonderful weather, I have to tell you, I don't think that the climate in this country is, right now, one that ought to leave us with sanguine feelings.
But, on the other hand, and I'll say this at the outset, because I was just talking to my colleagues about how good it is for me to be coming out and meeting everyone, because I do a talk show everyday. I sit across from Washington, D.C., which is over there on the other side of the Potomac from where our studio is, and if I just looked at what was going on there and paid attention to what I am told by the mainstream television and The Washington Post and all of these things, I guess I would conclude that there was no point in going about the country talking about what we can do, because it's already too late, and we are past the point of no return as a free people.
On the other hand, I come out, different parts of the country, come to Iowa, meet folks and it lifts my spirits, because whatever else is going on, there are many Americans in whom the decent heart of our liberty has not been destroyed. And if we can only get moving in time, I think we will be able to save this Republic. But we have to understand the urgency of our situation. And I am not sure that we do.
In the course of the last several years, some things have happened in America that have convinced me that, whereas I thought that we were in a situation where we had a generation or so before we were really faced with the end of American institutions, I don't believe that's the case any more. I think they're ending right now.
I think we have already made the kind of errors that spell the end of liberty. The question is, are we going to see what we're doing, wake up in time, recover, before we walk down this road we have already chosen and past the point of no return?
And I don't know how things will turn out, but I have to start by saying that, in spite of economy and other things that people think are going so wonderfully well, we are, as a free people, in the worst shape we've ever been in. And if we don't recover now, it will be too late.
Now, I will cite a couple of things that you should ponder as evidence of this problem. First, I want you to think about the war that we just finished. The very fact that I call it a war was in dispute for a while there wasn't it. I mean, we actually had the Secretary of Defense going to Congress and he was saying, "Well, I don't know if we should call it a war." And every time he did that, see, he wasn't going to call it a war, because it was just a bombing campaign.
It always put me in mind of December 7, 1941. Because, after all is said and done, I mean, all the Japanese did was bomb Pearl Harbor, right? So, if that's not war, then I guess FDR overreacted just a tad.
Obviously it is. The fact that we sit still for these absurdities, the fact that they were necessary, in this instance, does point to a real problem, though. Why was the Secretary of Defense playing games over whether this was a war?
Well, because he knows that the Constitution of the United States has a requirement that, if you're going to go to war, Congress has to declare war. The President can't just do it on his own initiative. And so you want to avoid calling things wars, so that you can cut out the representatives of the people. And this has, unfortunately, not just been a problem during the Clinton years. It's become a kind of routine problem, since the end of the Second World War.
In 1973, however, the Congress took some steps they thought would help to resolve this problem: they put the War Powers Act on the books. I have never been a big fan of the War Powers Act, because I think it's kind of like a band-aid approach to respecting the Constitution, but, at least, it was a try. And in the War Powers Act they were pretty specific about what they needed. They needed the President to notify them after two days if he deployed American forces--not only in war, but in what they called hostilities, or in any situation where hostilities were likely to result. They tried to cover all the bases.
He had two days to tell them about it, and then a clock began to run. He had sixty days in which to get an explicit resolution authorizing the deployment, and if he didn't get it, then he was to withdraw the forces, to stop that military action. So it was Congress's way of saying, "Respect the Constitution or stop the military action, but we're not going to simply let you carry this country into protracted war without our say-so."
Now, I haven't done this before, but I just want to ask a simple question before I go on. How many of you think that that matters at all? Raise your hand. Anybody who thinks that this issue matters? See, I think that's a good thing, because it matters more than we realize.
If the Chief Executive can carry us into war on his own initiative, by that fact alone, we cease to be a free people. And this has been established by all the great philosophers, thinkers, political theorists--they all understood this. Why? Because war is the great excuse for the assault on liberty, for the control of society.
In the name of war, one gathers all powers into one's hands, and for the sake of safety and security, you are able to curtail liberties; you are able to reach deeply into people's pockets to take out their money; you are able to amass Executive power at the expense of the Legislature, because during war, after all, you're dealing with emergencies, you don't have time to stop and wait for some committee to decide what it's going to do.
Nothing could be more harmful to our liberty than a state of perpetual war--particularly, a state of perpetual war that did not involve our survival, but rather involved whatever happened to be the most recent decision or ambition of our Chief Executive.
In that situation, he ceases to be our President and representative and becomes our ruler and master. We cease to be a free people and become, instead, what human beings have been in so many societies throughout history: mere cannon fodder for those who rule over us. This is an absolutely essential element of freedom.
So, when they passed the War Powers Act, they were doing something very important. In the course of this Yugoslav business, the President of the United States had no particular excuse. This was not a war to defend our interests. We were not attacked. This was not an emergency. Had plenty of time to deliberate. As a matter of fact, this was a deliberate act of aggression against another state.
And so we had plenty of time to be told about it, to have it presented to our Representatives, to deliberate upon it. This wasn't even a situation where they wanted to start the bombing with surprise, because they announced, long before they began, what they were going to do.
So he had every opportunity to go to the Congress, to tell us what was going on, get a declaration of war. He did not. And then he proceeded to deploy the forces, keep them there for sixty days, and he got no resolution of approval. He simply ignored it.
We don't realize it, but this vital provision of our Constitution is now a dead letter. And if it remains more a bond, then our status as a free people is already seriously in doubt.
That's example number one. And the question we ought to be asking ourselves, why don't we care about this? Why was it that May the 25th, the day required by the War Powers Act, passed?
The President, under the terms of that law, as Roscoe Bartlett called him, an un-indicted felon . . . I have to say, though. The only thing that bothered me a little bit about Roscoe Bartlett--he's the Congressman from Maryland. They had a press conference, he, Tom Campbell, a bunch of other Congressmen, because they were upset about this business. None of our Republican leaders, sadly, were there, but a lot of the rank-and-file folk. And the only thing that bothered me about the fact Roscoe said that he had become an un-indicted felon as of May the 25th, was that I don't know where Roscoe's been, but we obviously know this President's been an un-indicted felon for several years. Under the terms of the War Powers Act, he became, as of that date, an un-indicted felon. But, in this particular case, it's not only a question of the probity of his conduct. It's a question of the assault on a Constitutional prerogative that's vital to our safety as a people.
The day passed, nothing happened. Dead. We sit here vulnerable to the assaults of that abused Executive power, and we're acting like nothing happened. So think about this.
But it's worse than that. The other thing that caught my eye, in the last little while, was an interview that was done by David Shippers. He gave this interview to Human Events. He was talking about the whole business with the impeachment and his role in it. He was the counsel for the House managers. And he said that, after the Senators had raised their hand and taken their oath that they were going to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws (you remember that?), the House managers and Shippers had a meeting with six Republican leaders.
And I stress here, Republican leaders, because, obviously, to a certain extent, we know that that little criminal clique in the Senate that calls themselves Democrats were quite willing to connive at whatever the President was going to do.
So, I want to emphasize here that these were Republicans they were talking to. And they met with these six Republican leaders, and the first thing that the Senate leaders told the House managers was that the only reason they were having the trial was to save face for the House, so that they wouldn't be embarrassed.
This ought to bother us a little bit, since, after all is said and done, they didn't want to have the trial so that we could get the truth; they didn't want to have the trial in order to preserve the integrity of our judicial system against perjury, of our Constitution against a President who violates his oath. No, none of these things mattered to them. They just wanted to save face for the House.
But they also told them in the same breath, that they had no chance, whatsoever, of getting a conviction. Forget about that. And then Henry Hyde objected, he said, "But, we have all this evidence, all you guys have to do is go and look at it. We have evidence of assault," he said one of them interrupted him and said, "Henry, I don't care." Now listen to this carefully. Shippers says this is a direct quote, and we really need to hear and understand what's being said here, if we are to appreciate the gravity of our situation.
One of the Republican leaders turned to Henry Hyde at that point and he said, "Henry, I don't care if you have proof that he raped a woman and then stood up and shot her dead, you won't get sixty-seven votes."
I don't know. Do we understand what was just said there? Under our Constitution, the President of the United States--the Chief Executive Officer, the man who controls enormous military power and executive power in this country--he has the ability to do all kinds of things, and the only check on his abuse of power, the only one that is actually true and effective, is the power of the Congress to call him to account. Do we understand this?
So if the President chooses to abuse the enormous power we put into his hands, then under our Constitutional system, the only thing that stands in his way is the willingness of the Senate ultimately, on the motion of the House, to hold him accountable. And what that Senator told Henry Hyde was that that Chief Executive could, with impunity, take the life of a citizen of the United States and the people in Congress would do nothing about it.
I've been saying this to audiences lately, and I just have to shake my head. You don't know what I just told you. We live at the end of the Twentieth Century. In the course of the Twentieth Century, some of the worst tyrannies in the history, no, the worst tyrannies in the history of humankind, perpetrated awesome crimes against people, in nations all over the world, including nations that were the most civilized, the most technologically advanced, the most philosophically sophisticated on the face of the earth. And the first step in the perpetration of those atrocities is when the ruler, the tyrant, the thug, gets himself into a position where he can take the lives of individuals with impunity.
We have just gone through an episode where a Senator told the folks in the House that this President is in that position of impunity. Excuse me, y'all. We have already witnessed, in principle, the end of our Republic. When the Executive can act with impunity to take the lives of individual citizens, the Republic is dead.
That was what the Roman tyrants did in their proscriptions. They don't have to line people up in masses and shoot them down on the street, they just go after the individuals who are their opponents and kill them. And if nobody has the guts to call them to account and they get away with it, then little by little, they chop off the heads of all those who would challenge them, until they are left unchallenged in their abusive power. And the first step has been taken.
We have, already, sitting in the White House, a President of the United States who has successfully put together a machinery of intimidation and thuggery and character assassination so effective that he paralyzed the Congress of the United States, and they were helpless to call him to account for what they knew to be criminal actions--and they even went so far as to declare that, were those actions of the most heinous character, they would still be incapable of action.
What makes us think we're safe now? The only thing that makes us safe right this minute is that this particular bunch of thugs hasn't yet gotten into the habit of killing us. But once they realize what this really means, you think they'll restrain themselves?
And at the very same time that's going on, just as a coincidence (I just want to throw this in so we can understand the real nature of our problem), we are also in the midst of a big movement where these very same people who have just said that they are helpless to do anything about the lawless abuse of the Executive power in our country, are contemplating passing pieces of legislation that will require that we should surrender the means of defending our liberty.
Doesn't this make you just a little bit suspicious? I mean, folks are in a situation where they've just made it clear that the worst abuses of power directed against the lives, the citizens of this country will not be called to account, and the next step they want to take is to relieve us of the means of self-defense. No, we don't get it yet. We will not get it, I suppose, until we are in the situation that the Germans were in, and the Italians were in, and the Chinese are in, and the others are in. What makes us think that we're immune to this?
What makes us think that when we are left defenseless, when the Second Amendment is dead, and when the Constitution itself is violated with impunity, when we have people in the Congress, supposed to represent us, who tells us that if the President comes to kill us they will do nothing about the taking of our lives, what makes us think that we are safe?
And here we sit at the end of the Twentieth Century. We can't pretend that human beings are not capable of the worst atrocities, because they have been committed in this century. And we can't pretend that knowledge, and science, and education, and civilization are any barrier, because those atrocities were committed by the most knowledgeable, advanced, sophisticated, supposedly civilized peoples in the world.
Why do we think we are exempt? We are not exempt. We are making fatal errors. We will suffer for those errors. We have already tolerated things, that, in my opinion, in the last couple of months--and I wouldn't have thought this. I didn't think we were quite this far gone. But you know this war in Yugoslavia was unconscionable. I said it then, I say it again, and its outcome proves it. It does not disprove it.
We sat on our hands. We have sacrificed so much blood and treasure in the course of the latter half of the Twentieth Century standing up for things we said were right and true. "No aggression," we said, and then we committed aggression. "No use of weapons of violence against the civilian populations consciously to target them for destruction," and then we, ourselves, adopted a strategy, acknowledged openly now by just about everybody, to have targeted a civilian population for blatant destruction.
If it's wrong when other people do it, how can it be right when we do it? And why did we sit on our hands and let these people do this? I'll tell you why, because we left in place the most immoral President in the history of the country, and he led us into a war in which we conducted ourselves according to the most immoral strategy that we have ever followed.
And you know what's the saddest of all about that? If you compare where things were before we started the bombing and where they are today . . . We said we wanted this guy Milosovich to accept the Rambouillet Accords. The Serbs objected, they wanted to have a Russian participation in the international force. They wanted the terms of the agreement to be modified so that the international force would not be able to move all about Yugoslavia, but would be confined to Kosovo. And they wanted a situation where there would be no referendum on the question of Kosovo's independence.
And we said, "No, you must do exactly what we tell you or we'll bomb you, and bomb you, and bomb you," and we did. We bombed them. Apparently, we didn't bomb them back to the Stone Age, just to around 1945. And we killed a lot of people. Nobody knows quite how many yet, but several thousand, probably. And a lot of them were civilians, they were not combatants.
And what did we get? Well, I'll tell you what we got. If you examine the terms of the present arrangement, well, let me see, we have an international force going in, just like Rambouillet, only this international force will be confined to Kosovo, just as the Serbs demanded. We have an international force that will include the Russians, golly, just as the Serbs demanded. And we have an agreement in which there is no mention being made of any kind of referendum or other determination about Kosovo's independence, just as the Serbs demanded.
We accomplished less than nothing with this war. The only thing we did was to destroy a people, kill a lot of innocent civilians, including Kosovars, give Mr. Milosovich a chance to wreak havoc with the people of Kosovo, and then we ended up with a situation in which, if we had just told them yes to all their demands before it all started, we could have saved the money, saved the lives, and saved ourselves the loss of the decent conscience of our people. And I tell you again, why are we sitting still for this? Why don't we see what is being done to us?
Well, during the course of the whole impeachment business, I had folks calling my program a lot. Some of them were quite upset, because they didn't understand why all this fuss was being made over impeachment, over sex stuff, you know. When there were so many things on the table that were far more egregious than sexual misconduct, including, they said, and it was clear at the time, the betrayal of our most vital national security, in terms of the transfer of secrets and technology to the Chinese. That's what they were saying.
Now, a lot of you may be aware that, in the course of the last two years, a lot of information came out about the loss of our technology and secrets to the Chinese. Now, of course, the whole country's abuzz about it because of the Cox Report, but what the Cox Report did was to confirm what was already out there, in many forms, in the last two and a half years.
So these people were upset: "Why didn't we do something about this?" I have to tell you that this is a good question. What I'm about to say is not because I am disparaging the President. It's a good question. Why aren't we doing something about this?
I go before audiences now, just like this one, and people are sitting here calmly, while we listen to our Senators--you have heard them, right? The loss of our nuclear secrets is the worst damage to our security that we have suffered as a people, probably in the history of our country. One Senator said that it was worse than the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, in terms of the damage that it does to our security situation.
I don't get it. See, we're still sitting here. Is that because the economy's good or something? Do you know what I just told you? At the beginning of the Second World War, we scrambled to try to make up the damage that was done at Pearl Harbor, because if we hadn't we would have been a conquered people.
If the assessment of that Senator is accurate, then it's only going to be a few years before we are a conquered people--we don't get it--because that is the degree of damage that we have suffered.
It at the very least means that in the next century we could be right smack-dab in the middle of the same nuclear madness that we thought we had just escaped in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
And at the very time we see this . . . And, by the way, we see it in a context where the Chief Executive Officer has been party to various activities that involved him with obvious agents of the Communist Chinese Dictators, that involved money coming from those dictators into the political coffers of people in America--the most open and obvious possibility that we have, in fact, seen the subordination of the loyalty and allegiance our highest officer. And then, after all this kind of smoke, you know, they come and report that we've suffered the worst fire damage in the history of our national security, and we still don't think there was a fire, huh?
In this particular case, where there was smoke, there was fire. And I know that Chris Cox and others are saying, "Well, we don't want to place the blame. We don't want to worry about who did what." Will somebody explain to me why not?
Because, I'll tell you something, there is a way in which we can defend ourselves against this damage. We can develop as quickly as possible the anti-missile defenses that Ronald Reagan wanted to put in place when he was President of the United States. We can move forward with SDI [Strategic Defense Initiative].
But, by coincidence, the same President who may very well have handed our nuclear secrets off to the Communist Chinese spent the better part of this decade making sure we wouldn't move forward with our nuclear defenses. And we still don't get it. I don't know. If this guy's not a paid agent of the Communist Chinese, he's sure doing a good job for them for nothing.
And that being the case, so there were a lot of people upset, "Why didn't we go after this man for this treason?" I think we ought to be looking for the culprits right now, I was reading a little piece today in The World Net Daily in which they were pointing out that it's possible, if we have seen this kind of infiltration of our nuclear establishment, that the software codes that are being developed to test these anti-missile defenses could very well, themselves, be sabotaged.
If we don't know who's doing us harm, how are we going to stop it? If we don't worry about blame, and there are, in fact, some people treacherously undermining our national security, then they're going to treacherously undermine our efforts to defend against the threat that they helped to create by putting our secrets into the hands of the Communist Chinese. And we're supposed to do nothing?
We're supposed to sit silently by while we assess no blame and let the damage continue, is that right? What is the matter with us? We're just being smacked about, we're being cut up, we're bleeding from a thousand wounds, and we're just sit here going, "Oh, my, that doesn't feel too good, but I'll continue. Anyway, stock market's up."
Things were reasonably well in parts of the Roman Empire when the Barbarians came in and smacked them all around, you know. They were still living pretty well in Italy and stuff, but it didn't do any good, because they had let their defenses drop in many ways, physically, morally.
And that's why I think, in point of fact, though the callers were right to be concerned about the national security, they were wrong when they said that it was not urgent that we should pursue this whole business of his sexual behavior, because it wasn't about his sexual behavior. It was about his character. It was about his willingness to keep his oaths. It was about his conscience. It was about moral integrity and the standards that as a people we apply to our public life and conduct.
And I believe, in many ways, that God actually set it up this way. In spite of all the other reasons, He wanted this particular thing to be the focus, because He knew, "I've got to tell these people what the real problem is that confronts them. And the real problem is not the damage to their national security. The real problem is not just the loss of control of their economic lives and their schools and their family life. The real problem is not a material problem. It's not an economic problem. I want them to understand that the root of all these things. The root of that loss of integrity, which opens us to all these evils, is the surrender of our national character, the abandonment of those moral principles, without which we cannot sustain the character that is required for us to be free." This is the truth.
And, if that's so, it was perfectly illustrated by the Clinton scandals. But then you have to ask yourself why. Why have we surrendered? I think the answer's pretty clear. We surrendered it because, over the course of the last thirty or forty years, we've embraced doctrines in our public policy that involve the abandonment of our most fundamental moral principles.
That moral principle was articulated in the Declaration of Independence. It's not lost in the mists of time. It's not obscure. It's not hard to understand. It was stated boldly and clearly by our Founders.
And everything that we take for granted, our rights, our liberty, our sense of due process, and all these things which we identify with self-government, including the fact that there should be elections and government by consent, it all comes from this simple principle stated in the Declaration, "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." That's where it starts.
But, see, the sad thing is, we've turned our back on that. That's the bedrock foundation of all our claim to rights and liberties. It's the bedrock foundation on which we must build our character and identity, and have done so as a people. And yet, in the course of the last several decades, we have utterly rejected it, because we have been willing to embrace doctrines, starting with the business of abortion, that involve us in the utter denial of that fundamental truth.
Because you can't have it both ways. Either our rights come from the hand of the Creator, God, or our rights are based on human choice, the mother's choice, whoever's choice, but you can't have it both ways. And if our rights come from the hand of God, then, yes we are legitimately able to demand of every human power, however strong, however great, respect for our rights and dignity. But if our rights come from the hand of God, then it's also true that we cannot hold onto those rights once we have abandoned our acknowledgment of the existence of God, once we have abandoned our respect for the authority of God. And we have done so.
As a people we live in a land right now, where, formally speaking, our law no longer acknowledges the fundamental truth of the Declaration. Roe vs. Wade destroyed our allegiance to that principle.
And that is why everywhere I go I try to impress on people, you can see the logic of it quite clearly. Over here, we have all the signs that our liberty is being lost and undermined, and our passive acquiescence in these losses suggests that we have lost the character required to defend and sustain our freedom. We see it in every other respect. We see it in the breakdown of our families. We see it in the loss of control over our communities and schools. We see it in our willingness to listen to all these arguments people make when we come forward and say, "We want our rights back. We want control of our money back. We want control of our schools back."
And lots of people know, not only that this is something we have the right to demand, but we've also proven, in case after case, argument after argument, policy after policy, that if we get back respect for our rights and our capacity to make decisions in our own lives, guess what, things go better in this country. The economy is stronger, the schools are better, our lives are better, and our people, by the way, who are suffering, and hurting, and in need of help, they get better taken care of, because they are taken care of by people who bring to the business of helping their neighbors a voluntary heart that respects human dignity and moves out of that respect also to require that those who are helped, help themselves.
See it all works better when we do it on the basis of a respect for our own capacities, and yet, we've been talked out of demanding these things. We've actually backed away from the agenda that requires these events. How come? I'll tell you why. Because the liberals and the socialists come forward every time and they say, "Wait a minute, we can't let you have control over those schools. They'll be ruined. They'll be ruined, and all kinds of terrible quackery will take over the schools, and the educational standards will fall. You just can't be trusted. You won't make the right decisions for your children."
And we demand control of our money, and they say, "You can't have control of your money. If we give you control of that money that you've earned to invest for your future in Social Security, you'll be irresponsible, you won't invest it properly, and then everything will go wrong. And if we give you control of tax dollars, the children will starve in the schools, and the neighbors will starve in the streets, and the parents and the elderly won't be taken care of, because . . ." Well, because of what?
This is the good question, see? There are some people, including my colleague on the trail here, G. W. Bush--he thinks that what they're talking about there is the hard-hearted, lack of compassion of conservatives and Republicans. This is not so.
Just as an example, here's a nice likely looking fellow. Looks like a good man. What if I had the power to turn over control of all this country's money and resources to this gentleman right here? What's your name?
I'll turn them over to Phillip. And what if somebody else, what if you, what's your name?
What if Wally jumped up and objected, "You can't turn that money over to Phillip. If you turn that money over to Phillip, Phillip is going to waste it. Phillip is going to ignore the cries of the poor. Phillip is going to leave the elderly to die. Phillip is going to take our schools and destroy them"? If he says that, when he stands up and says that, is he talking about me? I'm the one who's going to give the money, but is he talking about me? No. He's talking about Phillip, right? That's exactly right.
When are we going to realize that when the liberals object to those policies which will give the American people control over their institutions, schools, businesses and resources, when they say that this will result in such terrible harm to children and the elderly in the community, they're not talking about the compassion of Republicans, they're talking about the character and decency of the American people.
They are telling us that we are a people without decency, without a sense of moral responsibility. Without the heart to care for our children and see to it they are well educated. Without the filial piety to respect our aging parents and hold out to them the hand of help that they gave to raise us. Without the decency to see our neighbors in need, and be willing to work with them, and walk with them, to lift them up. They're not talking about the compassion of conservatives. They are slandering the character of America.
And the sad thing is . . . wait, wait, wait, because, you see, the sad thing is that we're sitting still for this slander. We actually accept it. I look at what's going on. We are so reluctant to get up and really just demand our freedom back, because they shame us. "Oh, that must be right. We're hard-hearted, terrible people. We want our freedom. We don't want our rights back. We'll abuse them." Why do we believe this? I seriously ask you this. Why would we believe that we are such bad people?
And I want to explore this for a minute. Give me a little minute here. Because, you know, you can obviously see I am a Black American, right? You've probably noticed that. I would be the last person to want to suggest that the history of this country is perfect and without serious difficulties, because my ancestors suffered greatly from injustice in this country. But, all of that being true, I also remember that when push came to shove, the appeal to justice and decency was such that people were willing to go out, in the course of the Civil War, and to make such sacrifices.
I was reminded of them yesterday. I was in Indianapolis and we stayed at this club, and there was a monument out there that was a monument to the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. And they had up on the wall the number of people from Indiana who had been killed in the Civil War. Over twenty-four thousand men killed, not casualties, killed. That's half the number of people that were killed in the years of the Vietnam War, from one state in the Civil War.
The carnage, the death, the sacrifice was enormous. The battlefields were ankle-deep in the blood of those who fought for, what? For what, in the end, Lincoln clearly defined as justice and even divine retribution for the sin of slavery. And when they went in, they knew this was what they were fighting for. And many of them in their letters, and their diaries, and their journals, it was clear that they went to their deaths with a heart believing that it was sweet and good to die so that their country would be free of this injustice.
With a heritage like this, why do we think we're bad people? You know, civil wars have been fought over many things. There aren't that many countries in the history of the world where people who were not directly the victims of the oppression went out on a battlefield and slugged it out to that degree, when, as an end result, they would be no freer than they were before, but others, whose welfare did not even at first affect them, would be freed as a result of their struggle. This is not ordinary behavior.
And you can look at our heritage and see other things. I was talking about the Second World War. Look at the Second World War. At the end of the Second World War, we stood at the pinnacle of global power. We stood at the pinnacle of universal power. We were the most powerful nation in the world. We were the most powerful nation at that moment in history that had ever existed on the face of the earth, because we had what every nation dreamt of having, a monopoly on the thunderbolts of Zeus. And we could have thrown those bolts anywhere we pleased.
We could have had the world at our feet, and believe me, there were a couple of people, Winston Churchill, DeGaulle, Stalin, if they had had that monopoly we would all be speaking French or Russian today. Of course, we would have had the advantage with the British, we already know how to speak the language. But believe me, they wouldn't have resisted.
What's remarkable about us as a people is that we not only resisted the temptation to dominate the world, make everybody do our bidding, we reached out a hand to the very countries that had the day before been striving, might and main, to destroy us, and we lifted them up to a position such that today they are not only our friends, they are our major competitors in strength and economic power in the world.
Somebody explain to me why a people willing to do that, willing to do all we've done in foreign aid and so forth, willing to be among the most, if not the most, care-giving, charitable, helping people that has ever existed--not because everybody out there was our family and kin and co-religionists and everything, just because we kept being persuaded by our leaders this is the right thing to do.
I know it sometimes took a little doing. Every time they came to us, "Dig a little deeper into your pocket, more tax money, we need more," we did it. What on earth makes us believe, then, that we are so utterly depraved that we're not even fit anymore to make decisions about our own children whom we love, about our own parents, who raised us from the cradle, about our own neighbors who might be in need of our help. We are not that depraved, are we? So why do we think we are?
Do you know why I think we do? Because we are haunted by the guilt and shame of our willingness to stand silently by, while the most fundamental truth of justice in our conscience is violated every day, and we call it "right."
I believe that this whole business of abortion has poisoned the wellspring of America's conscience and moral self-confidence, and led us to believe that, yes, we are a depraved people incapable any longer of turning liberty into a just and decent society.
And that's why, everywhere I go, I tell folks I think the top priority of our lives right now is to restore our allegiance to those moral principles, to deal with issues like abortion that are destroying our moral conscience. These are not back burner issues, they're front burner issues. These are not the issues to be dealt with later on. These are not divisive issues that we can run away from. We shall discover our strength, we shall have our unity only if we restore our allegiance to the moral principles that have made us whole and strong and free as a people in the history of this great land.
And when we have done so, we will rediscover the moral self-confidence needed to insist that we get back, through school choice, the control of our schools; to insist that the system be reformed so we invest our own hard-earned money in Social Security; to insist that the tax system be changed. And if I had my way, it'd be changed this way: you scrap the income tax, go back to the original Constitution of this country, and let the people of the nation make decisions as to what to do with their dollars, before the government gets them.
All those things, however, whatever their details, depend on our willingness to assert our capacity for freedom, to insist upon it boldly, without shame, with the confidence that if we regain it, our nation will be stronger and better, more caring and more decent. And it's true, and we will believe it again if we can return to our clear allegiance in our policies and laws to those principles which respect, ultimately, the simple truth that our right to life, that our basic right to justice, comes not from our mother's choice, but from the hand of God.
I think that is what this present election cycle is about. And if you understand all that I've been trying to say this evening, then you realize that we are at a point where we are either going to choose to restore that moral strength, or we are going to continue down the road that leads to the end, definitively and for all time, of this great Republic.
We have survived, in terms of the history of Republics, a pretty long time. We are right now the oldest enduring self-government system in the world. A few such systems surpassed us in human history, but most of them were not like us. They did not involve government of the people, by the people, for the people. The Roman Empire was all about government of the senate, by the senate, for the senate. The few ruled over the many; stomped them whenever they could.
We are the first nation, pretty much, that has been able to for so long sustain a system of government in which the whole mass of the people could claim the dignity of their liberty, could demand respect, even from the most powerful, for their basic rights. This would be an enormous loss to mankind, if we were to throw it away now. And yet we are in the process.
We have a heritage that gives us an obligation to our posterity and to the world--and I think that we need now to realize that we will decide to fight the moral battles that are needed to restore our soul as a people, or we will lose it all.
And that's the simple message. I've been carrying it for several years. When I started out in the last, late, unknown, lamented presidential election, I was pretty much by myself. I've noticed that there's a big chorus now. This is good.
I have to wonder a little bit, though it does confirm that this issue is very much on the minds of the American people. When Bill Clinton and Al Gore start to lie about it, you know that it must be on people's hearts. I don't know, is there a Damascus somewhere in America that Al Gore visited? Because he sure got religion. He's been going around telling everybody, "We need God. We need religion," and so forth.
There's just one problem. See, Al Gore's trying to tell us, because he even used a phrase the other day, he said he was going to "take God back from the Republicans." And this shows you what a debased idea he has of the whole business. I hate to tell Al Gore this, but God isn't owned by the Republicans, or anybody else. See, the relationship runs the other way, Al. He owns us. Whoa, yes.
But what it does prove when Al Gore is talking about this is that, finally, I think maybe the Columbine tragedy, other things that have happened, finally crystallized for many Americans the real nature of our problem, the moral void that is now even destroying the lives of our children in the very schools where they should feel safe to learn. This is a terrible thing, but it's also, if we are willing truly to act now, it could be the thing that saves our lives. But, are we willing? This is the question.
And it's the question I want to put to you this evening, because, you see, right now here in Iowa, you all have a remarkable opportunity to make a difference. You can decide whether the nation will just keep chugging along, business as usual, bunch of phony politicians looking for their power, or whether we're going to confront the issues of our moral destiny, deal with those issues so we can reestablish the basis of our Republic. That's the choice before us. And depending on what you decide to do with your vote and support in the course of the caucuses, you will still make a tremendous difference.
Matter of fact, I actually believe that on certain assumptions, the vote in Iowa will determine the outcome of the presidential race this time. They're setting it up to try to keep that from happening, but in a funny kind of way that I don't want to explain, because it'll give the game away, I actually think it means that Iowa will determine the whole thing.
And this is actually great irony on God's part, because just when they thought they were going to steal this wonderful thing away from you where you can really influence the country, they're actually creating a situation that will magnify the effect of what you do, enormously. But are we going to see the people of this state take advantage of that? Or are we going to see the usual sort of thing?
Last time I did a lot of campaigning. I'd give talks and people would say, "Oh great, keep that message going, won't you? Everybody needs to hear that in America."
Gonna vote for me?
Oh. Gonna help me spread it?
"I gotta vote for the winner."
Now, everybody knew who the winner was. They kept telling me they knew who the winner was to such an extent that I figured somebody had held the election already without telling me.
And you notice the same phony scam is being set up now. We supposedly know who the winner is. People keep calling up my program, "Well, G. W. Bush . . ." I keep saying, somebody hold the caucuses I don't know about? Somebody hold the primaries and didn't tell me? Not a single vote has been cast. Not a single voter has said anything in an effective way and we already know who the winner is. How's that?
Two things: because the media tells us, and because the money tells us. And you realize, of course, that if that determines our decision, then this is no longer government of the people, it's government by the media for the money, government by the money for the media. That's not what we're supposed to be doing here. And we can't allow the money bosses who have already demonstrated that they have no allegiance to America to control this country's future. We must wrest that control back from them, for the sake of our future. And we can. But we'll only do it if we're willing to think through what we really believe to be required for the country, and then follow our heart and conscience.
I don't understand the satisfaction people get anyway from treating the elections like they're some kind of horse race. "Gotta pick the winner." No, excuse me. Did they open up a window for the winnings and I didn't know about it? When you pick the winner, do they give you something in return? I mean, the folks who voted for Bill Clinton got "the winner." What'd they get? They got a world such that they can't even look their children in the eye and mention the name of the President of the United States without shame! That's what they got.
So, it seems to me that we need to turn aside all this stuff about "we're going to vote for the winner." Are we going to do what's right for the country? Are we going to vote for the things we deeply believe to be needed for America? And are we going to leave the results when we do our best in the hands of Almighty God? I think if we do that, He will, He will reach out His hand and He will help the right prevail--not because we are so wonderful and powerful, but because faith can be. And if we have faith in the right, then we will do what is right, walking in faith that it will prevail.
And that's what we have to determine. Are we going to do that this time? I don't know. But I want to ask you a couple of questions. They did tell you, didn't they, when you came in, there was going to be an exam? They didn't? You guys didn't tell?! Ah, I can't believe this. Well, you know, I am Dr. Keyes, so when you come to my course, there is going to be an exam. We don't grade on the curve, either. No, I actually only have a couple of simple questions I'd like to ask you.
I want you to consider them carefully before you answer, but they're based on the experience we had last time. We're trying to see whether or not we can build something that will be effective in terms of contributing to the moral renewal of this country through this whole process, but the first question is the most important. You've listened to what I had to say this evening on a whole range of things, but most importantly you've listened to the one essential message that I think it's most important for ourselves to realize.
The moral challenge ought to be our top priority. We must deal with the issues of moral corruption, first and foremost, in this nation's life and conscience. And by doing so, we will see our way clear to deal with all the rest. And if you believe that this is the top challenge that now faces our people, and that in the years ahead we have to meet this challenge above all else. I would like you, if you believe that this message is correct, to stand right now. Anybody who believes that this is true, please stand up.
Now, I have to tell you. I want to explain two things. Don't sit down yet. Look around, lots of people standing up in this room. Now, I want to tell you, we have had rallies like this--how many, Dan, almost fifty now?--all over Iowa, all over New Hampshire, other places. Please sit down.
We have had crowds this size and larger everywhere we have gone, all the way up to eight and nine hundred people, and in every case, eighty, ninety percent of the people who attend, they stand up at this point. And they say, "Yes, that's what I think. That's what I believe. That's what I think needs to happen."
So when they tell you in the newspapers, and so forth and so on, "The moral thing that's passť," don't believe them. You wouldn't believe them anyway, because Al Gore's lying about it. See. You know if he's lying about it, the truth is that the electorate right now is very, very, very concerned about the moral condition of this country, and that all over this country we find people to stand up and say, "Yes, that's what we need to be doing right now."
But you know the truth? If you're going to do that, then you've got to tackle the tough issues that are poisoning our conscience. You can't turn your back on the issue of abortion. You can't turn your back on the issue of the radical homosexual agenda and domestic partnerships and other things that are undermining the sense of family and sexual responsibility. You can't turn your back on those tough issues, if you really care about the moral conscience of this country.
And so we need to have folks who aren't going to turn their backs, and who will look the American people in the eye and speak to them, heart to heart, mind to mind, the truth about what we need to do. And I'll be honest with you. I think there'll be some big names being touted out there by the media, but they're not willing to do this. And so I won't follow them.
I won't follow the ones talking out of both sides of their mouths. I won't follow the ones telling me that they're pro-life, but they'll have pro-abortion running mates. I won't follow the ones telling me that "yes, I'm pro-life, but we've gotta change the heart of America, or we won't have the human life amendment." All that's phony garbage, because if you really understand the challenge we face, then leaders shouldn't be telling people "we'll do it later." They should be looking them in the eye to persuade them now, because if you are willing to make the effort, you can change the heart of America. And we need leaders who are going to try.
And that's what I would like to ask, not only that you support, I would like to ask whether you want to be those leaders, because contrary to what we think, these decisions aren't going to be taken by me or anybody else standing up to run for president or anything. We're going to be changed because the people of America decide that they're going to take responsibility in their own homes, families, churches, workplaces, communities, to be the leaders that will help to lead people back to the right paths of moral truth and decency. We've got to take a stand.
And so, we want to offer you a deal. We want you to make two promises and we will make two promises. The two promises we would like you to make, if you're willing, this very evening. We would like you to promise to go to the Iowa caucuses and vote for what you just said you believed. Vote for the agenda of moral priority, promise number one. And we would like you to promise that you will make every effort, between now and the caucuses, to find seven people who will do the same thing. Do it yourself, and then in your own circle of friends, family, whoever you can influence, find seven people who will do the same thing.
And we will promise two promises. One, we'll promise that, come what may, if God is willing, there will be, at the caucuses, an alternative that represents clearly, without compromise, shame, or equivocation, the agenda of moral priority that I have presented tonight. And we will promise something a little bit more practical, we're going to keep track of all of the people who sign up, all the names that they turn in, and if, by the time we get within a couple of weeks of the caucuses, it looks as we don't have enough to go over the top, we will let everyone know and we'll free you from your pledge. And you'll be able to vote whichever way you want.
This, in order to deal with those people who say, "I just want to vote for the winner." Well, if we tell you it's on, then you'll know that we're confident of victory. If we tell you we didn't make it, you can still go vote your conscience, it's not going to hurt, but you won't have to, because we don't want to force anybody to vote their conscience, if it's too painful. So you see, in a way, it's a no-lose situation.
And you'll notice, I think, that I did not say that you're going to go to the caucuses and vote for Alan Keyes, because I haven't yet announced that. Of course, somebody the other day, my able assistant Mr. Phillips, the other day, finally noticed the fact that in the last two weeks I had changed my formulation on this point. I used to say that I hadn't decided. And now I say that I haven't announced. That is a difference, isn't it?
But I think we need to make sure, I need to make sure, everybody needs to make sure, this is not something we should be doing because of some silly ambition or anything else. We either care about this country, or we don't. If we deeply care about it now, as citizens, then for a change, let's make a decision that puts the country first and worries about the rest of it later. Not ambition, not personal gain, nothing is more important right now, in my opinion, than simply getting this country back on the right track in terms of its moral understanding.
I wouldn't be here if I didn't think we could do it. It's been discouraging in the last couple of years. There've been some signs that maybe we've really lost our way, lost our minds, lost our moral compass; we're willing to put up with all kinds of awfulness and depravity. But on the other hand, I also have seen, in spite of all these so-called signs and polls and everything else, everywhere I go, Americans are starting to wake up, take things in their own hands, put together crisis pregnancy centers, abstinence training, programs at their churches to help counsel people, to strengthen their marriages and raise their children right, to reach into urban areas and provide models and help for kids, and camps and schools that'll help to break the cycle of moral degradation that contributes to crime and poverty.
These government programs didn't work, and we noticed they didn't work, and now the American people are getting up to do the job themselves. And we will do it better! But that means that we are still the decent people, who were able to do what's right when we had to fight against the greatest military power in the world and win the revolution; able to do what's right, though it meant rivers of blood to free the slaves in the civil war; able to do what was right in the crusade for women's rights, and civil rights, and against the evil tyrants of the world.
We are still that people, we still have it in us. Only, this time, it is not to save others that we must act, but rather to save freedom for ourselves. It is not to save others that we must act, but rather to save the nation that we love--so that in freedom, and honor, and dignity, and strength, our children and our grandchildren may feel what we should feel, the decent pride in being a people capable of freedom.
And if you really believe that, then what I'd like you to do, because I'm like anybody else, I don't mind being applauded and everything, but you know all the applause in the world isn't going to do this. If you really care, then what I would ask you to do is think hard about the promises I asked you about, and commit yourself this evening to join what we're calling the Army of Moral Renewal here in Iowa. And then go out and spread the word, and bring in others who will recruit the strength of this agenda of moral priority--until, in its victory in Iowa, we cast it on high for the people of this country, so that hearts everywhere in America will know that there is a unequivocal choice for what is right, if they are willing to back it.
If you are willing to make that kind of choice, we're going to have folks up here who will be signing you up. I would ask you to come forward, make these promises, sign up. That is what is really going to make the difference, for my children, your children, and the children of America and the world in times to come: what we do today.
God bless you. Thank you very much. Thank you.