Sunday, February 17, 2008

Colin Powell to Republican Delegates 1996

"I come before you this evening as a retired soldier.- a fellow citizen who has lived the American Dream to its full, as one who believes in that dream and as one who wants that dream to come to a reality for every American. My parents came to this country as immigrants over 70 years ago. They came here as did millions of others with nothing but hope and a willingness to work hard and a desire to seize the opportunities given to them by their new land.

"They found work that enabled them to raise a family; work that allowed them to come home every Friday night with the fruits of their labor - a decent wage that brought sustenance, and more importantly, brought dignity into our home. They raised two children to whom they gave precious gifts - a set of core beliefs, a value system founded on a clear understanding of the difference between right and wrong, and a belief in the Almighty. Integrity, kindness, doctrines that were right - lying, crime, violence, intolerance, drugs were wrong, and even worse than wrong in my family - they were shameful! We were taught that hard work and education were the keys to success.

"My sister and I were taught to believe in ourselves. We might be considered poor, but we were rich in spirit. We might be black and considered second-class citizens, but stick with it because we were Americans! Justice will eventually triumph and the powerful series of promises of the founding fathers will come true. We were taught by my parents - always, always, always believe in miracles!

"My parents found here a compassionate land, with a compassionate people. They found a government that protected their labor, educated their children and provided help to those of their fellow citizens who were needy. They found their dream in America and they passed that dream on to their children. Here tonight over 70 years after they landed on these shores, their son has been given the privilege of addressing the Republican party, assembled in convention to present to the American people our vision of how that dream can be passed on to future generations.

"Our vision first and foremost rests on values - values, because values are the conscience of a society. Values that must be lived, not just preached. Children learn values by watching their parents in their homes, values that are then re-enforced in their churches and places of worship, in their schools and in their communities in which they live. Values fuel families, families that are bound together by love and commitment, families that have the strength to withstand the assaults of contemporary life, to resist the images of violence and vulgarity that flood into our lives every day. Families that come together to defeat the scourge of drugs and crime and incivility that threatens us. That's why we Republicans believe that the family, fueled by values, must be restored to a central place in American life if we are to keep the dream alive!

"Yet, families cannot thrive and pass on these beliefs if parents cannot bring home a decent living wage from a hard day's work. We Republicans believe that a good job, needed to sustain families, come from a faster growing economy where the free enterprise system is unleashed to create wealth, wealth which produces more good jobs.

"In this richest nation on earth we still have not solved the problems of poverty, hunger or health care or adequate housing, all of which tear away at the roots of strong families. But government assistance is a poor substitute for good jobs.

"That's why we are the pro-growth party. We are the party committed to lessening the burden of taxes, cutting government regulations and reducing government and cutting government spending - all for the purpose of generating the higher economic growth that will bring better jobs, wages and living standards for ALL our people!

"At the same time, let us never step back from compassion. The compassion we must convey to the American people is that we fight for health care reform, we fight for welfare reform, and other reforms, not just to save money, but because we believe that there are better ways to take care of Americans in need than the exhausted programs of the past.

"We must be firm, but we must also be fair. We must make sure that reduced government spending does not single out the poor and the middle class. Corporate welfare, welfare for the wealthy must be first in line for elimination. All of us, all of us, my friends, all of us must be willing to do with less from government if we are to avoid condemning our children and grandchildren with a crushing burden of debt which will deny them the American dream. We all need to understand that it is the entitlementsstate that must be reformed, and not just the welfare state.

"We must not think that all of government is the enemy. Ineffective government, excessive government, wasteful government, - that is the kind of government we Republicans intend to defeat. A nation as great and as diverse as America deserves leadership that opens its arms not only to those who already reaped the rewards of the American dream but to those who struggle and strive each day against daunting odds to make that dream come true.

"The Republican Party must always be the party of inclusion. The Hispanic immigrant that became a citizen yesterday must be as precious to us as a Mayflower descendent. The descendent of a slave or struggling minor in Appalachia must be as welcome and must find as much appeal in our party as in any other party or in any other American life. It is our diversity that has made us strong. Yet our diversity throughout our American history has also been a source of discrimination which we as guardians of the American dream must rip out branch and root.

"It is our party, the party of Lincoln, that must always stand with equal rights and fair opportunity for all. And where discrimination still exists, where the scars of past discrimination still contaminate and disfigure the present, let us not close our eyes to it and declare there is a level playing field and hope that it will go away by itself. It did not in the past. It will not in the future. Let the party of Lincoln be in the forefront, leading the crusade, not only to cut off and kill discrimination, but to open every avenue of educational and economic opportunity to those who are still denied access because of their race, ethnic background or gender.

"I have been asked many times why I became a Republican. I became a Republican because, like you, I believe it best represents the principles of freedom, opportunity, and limited government upon which our nation was founded. I became a Republican because I believe the policies of our party will lead to greater economic growth, which is the only real solution to the problems of poverty which keep too many Americans from sharing in the wealth of this nation. I became a Republican, because, like you, I believe that the federal government has become too large and too intrusive in our lives. We can no longer afford solutions to our problems that result in more entitlements, higher taxes to pay for them, more bureaucracy to run them and fewer results to show for it.

"I became a Republican because I believe America must remain the leader of the free world. Republican leadership, a Republican president will bring greater conviction and coherence to our foreign policy and will guarantee that our armed forces will remain the strongest and most capable on earth! I became a Republican because I want to help build the big tent that our has raised to attract all Americans.

"You all know that I believe in a woman's right to choose and I strongly support affirmative action. I was invited here to share my views with you because we are big enough party and big enough people to disagree on individual issues and still work together for our primary goal.

"Let us take our fates to our fellow citizens with respect for their intelligence and fair- mindedness. Let us debate our differences with the Democrats strongly but with a civility and absence of acrimony that the American people long for in our political debate.

"We stand on the eve of a new century, a new era filed with change, anxiety where sections of opportunity are going. Many of the basic things, many of the most important things in our lives remain constant: the pride in bringing home that first paycheck; the thrill you have each time the band strikes up the Star Spangled Banner and another magnificent young American wins the Olympic gold. The daily challenges and joys of raising a family; the tremendous ripple effect of family, friends and neighbors cooperating in ways that make whole neighborhood and nation better places for us all.

"These are the things that remain constant. These are the things that unite us. There are other eternal truths, other eternal constants in our lives: our constant devotion to the principles of freedom, democracy and the free enterprise system; our constant belief in the promise of this country that the best is yet to come; a country that exists by the grace of Divine Providence - Divine Providence that gave us this land and told us to be good stewards of it and good stewards of each other. The land that God has truly, truly blessed and that we are proud to call AMERICA!

Thank you."


No comments: