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Friday, September 03, 2004

10 minute explaination of the Republican Party

I was asked to fill in at an event at Ball State this week - a round table (literally!) discussion of the three major political parties. I filled in for Kaye Whitehead who is our local Chairman of the Republican Party.

These are the prepared remarks which I had planned to give, but because none of the others took up the full 10 minutes they had asked us to speak, I self-edited as I went (poorly I might add...). Luckily (for me, anyway) there were only a hadful of folks to listen in, and it seemed that most of them already "knew" where they stood regarding political affiliation.

I figured since I spent the time putting this together, it might as well serve some purpose, so here it is:

I appreciate the chance to speak to you today.

I’ve been keeping up, a little, with the Republican National Convention this week, and as I started to think about what I would say here today, I came to realize that a lot of what I would say to you has been said by men and women more articulate than I am.

That being said, I would like to borrow from their words in my remarks to you today. The other resource I will refer you to is the official platform statement from both the National and Indiana State Republican Parties. All of the resources I’m using today can be found online, free of charge.

It isn’t easy to sum up any of the political parties in just a few words. Mayor Giuliani did a pretty good job of it on Monday night when he said, “From the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to President George W. Bush, our party’s great contribution is to expand freedom in our own land and all over the world.”

Freedom, both at home and throughout the world, is the key to understanding Republicanism.

The National Platform of the Republican Party puts it this way: “For 150 years, our Party has found its purpose in its principles. We confront big challenges instead of passing them on to future generations. We move forward with needed reforms to make the government work better for citizens. We fight important battles and champion freedom because by expanding liberty, we make our nation more secure.”

The most immediate and important threat to our freedom comes in the form of terrorists who wish to do nothing but destroy, tear down, and annihilate those who do not share their ideology.

The War on Terror is real. It is the result of years and years of appeasement of terrorists, and the change in perspective that came about after our country was directly effected in such a dramatic way in 2001.

What happened in New York and Washington triggered a series of decisions which dramatically changed America’s stance in reaction to terrorism. The paradigm has shifted, and because of that, we find ourselves in a dramatically different world today than we were in on September 10th, 2001. As the National Platform says, “Today, because America has acted, and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer.”

President Bush has adopted an actively offensive stance against terror, an approach “marked by a determination to challenge new threats, not ignore them, or simply wait for future tragedy…”

This is a necessary reality in a world where terrorism has been allowed to fester – and in some cases actually rewarded – by the international community. Obviously, we desire and welcome the participation of other nations in this battle, but even if we have to stand alone, the United States will protect herself. Even better, the United States will work to ensure democracy finds a foothold in previously repressed nations, so that freedom can take root and spread.

As Democrat Senator Zell Miller said in his address to the Republican convention: “Never in the history of the world has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier.” Governor Schwarzenegger added to that thought when he said, “We are the America that sends out Peace Corps volunteers to teach village children. We’re the America that sends out missionaries and doctors to raise up the poor and the sick. We’re the America that gives more than any other country to fight AIDS in Africa and the developing world. And we’re the America that fights not for imperialism, but for human rights and democracy.”

Unlike the rhetoric of many in the Democrat Party, Republicans don’t view our America as the problem. As Senator Miller (a Democrat himself, I remind you) pointed out about the leadership of his own party: “In their warped way of thinking, America is the problem, not the solution. They don’t believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself through our clumsy and misguided foreign policy.” Senator Miller sums up his thoughts shortly thereafter by saying, “They are wrong.”

Contrast that with the words of an Austrian immigrant, who came to America, unable to speak English, and is today the governor of a state which is bigger, more populated, and has a higher gross domestic product than many of the countries of the world: “We are still the lamp lighting the world, especially for those who struggle. No matter in what labor camp they slave, no matter in what injustice they are trapped – they hear our call…they see our light…and they feel the pull of our freedom. They come here as I did, because they believe. They believe in the United States.”

That brings me to the basic idea I want to suggest to you today: The thing that I think sets Republicans apart from our opponents is optimism. Not unwarranted optimism. Not naïve optimism. But a deep belief in the ability of the American people to tackle problems and continue to live the American Dream.

There are a lot of topics where we could spend 10 or 12 minutes talking about each specific issue, and I only have 10 minutes to give you an overview. So, let me quickly run through some of the areas where the Republican Party has set its agenda for this campaign, and the years that immediately follow:

· There are issues to be confronted as we move ahead in the War on Terror: our intelligence operations, proper armament and training of our troops, taking care of the men and women and families of our military, expanding freedom and democracy and prosperity to other countries, building strong, active, and effective coalitions to work – and fight if necessary – for peace, freedom, and economic growth throughout the world.
· There are many areas where the increased security I spoke of earlier touches each of us: from airport security to local first responders, firefighters, and police forces. These represent immediate needs for better training, equipment, and other tools necessary for these men and women who are on the front lines when a disaster strikes.
· There are important domestic issues including how we continue to grow an economy that had slipped into recession at the end of the previous president’s term and was rocked deeply by the terror attacks of 2001. We have recovered, but there is more to be done.
· We have to learn to limit our government spending, expecting the same thing from our government that is expected of any economically responsible citizen: Don’t spend more than you make!
· It is important to retain the tax cuts, promised and delivered by President Bush, as a part of our tax structure, in order to encourage growth and opportunity for every American wiling and able to work, and in order to assist an ever growing number of individuals who are owning homes for the first time, starting businesses, and sending their kids off to college as the first family member to attend an institution of higher learning.
· We have to continue to focus on increasing jobs and retooling our workforce to keep up with the modern world. “We recognize that America is the best place in the world to do business, and our workers and products are the best in the world.”
· At the same time, we must work to ensure that trade agreements are fair and that they advance economic goals while protecting American jobs. “To achieve this goal, we must act globally, regionally, and bilaterally to negotiate new trade agreements and enforce existing trade commitments.”
· We have to tackle the Social Security system which has been allowed to fester in inefficiency and mismanagement.
· There are needs to be addressed in our Energy plan, and we need to find ways to fix the healthcare system.
· Finally, we must work from the grassroots level up, strengthening our communities. By focusing locally on issues such as crime, homelessness, issues of addiction, poverty, and other challenges we face every day, right here in Muncie, we are progressively moving forward and providing the backbone of what makes America strong.

Most of these things are covered in various ways, in much more detail than I can share with you in my allotted time, on candidate and party web sites.

But, I end with another quote from Gov. Schwarzenegger, which I think is helpful for you. He addressed the questions I often hear: What is a Republican? How do I know if I’m a Republican? Some of this is addressed in the brochure I brought today, but I think the Governor did a better job of summing it all up.

He said, “If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government…then you are a Republican. If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group…if you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does…if you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children…if you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the world…and, if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism…then you are a Republican!”

This is the choice we face: moving forward or looking back, reforming or settling for the status quo, producing results or playing politics. Republicans believe that true freedom comes when families and individuals have good schools, good health care, and affordable housing. We believe that freedom comes from having a good job and the economic opportunity to start a business or save for a major purchase. We believe that freedom is guaranteed best by working toward the ideal of a government big enough to protect us, but not big enough to repress us.

There is a three line creed we have up in our local Republican office, and we put it on all of our literature, not just to “say” it, but we publicize it so people will hold us accountable to it. The three points of that creed are what we say we stand for:
· Public Service, not self service.
· Excellence, not excuses.
· Performance, not just promises.


National Platform: http://www.gop.com/media/2004platform.pdf
State Platform: http://www.indgop.org/literature/2004Platform.pdf
Sen. Zell Miller (D. GA), speech to the 2004 Convention: http://www.gopconvention.com/cgi-data/speeches/files/ie65ay1zuai2r6ttb19uj6s2y6q7930j.shtml
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R. CA), speech to the 2004 Convention: http://www.gopconvention.com/cgi-data/speeches/files/2jl158h8hr9cm5t7e4d379jp6o186680.shtml
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R, NY), speech to the 2004 Convention: http://www.gopconvention.com/cgi-data/speeches/files/c9amag533wqt110276ixn2s44k2uxpyf.shtml


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