Chairman’s Closing Remarks
Lincoln Day Dinner, February 20, 2009
In closing, I will not reiterate the accomplishments of the Bush presidency but simply reflect that he was a simple, direct, principled man – he said what he meant and what he meant he said. When he stated at Ground Zero shortly after 9/11 that those responsible would soon hear from us, they did.
Through a tremendous amount of fortitude and often even alone in his own administration, especially when it came to the idea of what turned out to be the most successful strategy in Iraq yet-the surge, he remained steadfast in his belief in democracy in the Middle East and in his role as commander-in-chief. Right before the inauguration, several conservative columnists wrote columns with the theme that President Bush “kept us safe”. Well, if that was all he accomplished and it wasn’t, let me speak as the father of a handsome 13 year old – job well done Mr. President.
In regards to the current occupant of the White House, I do not wish to say that he is unprincipled because I believe that gives off the wrong connotation. However contemplation leads to major reservations regarding him. Obama spent over half his life as Barry – as his Kenyan father abandoned him early, as he then spent several years in a Muslim household of his stepfather before spending the rest of his formative years with his grandparents in Hawaii.
Barry then goes to Occidental College but finds it not big enough or radical enough and in a quest to “find” himself he heads for Columbia and becomes Barack. With the help of a Columbia education, Chicago politicians, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and his wife, Barack pretty much “finds” himself as a man of the left. He runs as a leftist for the Democratic Presidential nomination, wins, then runs to the center during the general election, and wins.
Pretty normal for a politician running for national office, except that since winning the election and especially since the inauguration we have received nothing but mixed signals, generally of the left, but still all muddled and mixed. I believe that this nation has elected a man who has few if any firm guiding principles – a virtual blank slate as if young Barry is still in search of the adult Barack but with an appalling amount of arrogance and overconfidence reminding one of a youth. I am afraid that we will soon, if we are not already, be paying for the mistakes resulting from his inexperience – witness the precipitous plunge of the Dow after the announcement of his stimulus package. The Dow stands at about half of its value from just 18 months ago.
Where does this leave us as a party? Immediately after the election there was a kneejerk reaction to the Republican “brand” as if a change in formula or a new commercial will make all the difference. There was open discussion revolving around the conservative nature of our party.
Lincoln stated in a speech in Columbus in 1859 that the “chief and real purpose of the Republican Party is eminently conservative” and “proposes nothing save and except to restore this government to its original tone…and there to maintain it looking for no further change…than that which the original framers of the government themselves expected and looked forward to”. I will go one tiny step further than Father Abe. I believe that a strong majority of our party, and I include myself, think of themselves as conservatives first and Republicans second. In other words, as conservatives we view the Republican Party as the best vehicle which holds true to certain principles, certain beliefs, certain truths, such as:
- We believe in the sanctity of all human life.
- We believe that the fundamental unit of organization in our society is the family based on the marriage of one man to one woman.
- We believe that the establishment clause in the 1st Amendment is just that, an establishment clause which does not bar religion from the public square.
- We believe that the 2nd amendment means what is clearly stated that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
- We believe that courts should interpret the law as to its original intent and not make law or legislate from bench.
- We believe that the proper size and scope of the government can be described by the same word and that word is “small.”
Lincoln on this issue states “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot do so well for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.”
We believe that the fundamental unit of change, the source of all ingenuity, progress, and greatness of this nation is the individual and that the government’s proper role is not to over regulate, over tax, or unnecessarily hinder the individual in his pursuit of gain but to provide the proper infrastructure and then get out of the way.
We believe that we are the sons and daughters of the Scot/Irish/English Enlightenment which believes that our natural rights derive from our Divine Creator.
In an excellent article titled, “The Conservative Lincoln,” in the February 23rd edition of the National Review, preeminent Lincoln historian Allen Guelzo states, “At the core of Lincoln’s conservatism was the Declaration of Independence. He said he had, “…never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.”
In particular he regarded Jefferson’s key sentence—“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 among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”—as the proposition to which the American republic had been “dedicated” at its birth.
These beliefs, truths, and principles cannot be the subject of negotiations, compromises, bargains, deals, or trade-offs in an illusory attempt to attract new members- for what is really at stake is the heart, the soul, and the very foundation of our party.”