To Restore America

Ronald Reagan: Speech to America, March 31, 1976


Good evening to all of you from California. Tonight, I’d like to talk to you about issues. Issues which I think are involved—or should be involved in this primary election season. I’m a candidate for the Republican nomination for president. But I hope that you who are Independents and Democrats will let me talk to you also tonight because the problems facing our country are problems that just don’t bear any party label.

In this election season the White House is telling us a solid economic recovery is taking place. It claims a slight drop in unemployment. It says that prices aren’t going up as fast, but they are still going up, and that the stock market has shown some gains. But, in fact, things seem just about as they were back in the 1972 election year. Remember, we were also coming out of a recession then. Inflation had been running at round 6 percent. Unemployment about 7 [percent]. Remember, too, the upsurge and the optimism lasted through the election year and into 1973. And then the roof fell in. Once again we had unemployment. Only this time not 7 percent, more than 10. And inflation wasn’t 6 percent, it was 12 percent. Now, in this election year 1976, we’re told we’re coming out of this recession just because inflation and unemployment rates have fallen, to what they were at the worst of the previous recession. If history repeats itself, will we be talking recovery four years from now merely because we’ve reduced inflation from 25 percent to 12 percent?

The fact is, we’ll never build a lasting economic recovery by going deeper into debt at a faster rate than we ever have before. It took this nation 166 years until the middle of World War II to finally accumulate a debt of $95 billion. It took this administration just the last 12 months to add $95 billion to the debt. And this administration has run up almost one-fourth of the total national debt in just these short 19 months.

Inflation is the cause of recession and unemployment. And we’re not going to have real prosperity or recovery until we stop fighting the symptoms and start fighting the disease. There’s only one cause for inflation government spending more than government takes in. The cure is a balanced budget. Ah, but they tell us, 80 percent of the budget is uncontrollable. It’s fixed by laws passed by Congress. Well, laws passed by Congress can be repealed by Congress. And, if Congress is unwilling to do this, then isn’t it time we elect a Congress that will?

Soon after he took office, Mr. Ford promised he would end inflation. Indeed, he declared war on inflation. And, we all donned those WIN buttons to “Whip Inflation Now.” Unfortunately the war if it ever really started was soon over. Mr. Ford without WIN button, appeared on TV, and promised he absolutely would not allow the Federal deficit to exceed $60 billion (which incidentally was $5 billion more than the biggest previous deficit we’d ever had). Later he told us it might be as much as $70 billion. Now we learn it’s 80 billion or more.

Then came a White House proposal for a $28 billion tax cut, to be matched by a S28 billion cut in the proposed spending not in present spending, but in the proposed spending in the new budget. Well, my question then and my question now is, if there was $28 billion in the new budget that could be cut, what was it doing there in the first place?

Unfortunately, Washington doesn’t feel the same pain from inflation that you and I do. As a matter of fact, government makes a profit on inflation. For instance, last July Congress vaccinated itself against that pain. It very quietly passed legislation (which the president signed into law) which automatically now gives a pay increase to every Congressman every time the cost of living goes up.

It would have been nice if they’d thought of some arrangement like that for the rest of us. They could, for example, correct a great unfairness that now exists in our tax system. Today, when you get a cost of living pay raise one that just keeps you even with purchasing power it often moves you up into a higher tax bracket. This means you pay a higher percentage in tax, but you reduce your purchasing power. Last year, because of this inequity, the government took in $7 billion in undeserved profit in the income tax alone, and this year they’ll do even better.

Now isn’t it time that Congress looked after your welfare as well as its own? Those whose spending policies cause inflation to begin with should be made to feel the painful effect just as you and I do.

Repeal of Congress’ automatic pay raise might leave it with more incentive to do something to curb inflation. Now, let’s 100k at Social Security. Mr. Ford says he wants to “preserve the integrity of Social Security.” Well, I differ with him on one word. I would like to restore the integrity of Social Security. Those who depend on it see a continual reduction in their standard of living. Inflation strips the increase in their benefits. The maximum benefit today buys 80 fewer loaves of bread than it did when that maximum payment was only $85 a month. In the meantime, the Social Security payroll tax has become the most unfair tax any worker pays. Women are discriminated against particularly working wives. And, people who reach Social Security age and want to continue working, should be allowed to do so without losing their benefits. I believe a presidential commission of experts should be appointed to study and present a plan to strengthen and improve Social Security while there’s still time so that no person who has contributed to Social Security will ever lose a dime.

Before leaving this subject of our economic problems, let’s talk about unemployment. Ending inflation is the only long range and lasting answer to the problem of unemployment. The Washington Establishment is not the answer. It’s the problem. Its tax policies, its harassing regulation, its confiscation of investment capital to pay for its deficits keeps business and industry from expanding to meet your needs and to provide the jobs we all need.

No one who lived through the Great Depression can ever look upon an market for that job skill. Back in those dark depression days I saw my father on a Christmas eve open what he thought was a Christmas greeting from his boss. Instead, it was the blue slip telling him he no longer had a job. The memory of him sitting there holding that slip of paper and then saying in a half whisper, “That’s quite a Christmas present”; it will stay with me as long as I live. Other problems go unsolved. Take energy. Only a short time ago we were lined up at the gas station turned our thermostats down as Washington announced “Project Independence.” We were going to become self-sufficient, able to provide for our own energy needs. At the time, we were only importing a small percentage of our oil. Yet, the Arab boycott caused half a million Americans to lose their jobs when plants closed down for lack of fuel. Today, it’s almost three years later and “Project Independence” has become “Project Dependence.” Congress has adopted an energy bill so bad we were led to believe Mr. Ford would veto it. Instead, he signed it. And, almost instantly, drilling rigs all over our land started shutting down. Now, for the first time in our history we are importing more oil than we produce. How many Americans will be laid off if there’s another boycott? The energy bill is a disaster that never should have been signed.

An effort has been made in this campaign to suggest that there aren’t any real differences between Mr. Ford and myself. Well, I believe there are, and these differences are fundamental. One of them has to do with our approach to government. Before Richard Nixon appointed him Vice President, Mr. Ford was a Congressman for 25 years. His concern, of necessity, was the welfare of his congressional district. For most of his adult life he has been a part of the Washington Establishment. Most of my adult life has been spent outside of government. My experience in government was the eight years I served as governor of California. If it were a nation, California would be the 7th-ranking economic power in the world today.

When I became governor, I inherited a state government that was in almost the same situation as New York City. The state payroll had been growing for a dozen years at a rate of from five to seven thousand new employees each year. State government was spending from a million to a million-and-a-half dollars more each day than it was taking in. The State’s great water project was unfinished and under-funded by a half a billion dollars. My predecessor had spent the entire year’s budget for Medicaid in the first six months of the fiscal year. And, we learned that the teacher’s retirement fund was unfunded a $4 billion liability hanging over every property owner in the state. I didn’t know whether I’d been elected governor or appointed receiver. California was faced with insolvency and on the verge of bankruptcy. We had to increase taxes. Well, this came very hard for me because I felt taxes were already too great a burden. I told the people the increase in my mind was temporary and that, as soon as we could, we’d return their money to them.

I had never in my life thought of seeking or holding public of office and I’m still not quite sure how it all happened. In my own mind, I was a citizen representing my fellow citizens against the institution of government. I turned to the people, not to politicians for help. Instead of a committee to screen applicants for jobs, I had a citizens’ recruiting committee, and I told this committee I wanted an administration made up of men and women who did not want government careers and who’d be the first to tell me if their government job was unnecessary. And I had that happen. A young man from the aerospace industry dissolved his department in four months, handed me the key to this office, and told me we’d never needed the department. And to this day, I not only have never missed it I don’t know where it was.

There was a reason for my seeking people who didn’t want government careers. Dr. Parkinson summed it all up in his book on bureaucracy. He said, “Government hires a rat-catcher and the first thing you know, he’s become a rodent control officer.” In those entire eight years, most of us never lost that feeling that we were there representing the people against what Cicero once called the “arrogance of officialdom.” We had a kind of watchword we used on each other. “When we begin thinking of government as we instead of they, we’ve been here too long.” Well, I believe that attitude would be beneficial in Washington.

We didn’t stop just with getting our administration from the ranks of the people. We also asked for help from expert people in a great many fields, and more than 250 of our citizens volunteered to form into task forces. They went into every department and agency of state government to see how modern business practices could make government more efficient, economical and responsive. They gave an average of 117 days apiece full time, away from their own jobs and careers at no cost to the taxpayers. They made eighteen hundred specific recommendations. We implemented more than sixteen hundred of those recommendations.

This was government-by-the-people, proving that it works when the people work at it. When we ended our eight years, we turned over to the incoming administration a balanced budget, a $500 million surplus, and virtually the same number of employees we’d started with eight years before even though the increase in population had given some departments a two-thirds increase in work load. The water project was completed with $165 million left over. Our bonds had a triple A rating, the highest credit rating you can get. And the teachers’ retirement program was fully funded on a sound actuarial basis. And, we kept our word to the taxpayers we returned to them in rebates and tax cuts, $5 billion, $761 million.

I believe that what we did in California can be done in Washington if government will have faith in the people and let them bring their common sense to bear on the problems bureaucracy hasn’t solved. I believe in the people. Now, Mr. Ford places his faith in the Washington Establishment. This has been evident in his appointment of former Congressmen and longtime government workers to positions in his Administration. Well, I don’t believe that those who have been part of the problem are necessarily the best qualified to solve those problems.

The truth is, Washington has taken over functions that don’t truly belong to it. In almost every case it has been a failure. Now, understand, I’m speaking of those programs which logically should be administered at state and local levels. Welfare is a classic example. Voices that are raised now and then urging a federalization of welfare don’t realize that the failure of welfare is due to federal interference. Washington doesn’t even know how many people are on welfare how many cheaters are getting more than one check. It only knows how many checks it’s sending out. Its own rules keep it from finding out how many are getting more than one check.

Well, California had a welfare problem. Sixteen percent of all welfare recipients in the country were drawing their checks in our state. We were sending welfare checks to families who decided to live abroad. One family was receiving its check in Russia. Our caseload was increasing by 40,000 people a month. Well, after a few years of trying to control this runaway program and being frustrated by bureaucrats here in California and in Washington, we turned again to a citizens’ task force. The result was the most comprehensive welfare reform ever attempted. And in less than three years we reduced the rolls by more than 300,000 people, saved the taxpayers S2 billion, and increased the grants to the truly deserving needy by an average of 43 percent. We also carried out a successful experiment which I believe is an answer to much of the welfare problem in the nation. We put able- bodied welfare recipients to work at useful community projects in return for their welfare grants.

Now, let’s look at housing. Washington has tried to solve this problem for the poor by building low-cost houses. So far it’s torn down three and a half homes for every one it’s built.

Schools in America we created at the local level and administered at the local level for many years the greatest public school system in the world. Now through something called federal aid to education, we have something called federal interference, and education has been the loser. Quality has declined as federal intervention has increased. Nothing has created more bitterness, for example, than forced busing to achieve racial balance. It was born of a hope that we could increase understanding and reduce prejudice and antagonism. And I’m sure we all approved of that goal. But busing has failed to achieve the goal. Instead, it has increased the bitterness and animosity it was supposed to reduce. California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Wilson Riles (himself a Black), says, “The concept that Black children can’t learn unless they are sitting with white children is utter and complete nonsense. ” Well, I agree. The money now being wasted on this social experiment could be better spent to provide the kind of school facilities every child deserves. Forced busing should be ended by legislation if possible by constitutional amendment if necessary. And, control of education should be returned to local school districts.

The other day Mr. Ford came out against gun control. But back in Washington, D.C., his Attorney General has proposed a seven-point program that amounts to just that: gun control. I don’t think that making it difficult for law-abiding citizens to obtain guns will lower the crime rate not when the criminals will always find a way to get them. In California I think we found an answer. We put into law what is practical gun control. Anyone convicted of having a gun in his possession while he committed a crime: add five to fifteen years to the prison sentence.

Sometimes bureaucracy’s excesses are so great that we laugh at them. But they are costly laughs. Twenty-five years ago the Hoover Commission discovered that Washington files a million reports a year just reporting there is nothing to report. Independent business people, shopkeepers and farmers file billions of reports every year required of them by Washington. It amounts to some 10 billion pieces of paper each year, and it adds $50 billion a year to the cost of doing business. Now, Washington has been loud in its promise to do something about this blizzard of paperwork. And they made good. Last year they increased it by 20 percent.

But there is one problem which must be solved or everything else is meaningless. I am speaking of the problem of our national security. Our nation is in danger, and the danger grows greater with each passing day. Like an echo from the past, the voice of Winston Churchill’s grandson was heard recently in Britain’s House of Commons warning that the spread of totalitarianism threatens the world once again and the democracies are wandering without aim.”

“Wandering without aim” describes the United States’ foreign policy. Angola is a case in point. We gave just enough support to one side to encourage it to fight and die, but too little to give them a chance of winning. And while we’re disliked by the winner, distrusted by the loser, and viewed by the world as weak and unsure. If detente were the two-way street it’s supposed to be, we could have told the Soviet Union to stop its trouble-making and leave Angola to the Angolans. But it didn’t work out that way.

Now, we are told Washington is dropping the word “detente,” but keeping the policy. But whatever it’s called, the policy is what’s at fault. What is our policy? Mr. Ford’s new Ambassador to the United Nations attacks our longtime ally, Israel. In Asia, our new relationship with mainland China can have practical benefits for both sides. But that doesn’t mean it should include yielding to demands by them, as the administration has, to reduce our military presence on Taiwan where we have a longtime friend and ally, the Republic of China.

And, it’s also revealed now that we seek to establish friendly relations with Hanoi. To make it more palatable, we’re told that this might help us learn the fate of the men still listed as Missing in Action. Well, there’s no doubt our government has an obligation to end the agony of parents, wives and children who’ve lived so long with uncertainty. But, this should have been one of our first demands of Hanoi’s patron saint, the Soviet Union, if detente had any meaning at all. To present it now as a reason for friendship with those who have already violated their promise to provide such information is hypocrisy.

In the last few days, Mr. Ford and Dr. Kissinger have taken us from hinting at invasion of Cuba, to laughing it off as a ridiculous idea. Except, that it was their ridiculous idea. No one else suggested it. Once again what is their policy? During this last year, they carried on a campaign to befriend Castro. They persuaded the Organization of American States to lift its trade embargo, lifted some of the U.S. trade restrictions. They engaged in cultural exchanges. And then, on the eve of the Florida primary election, Mr. Ford went to Florida, called Castro an outlaw and said he’d never recognize him. But he hasn’t asked our Latin American neighbors to reimpose a single sanction, nor has he taken any action himself. Meanwhile, Castro continues to export revolution to Puerto Rico, to Angola, and who knows where else?

As I talk to you tonight, negotiations with another dictator go forward negotiations aimed at giving up our ownership of the Panama Canal Zone. Apparently, everyone knows about this except the rightful owners of the Canal Zone you, the people of the United States. General Omar Torrijos, the dictator of Panama, seized power eight years ago by ousting the duly-elected government. There have been no elections since. No civil liberties. The press is censored. Torrijos is a friend and ally of Castro and, like him, is pro-Communist. He threatens sabotage and guerrilla attacks on our installations if we don’t yield to his demands. His foreign minister openly claims that we have already agreed in principle to giving up the Canal Zone.

Well, the Canal Zone is not a colonial possession. It is not a long-term lease. It is sovereign United States Territory every bit the same as Alaska and all the states that were carved from the Louisiana Purchase. We should end those negotiations and tell the General: We bought it, we paid for it, we built it, and we intend to keep it.

Mr. Ford says detente will be replaced by “peace through strength.” Well now, that slogan has a a nice ring to it, but neither Mr. Ford nor his new Secretary of Defense will say that our strength is superior to all others. In one of the dark hours of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “It is time to speak the truth frankly and boldly.” Well, I believe former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger was trying to speak the truth frankly and boldly to his fellow citizens. And that’s why he is no longer Secretary of Defense.

The Soviet Army outnumbers ours more than two-to-one and in reserves four-to-one. They out-spend us on weapons by 50 percent. Their Navy outnumbers ours in surface ships and submarines two-to-one. We’re outgunned in artillery three-to-one and their tanks outnumber ours four-to-one. Their strategic nuclear missiles are larger, more powerful and more numerous than ours. The evidence mounts that we are Number Two in a world where it’s dangerous, if not fatal, to be second best. Is this why Mr. Ford refused to invite Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the White House? Or, why Mr. Ford traveled halfway ’round the world to sign the Helsinki Pact, putting our stamp of approval on Russia’s enslavement of the captive nations? We gave away the freedom of millions of people freedom that was not ours to give.

Now we must ask if someone is giving away our own freedom. Dr. Kissinger is quoted as saying that he thinks of the United States as Athens and the Soviet Union as Sparta. “The day of the U.S. is past and today is the day of the Soviet Union.” And he added, “. . . My job as Secretary of State is to negotiate the most acceptable second-best position available.” Well, I believe in the peace of which Mr. Ford spoke as much as any man. But peace does not come from weakness or from retreat. It comes from the restoration of American military superiority. as much as any man. But peace does not come from weakness or from retreat. It comes from the restoration of American military superiority.

Ask the people of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary all the others: East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania ask them what it’s like to live in a world where the Soviet Union is Number One. I don’t want to live in that kind of world; and I don’t think you do either. Now we learn that another high official of the State Department, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, whom Dr. Kissinger refers to as his “Kissinger,” has expressed the belief that, in effect, the captive nations should give up any claim of national sovereignty and simply become a part of the Soviet Union. He says, “their desire to break out of the Soviet straightjacket” threatens us with World War III. In other words, slaves should accept their fate.

Well, I don’t believe the people I’ve met in almost every State of this Union are ready to consign this, the last island of freedom, to the dust bin of history, along with the bones of dead civilizations of the past. Call it mysticism, if you will, but I believe God had a divine purpose in placing this land between the two great oceans to be found by those who had a special love of freedom and the courage to leave the countries of their birth. From our forefathers to our modern-day immigrants, we’ve come from every corner of the earth, from every race and every ethnic background, and we’ve become a new breed in the world. We’re Americans and we have a rendezvous with destiny. We spread across this land, building farms and towns and cities, and we did it without any federal land planning program or urban renewal.

Indeed, we gave birth to an entirely new concept in man’s relation to man. We created government as our servant, beholden to us and possessing no powers except those voluntarily granted to it by us. Now a self-anointed elite in our nation’s capital would have us believe we are incapable of guiding our own destiny. They practice government by mystery, telling us it’s too complex for our understanding. Believing this, they assume we might panic if we were to be told the truth about our problems.

Why should we become frightened? No people who have ever lived on this earth have fought harder, paid a higher price for freedom, or done more to advance the dignity of man than the living Americans the Americans living in this land today. There isn’t any problem we can’t solve if government will give us the facts. Tell us what needs to be done. Then, get out of the way and let us have at it.

Recently on one of my campaign trips I was doing a question-and-answer session, and suddenly I received a question from a little girl couldn’t have been over six or seven years old standing in the very front row. I’d heard the question before but somehow in her asking it, she threw me a little bit. She said, why do you want to be president? Well, I tried to tell her about giving government back to the people; I tried to tell her about turning authority back to the states and local communities, and so forth; winding down the bureaucracy. [It] might have been an answer for adults, but I knew that it wasn’t what that little girl wanted, and I left very frustrated. It was on the way to the next stop that I turned to Nancy and I said I wish I had it to do over again because I I’d like to answer her question.

Well, maybe I can answer it now. I would like to go to Washington. I would like to be president, because I would like to see this country become once again a country where a little six-year old girl can grow up knowing the same freedom that I knew when I was six years old, growing up in America. If this is the America you want for yourself and your children; if you want to restore government not only of and for but by the people; to see the American spirit unleashed once again; to make this land a shining, golden hope God intended it to be, I’d like to hear from you. Write, or send a wire. I’d be proud to hear your thoughts and your ideas.

Thank you, and good night.

The Reagan Expansion

From 1982-89 the United States experienced a record-setting expansion. The expansion would set a record for peace-time growth, lasting longer than any other peace-time expansion up until that time. During this time the GDP grew at an annual rate of 3.5% (4.3% for the expansion), a rate greater than in the decade before not equaled after until the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994.

You can view a graph of the Reagan Record as well.

Those looking for information to refute the myths about “bad checks” or “credit cards” fueling the expansion, or that President Reagan caused the deficits all by himself should visit the sections on debt and income and wealth. Also of interest will be the sections on the standard of living and incomes.

The Cato Organization has done a nice summary of the Reagan Years which supports much of what we say here on The Reagan Information Page.

California and the Problem of Government Growth

January 5, 1967


To a number of us, this is a first and hence a solemn and momentous occasion, and yet, on the broad page of state and national history, what is taking place here is almost commonplace routine. We are participating in the orderly transfer of administrative authority by direction of the people. And this is the simple magic which makes a commonplace routine a near miracle to many of the world’s inhabitants: the continuing fact that the people, by democratic process, can delegate this power, yet retain custody of it.

Perhaps you and I have lived with this miracle too long to be properly appreciative. Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction, It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again. Knowing this, it is hard to explain those who even today would question the people’s capacity for self-rule. Will they answer this: if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? Using the temporary authority granted by the people, an increasing number lately have sought to control the means of production, as if this could be done without eventually controlling those who produce. Always this is explained as necessary to the people’s welfare. But, “The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principle upon which it was founded” [Montesquieu]. This is as true today as it was when it was written in 1748.

Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid. With all the profound wording of the Constitution, probably the most meaningful words are the first three: “We, the People.” Those of us here today who have been elected to constitutional office or legislative position are in that three-word phrase. We are of the people, chosen by them to see that no permanent structure of government ever encroaches on freedom or assumes a power beyond that freely granted by the people. We stand between the taxpayer and the taxspender.

It is inconceivable to me that anyone could accept this delegated authority without asking God’s help. I pray that we who legislate and administer will be granted wisdom and strength beyond our own limited power; that with Divine guidance we can avoid easy expedients, as we work to build a state where liberty under law and justice can triumph, where compassion can govern, and wherein the people can participate and prosper because of their government and not in spite of it.

The path we will chart is not an easy one. It demands much of those chosen to govern, but also from those who did the choosing. And let there be no mistake about this: We have come to a crossroad a time of decision and the path we follow turns away from any idea that government and those who serve it are omnipotent. It is a path impossible to follow unless we have faith in the collective wisdom and genius of the people. Along this path government will lead but not rule, listen but not lecture. It is the path of a Creative Society.

A number of problems were discussed during the campaign, and I see no reason to change the subject now. Campaign oratory on the issues of crime, pollution of air and water, conservation, welfare, and expanded educational facilities does not mean the issues will go away because the campaign has ended. Problems remain to be solved and they challenge all of us. Government will lead, of course, but the answer must come from all of you.

We will make specific proposals and we will solicit other ideas. In the area of crime, where we have double our proportionate share, we will propose legislation to give back to local communities the right to pass and enforce ordinances which will enable the police to more adequately protect these communities. Legislation already drafted will be submitted, calling upon the Legislature clearly to state in the future whether newly-adopted laws are intended to preempt the right of local governments to legislate in the same field. Hopefully, this will free judges from having to guess the intent of those who passed the legislation in the first place.

At the same time, I pledge my support and fullest effort to a plan which will remove from politics, once and for all, the appointment of judges . . . not that I believe I’ll be overburdened with making judicial appointments in the immediate future.

Just as we assume a responsibility to guard our young people up to a certain age from the possible harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco, so do I believe we have a right and a responsibility to protect them from the even more harmful effects of exposure to smut and pornography. We can and must frame legislation that will accomplish this purpose without endangering freedom of speech and the press.

When fiscally feasible, we hope to create a California crime technological foundation utilizing both public and private resources in a major effort to employ the most scientific techniques to control crime. At such a time, we should explore the idea of a state police academy to assure that police from even the smallest communities can have the most advanced training. We lead the nation in many things; we are going to stop leading in crime. Californians should be able to walk our streets safely day or night. The law abiding are entitled to at least as much protection as the law-breakers.

While on the subject of crime . . . those with a grievance can seek redress in the courts or legislature, but not in the streets. Lawlessness by the mob, as with the individual, will not be tolerated. We will act firmly and quickly to put down riot or insurrection wherever and whenever the situation requires.

Welfare is another of our major problems. We are a humane and generous people and we accept without reservation our obligation to help the aged, disabled, and those unfortunates who, through no fault of their own, must depend on their fellow man. But we are not going to perpetuate poverty by substituting a permanent dole for a paycheck. There is no humanity or charity in destroying self-reliance, dignity, and self-respect … the very substance of moral fiber.

We seek reforms that will, wherever possible, change relief check to paycheck. Spencer Williams, Administrator of Health and Welfare, is assessing the amount of work that could be done in public installations by welfare recipients. This is not being done in any punitive sense, but as a beginning step in rehabilitation to give the individual the self-respect that goes with performing a useful service.

But this is not the ultimate answer. Only private industry in the last analysis can provide jobs with a future. Lieutenant Governor Robert Finch will be liaison between government and the private sector in an all-out program of job training and education leading to real employment.

A truly great citizen of our state and a fine American, Mr. H.C. McClellan, has agreed to institute a statewide program patterned after the one he directed so successfully in the “curfew area” of Los Angeles. There, in the year and a half since the tragic riots, fully half of the unemployed have been channeled into productive jobs in private industry, and more than 2,600 businesses are involved. Mr. McClellan will be serving without pay and the entire statewide program will be privately financed. While it will be directed at all who lack opportunity, it offers hope especially to those minorities who have a disproportionate share of poverty and unemployment.

In the whole area of welfare, everything will be done to reduce administrative overhead, cut red tape, and return control as much as possible to the county level. And the goal will be investment in, and salvage of, human beings.

This Administration will cooperate with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in his expressed desires to return more control of curriculum and selection of textbooks to local school districts. We will support his efforts to make recruitment of out-of-state teachers less difficult.

In the subject of education… hundreds of thousands of young men and women will receive an education in our state colleges and universities. We are proud of our ability to provide this opportunity for our youth and we believe it is no denial of academic freedom to provide this education within a framework of reasonable rules and regulations. Nor is it a violation of individual rights to require obedience to these rules and regulations or to insist that those unwilling to abide by them should get their education elsewhere.

It does not constitute political interference with intellectual freedom for the taxpaying citizens who support the college and university systems to ask that, in addition to teaching, they build character on accepted moral and ethical standards.

Just as a man is entitled to a voice in government, so he should certainly have that right in the very personal matter of earning a living. I have always supported the principle of the union shop, even though that includes a certain amount of compulsion with regard to union membership. For that reason it seems to me that government must accept a responsibility for safeguarding each union member’s democratic rights within his union. For that reason we will submit legislative proposals to guarantee each union member a secret ballot in his union on policy matters and the use of union dues.

There is also need for a mediation service in labor management disputes not covered by existing law. There are improvements to be made in workmen’s compensation in death benefits and benefits to the permanently disabled. At the same time, a tightening of procedures is needed to free business from some unjust burdens.

A close liaison with our congressional representatives in Washington, both Democratic and Republican, is needed so that we can help bring about beneficial changes in Social Security, secure less restrictive controls on federal grants, and work for a tax retention plan that will keep some of our federal taxes here for our use with no strings attached. We should strive also to get tax credits for our people to help defray the cost of sending their children to college.

We will support a bipartisan effort to lift the archaic 160- acre limitation imposed by the federal government on irrigated farms. Restrictive labor policies should never again be the cause of crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.

Here in our own Capitol, we will seek solutions to the problems of unrealistic taxes which threaten economic ruin to our biggest industry. We will work with the farmer as we will with business, industry, and labor to provide a better business climate so that they may prosper and we all may prosper.

There are other problems and possible problems facing us. one such is now pending before the United States Supreme Court. I believe it would be inappropriate to discuss that matter now. We will, however, be prepared with remedial legislation we devoutly hope will be satisfactory to all of our citizens if court rulings make this necessary.

This is only a partial accounting of our problems and our dreams for the future. California, with its climate, its resources, and its wealth of young, aggressive, talented people, must never take second place. We can provide jobs for all our people who will work, and we can have honest government at a price we can afford. Indeed, unless we accomplish this, our problems will go unsolved, our dreams unfulfilled and we will know the taste of ashes.

I have put off until last what is by no means least among our problems. Our fiscal situation has a sorry similarity to the situation of a jetliner out over the North Atlantic, Paris-bound. The pilot announced he had news some good, some bad and he would give the bad news first. They had lost radio contact; their compass and altimeter were not working; they didn’t know their altitude, direction or where they were headed. Then he gave the good news they had a 100-mile-an-hour tail-wind and they were ahead of schedule.

Our fiscal year began July 1st and will end on the coming June 30th six months from now. The present budget for this twelve-month period is $4.6 billion, an all-time high for any of the fifty states. When this budget was presented, it was admittedly in excess of the estimated tax revenues for the year. It was adopted with the assurance that a change in bookkeeping procedures would solve this imbalance.

With half the year gone, and faced now with the job of planning next year’s budget, we have an estimate provided by the experienced personnel of the Department of Finance. We have also an explanation of how a change in bookkeeping could seemingly balance a budget that called for spending $400 million more than we would take in.

Very simply, it was just another one-time windfall a gimmick that solved nothing but only postponed the day of reckoning. We are financing the twelve-month spending with fifteen-month income. All the tax revenues for the first quarter of next year July, August, and September will be used to finance this year’s expenses up to June 30th. And incidentally, even that isn’t enough, because we will still have a deficit of some $63 million.

Now, with the budget established at its present level, we are told that it, of course, must be increased next year to meet the added problems of population growth and inflation. But the magic of the changed bookkeeping is all used up. We are back to only twelve months’ income for twelve months’ spending. Almost automatically we are being advised of all the new and increased taxes which, if adopted, will solve the problem. Curiously enough, another one-time windfall is being urged. If we switch to withholding of personal income tax, we will collect two years’ taxes the first year and postpone our moment of truth perhaps until everyone forgets we did not cause the problem we only inherited it. Or maybe we are to stall, hoping a rich uncle will remember us in his will.

If we accept the present budget as absolutely necessary and add on projected increases plus funding for property tax relief (which I believe is absolutely essential and for which we are preparing a detailed and comprehensive program), our deficit in the coming year would reach three-quarters of a billion dollars.

But Californians are already burdened with combined state and local taxes $113 per capita higher than the national average. Our property tax contributes to a slump in the real estate and building trades industries and makes it well-nigh impossible for many citizens to continue owning their own homes.

For many years now, you and I have been shushed like children and told there are no simple answers to the complex problems which are beyond our comprehension.

Well the truth is, there are simple answers they just are not easy ones. The time has come for us to decide whether collectively we can afford everything and anything we think of simply because we think of it. The time has come to run a check to see if all the services government provides were in answer to demands or were just goodies dreamed up for our supposed betterment. The time has come to match outgo to income, instead of always doing it the other way around.

The cost of California’s government is too high; it adversely affects our business climate. We have a phenomenal growth with hundreds of thousands of people joining us each year. Of course, the overall cost of government must go up to provide necessary services for these newcomers, but growth should mean increased prosperity and thus a lightening of the load each individual must bear. If this isn’t true, then you and I should be planning how we can put up a fence along the Colorado River and seal our borders.

Well, we aren’t going to do that. We are going to squeeze and cut and trim until we reduce the cost of government. It won’t be easy, nor will it be pleasant, and it will involve every department of government, starting with the Governor’s office. I have already informed the legislature of the reorganization we hope to effect with their help in the executive branch and I have asked for their cooperation and support.

The new Director of Finance is in complete agreement that we turn to additional sources of revenue only if it becomes clear that economies alone cannot balance the budget.

Disraeli said: “Man is not a creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men.” you and I will shape our circumstances to fit our needs.

Let me reaffirm a promise made during the months of campaigning. I believe in your right to know all the facts concerning the people’s business. Independent firms are making an audit of state finances. When it is completed, you will have that audit. You will have all the information you need to make the decisions which must be made. This is not just a problem for the administration; it is a problem for all of us to solve together. I know that you can face any prospect and do anything that has to be done as long as you know the truth of what you are up against.

We will put our fiscal house in order. And as we do, we will build those things we need to make our state a better place in which to live and we will enjoy them more, knowing we can afford them and they are paid for.

If, in glancing aloft, some of you were puzzled by the small size of our state flag… there is an explanation. That flag was carried into battle in Vietnam by young men of California. Many will not be coming home. One did: Sergeant Robert Howell, grievously wounded. He brought that flag back. I thought we would be proud to have it fly over the Capitol today. It might even serve to put our problems in better perspective. It might remind us of the need to give our sons and daughters a cause to believe in and banners to follow.

If this is a dream, it is a good dream, worthy of our generation and worth passing on to the next.

Let this day mark the beginning.

Great Quotes from President Reagan

When you see all that rhetorical smoke billowing up from the Democrats, well ladies and gentleman, I’d follow the example of their nominee; don’t inhale.

Republican National Convention, 1992.

This fellow they’ve nominated claims he’s the new Thomas Jefferson. Well let me tell you something; I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine and Governor… You’re no Thomas Jefferson!

Republican National Convention, 1992

Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.

Los Angeles Times, January 7, 1970

It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work — work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981

This Administration’s objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy.

First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981

[N]o arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.

First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981.

Cures were developed for which there were no known diseases.

Commenting on Congress and the federal budget, 1981

I hope you’re all Republicans.

To surgeons as he entered the operating room, March 30, 1981

We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefitting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.

September 29, 1981

The size of the federal budget is not an appropriate barometer of social conscience or charitable concern.

Address to the National Alliance of Business, October 5, 1981

We’ve done our part. And as I walk off into the city streets, a final word to the men and women of the Reagan revolution, the men and women across America who for 8 years did the work that brought America back. My friends: We did it. We weren’t just marking time. We made a difference. We made the city stronger, we made the city freer, and we left her in good hands. All in all, not bad, not bad at all.

Farewell Address to the Nation, January 20th, 1989.

Government has an important role in helping develop a country’s economic foundation. But the critical test is whether government is genuinely working to liberate individuals by creating incentives to work, save, invest, and succeed.

October 30, 1981

Government is the people’s business and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid.

Address to the New York City Partnership Association, January 14, 1982

We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.

Address to National Association of Realtors, March 28, 1982

It is the Soviet Union that runs against the tide of history…. [It is] the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism- Leninism on the ash heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.

Speech to Britain’s Parliament, June, 1982

Let us beware that while they [Soviet rulers] preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination over all the peoples of the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world…. I urge you to beware the temptation … to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.

Speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983

I call upon the scientific community in our country, those who gave us nuclear weapons, to turn their great talents now to the cause of mankind and world peace, to give us the means of rendering those nuclear weapons impotent and obsolete.

Address to the Nation, March 23, 1983

There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.

Address to the University of South Carolina, Columbia, September 20, 1983

History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.

Address to the nation, January 16, 1984

We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.

Normandy, France, June 6, 1984

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest.

Normandy, France, June 6, 1984.

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them — this morning, as they prepared for their journey, and waved good-bye, and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”

Speech about the Challenger disaster, January 28, 1986

Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom. What brought America back? The American people brought us back — with quiet courage and common sense; with undying faith that in this nation under God the future will be ours, for the future belongs to the free.

State of the Union Address, February 4, 1986

[G]overnment’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Remarks to the White House Conference on Small Business, August 15, 1986

The other day, someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people’s democracy. It’s the same difference between a jacket and a straitjacket.

Remarks at Human Rights Day event, December 10, 1986

How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.

Remarks in Arlington, Virginia, September 25, 1987

Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

Speech near the Berlin Wall, 1987

A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist.

February 11, 1988

Freedom is the right to question and change the established way of doing things. It is the continuous revolution of the marketplace. It is the understanding that allows to recognize shortcomings and seek solutions.

Address to students at Moscow State University, May 31, 1988

The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away.

Attributed

Republicans believe every day is 4th of July, but Democrats believe every day is April 15.

Attributed

“After watching the State of the Union address the other night, I’m reminded of the old adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Only in this case, it’s not flattery, but grand larceny: the intellectual theft of ideas that you and I recognize as our own. Speech delivery counts for little on the world stage unless you have convictions, and, yes, the vision to see beyond the front row seats.”

RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994

“Although the political landscape has changed, the bold ideas of the 1980’s are alive and well. Republican candidates swept every major election across the country last year… and as a result, it seems that our opponents have finally realized how unpopular liberalism really is. So now they’re trying to dress their liberal agenda in a conservative overcoat.”

RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? . . . Today in our country the tax collector’s share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.

October 27, 1964 [Contributor’s note: The Tax Foundation reports government at all levels as of 1994 takes 49% of personal income, minus transfer payments.]

However, our task is far from over. Our friends in the other party will never forgive us for our success, and are doing everything in their power to rewrite history. Listening to the liberals, you’d think that the 1980’s were the worst period since the Great Depression, filled with suffering and despair. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting awfully tired of the whining voices from the White House these days. They’re claiming there was a decade of greed and neglect, but you and I know better than that. We were there.

RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994

If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what’s at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

In an ironic sense, Karl Marx was right. We are witnessing today a great revolutionary crisis — a crisis where the demands of the economic order are colliding directly with those of the political order. But the crisis is happening not in the free, non-Marxist West, but in the home of Marxism-Leninism, the Soviet Union…. [Communism will be] left on the ash heap of history.

June 1982

It was leadership here at home that gave us strong American influence abroad, and the collapse of imperial Communism. Great nations have responsibilities to lead, and we should always be cautious of those who would lower our profile, because they might just wind up lowering our flag.

RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994

It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

Now, as most of you know, I’m not one for looking back. I figure there will be plenty of time for that when I get old. But rather, what I take from the past is inspiration for the future, and what we accomplished during our years at the White House must never be lost amid the rhetoric of political revisionists.

RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, “What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.” But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.”

FORTUNE, September 15, 1986

The Democrats may remember their lines, but how quickly they forget the lessons of the past. I have witnessed five major wars in my lifetime, and I know how swiftly storm clouds can gather on a peaceful horizon. The next time a Saddam Hussein takes over Kuwait, or North Korea brandishes a nuclear weapon, will we be ready to respond? In the end, it all comes down to leadership, and that is what this country is looking for now.

RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994

The Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

“The years ahead will be great ones for our country, for the cause of freedom and the spread of civilization. The West will not contain Communism, it will transcend Communism. We will not bother to denounce it, we’ll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages are even now being written.”

Notre Dame University, May 17, 1981

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Winston Churchill said that “the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits — not animals.” And he said, “There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.”

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. However, we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

We are for aiding our allies by sharing our material blessings with nations which share our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward restoring for our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him. . . . But we cannot have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we’re always “against,” never “for” anything.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream — the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, “The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits.”

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.

Address to the nation, October 27, 1964

For you see, my fellow Republicans, we are the change!

RNC speech, August 17, 1992

The poet called Miss Liberty’s torch, “the lamp beside the golden door.” Well, that was the entrance to America, and it still is. And now you really know why we’re here tonight.

The glistening hope of that lamp is still ours. Every promise every opportunity is still golden in this land. And through that golden door our children can walk into tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America.

Her heart is full; her torch is still golden, her future bright. She has arms big enough to comfort and strong enough to support, for the strength in her arms is the strength of her people. She will carry on in the eighties unafraid, unashamed, and unsurpassed.

In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal; America’s is.

RNC speech, August 23, 1984

President Reagan’s 1992 Republican Convention Speech

President Reagan delivered this speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston.


Thank you, Paul for that kind introduction. And Mr. Chairman, delegates, friends, fellow Americans, thank you so very much for that welcome. You’ve given Nancy and me so many wonderful memories, so much of your warmth and affection, we cannot thank you enough for the honor of your friendship.

Over the years, I’ve addressed this convention as a private citizen, as a governor, as a presidential candidate, as a president and now, once again tonight, as private citizen Ronald Reagan.

Tonight is a very special night for me. Of course, at my age, every night’s a very special night. After all, I was born in 1911. Indeed, according to the experts, I have exceeded my life expectancy by quite a few years. Now this a source of great annoyance to some, especially those in the Democratic party.

But, here’s the remarkable thing about being born in 1911. In my life’s journey over these past eight decades, I have seen the human race through a period of unparalleled tumult and triumph. I have seen the birth of communism and the death of communism. I have witnessed the bloody futility of two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. I have seen Germany united, divided and united again. I have seen television grow from a parlor novelty to become the most powerful vehicle of communication in history. As a boy I saw streets filled with model-Ts; as a man I have met men who walked on the moon.

I have not only seen, but lived the marvels of what historians have called the “American Century.” Yet, tonight is not a time to look backward. For while I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future. So this evening, for just a few minutes, I hope you will let me talk about a country that is forever young.

There was a time when empires were defined by land mass, subjugated peoples, and military might. But the United States is unique because we are an empire of ideals. For two hundred years we have been set apart by our faith in the ideals of democracy, of free men and free markets, and of the extraordinary possibilities that lie within seemingly ordinary men and women. We believe that no power of government is as formidable a force for good as the creativity and entrepreneurial drive of the American people.

Those are the ideals that invented revolutionary technologies and a culture envied by people everywhere. This powerful sense of energy has made America synonymous for opportunity the world over. And after generations of struggle, America is the moral force that defeated communism and all those who would put the human soul itself into bondage.

Within a few short years, we Americans have experienced the most sweeping changes of this century: the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the global economy. No transition is without its problems, but as uncomfortable as it may feel at the moment, the changes of the 1990’s will leave America more dynamic and less in danger than at any time in my life.

A fellow named James Allen once wrote in his diary, “many thinking people believe America has seen its best days.” He wrote that July 26, 1775. There are still those who believe America is weakening; that our glory was the brief flash of time called the 20th Century; that ours was a burst of greatness too bright and brilliant to sustain; that America’s purpose is past.

My friends, I utterly reject those views. That’s not the America we know. We were meant to be masters of destiny, not victims of fate. Who among us would trade America’s future for that of any other country in the world? And who could possibly have so little faith in our America that they would trade our tomorrows for our yesterdays?

I’ll give you a hint. They put on quite a production in New York a few weeks ago. You might even call it slick. A stone’s throw from Broadway it was, and how appropriate. Over and over they told us they are not the party they were. They kept telling us with straight faces that they’re for family values, they’re for a strong America, they’re for less intrusive government.

And they call me an actor.

To hear them talk, you’d never know that the nightmare of nuclear annihilation has been lifted from our sleep. You’d never know that our standard of living remains the highest in the world. You’d never know that our air is cleaner than it was 20 years ago. You’d never know that we remain the one nation the rest of the world looks to for leadership.

It wasn’t always this way. We mustn’t forget–even if they would like to– the very different America that existed just 12 years ago; an America with 21 percent interest rates and back to back years of double digit inflation; an America where mortgage payments doubled, paychecks plunged, and motorists sat in gas lines; an America whose leaders told us it was our own fault; that ours was a future of scarcity and sacrifice; and that what we really needed was another good dose of government control and higher taxes.

It wasn’t so long ago that the world was a far more dangerous place as well. It was a world where aggressive Soviet communism was on the rise and American strength was in decline. It was a world where our children came of age under the threat of nuclear holocaust. It was a world where our leaders told us that standing up to aggressors was dangerous — that American might and determination were somehow obstacles to peace.

But we stood tall and proclaimed that communism was destined for the ash heap of history. We never heard so much ridicule from our liberal friends. The only thing that got them more upset was two simple words: “Evil Empire.”

But we knew then what the liberal Democrat leaders just couldn’t figure out: the sky would not fall if America restored her strength and resolve. The sky would not fall if an American president spoke the truth. The only thing that would fall was the Berlin Wall.

I heard those speakers at that other convention saying “we won the Cold War” — and I couldn’t help wondering, just who exactly do they mean by “we”? And to top it off, they even tried to portray themselves as sharing the same fundamental values of our party! What they truly don’t understand is the principle so eloquently stated by Abraham Lincoln: “You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

If we ever hear the Democrats quoting that passage by Lincoln and acting like they mean it, then, my friends, we will know that the opposition has really changed.

Until then, we see all that rhetorical smoke, billowing out from the Democrats, well ladies and gentlemen, I’d follow the example of their nominee. Don’t inhale.

This fellow they’ve nominated claims he’s the new Thomas Jefferson. Well, let me tell you something. I knew Thomas Jefferson. He was a friend of mine. And governor, you’re no Thomas Jefferson.

Now let’s not dismiss our current troubles, but where they see only problems, I see possibilities — as vast and diverse as the American family itself. Even as we meet, the rest of the world is astounded by the pundits and finger pointers who are so down on us as a nation.

Well I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead. America remains what Emerson called her 150 years ago, “the country of tomorrow.” What a wonderful description and how true. And yet tomorrow might never have happened had we lacked the courage in the 1980’s to chart a course of strength and honor.

All the more reason no one should underestimate the importance of this campaign and what the outcome will mean. The stakes are high. The presidency is serious business. We cannot afford to take a chance. We need a man of serious purpose, unmatched experience, knowledge and ability. A man who understands government, who understands our country and who understands the world. A man who has been at the table with Gorbachev and Yeltsin. A man whose performance as commander-in-chief of the bravest and most effective fighting force in history left the world in awe and the people of Kuwait free of foreign tyranny. A man who has devoted more than half of his life to serving his country. A man of decency, integrity and honor.

And tonight I come to tell you that I — warmly, genuinely, wholeheartedly support the re-election of George Bush as president United States.

We know President Bush. By his own admission, he is a quiet man, not a showman. He is a trustworthy and levelheaded leader who is respected around the world. His is a steady hand on the tiller through the choppy waters of the ’90s, which is exactly what we need.

We need George Bush!

Yes, we need Bush.

We also need another fighter, a man who happens to be with us this evening, someone who has repeatedly stood up for his deepest convictions. We need our vice president, Dan Quayle.

Now it’s true: a lot of liberal democrats are saying it’s time for a change; and they’re right; the only trouble is they’re pointing to the wrong end of Pennsylvania Avenue. What we should change is a Democratic congress that wastes precious time on partisan matters of absolutely no relevance to the needs of the average American. So to all the entrenched interests along the Potomac — the gavel-wielding chairmen, the bloated staffs, the taxers and takers and congressional rule makers, we have a simple slogan for november 1992: clean house!

For you see, my fellow Republicans, we are the change! For 50 of the last 60 years the Democrats have controlled the Senate. And they’ve had the House of Representatives for 56 of the last 60 years.

It’s time to clean house. Clean out the privileges and perks. Clean out the arrogance and the big egos. Clean out the scandals, the corner-cutting and the foot-dragging.

What kind of job do you think they’ve done during all those years they’ve been running the Congress?

You know, I used to say to some of those Democrats who chair every committee in the House: “You need to balance the government’s checkbook the same way you balance your own.” Then I learned how they ran the House bank, and I realized that was exactly what they had been doing!

Now, just imagine what they would do controlled the executive branch, too!

This is the 21st presidential election in my lifetime, the 16th in which I will cast a ballot. Each of those elections had its shifting moods of the moment, its headlines of one day that were forgotten the next. There have been a few more twists and turns this year than in others, a little more shouting about who was up or down, in or out, as we went about selecting our candidates. But now we have arrived, as we always do, at the moment of truth — the serious business of selecting a president.

Now is the time for choosing.

As it did 12 years ago, and as we have seen many times in history, our country now stands at a crossroads. There is widespread doubt about our public institutions and profound concern, not merely about the economy but about the overall direction of this great country.

And as they did then, the American people are clamoring for change and sweeping reform. The question we had to ask 12 years ago is the question we ask today: What kind of change can we Republicans offer the American people?

Some might believe that the things we have talked about tonight are irrelevant to the choice. These new isolationists claim that the American people don’t care about how or why we prevailed in the great defining struggle of our age — the victory of liberty over our adversaries. They insist that our triumph is yesterday’s news, part of a past that holds no lessons for the future.

Well nothing could be more tragic, after having come all this way on the journey of renewal we began 12 years ago, than if America herself forgot the lessons of individual liberty that she has taught to a grateful world.

Emerson was right. We are the country of tomorrow. Our revolution did not end at Yorktown. More than two centuries later, America remains on a voyage of discovery, a land that has never become, but is always in the act of becoming.

But just as we have led the crusade for democracy beyond our shores, we have a great task to do together in our own home. Now, I would appeal to you to invigorate democracy in your own neighborhoods.

Whether we come from poverty or wealth; whether we are Afro-American or Irish-American; Christian or Jewish, from big cities or small towns, we are all equal in the eyes of God. But as Americans that is not enough we must be equal in the eyes of each other. We can no longer judge each other on the basis of what we are, but must, instead, start finding out who we are. In America, our origins matter less than our destinations and that is what democracy is all about.

A decade after we summoned America to a new beginning, we are beginning still. Every day brings fresh challenges and opportunities to match. With each sunrise we are reminded that millions of our citizens have yet to share in the abundance of American prosperity. Many languish in neighborhoods riddled with drugs and bereft of hope. Still others hesitate to venture out on the streets for fear of criminal violence. Let us pledge ourselves to a new beginning for them.

Let us apply our ingenuity and remarkable spirit to revolutionize education in America so that everyone among us will have the mental tools to build a better life. And while we do so, let’s remember that the most profound education begins in the home.

And let us harness the competitive energy that built America, into rebuilding our inner cities so that real jobs can be created for those who live there and real hope can rise out of despair.

Let us strengthen our health care system so that Americans of all ages can be secure in their futures without the fear of financial ruin.

And my friends, once and for all, let us get control of the federal deficit through a Balanced Budget Amendment and line item veto.

And let us all renew our commitment. Renew our pledge to day by day, person by person, make our country and the world a better place to live. Then when the nations of the world turn to us and say, “America, you are the model of freedom and prosperity.” We can turn to them and say, “you ain’t seen nothing, yet!”

For me, tonight is the latest chapter in a story that began a quarter of a century ago, when the people of California entrusted me with the stewardship of their dreams.

My fellow citizens — those of you here in this hall and those of you at home — I want you to know that I have always had the highest respect for you, for your common sense and intelligence and for your decency. I have always believed in you and in what you could accomplish for yourselves and for others.

And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts. My dream is that you will travel the road ahead with liberty’s lamp guiding your steps and opportunity’s arm steadying your way.

My fondest hope for each one of you — and especially for the young people here — is that you will love your country, not for her power or wealth, but for her selflessness and her idealism. May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will make the world a little better for your having been here.

May all of you as Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism.

And finally, my fellow Americans, may every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill.

Before I go, I would like to ask the person who has made my life’s journey so meaningful, someone I have been so proud of through the years, to join me. Nancy …

My fellow Americans, on behalf of both of us, goodbye, and God bless each and every one of you, and God bless this country we love.