Renew America rally at the McKay Events Center
March 8, 2000
Praise God. Thank you. Thank you
very much. Wow! Thank you. Praise God. [loud applause]
I think I'll say that again: Praise God, YES!! [loud applause] Yes. I have to tell you that, to start out with that wonderful welcome is overwhelming. And this evening, I was just telling Chris, and I wanted to make sure that Stefani [Stone] would know this, and everybody who worked so hard. We've been at this for several years now in various forms, and we've always had an ability, it seems, when we work at--and everybody knows we get out pretty good crowds. But as Keyes rallies go, this is the largest assemblage of people just come together for a Keyes rally that we have ever had! And I want to thank you for that. [wild applause] Thank you. God bless you. Thank you.
And here, at various times along the way, people have compared this effort to the fight of David against Goliath in the Bible. And, I realize now that, here we've been going up against Goliath all this time, but I had to come to Utah in order to find the "Smooth Stones." [laughter] And I don't know whether it's because I'm less capable or we're facing a bigger battle, but I think there are 12 instead of 5. [laughter]
But I want to thank all of you for coming out this evening. And as I often tell people, in gratitude for the extra effort you have made to be here, that I shall spend the next few minutes doing my level best to depress you about the state of the country. [laughter] And I bet you think, "There's gratitude for you." [laughter]
But see, I think that it's wonderful to offer hope; but you cannot build a solid and true hope on a foundation of lies. [applause] And I think one of the things that characterizes our time today is that we live in a era of lies, presided over by the Prince of Lies, and it is time to bring this era to an end! [applause]
And so I think we need to face the hard fact--and that hard fact is palpable now. If it wasn't before, in the course of the last several years, it has become increasingly clear. It may be hard for some folks to focus on in the midst of our good times and prosperity, and we've defeated our international opponents and all these things. But the truth of the matter is that we are in the midst, right now, today, of the most dangerous crisis in the history of our nation's life. It is a crisis that was predicted by our Founders and our greatest statesmen who understood that the end of American liberty would not result from foreign conquest or material collapse, but our liberty would end because, having given up our moral discipline and its true foundations, we would meekly and sadly surrender it without a shot. [applause]
And that, I'm afraid, is what we have been doing far too long. The crisis of that surrender is upon us. And we will not be able to stop this process and turn it around if we are unwilling to face the truth. But the danger that comes to us today does not come from some foreign military power, and it does not come some threat of economic collapse. It is the result of our turning our backs on the fundamental principle of this nation's life and freedom--the principle that we cannot escape, that we can't miss, that we can't pretend we don't know or understand. It is written in large letters on the first page of this nation's independence, and it carries with it that truth, without which we cannot hope to sustain our peace and liberty: "We hold these truths to be self-evident," our Founders wrote, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."
You hear those words--sadly, our children hear them less often these days than they used to, but in some parts of the country, anyway. But I wonder how often we think about what they mean? We hear those words, and folks will be out there every day--somebody's fighting for their equality, fighting for their rights. These words are constantly in our mouths. But, if we go back to that founding principle, there is one other truth that ought to be on our hearts. For, if we wish to sustain our claim to rights and liberty, then we must acknowledge the truth that our Founders acknowledged: you don't get to the equality, and can't claim the liberty, except you accept the existence and the authority of our Creator, God. [applause]
In the course of this campaign effort, I've done my level best to make sure that everywhere I go, in every appearance I make, in every speech, and in every debate, and in every venue, and in every interview, I take the opportunity to state that simple truth. People want to analyze it to death. They want to come up with all kinds of reasons why we are facing problems, and family difficulties, and murder, and violence in the streets and in the schools. And they want to come up with all kinds of fancy reasons why it seems as if so many people are losing heart and turning away from the true meaning of their citizenship. They want to come up with all kinds of explanations for what appears to be the moral decline of this nation's life. But the explanation is as clear as the principle is simple: without faith there is no freedom, without God there is no liberty. [long applause]
If we want to hold on to this heritage, if we want to pass it intact to our children, then we must begin by returning to our acknowledgment of that simple fact. But sometimes, I think it may be a little hard for some, because people have lived taking things too much for granted. I think that be one of the besetting sins of American life: that we act as if this exceptional opportunity that Providence has set before us as a people is just normal and usual. It's not. The opportunity that we have to participate in and shape the life and destiny of our community and our country--it is exceptional in the history of human kind. It is exceptional even on the face of the earth today. We have for too long been willing to act as if this is the way things are, and this is the way they always will be, while right before our eyes, today, we are already watching the surrender and destruction of our own liberties and the institutions of self-government that embody them. [applause]
And this is something, I think, that if we don't it take seriously, we're not going to be able to deal with it. If we listen to words from the great Declaration, and we act as if those words still have meaning in our nation's life that we can take for granted, then we will lose our liberty.
Got to contemplate just some
simple truths--the truth, for instance, about what has happened in the course
for several decades in our government-dominated schools. How are we to
preserve in the hearts and minds of our children an understanding of the
meaning of that simple phrase, "all men are created equal, and are
endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights"--how is that
phrase to be anything but gibberish, anything but a meaningless combination
of syllables and sounds, when our children today go into schools where you
cannot speak the name the Creator in the hallways, where you cannot invoke
the authority of the Creator in the classroom? We have created an educational
system funded throughout the country by taxpayer dollars that systematically
turns our children away from the truth that makes them free. [applause]
And yet, we go on taking it for granted that they're going to say those words and they'll mean something. I don't know how we can assume this. I don't know especially how we can assume it when, in those same schools, we're not only leading our children to turn their backs on the existence and authority of God--we don't realize it, but we've actually substituted an ideology that is the exact opposite of the ideology of the Declaration, of the principles stated there.
And I don't want to get deeply into controversial this's and thats, but these days in our science classes, you know, they teach evolution. It's all well and good, as far as it goes, but what I often wonder about, though, as you look at the basic philosophy behind it--and it is taught, you've noticed probably, as ideology and dogma. It's not taught as science. The reason I always observe that to folks is because science questions itself. A matter of fact is, there's not a scientific theory on the books that you're not allowed to question in light of the facts. And the reason we accept them is because every time you question some of them, the facts fall out the same way. And that's the way it's supposed to be. On the day it ceases to be that way, we'll discard the theories, or at least we'll condition them.
There's only one so-called scientific theory that's not taught in that fashion, and it's the theory of evolution, which is taught in such a way you can't even raise the scientific questions about it in the schools. I've wondered about this merely from the point of view of whether or not that is, in fact, the right method to teach our children science. But it does show you that it's not about science. It's about ideology. It's about dogma. And what is the dogma?
Well, go back. Scratch the surface of the writings, and so forth. The old phrase that was used to describe it at one level which had its social implications was "survival of the fittest." And what that means is that the strong survive and the weak get left behind, and more pity on them. Well, no, don't take any pity on them, because "that's the way things are." I don't see anything that could be further from the principle that lies at the heart of what is supposed to be the American understanding of justice.
It's not that the strong dominate, the strong rule, that the powerful self-justify, that the weak can be stomped on and left behind. Not at all. But rather, that every individual, whatever their condition, their station, their background, whatever their strength, or their weakness, is entitled to respect in their dignity and rights because those rights come not from human power but from the power and choice of God. That's the American understanding. [applause]
And today, all too often in our schools, we are not only letting our children turn their backs on that understanding, to hear not a word that confirms the truth of the Creator's existence or authority; we're also just, by the way, substituting for it an ideology that represents the exact opposite of that true principle of justice.
And every time I think this through, I wonder, how--why do we think we can get away with this? Why do we go on happily believing that everything will continue as it is? That elections, that due process, that all the things we take for granted, will just keep chugging along? It's never been that way anywhere else. You look at any historical epoch you want to name: when folks finally discarded the moral foundation of their civilization, that civilization collapsed. It did not survive for long. And we are systematically turning our backs on the moral foundations of freedom--and not either in the abstract. It's not just a question of old "Professor Keyes" up there again talking in his abstract principles. Not at all. Because we have not just turned our backs in principle, we have not just turned our backs in the classroom, we have not just been willing to abandon the truth in some words that we neglect. In the name of a profound lie, we have reached across the line of justice into what ought to be the safe haven of the womb, and snuffed out the lives of tens of millions of innocent human beings! [applause]
We have not been content, it seems, merely to back away from the truth in thought; we have transgressed it in practice. And I know it's not fashionable these days, but our country was founded and sustained over its life by people who understood the profound truth that the life we live and the history we are part of unfolds in the presence of a Judge--and we can tempt His judgment for just so long, and then we suffer the consequences. That's what lead Jefferson, when he looked upon the institution of slavery, to write in the notes on Virginia. I think it was: "I tremble for my country when I think that God is just, and that his justice will not sleep forever."
The sad truth is, I think we live in a time today in America when there are all too many people who think that the justice of God will sleep forever. They don't want to look back on either Thomas Jefferson's wary prediction, or at Lincoln's acknowledgment that his prediction was correct--when, in the second inaugural address, he looked upon the terrible cost of the Civil War and, in asking the question, "How long would it go on?" he said, "If it had to go on until every drop of blood drawn with the last was requited by one drawn with the sword, than as was said 10,000 years ago, so still it must be said today: that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous all together." [applause]
Our greatest statesmen were not afraid to acknowledge the existence of God. They were not afraid to remind this nation that, unless we live in the light of His precepts, we could incur the judgment that falls against our transgressions.
And I don't know. I guess it's one of those things that people often wonder, "Alan what keeps you goin'?" One of those things that keeps me going is that if what I just said is true, then I think we ought to try some time to look seriously at the question of what we are storing up for ourselves now in America.
As we live in a nation that began
with the acknowledgment of God's truth, that went through a terrible war of
judgment and tragedy and in which hundreds of thousands lost their lives--the
bloodiest war in the nation's history, ever--there were those who understood
that that was a judgment that was required in order to end the scourge of
But slavery, my friends, had at least this advantage: the objective of slavery was not the destruction of the slaves. The slave masters would even go to great pains to make sure those slaves were alive and well and kickin', so they could work out there in the fields. We get on our high horse today, don't we? There are so many people that just discard the Founders, because they owned slaves. And I'm thinkin' to myself, "Yeah, but who's gonna discard us? We're killing babies." [applause]
We don't want to look at the truth. We stand on no high moral plateau in our time. We are, in fact, plumbing depths of depravity unknown to our ancestors--and whatever may have been the evil in which they engaged, at least they were willing to acknowledge the principle by which their evil was condemned. We have even turned our back on the principle.
We've got to look seriously, because I wish I could say that this were just all fun and games. You go out; you give some nice speeches; you go; you have votes; the bands play; we have elections. It just goes on, no matter what. Hasn't been the case, though, not in this country and not in this world. We stand at the end of the 20th century looking back on years marred by the worst holocaust and slaughter in the history of humankind--that came upon civilizations that have prided and preened themselves on their science, on their philosophy, on their humanity, and have ended up performing evils more depraved than any scene in human history. What makes us think we're immune?
What makes us think that we can go on, playing with the fire of our scientific knowledge, turning now down paths that confront us with the possibility not just of purging and destroying the human body, but of manipulating human nature itself--providing us with a material power that goes well beyond the imaginings of the wicked conquerors of the past? What makes us think we will be immune from the ultimate abuse of all this power, if we surrender the principle that holds the conscience of power in check, and that assures even the weak and helpless and vulnerable amongst us against its worst abuses?
And that is what the Declaration's principle represents--but only when we respect its substance. To mouth the words is meaningless. For, the words have no heart or soul once we have destroyed our respect for the will of God in our fear, in conscience, of the judgment that comes when we transgress that will. And so we have, as a people--and the interesting thing to me is that the judgment comes, and we're bringing it on ourselves. It's one of those things that, I think, is reflective of the truth that we can go so far thinking that it's somebody else's fault, when we get in trouble, but then we come to a moment where we are faced with the truth that that trouble comes upon us because we are willing to make the wrong choices, even when the right ones are available. [applause]
And I think that that's a sign as well. That's part of what keeps me goin' out here, because I kind of figure from my little reading that there are times . . . and, sad to say, if you think about it hard for America, those are the times the day before judgment--I mean like the angels wandering down to Sodom just before they were destroyed, and things of this kind.
Ah, there are times when folks are impelled to go out and--without regard to any reaction, without regard to whether the polls are up or the polls are down, without regard to victory or defeat, without regard to whether this media person likes what they say or that politician condemns--you're impelled to go out and to stand in the good times, in the bad, with good reactions and the bad, in the crowds of thousands, or in the rooms with only a handful, and do only one thing: to bear witness to the truth that God is the foundation of all human justice, and that, as we abandon that foundation, we abandon this nation's hope. We abandon this nation's destiny. [applause]
It is clear. Now, I believe that that is very clear in practical terms. If you walk, for instance, through the events of the last several years--and I know that it's not fashionable anymore to refer to these events. Would you allow me a little aside here? Because I can't get into this particular subject without talking a little bit about the current state of mind in some quarters in the Republican Party--which state of mind really strikes me as impressively blind to the truth. Because we're in a situation, aren't we, where we have been through several years, and we faced during those several years a failure and betrayal of moral stewardship at the highest level in our nation's life. Like nothing we have ever seen before in American history. And the worst of it wasn't just that the present occupant of the White House lied and violated his oath and assaulted the integrity of the judicial branch; the worst of it wasn't that we had somebody sitting in the White House obviously without the integrity required in order to do the job for this country. The worst of it was, that after many months of hemming and hawing in lies and cover up, when the truth finally hit the table, when it was all clear and all documented and all understood, the Senate of the United States lacked the integrity to do its duty and perform its oath. [long applause]
And they left Bill Clinton sitting a job he should never have had--proving that he wasn't the only one guilty of perjury up there, since every Senator who voted to clear him violated their oath as well. [applause]
But we have to ask ourselves, though, given the nature of our government--you end up with a President who doesn't respect his oath and a Senate who refuses to call him to account. Before you start, any of us start, looking at that and beating them over the head and saying what terrible leaders they are, and how that reflects on them, and "all we have to do is get rid of . . ." Yeah, uh huh. We are still living in a country, aren't we, where every once in a while we gotta go into the voting booth. There's not a single person sitting in the Senate of the United States, and there's nobody who ever darkened the door of the White House, that didn't get the suffrages of the American people that put 'em there. And that means that if we end up with a government that has no integrity, we'd better turn around and look ourselves in the heart to ask what has become of our own. [applause]
The surrender of our moral principle clearly has practical effects. I remember even during that whole impeachment business--to watch what was going back and forth--and there were times when I was on the air then doing my radio show, and people would call up and some of them would be quite outraged, because they knew that there were things on the table, including things that I think have subsequently been even more confirmed about the administration's surrender of our secrets to Communist China--the transfer of technology that's helping to build up a new adversary that can threaten our cities and our lives in the coarse of the new century--and they would look at things like that, and they would say, why aren't they being called into account for that? Why is it about all these sexual foibles, and all this personal stuff?
And though I thought the question sometimes justified, I thought, "Why is it we must take a good hard look at what might be the truth that God is trying to communicate to us through this?" Maybe it is precisely in order to draw attention to the fact that the loss of our personal integrity leads directly to the loss of all integrity in our system of self-government.
Maybe He was trying to get it
clear to us that we cannot make this distinction some people try to make
between our denial of God's authority over our own choices and our own lives,
and our denial of His authority as a people.
Maybe we can't get away from the truth that, once we can no longer find individuals who have the integrity to do their duty in spite of their passions and inclinations, and even at the highest levels in the highest offices, our way of life will be sullied by their lack of discipline, their lack of integrity, their inability, even though the whole world depends on it, to respect the simplest aspects of their duties to their family or their country. [applause]
We have been through a crisis that ought to have driven that point home with the greatest clarity. And yet, I wonder if we still don't want to look at it, because I've noticed in course of this campaign . . . I'm wonderin' how we expect, and here I'm speaking of we as Republicans--do we have any Republicans here tonight? [applause] Now, I always ask that question, because my audience usually has a pretty good mix. So, right now I want to speak to Republicans, see. Ah, but of course y'all are, as I understand it in Utah, if you act quickly now, those of you who are Republicans could run out tomorrow and still vote in the election, so I wanted to tell you that. But I want to talk to those, though, who are going to be thinking, who will trying to make this choice or help make it on behalf of the Republican Party, because I've been deeply intrigued at the thought that we haven't learned the lesson of the last couple of years.
Here we had the most egregious failure of moral stewardship in the nation's history. Here we had unmistakably the most clear lack of integrity that any individual or party has ever shown. We go through it for two years, and at the end of it everybody's still sittin' there when the smoke clears marveling that he's sittin' there in the Oval Office, and marveling, "Oh, how come the polls don't show this, and how come people are still giving him approval in all of this?"
Now, as Republicans, we need to ask why that happened. Some people compare it, for instance, with Watergate, when they drove Richard Nixon out of the Oval Office for violations that were, I think, evident--that, when they became evident, the Republican leaders looked at them and said, "No. We wouldn't want anybody to get away with that." And having the integrity, still in that era, to do what was right for the country in spite of partisanship, they invited Mr. Nixon to go the same way the Democrats should have invited Mr. Clinton to go. [applause]
But he did not. And I suppose all the while this was going on, the Democrats were just sittin' on sidelines twiddling their thumbs, and silently letting the thing go by--right?--and making sure that in the Senate, for instance, nothing would come out, and in the hearings nothing would come out. That's what our leaders did--the Republican leaders in Washington, the ones who didn't have the courage to stand, day in and day out, to call this man to account, to call this nation back to its right principles of conscience. I've gotta tell you, you want to point the finger of blame? Point it at the Democrats, point it at Clinton, but you'd better point it at as well to the feckless, halfhearted, unprincipled Republican leaders who refused to drive the point home. [applause]
And that's relevant. And if you ask, well, would I go point that out? I'll point it out, because in the same way we couldn't count on the media, or anybody else, to drive home the truth during the impeachment crisis, you'd better not count on them, or anybody else, to drive home the truth in the fall election. Come November, if this economy is still booming and, in spite of Clinton's treasons, that the world is still relatively at peace, history suggests that the Republicans have no chance whatsoever of recapturing the White House. I don't know why we don't want to look this truth in the eye, but that's the historic fact. In booming good economic times, the American people have never taken the White House from one party and handed it to another. It doesn't happen. If it's gonna happen this time, it's because we are at the end of a era that clearly proves that the Democrats, in their surrender and betrayal of the moral principles of this nation's life, do not deserve and cannot be trusted with the stewardship of our greatest national institution. [applause]
But, if we want the American people to understand that--if we want them to go into that voting booth and, even in the midst of booming times and a world at peace, vote for what's right for America--then we had better be prepared to do what those Republican leaders were not, in every day, day in and day out, what is required: present to the American people the challenge our moral crisis, and the truth that, if we do not return now to the great principle that ought to shape our heart and conscience, this republic will be no more. If they do not understand the crisis, then they will not cast their vote.
On the basis of that betrayal--which will deliver to us the fruits, the bitter fruits of that crisis. And that's why I think it's so important. For, if our election is going to turn, we're going to stand or fall on the basis of whether or not we persuasively and effectively present to the American people the challenge of our moral life. And that challenge is not just epitomized by Bill Clinton in his lack of integrity. That challenge is there, and the Democrats have failed in their stewardship--not because of the weakness of one man, but because, as a party, they have been willingly to systematically to reject and undermine the principles that ought to shape our hearts in the discipline of freedom. They are the champions of; they are the champions of sexual licentiousness; they are the champions of that government intervention in our lives which undermines our sense of responsibility for our families and our communities. [long applause]
The crisis we are in is not an accident of personalities. The crisis we are in reflects the deep betrayal and abandonment of principle by those in leadership in the Democrat Party for last 50 and 60 and even a 100 years. [applause]
We are going to have to articulate that truth. It was driven home to me not long ago. I was in South Carolina--University of South Carolina. A young lady stood up at the end my talk, and in my talk I had done, of course, what I usually do in my speeches. I talked about the moral crisis, but I had also talked about the issue of abortion and the way in which it epitomizes the betrayal of our moral principles. And she got up, and it's hard for me to describe why it has left such an impression on my mind, but there was a contrast between the wholesome all-American womanhood look of this young lady and then the words that she spoke. For she stood up there, and she looked at me with this wholesome slip-of-the-thing look, in the sense that you got just from her standing up, that she wouldn't harm the hair on anyone's head. I mean, she just looked like most sweet and wonderful person you'd ever want to see. And then she looks at me and she says, "Given your speech, could you tell me in a hundred words or less . . ." Now, I knew right there that looks were deceiving. [laughter] ". . . a hundred words or less, why it is you prefer the rights of potential persons to those of actual persons?"
And I think that that episode will never leave my mind, because I was struck with the truth: that here before me was this wholesome-looking representative of American womanhood, and out of her mouth came words that would have been worthy of Goebbels or some other master of Holocaust--confronting me with her understanding that I had somehow violated some logic unspoken of her belief about American life, and that there I was preferring the rights of "potential persons" to those of "actual persons."
As I thought and contemplated this, I decided that, "Now wait a minute here. Maybe she's missing the point." And so I looked at her and said, "I think you're not understanding the assumption you're making when you asked me that question." And she looked at me quizzically. And I said, "Well, I have a seventeen-year-old son. How old are you?" And she said, "Nineteen." And said, "I know you'll understand, and I hope that you'll forgive me that if I say that my experience of my seventeen-year-old leads me to know that I and many other parents in this country have our days when we seriously doubt that people of your age are actual persons." [laughter]
And the audience chuckled at that just the way y'all did. But then I decided that having, maybe even if just a little bit, got in her to see the shadow of the truth: the truth that what we withdraw from the most innocent, what we withdrawn from the most helpless and vulnerable, what we withdraw in the way of protection of that principle of truth and integrity that we withdraw from the ones we wanna stomp on today has also been withdrawn from the ones who may want to stomp on us tomorrow. Sometimes when we think we've got the upper hand, we can forget that.
I think one of the reasons I don't is, as I reminded that young lady, is due to the fact that I look back on a heritage quite fresh and not that long ago. Because what only a little over a hundred-odd years ago, a man named Frederick Douglass--whom I learned greatly to admire from the reports of his great courage and eloquence in fighting slavery--he used to have to go around America giving a speech, the title of which was, "That the Negro is a Man," in which I cannot forget, he purported to demonstrate that Black Americans were actual persons.
I don't know why the young lady didn't understand that, in addressing this question to me, she addressed the question to someone who not that long ago was on the wrong side of that line--and who understands the mistake we make when we allow anyone to draw that line at all, which should not be in the hands of human beings and should not be subject to human choice. The line of my humanity was drawn by Almighty God, and I will stand upon it! [long applause]
That's the truth. But see, that truth: my right to stand up here and make that claim, my right to feel that I can raise my eyes and look in the face any power on this earth and say that they have no right, whatever their power, or wealth, or education or claims--whatever the might of government, whatever the majorities in society they represent--they have no legitimate right to disregard and trample upon that human dignity, which I claim by virtue of God's authority. That's the American truth. It's the American principle that, over the centuries, defeated "might makes right" and cast out the dark shadows of tyranny and despotism.
We have hallowed ground all over this world with the blood of our patriots in defense of that simple principle of justice and the way of life that flows from it. But sadly now, as our Founders understood, and as Lincoln reminded us time and again, we have come to that moment when all may be lost--not because of conquest, but because we have been willing to surrender or tolerate the surrender of that principle. And we not only, by the way, are withdrawing protection from ourselves, potentially, and from all of those who may end up on the wrong end of some worldly equation of power, we are also undermining our own moral self-respect.
For, what is it, in the end, that guarantees us against the abuse of liberty?
I sometimes watch my Democrat colleges over there, and I will say this for them: I disagree with almost everything they have to say about many things, but I have to admire them for the consistency of their position. See, because here they are and they go forward and they do everything possible to champion those causes that will break down moral discipline, destroy respect for moral principle, dissolve the allegiance to God and everything else, cast Him out of the schools, get rid of Him in the public places, make sure the Authority is not respected in conscience or in fact. They champion the agenda of moral dissolution and corruption. But at least they are consistent enough to understand that in the face of that dissolution of our character, the only answer for a decent and orderly society is an ever-expanding, ever more powerful system of government coercion and government control. And that they offer this as our future. [applause]
See they get it. They get it. They understand. Without character, no liberty. So, "We're going to take your liberty after we've undermined your character." They know what they're up to. And this, I've got say, they go one better. Some of my Republican colleges, and even some of my conservative friends who aren't Republican, want to go out there and talk about limited government and how we need to reclaim control over our schools, and our money, and this and that and the other thing--and yet, who want to deny that we first must champion those issues to which we will regain control over ourselves.
But I want to say it clearly. The first prerequisite of any agenda that seeks to limit the power of government, that seeks to respect the responsibility and authority of parents for the schooling of their children, of workers of the spending for their own hard earned dollars--all these things that involve us in the fight for our own rights and choices and liberty are grounded on this: that we must restore the moral basis of our own self-control and moral self-respect, because without it, we will surrender all our liberties. [applause]
We will surrender them because nobody wants to live in a society with people who are out of control. The best proof of it is by the way we raise our children. It's all well and good to talk of good [unintelligible] about what can go on the outside. I don't know of too many parents who want children acting like freedom means doin' what you please at home. It's best proof that we don't want to live with people who think that freedom means doin' what you please. It's impossible to sustain decency in life, if we take that view, because in the end it amounts to saying do whatever you can get away with, power justifies itself, success justifies everything, disregard the rules, trample on the others so long as you get to the top, it's okay. A society rapacious and exploitative in that fashion would be a society in which no decent person would want to live.
And so, if our freedom and our
lack of self-control produces results that correspond to that nightmare, then
we will surrender control. And what's saddest, we won't even wait for the
results, because we'll have plenty politicians like our liberal friends who
will come forward like the way Bill Clinton already has. Talking to a group
of young people in Virginia, what does he tell them? That if they want safety
and security, they'll probably have to give up some of their rights. Age old
equation of tyranny. William Jefferson Clinton doesn't understand it--but
Thomas Jefferson did, because he wrote that if anyone would give up some of
his rights to secure his safety, he will end up with neither rights nor
And that's the truth of it. But what I want you to focus on, though, my friends, is that we are giving in to these arguments. We are. In every important area of policy, where people come forward to reclaim what ought to be their real control over their money, what are we told? Even when they are arguing about the piddling tax cuts or what they're going to do with the so-called surplus--I've got to go back. The surplus argument particularly intrigues me because, well, I don't know--it could be that I'm just too simple-minded for politics, as Reagan used to say. But I look at that discussion, and I wonder if we ran out and a bought a car, and a few weeks later we got a letter from the dealer, and the dealer told us, "We've just been over the books and we've found that you've overpaid for the car. And we're going to have a meeting tomorrow of the salesmen and directors to decide how much of the money that we're going to send back to you." [laughter]
How many of you would be pleased with that idea? I wonder how it is that sometimes we listen patiently while our politicians have debates like that, and maybe we don't understand what's going on. But it's just like when they stand in front of us and are arguing about their tax cuts and how much they're going to give us. "Well, my plan gives a family of four $2,000. And my plan gives them $1800," and so forth. I keep inviting audiences to stand back and just think for a second, what is it exactly they're giving you? What are they giving you? Your own money! That's a good trick. [laughter]
But no, no. My ancestors clanked around in chains, this is true, but they went us one better, 'cause at least their masters had to pay for the chains. [laughter] See. We pay for our own chains! [applause]
And we listen to them and then, when they invite us to go into the voting booth and be grateful, we do it! We do it. We get down on our knees and thank "massa" politician and go off to vote for them again, because they're kind enough to leave us with a little bit of our own money. And now, I know myself that the reason for that is clear: that the income tax is a system that in principle deprives us of control of all our own money. It gives to the government a preemptive claim to a certain percentage of our income--determined by who? The folks in the government.
Well, obviously, that means they have claim to as much as they want. It means that in principle, when they let us keep any, they are doin' us a favor. That's why they talk that way. You've wondered about that. I know. It's like all this business when they cut taxes, they call it--the money that's left in our pockets, they call that a "tax expenditure." So, you see, when the government leaves money in your pocket, it's spent money on you. I bet you didn't know that! I'll bet you thought you earned that money. Didn't realize it was a result from a largesse from the government that you had any in your pocket at all. But it's true. It's true.
It's not just the way they talk. They talk that way because when we adopted the income tax, we adopted one of the pillars of communism. [applause] We adopted a tax system at the national level that turns over control of all the money made and earned in America in principle to the government. It takes it from the people.
And even when we're talkin' these piddling tax cuts, and we wanna to try to suggest that we want to get back a little of that control, what are we told? Well, folks like Mr. Clinton will stand up there again and say, "No, no wait a minute. We could give the money back to you in the form of tax cuts, but let me tell you why that wouldn't be a good idea," he says. "Wouldn't be a good idea because . . ." and then he goes through the standard parade of horribles. It wouldn't be a good idea because the babies would starve. It wouldn't be a good idea because the elderly people would go without care. It wouldn't be a good idea because folks who come upon hard times would be without help. And why would all this happen? Well, because these government programs would be hurt if you folks get back your own money and have it under your control.
What are we buying into when we buy into all this liberalism? The heart of it that purports to help folks and do right by them . . . I don't think there's anybody in this country that disagrees with that, or at least not many people. I think we are all prone, if someone comes up to us and is really in need, to try to find a way to meet that need. We always have been. It's one of the hallmarks of this great people. But why is it then, these folks come forth and they say, "Okay, let's go do that, but we ought to use the government to do it." But the question I've asked for many years is, "Why?"
We need to get to the heart of this matter. The real choice between an Al Gore and an Alan Keyes, or a Bill Bradley and an Alan Keyes--what is it? They're always talkin' about doin' great things with government. And they speak of government as if it's our warm fuzzy auntie come to take care of us. [laughter] "Why, we've heard you're sick. We've come to help." Sure. And the one problem with government is that if warm fuzzy auntie comes to the door asks you for a little help to defray the expenses for the latest church project, and you say no, auntie has to go to the next house and see if there are less hard-hearted people there. If the tax collector comes to your door and asks you for help in the latest project and you say, "No!" what happens? Well, they'll take the money, they'll take the house, they'll take the liberty, they'll take everything.
See, that's the difference with doing things with government and doing things in other ways. Government is coercion. At the heart of government--you can dress it up in any language you want. Put any verbiage behind it you want. Talk about it in any warm and nurturing terms you like. The heart of government, coated with whatever velvet gloves you want to put on it, is a mailed fist of force and coercion.
And I'll tell ya, it may be necessary, human beings being what we are with our fallen nature and difficulties, we may--we do, in fact--need to have some lines drawn, where it's clear: cross that line, do that deed, and the force of power will come against you. The force of this society will be used to get you in line and keep you in line and stop your abuses. That's all right.
Our Founders were right. They said government was a reflection on human nature, and not a very pleasant one. It's a necessary evil. A harsh requirement of our hearts not being where they ought to be.
But my friends, what happens to us
if, as a society, we follow the invitation of these liberals, and we start
handing over everything we've got to do--taking care of the kids, respecting
the elderly, take care of the neighbors, do the charity, do everything in
life with that government power? Do you know what happens? The sphere of that
coercion gets larger and larger and larger until it encompasses every area of
our life. And as it grows larger, the sphere of our liberty and our dignity
and our responsibility before God grows smaller, until finally it will be no
more. And we will no more be free. That is what happens. [applause]
And that's the direction we're headed in. It's the direction we're headed in. It's the world we'll know if we continue to give in to the arguments that suggest that, unless we're forced, we won't do what's right; that without coercion we won't care for our children, care for the elderly, care for one another in our communities of need.
Is that true of us that we have become a people so depraved, so strange to our obligations, that our hearts will not be moved even by the needs of those we love? So strange, they tell me, to our true sense of obligation, that you notice we're not even supposed to be given access anymore to the means with which to defend our lives and our liberties? The Second Amendment's under assault based on the same argument: "We're just not good enough to be free anymore. We can't be trusted with those dangerous weapons." Makes me wonder, though. If people can't be trusted with the weapons to defend themselves, how come people drawn from the same pool of depravity and irresponsibility can be trusted in the government with the monopoly on weapons when nobody has them? [applause]
I've never understood that. [applause] I don't know how you can get past that one. The point I want to make this evening is that it's all the same thought. It's all the same thought. We are being told that we are a people no longer fit for liberty; we do not have the sense of discipline and concern and obligation and compassion; that we will go, if we have the means of self-defense, and run up and down the streets killing people because our passions are out of control. And I know we want to say, "No, that's not true. We're not like that." But somewhere in our heart of hearts, my friends, we believe they're right. And we believe they're right, because we more than half suspect that a people willing to kill its children in the womb no longer has the self-control to keep from killing one another in the streets. [applause]
No matter how you cut it, the betrayal of our moral principles undermines our sense of moral self-respect. It undercuts our moral confidence. It makes us susceptible to the arguments to which we are talked out of liberty and into an ever-expanding government power.
And I believe that there is only one right answer to this crisis. It is a simple and clear one, but it will be difficult, I think. For, we must return our allegiance to the fundamental principle that makes us free. We must apply that principle consistently to the great issues of our times--starting with abortion. We must go forward without shame and with courage and boldness to represent to the American people, as we are suppose to represent to the world, the great truth that our rights come from God, and must be exercised with respect for the authority of God.
If we are willing to restore that moral foundation for our liberty, then we will come again into our own in the way of moral self-respect and self-confidence. We will stand against those arguments which suggest that, if we control the decisions in the community, in the schools, in the money, the world will deteriorate, because we know that there is no need to fear the sovereignty of a people who acknowledge the sovereignty of God. [applause]
If we are able to come back to this solid and sure foundation, then in spite of the difficulties and the challenges and the great dangers that beset us, we will eschew the path of totalitarianism, and we will turn away from the road that leads to ever greater repression of our liberty. And we will face the new century and the new millennium confident that we shall hand on to new generations the hope that we are supposed as a people to represent. The hope that is, in many respects, the flower and fruit of God's best hopes for us. The hope that, as a people drawn from every race and creed and corner of the globe, we hold before the world as an example, not just of best we can be, but of the best humankind can aspire to. I believe that this is still our vocation as a people, but we shall fail in this vocation if we do not restore the moral foundation of truth that gives us the strength to respond to it. Do that, and it will be enough.
So, I leave you with one final thought and challenge, because this is the point where, according to the different advisers to the candidates, that I'm supposed to ask you for your vote. See. "Go out. Vote for me! Solve every problem! Deal with every difficulty." Not so. Won't happen. No, you might take one step, though, in the right direction. But not just by voting for some name or this or that. No. You'll take a step in the right direction if you consider hard what I've said this evening. And if you believe it is right and true, and that it is, in fact, the priority the country requires, then I would ask first that you would commit yourself in your heart of hearts to return to that allegiance, not only in personal and private choice, but in life. In vocation as a citizen, return to that allegiance to the God who created us and who gave us our rights.
And insisting upon that allegiance in the things we do as a people, prayerfully and carefully consider what you believe to be best for this nation, whose better destiny we all still love. And then go into the voting booth and just to your duty. Just do your duty. It's all that I have tried to do in the months of this campaign, and all that I will do in the weeks ahead--present with integrity the choice that our principles and our God require. And all I ask is that you go into the voting booth and with that same integrity make the choice that you believe conscientiously to be best for your country.
Do our duty, and I believe we can leave the rest most confidently in God's almighty hand. And in so doing, we will find ourselves, I'm pretty sure, walking along the same path of hope to that future which America promises--not only to our children, but to the children of all mankind; not only to our country, but, as Lincoln said, "To all the earth." God bless you. [applause and standing ovation]
Question and Answer session
Thank you. Now, they tell me that for anybody who wants to sit down and stay, I have some time to take some questions, which I would be glad to do. I think we have some microphones wandering about the audience. It's a challenge, but we will do our best to get mikes to folks. Would that be the best way? Or get folks to mikes? Ah, how many mikes do we have? We have two mikes. What if we stand one in the center and one on the side? Either side. Why don't you stand there and have people come to you? Ok, why don't you stand, line up on either side? Mikes are there, and come up to the mike and that might be easiest than having everyone run around this big crowd. It's pretty sizable.
QUESTION: Dr. Keyes, should I begin?
KEYES: Yes, you may begin. I'm ready.
QUESTION: It's my impression that you're viewed as someone who's not sensitive to minorities, someone who has a totally different agenda. And, how do you view that? And what do you see? And where's that coming from? Or is that just a false media representation?
KEYES: Well, I, frankly, have to confess that I don't think I have encountered it that much. I disagree with some of the liberal nostrums that have been served up to minorities and Black Americans--mainly because people don't examine them. I spent several years writing my book, Masters of the Dream, the aim of which was to go over the Black American experience, and to try to get some sense of the truth. And one of the things that I concluded was that all this junk that is presented by liberals, all these government programs and other things that were supposed to do so much good, actually did tremendous harm. And I wonder why common sense doesn't just point this out to a lot of people. Because, well--take, for instance, the liberal agenda champions abortion. Right? Black Americans make up 10 or 11% of the population. But they account now for something of 40 to 45% of all the abortions.
This is a privileged position that I'm not sure anyone in their right mind would aspire to--since it means folks are being killed off now at a faster rate, that people are voluntarily reaching into the womb and cutting off the life of the future. To support a position which leads to that kind of mass murder is "sensitive," is it? I consider it insane. And I consider the people who champion it are people who have declared war against the future of Black America. It is an ugly and insidious war, but it has the same effect as if you mowed down literally millions of people on the battlefield. And yet they claim that this is all in the name of some compassionate agenda.
We have the welfare agenda, and that's supposed to be all about compassion. During slavery, historians estimate that about 60% of the children born to Black American slaves were raised in two-parent families. In many parts of our country today that figure has fallen to 48 and 45 and 40% and less. In some of our major urban areas, 70 to 80% of the children are being born out of wedlock to single mothers. They've actually with all this welfare mess and government-dominated bureaucracy--and will help you so long as you sacrifice your moral soul and your ties to your family. Yeah. They've actually managed to do what slavery couldn't: utterly destroy the structure of Black family life.
So, I do take a different view. I'll never be like that. But my different view is precisely because I'm not willing to be considered "sensitive" and "compassionate" by supporting a bunch of lies and ignoring the facts. I'll look at the facts and base my judgment on them. And I see a lot of things that have done nothing but hurt. And you're not showing people love when you're silent in the face of the things that are destroying them. And I won't be.
QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Keyes, for being here. I'm honored to be here as well. Can you elaborate a little bit on your tax proposal? It's very interesting to me. I'd like to know maybe the origins of the idea, and also, has there been any studies done that would give us any kind of a forecast as to what impact a transition to that plan would have?
KEYES: Yeah, now, the source of my plan is one that I consider to be very trustworthy, because it's a source of many of my ideas. It's the Founding Fathers of the country. And my plan for taxes is very simple: let's return to the original Constitution. Let's get rid of the 16th Amendment that the socialists brought in when the century began. [applause]
Now, under the original Constitution the government was funded with tariffs, duties, and excise taxes. So the plan has two parts. The first is that we will no longer move forward with the collectivist approach to trade and international economics that sacrifices the best interests of the American people for the sake of the profits of a handful of corporations who have found their way to the pockets of our key politicians. We will end the era of that sacrifice. [applause]
But that doesn't mean we're gonna withdraw. I'm not a protectionist. I'm not an isolationist. None of those names actually apply. It's all propaganda. All I want to do is to take the same approach to tariffs and duties--the money we charge foreign enterprises to sell into the American market. That's what a tariff or duty is. You ought to think of it, in my opinion, like, I don't know, the rent a merchant or an owner of a mall charges to the merchants who do business there. When was the last time somebody was able to make the case that the rent charged at the mall interfered with commerce? Now, you've built the mall. You've got to keep the lights on, and the security guards paid, and the place clean. So, they've gotta pay rent. Well, we own this great mall that is the American market. It happens that almost every region of the earth depends on access to this mall to develop and grow rich. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with charging them a reasonable rent. Indeed, since we're the best mall on the face of the earth, there's nothing wrong with charging them premium prices to come get rich here. [applause]
And if they want discounts, we can negotiate some discounts. But, if they want discounts so that they can come get rich here, then we're gonna get equal discounts, so our folks can go get rich over there. It's a fair way to do it, but it's not being done now. So, the first part of the return would be to take a business-like approach to tariffs and duties and trade. Not this ideological free trade approach that sells off the assets of the American people in exchange for nothing that benefits them overall.
Then we're looking at sales taxes. Excise taxes were sales taxes. Now, why would I prefer sales taxes? Well, because, leave aside the question (we'll get to it in a minute) of the rate, sales taxes were preferable mainly because they leave you in control of your money. See, I think that the issue these folks want us to focus us on all the time is how much are they giving us, so that we'll be in this slavish mentality, standin' there beggin' for whatever crumbs of our own money they're willing to let us keep. That's not freedom. That does not resemble freedom. And we shall not taste freedom again, until we get rid of the income tax, because the income tax surrenders control. The sales tax gives it back. So, you have a tax structured in such a way that in each area there are basic generic necessities that are not taxed, right? So, food, clothing, shelter, transportation--you're gonna have low cost goods that will be accessible to people who don't have a lot of money that won't be taxed. Why? So that the poor and people living on fixed income and so forth won't have to pay taxes. But also so that any American, anytime they feel like it, who's gotten into a position where they say, "You know, we need to cut back on this tax (bill)." They won't have to beg some politician to do it. Just by changing their own spending habits, and being more careful with their own money, you'll be able to give yourself a tax cut any time you think you need one. [applause] It will be up to you. Not up to them.
The key to understanding the Founders' approach to taxes was that they believed in freedom. They believed in liberty. And they knew you don't have your liberty if you go out and earn $100 and only bring home $60--giving up control to somebody else. If you earn a $100, you ought to have the first use and the first decision as to what happens to every last penny of the money that you earn. And that's what the Founders gave us. [applause]
Now, I'll give some people who are doing good work on this some free publicity. Because if you call 1-800-FAIRTAX, 1-800-F-A-I-R-T-A-X, FAIRTAX. You'll be able to get information. Or if you go to the web site of the Fair Tax people, they will have their information. It goes deeply into why the sales tax is a better alternative. [www.fairtax.org]
I also try to point out to people that our politicians, notwithstanding in all their false pronouncements--a national sales tax is coming, y'all. It's coming. I predict that it will happen. The moratorium on taxing the internet will go on for a while longer. And then when the internet commercial aspect is on its feet, they will move in to tax it. And I happen to think, by the way, that's perfectly fair. I've listened to the arguments. I understand why we need to shelter this nascent arena until it gets a sufficient infrastructural base to sustain itself. Once it does, I do not understand why anyone would think it's any different than shoppin' down the street. And if the merchant down the street can pay sales tax, so can the merchant on the internet, eventually, when that has gotten its feet under it.
And as I see that--I'm gonna be open and honest about it. The others are lyin' to ya. They'll tell ya, "No, we won't tax it," until the very moment they're ready to tax it, and then the tax will be slapped on, 'cause the states aren't going to stand by forever and watch as their revenues slip into this new arena out of their reach. And that would be wrong to do so. So, a national sales tax is coming. The question we face, my friends, is are we going to pay that tax and an income tax? Or are we gonna get rid of the income tax while we still have time? [applause] The proposal that I support, by the way, sets the rate at 21% and 23%, and it would replace the payroll tax as well as the income tax. So, basically, the deductions on your paycheck would be gone, and you'd bring home all the money. Also, keeping in mind that you repeal the 16th Amendment and you get rid of income taxes--that's all income taxes. That means the capital gains tax, the tax on savings. Anything that touches the personal income of the individuals of this country will be gone! We will be free at last! Free at last! [applause]
MARTIN BAKER, USHER: Ladies and gentlemen, before we have the next question, some of you have asked questions about donating and contributions. There are gonna be three gentlemen who will be passing plates through the crowd. If you're going to write a check, please make that check out to Keyes 2000. Also, some were asking about posters. There are posters throughout the center so just feel free to take one, if you haven't had one yet. Thank you.
QUESTION: Good evening, Dr. Keyes.
QUESTION: I just wanted to let you know that I'm a Maryland native, and I've been following you since I was a little tike. My question tonight is, there was a recent study done and it says that the United States is tops in the world with teenage pregnancy and STD's. And I'm just wondering why that is, if Europe is much more open and debaucherious, why are we ahead of them, and how can we remedy this?
KEYES: Well, I think that the most important thing to understand is that, if you're talking gross numbers, we're ahead in a lot of things because we have more people here concentrated than they do in many other places. We also have a population that is more diverse, particularly in urbanized areas, and that has an impact on all these statistics which demographically distinguish us from European countries--more culturally, homogeneous, and so forth. So, all kinds of explanations are given for the problems we have.
There are a lot of folks today who will also tell you, "Oh, we're doin' fine now," see. I got a question like that during the debates. One of the folks--I think it was Judy Woodruff--was asking me about how we've seen these numbers that are changing, and the teen pregnancies are down, and other things are changing. Now, first of all, we have to be careful, because y'all know that a President that hasn't told you the truth about anything else can't be trusted to preside over an administration telling you the truth about the numbers, either. And many of those numbers, while we weren't looking, they shifted the basis on which the statistics are kept, so that they would look different, then better. However, that doesn't change the fact that there do seem to be some upward trends. But as I pointed out to Judy Woodruff--she was trying to say that because the President is a pot-smoking adulterer who lies all the time to the American people, therefore, that's what we need to improve statistics in America.
I think what happened is that, in one respect, Bill Clinton may have had a salutary effect, because I think that the fact that we got somebody that bad in the White House woke a lot of people up and told them, "We've got to get to work cleaning up this country before it's too late." And they did. So, around the country at the grassroots, I see a lot of hopeful things going on--when folks who are putting together work in the churches and the schools, abstinence counseling and training, starting to wake up to the fact that we have got to restore our commitment to the moral and education and training of our young. And I think that that is the key to making sure that we see a permanent progress and change in all of these areas of our lives that are adversely affected by moral decline. We shouldn't surrender to it on some false hope, but we should restore the premises of our moral discipline, and then, through all the institutions--church, school, home--where that moral conscience and education can be inculcated, we need to reintroduce our children to moral discipline.
Because--I have to tell you one truth that I think is reflected in a lot of these areas. For the moment, we are a freer country than almost any other country on the face of the earth. We have more opportunities to do wrong in America. We are not in a strait jacket. Even when I went to Europe to study as a student years ago, I was struck by how regimented European societies are. They call themselves free. I was living in France, where you had a national ID card, and, if you were caught by a policeman on the street without it, you could be hauled off to jail. I remember thinkin' years ago, "They think they're free here?" We have a kind of liberty that has been the result of our ability to trust, I think, to our own decency. As our decency crumbles, we get worse because we have fewer constraints. But then what happens? Then our Europeanized leaders come along, look at us and say we need to be like Europe, we need more constraints. And that's exactly what's happening. I don't think that's true, though. We don't need to be more like Europe. We need to get back to being more like Americans! [applause]
ROCKY CROFTS, USHER: Dr. Keyes, if we could take a moment, there are some people who have some questions on how to donate that don't have their money with them right now. If you would like to go to the web site: www.keyes2000.org, it gives you information on how to donate on the national site and also on the state site. If you would like to do it, please do it. He needs all the help he can get.
QUESTION: Dr. Keyes, I'm very pleased to see that you have come here to let us Utahns know your stand. And I must admit that I do embrace the principles, and the foundation you propose to put forth. And I do accept the role of the Constitution that our Forefathers set forth. Yet, I cannot ignore the change that has happened over this last century. And the question is, how are we gonna change what has already been done? The governmental institutions that exist right now--they're there. And people depend upon them economically and well as otherwise. How would you downsize that? Would it be over a long period of time? Or would you just come right in and take care of it--nip it in the bud, so to speak?
KEYES: Well, it's a fair question. But it depends on what areas you're talking about. Let's start, say, with the schools. There, I think, we don't need to hem and haw about it. We ought to move as quickly and decisively as possible, to move from an educational approach based on government domination to an educational approach based on parental decision, leadership and responsibility. [applause]
We can do that very quickly. We just start to move in a direction that says, very simply, the money we spend on education at all levels will follow, K through 12, the choice of the parents. Wherever they choose to send their child to school, if we as a public at any level want to second the motion, we will second their decision. We will support and back their responsibility. We will not substitute government choice for their choice. [applause]
That's step number one. That can be done quickly. And, I think, by the way, that quick move, which can be done fairly speedily, would then allow many millions of Americans to start doing what we do best. We are the best ones for reinventing reality in our society. Give us the opportunity, and before you know it, there'll be changed schools and new schools to respond to the real needs of our children. Because that's the way we are. The problem has been that that opportunity has been withdrawn from too many Americans and they haven't lost their taste for that responsibility. They've just lost their sense that needing it is within their power and that's what we have to restore. So, in that area some pretty quick action is quite possible and likely.
The harder area would be an area like this whole huge system of government assistance that we've set up. And there, I think, the answer is that the right institutions must step forward and take responsibility, but that's going to take a little more time. We have, in this society, by the way, a thriving private sector that dedicates itself to reaching out and helping people. It's been the great American tradition. At some point, we gave in to the lie that it would be better to let government do it. And yet, it proves to be a lie, because helping people is a delicate moment. I know that sometimes we act like it's just a matter of tossing money in somebody's direction. But that's not true.
Helping somebody, doing something when they're in need, is a very delicate moment of moral decision and influence. If you do it the right way, you can encourage folks in their own desire to be responsible for themselves and to move forward on the basis of their own sense of moral obligation. You do it the wrong way, and you can utterly destroy what is the natural motive in most of us by our own God-given dignity to wanna stand on our own two feet. Our government-dominated system was wrong, I believe, because it offered people help, as I often say, without the sermon. And the sermon--that may sound, "Oh that's troubling." No, it's not. All I mean by that is, help that goes along with respect for your moral identity, with respect for your own desire to do for yourself, with respect for your moral obligations to yourself and your family and your community. We should never offer help on any terms that insult the dignity and moral responsibility of our people. And we have for too long. [applause]
So, to me that means that you then are gonna turn the helping institutions back over to the institutions of faith in the private sector, the voluntary sector. The first step in that direction, in my opinion, would be to revamp the way we administer these programs. I would envision a system where you would go in seeking help from the government. They'd assess your situation, and then they would ask you to make a choice. Yeah, we're gonna provide you with this array of help--food stamps, mental health, or whatever it might be, but on an emergency basis, we'll make sure you don't starve and aren't on the street today. Over the course of the next few days, you've got to make a choice. You've got to designate within your own neighborhood or community an institution that you'll work with and through that institution from now on your assistance from the government will come. No more putting the government bureaucracy in place of neighbors and responsibility. Give the role back to the people of the community where it belongs. [applause]
Of course, it goes hand in hand with revising the system of taxation, so that people will have available the money that's needed to give in support of these kinds institutions, rather than having that coerced from their pockets from government. Over the course of time, and it will probably take a generation or so, we will get people used to getting people once again working together with one another. We will get used to challenging the institutions within our communities to step up to the plate and do their job. And we'll be able gradually to phase out the government's bureaucratic role and leave the business of mutual help and cooperation where it belongs: in the hands of our people.
That also restores it to its right level of dignity. Because, except for emergency provisions in the beginning, the help we give to one another should not be the result of government compulsion. It should be the result of our voluntary willingness to do toward one another what God requires of us. And what our love of God demands. [applause]
So that's what I would want to do with the assistance system. And that will take time. It will be a transitional period. It will be a combination of this kind of revamping of the administration and conscientious efforts to reawaken the faith in private sector to the full scope of their responsibility. In the course of the last 50 years, I think, we've lost our sense of that and we need to restore it.
I'm told one more question. Yes.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, thank you for being the beacon of morality for this country. [applause] Our country is the envy of the world, despite the many problems that we have, and it seems that our borders are--there's a tremendous problem with the borders of illegal immigration. And it has great taxing effect, particularly in the areas near those borders. Can you address--the political side has done nothing about it over the years. I lived in San Diego for a number of years, and it seems that nothing was ever done, even though there was a lot of talk about it. What would be your approach to immigration? Particularly, illegal immigration?
KEYES: Well, I would wanna make that distinction because, unlike some folks, I am not against immigration, per se. And I think there are objective reasons why it's kinda hypocritical anyway for Americans to be against immigration, since so many folks here are the result of immigration. Now, some people might say I have a better excuse than any to be against immigration, since my ancestors immigrated here by force, as it were. [laughter]
But nonetheless, I think you look at the reality and we, all of us--many of us, anyway--came from somewhere else. They tell me that even the Native Americans (I'm part Cherokee, long way back), Native Americans, they tell me, if you go far enough back--even Native Americans crossed the Bearing Strait over from Asia. You're going back pretty far then, no? So, in a certain sense, the whole New World is populated by immigrants from somewhere else, and I don't believe we should insult the truth of that heritage by pretending that it's done us some harm. It hasn't.
It is a great asset if we manage it responsibly. It still gives us access to things that increase the talent, but also, I think, increase the value that we place even on our own institutions. Because, it doesn't at all hurt that in every generation, we get an influx of folks coming from parts of the world with less freedom into a part of the world with more--who walk the world for a few years and just say, "I love this place!" That's a good thing. It reminds those of us who might take it for granted of the value of what we've got. So, I'm not against immigration, per se. But, I do believe that it has to be carefully regulated, so that it does not damage our quality of life, destroy our infrastructure. I think we are, in a way, the urban area of the world. And, if you look at a lot of the countries around the world, like Mexico and India and places like this, urban areas become a magnet for the people from the less developed rural areas. And they come in such large numbers that the infrastructures of the cities break down, and they can't handle it. We don't want America to become a large-scale version of that breakdown. And so, we've got to be responsible. We've got to act on behalf of the great trust which, I believe, we have for humanity in terms of the welfare of this country.
So, you limit immigration through the law and then--here's the key part, and know this is hard, so brace yourselves. This is a very unusual suggestion I'm gonna make. It'll come hard. You'll think I'm really radical and wonder how it is that I could ever hope to do anything in politics. But I think the key to dealing with our immigration challenge is to enforce the law. [laughter and applause]
Now, I know--wait, see. You're ready to throw brickbats at me. No. Consider the laws are on the books. But we have so many folks who want us to act as though they don't exist, and we should not respect the distinction between illegal and legal immigration. We must. And if we don't, then we ourselves are undermining the laws. They become not even empty words. They become worse than that.
And so, we've got to enforce the law. That requires cooperation from state and local governments. And it requires cooperation from private business. It also requires a willingness to react firmly to those levels of government and to those businesses that violate the law. That's what enforcing the law is all about. Now, in many areas of this country, you have people who are winkin' and connivin' at illegal immigration, because somebody's who's powerful in their political scene or in their economic scene is, well, pulling the strings. If it's bad for the country, then we're gonna have to have leaders at the national level with the integrity to enforce national responsibility, even in the face of those state and local political obstacles.
In this area, it is the responsibility of the federal government. We have a federal government who's been willing to take on all kinds of responsibility that they shouldn't have. They want to take over education. They want to dictate law enforcement, and this and that. It's not their job. But the defense of this country and the integrity of its borders is the job of the federal government and they ought to do it with courage and responsibility. [applause]
Having said that, though, I hope that everyone will realize it's part of the reason that I believe in conducting politics the way I do. Some people tell me that it may never succeed to just go out there, state what you think is right, and try to get enough people on your side to make it happen. But, if you do it that way, people are very clear about exactly what you stand for, that if you ever do get elected nobody will be unclear about what's coming. And in the area of immigration, if Alan Keyes ever gets elected to the White House, state and local governments can expect to find a federal government that will be very hard about the business of looking you in the eye and saying, "Not a penny comes from us, if you won't cooperate in enforcing the integrity of our borders." And I'll be clear and strict about it. [applause]
It's time we stopped payin' lip service. I think we should also encourage--this would be done at the state level through the political coalition we represented--we encourage at the state level, we encourage in a proper form at the national level the implementation of the ideas that were in Proposition 187. I know there are people who somehow like to argue that if you're somehow in favor of something like that, where you're essentially saying to illegal immigrants, "We are not going to treat you as if you're legal immigrants; we're certainly not going to treat you as citizens." And they like to say, "Well, that's being discriminatory. That's awful. That's bigoted." What's going on in this country? Have we lost our minds? We put laws on the books, and then when people break the law, we consider ourselves wicked folks because we enforce it. I was particularly struck by this during the Proposition 187 debates some years ago. Because, the Mexican government, they have a representative in California, he was speaking out about how terrible this was because somehow it was going to be discriminatory against folks coming over from Mexico.
Unfortunately for somebody like myself, having worked in the international arena and at one time having done a fair amount of work in this very area, I knew that if you want to find a government that's as hard as nails when it comes to the question of immigration into its country, the status of aliens, most people who are actually are legal aliens in Mexico have only very limited and truncated rights, in terms of what they can do, contracts they can enter into, and so forth and so on. If you're illegal, they don't even take the time of day to explain it to you. They just put your butt on the latest thing out of town, and off you go. And no apologies accepted. No long administrative tribunals. No rights. Nothin' else.
And I'm watchin' as the representative of this government, tough as nails in enforcing its own law, dares to get on a high horse and tell us that we can't take rudimentary steps to enforce our own. This is absurd. We don't have to feel badly about it. We are, in fact, meeting our responsibility to people all over the world who come to this country with a sense of hope by not making stupid mistakes that will destroy the reality of that hope. It's our stewardship responsibility to do this in the right way. [applause]
Well, I guess that I have to go. They have a hard time, sometimes, pulling me off the stage for the Q & A, because this is the part I like most. But I especially liked it this evening--I just wanted to tell you all from the bottom of my heart, to all the folks who came this evening, to all the wonderful people who worked so hard here in Utah. I guess you can imagine, and I have seen it amongst my staff, folks--and I know for a fact that in the family and myself, we have our good days, and we have our bad days, in terms of whether or not it looks like all this work is really worth it. I try to pretend that I have no interest whatsoever in anything that's said in the media. I don't read the papers. Don't watch all the television junk, and so forth and so on. And yet there are the days when it gets to be frustrating, and you don't think the message won't ever get through, and, "Does anybody else in this country really care for our liberty and our freedom?" And then I will go out amongst the good-hearted, decent people of this country, and I find them in so many different areas, as I have found them here tonight.
And I have to tell you that, whatever anybody says, whatever they try to put over on you with their rhetoric and their speeches, hope for this nation doesn't come from our leaders. I have encountered in the leadership, so called, of this land really disappointing, frustrating, disgusting levels of cowardice and lack of integrity. I have people call me up on the phone telling me what a great job I'm doing, how the message has to be out there--and they won't step out of the shadow to support one word of it. And so, that fact that so many decent-hearted folks who have nothing at stake except their love of America are willing to come forward and show it, is what inspires our hearts, and it's what keeps us going--and leads us to remember what, I think, God wants us to never forget: that He is still at work in the heart of the American people, and that through their good hearts, His better hopes for this country will still prevail.
For that hope, I thank you. [applause and standing ovation]