Dole: Restore Values and Economic Liberty

The following excerpts are taken from Bob Dole's nomination acceptance speech in San Diego at the Republican National Convention.

I AM profoundly moved by your confidence and trust, and I look forward to leading America into the next century. But this is not my moment. Do not think that I have forgotten whose moment this is above all. It is for the people of America that I stand here tonight.

I was born in Russell, Kansas, a small town in the middle of the prairie surrounded by wheat and oil wells. The first thing you learn on the prairie is the relative size of a man compared to the lay of the land. Under the immense sky where I was born and raised, a man is very small, and if he thinks otherwise, he's wrong.

I come from good people, very good people, and I'm proud of it. My father's name was Doran, my mother's name was Bina. I loved them, and there is no moment when my memory of them and my love for them does not overshadow anything I do. And there is no height to which I have risen that is high enough to allow me to forget them, to allow me to forget where I came from, and where I stand, and how I stand, with my feet on the ground - just a man, at the mercy of God.

The 'age' issue

This perspective has been strengthened and solidified by a certain wisdom that I owe not to any achievement of my own, but to the gracious compensations of age. I know that in some quarters I may be expected to run from the truth of this. But I was born in 1923, and good presidents and good candidates don't run from the truth.

Age has its advantages. Let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth. Let me be the bridge to a time of tranquillity, faith, and confidence in action. And to those who say it was never so, that America has not been better, I say, you're wrong, and I know, because I was there. I have seen it. I remember.

Our nation, though wounded and scathed, has outlasted revolution, civil war, world war, racial oppression, and economic catastrophe. We have fought and prevailed on almost every continent and in almost every sea. We have even lost, but we have lasted, and we have always come through.

Return to tried values

What enabled us to accomplish this has little to do with the values of the present. After decades of assault upon what made America great, upon supposedly obsolete values, what do we have? What we have in the opinion of millions of Americans is crime and drugs, illegitimacy, abortion, the abdication of duty, and the abandonment of children.

After the virtual devastation of the American family, the rock on which this country was founded, we are told that it takes a village - that is, the collective, and thus the state - to raise a child.

The state is now more involved than it has ever been in the raising of children, and children are now more neglected, abused, and mistreated. This is not a coincidence, and, with all due respect, I am here to tell you it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.

Now, which is more important? Wealth or honor?

It is not, as was said by the victors four years ago, "the economy, stupid." It's the kind of nation we are. It's whether we still possess the wit and determination to deal with many questions - including economic questions, but certainly not limited to them. The triumph of this nation lies not in its material wealth but in courage, sacrifice, and honor. We tend to forget this when our leaders forget it, and we tend to remember it when they remember it.

Economic liberty

No one can deny the importance of material well-being. And in this regard it is time to recognize that we have surrendered too much of our economic liberty.

I do not appreciate the value of economic liberty nearly as much for what it has done in keeping us fed, as for what it's done in keeping us free. A government that seizes control of the economy for the good of the people, ends up seizing control of the people for the good of the economy.

Every family, wage earner, and small business in America can do better - if only we have the right policies in Washington, D.C.: My economic program is the right policy for America and for the future and for the next century. Here's what it will mean to you.

It means you will have a president who will urge Congress to pass and send to the states for ratification a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

It means you will have a president and a Congress who will have the will to balance the budget by the year 2002.

It means you will have a president who will reduce taxes 15 percent across-the-board for every taxpayer in America. It will include a $500 per- child tax credit for lower- and middle-income families. Taxes for a family of four making $35,000 would be reduced by more than half - 56 percent to be exact.

It means you'll have a president who will help small businesses - the businesses that create most new jobs - by reducing the capital gains tax rate by 50 percent. Cut it in half.

It means you will have a president who will end the IRS as we know it.

Remembering the poor

Jack Kemp and I will restore the promise of America and get the economy moving again, and we'll do so without leaving anybody behind. I have learned in my own life, from my own experience, that not every man, woman, or child can make it on their own. And that in a time of need, the bridge between failure and success can be the government itself.


Let me speak about immigration. The right and obligation of a sovereign nation to control its own borders is beyond debate. We should not have here a single illegal immigrant. But the question of immigration is broader than that. A family from Mexico who arrived here this morning, legally, has as much right to the American dream as the direct descendants of the founding fathers.

The Republican party is broad and inclusive. It represents many streams of opinion and many points of view. But if there is anyone who has mistakenly attached himself to our party in the belief that we are not open to citizens of every race and religion, then let me remind you: Tonight this hall belongs to the party of Lincoln, and the exits, which are clearly marked, are for you to walk out of.

National unity

And though I can only look up - and at a very steep angle - to Washington and Lincoln, let me remind you of their concern for the sometimes delicate unity of the people. The notion that we are and should be one people, rather than "peoples," of the United States seems so self-evident and obvious that it is hard for me to imagine that I must defend it.

The guiding light of my administration will be that in this country we have no rank by birth, no claim to favoritism by race, no expectation of judgment other than it be evenhanded. We cannot guarantee the outcome, but we shall guarantee the opportunity in America.


I also want these children to inherit a country that is far safer than it is at present. I want to remove the shadow that darkens opportunities for every man, woman, and child in America. We are a nation paralyzed by crime, and it is time to end that in America.

To do so, I mean to attack the root cause of crime - criminals, violent criminals. As our many and voracious criminals go to bed tonight - at, say, six in the morning - they had better pray that I lose the election. Because if I win, the lives of violent criminals are going to be hell.

External threats

In defending the nation from external threats, the requirements for survival cannot merely be finessed. There is no room for margin of error. On this subject, perhaps more than any other, a president must level with the people, and be prepared to take political risks. I would rather do what is called for in this regard and be unappreciated than fail to do so and win universal acclaim.

I believe President Clinton has failed to adequately provide for our defense. I ask that you consider these crystal-clear differences. He believes it is acceptable to ask our military forces to do more with less. I do not. He defends giving a green light to a terrorist state, Iran, to expand its influence in Europe, and he relies on the United Nations to punish Libyan terrorists who murdered American citizens. I will not. And he believes that defending our people and our territory from missile attack is unnecessary. I do not.

Trust: a central issue

The fundamental issue is not of policy, but of trust - not merely whether the people trust the president, but whether the president and his party trust the people, trust in their goodness and their genius for recovery. For the government cannot direct the people, the people must direct the government.

This is not the outlook of my opponent - and he is my opponent, not my enemy. Though he has of late tried to be a good Republican, there are certain distinctions that even he cannot blur. There are distinctions between the two great parties that will be debated, and must be debated, the next 82 days.

Optimism is in our blood. I know this as few others can. There was once a time when I doubted the future. But I have learned as many of you have learned that obstacles can be overcome, and I have unlimited confidence in the wisdom of our people and the future of our country.

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