Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Remember our Warriors, keep them in your prayers and always be thankful for them.
A very joyous and blessed Thanksgiving to all!
Text of the speech:
It’s such an honor to be back at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, with friends old and new. I bring greetings and good wishes from the people of Texas.
It’s so nice to visit California, even when I’m not here recruiting businesses.
I’ve been in this beautiful state of yours quite a bit in recent years, and I freely admit my motive.
I’m the governor of a pro-jobs, low-regulation state with no income tax, and I want California companies to know about that.
So many Californians have been taking me up on the offer to pack up and move that I can hardly stop myself from making the pitch.
I knew I had a problem when I drove up to the Reagan Library just now and found myself thinking, “Man, would this place look great down in Texas.”
Of course, even I have to concede that this presidential center could be here and only here.
When you think Ronald Reagan, you think Southern California. And even more, when the man comes to mind, we think of Nancy, who is still so loved and admired across America.
She graced her husband’s life for so long, and she has always been so kind to Anita and me. I am very grateful to Mrs. Reagan, and to all of my hosts at the library, for the privilege of being here today.
While all of us tonight are thinking back fifty years, to the choices of another time, I can’t be the only one here who’s also thinking eight days ahead.
And the more I see in these closing days before November 4th, the more it feels to me like a wave of change is coming in.
From New Hampshire, to Colorado, to Alaska, Republican candidates are running strong. And if they finish strong and gain a Senate majority, then finally this president is going to get a little taste of checks and balances.
But we know this matter is in the hands of the American People, and I trust them to get it right.
The way events have transpired at home and abroad, this generation of Americans has arrived at its own time of choosing.
Our nation has arrived at a crossroads, and the choice we face is the well-worn path of entrusting more power to government, or the road less taken, of entrusting power with the people.
We have faced such decisions before: in 2008, in 1994, in 1980 and 1964.
As we remember the inspiring words of President Reagan 50 years ago tonight, in many respects, the world looks vastly different than it did 50 years ago.
The pace of technological change over the last half-century has been breathtaking.
Who could have conceived of wireless devices picking up a stream of your favorite movie, it was just enough back then to wish they were in color.
Technologies never heard of then are now obsolete. My children laugh at the idea of the fax machine, or calling someone for directions, or calling someone period when they can text them.
We no longer tune into our television at a specific hour to hear the news from a few trusted sources, we are bombarded by it 24-7, on cable, on the Internet, from blogs and Facebook.
The march of progress is fast-paced, furious, and inevitable. And yet many of the political challenges we face seem eerily familiar.
It was 50 years ago tonight that Ronald Reagan declared, “We’re at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it’s been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.”
The world has changed, but present events give us a glimpse of a previous era.
Who can watch the unchecked Russian aggression toward Ukraine, and the annexation of Crimea, and not think of a different place in time, when Soviet tanks rolled through Prague, or when Soviet soldiers executed the blockade of West Berlin?
When you see extremists in Iran pursue nuclear weapons – weapons that could be used to hold hostage the interests of the West and Israel – are you not taken back to an earlier time when extremists stormed our embassy to take our fellow citizens hostage for 444 days?
When you see the military buildup of China, and the depletion of our own military forces, with a reduction in spending of 21 percent over four years, how can you not think of a previous era, soon after the end of the war in Vietnam, and wonder if we are not once again inviting threats to our interests at home and overseas by hollowing out our military forces?
No, our enemy is no longer the Soviet Union. What we face today is not the march of communism and its godless ideology, but the spread of fanaticism cloaked in the name of religion, yet reflecting none of the virtues of the faith they claim.
But due to the fact we still have vast military superiority in terms of technology and a trained fighting force, and international alliances that serve as a force multiplier for the mission ahead.
The nearest threat we face is not foreign in nature: it is from within.
It is our own complacency. It is the view that events thousands of miles away are not our business.
Or the view of cultural relativism that, while acknowledging the systematic savagery of the enemy, is also quick to point to the shortcomings of Western democracies.
They’ve got bad guys over there, we’ve got a few of our own – what’s the difference?
The attitudes I’m describing reflect a deep confusion, at a time when moral clarity is at a premium.
And this confusion can weaken the confidence we need in our own values, the values of Western Civilization.
There is not a Middle Eastern cultural standard that allows for the atrocities committed by ISIS any more than there is some North Korean custom that allows for concentration camps or mass starvation.
And when the radical Islamists, or their apologists in the West, claim to speak for any respectable culture or creed, we should not indulge that lie for a moment.
It matters that we understand all of this, for one reason especially: without confidence in the truth and goodness of our own values – the great moral inheritance of our own culture – how are we going to deal with the falsehood of theirs?
It is imperative, at this moment in history, that the United States of America be a voice of clarity, that when our values are threatened, and our allies are endangered, we defend them.
Otherwise, we risk becoming what the esteemed speaker warned us about: “Those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.”
There is an urgency to this matter because our record on this score is not all that impressive in recent years.
We all remember the “red line” that the dictator in Syria was warned never to cross, and then did so with absolutely no consequences.
Vladimir Putin disregarding the sovereignty of Ukraine and the Chinese military buzzing our surveillance planes or intimidating their neighbors.
The regime in Iran drawing closer and closer to a nuclear weapon, and an army of jihadists tearing through Iraq only months after the president finally quit saying that we had the terrorists on the run.
On that last front, it is worth pointing out that the rise of ISIS can be directly attributed to the neglect of the president.
Whether it was a profound naïveté about the consequences of leaving no residual American force in Iraq, or worse yet, a political ploy to win an election.
We know that the inhuman acts of ISIS were allowed to occur because in the hour of decision the president chose a popular political path without concern for the real world consequences.
As for Iran, I would note that less than a week ago a senior advisor to the Iranian President called President Obama, “the weakest of presidents.” And the point is not that he said it, but that they believe it.
When malignant forces believe America is weak it invites all kinds of trouble that could otherwise be avoided.
And the opposite has been proven true. The very same day that Ronald Reagan became our 40th President, Iranian terrorists released our hostages.
They knew the price for defying American Power had just gone up. And they weren’t willing to pay it.
I wish I could say that the similarities to a previous era were confined to events overseas, that on the domestic front we have reaped a new prosperity unlike any previous era. But I am afraid that is not so.
Our debt is colossal, as is the bureaucracy. Government is once again pervasive in our lives.
More Americans are on food stamps than ever before, surely as true a barometer of the misery index as there ever was.
We were told by the Administration that jobs would be shovel-ready if money was poured into the bureaucracy in the form of stimulus.
That turned out to be as true as the idea that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
We have a so-called recovery that is weighted down by government, not aided by it. No area demonstrates this more than energy policy.
When the people in charge of things now think of “energy policy,” they think of controls, restrictions, more studies, more delays, and all the other timetables and barriers that bureaucracies are always dreaming up.
Six years of study on the Keystone Pipeline, and still nothing happens.
Dozens of liquefied natural gas facilities awaiting federal approval, and they’ve gotten around to signing off on only a very small number.
The whole Obama energy policy amounts to a long list of projects we cannot begin, permits we cannot grant, studies we cannot conclude and resources we cannot use.
That’s a mindset we need to shake off in a hurry, and start thinking big again, just like President Reagan did after the energy crises of the 1970’s.
We now have the largest energy resource base in the world, greater than Saudi Arabia or Russia.
Our arsenal of energy can enhance our national security and free our allies from dependence on aggressor states if we have the will to deploy it.
But here the current president dithers. He seems content to play small ball with a political base instead of hitting a home run for the American People.
It’s no wonder Americans are frustrated. We have entrusted immense power in government and Americans have never had less faith in its institutions.
The issue is not merely an adversarial agenda enacted by another party it is far deeper than that. It is about basic competence.
When veterans return from war, they should receive the best care America has to offer. Instead they were left to die on waiting lists. It has become a national shame.
If you have any question about whether government-run health care works, ask a military veteran.
While some agencies cannot perform the most basic life-saving functions, others have been empowered with malignant intent.
The political targeting of citizens by the IRS is a terrible stain on this Administration. And the response to this crisis does not inspire confidence in our leadership that six hard drives of key figures mysteriously crashed.
In the last year we have witnessed government bungle healthcare for heroes, target our citizens under tax laws, fail to operate a website for the president’s signature initiative, trade five terrorists for a soldier who disappeared under questionable circumstances, and leave the front door of the White House open so a crazy man could walk in.
It’s no wonder the American People no longer have faith in the federal government!
If you ask me to name the number one issue confronting America, I would not say it is our porous border. I would not say it is the weakest recovery since the Great Depression. I would not even say it’s all the challenges that are adding up overseas.
The greatest problem of all is that in the face of these troubles so many serious challenges, we don’t have the leadership to deal with them. We are experiencing a crisis in competence in America, and the people know it.
What is needed at this moment in time is leadership that can usher in a new era of reform and renewal to restore trust in government.
The institutions of government are faltering. Americans have lost faith. And they see Washington engaged in the politics of sound bites when they should be seeking solutions.
The president who decried the smallness of Washington has come to embody it.
We have indeed come to our own time for choosing. And the experience of these years has framed the questions for us in the clearest of terms.
Are we going to accept as inevitable in this country the constant expansion of federal power at the expense of individual liberty?
Will we just learn to live with it, accepting as normal the willful neglect of duty at the border, the routine arrogance of the IRS and the EPA, the chronic incompetence of the VA, and all the rest?
Will we look to that same establishment in Washington as the decider and director of economic activity: regulating, controlling, and slowly destroying the productive power of free enterprise?
We’ve been through years of slow growth, static wages, scarce jobs, an expansion of entitlements, and a narrowing of possibilities for the working people of this country.
Does anyone really believe this is the best that the United States of America can do?
Don’t we have an obligation to aim higher, so that our children can have lives of opportunity at least as good as ours?
And having borne witness to the fact that military decline, idle talk, and looking the other way only heighten the threats we face, will we simply continue on that path and hope for the best?
Or can our country be counted on again to meet challenges only we can meet and deter threats only we can deter, and lead as only America can lead?
Thinking on the next two years, I doubt very much that after this season of disappointment, mediocrity, and decline a slow correction of course is what voters will be looking for.
I believe that come 2016, if the American people are given that choice, they will be ready for a clean break from the Obama agenda or anything like it.
To consider just the American economy today, it is nowhere near what this country is capable of achieving.
We have the potential and the resources to grow and create jobs at far higher levels, and anyone who tells you otherwise is making excuses.
I know this because the people of Texas are showing how it’s done.
Instead of taking private enterprise for granted, as government can so easily do, we respect the freedom that it needs.
We respect work, which in practice should mean that government doesn’t tax wages too much, or tax companies so much that they quit hiring people.
And finally, in my state, we’ve learned to respect the facts of economic life, including this fact: capital moves, and it tends to go where it is most welcome.
By limiting the size and scope of government, we have created unlimited opportunity.
That helps explain why one-third of all new private-sector jobs in America have been created in Texas since I became governor.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, for the period starting in December of 2007 and ending in September of this year, we see two different trends.
Texas has experienced a net job increase of 1.32 million jobs, a 12 percent increase in our state. Minus Texas, America has experienced a decline of 993,000 jobs nationwide, or nearly one percent.
If you have been to Texas, you know we like to think we are unique, because we tend to tell you so.
But the principles of economic recovery are not unique to Texas. Texas is not experiencing a miracle anymore than California did in the days of Governor Reagan.
The reason I say this is that miracles cannot be replicated, but economic recovery can.
It can happen anywhere in America. Growth and job creation far beyond what Americans have gotten used to these past six years all across this country, from Massachusetts to California, it is just waiting to happen.
It is just a matter of whether we will continue on the path of the last six years or choose a different course for our future.
50 years ago, Ronald Reagan summed it up well when he said, “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 capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
What shall it be my fellow Americans? Shall we continue to place trust in the levers of the bureaucratic machinery, or in the hands of the American worker?
I have never believed that the goodness of America is rooted in our government, but our people.
Government works best when it respects those values like hard work, personal freedom and individual responsibility.
None of that is to say that government is bad, it is simply misdirected in its present state.
At most it can only be a partner in prosperity. It cannot replace the industriousness of the individual worker, or assume the responsibility of our families.
For too long it has expanded into our lives, and played too central of a role.
But a simple fact remains: the larger government grows, the smaller our circle of freedoms.
In recent weeks I have traveled to Tokyo, London and Warsaw. And I have found America is admired for its freedoms.
I have met those who once lived under the yoke of Communism who are trying to emulate America and wondering why in the world our leaders would seek to emulate Western Europe.
They also know a strong America, with a vibrant economy, is central to a safer world.
I don’t sense any desire among America’s friends and allies to see this country less engaged in their security, or less involved in their future.
They still believe that there is no substitute for the good and peaceful influence of the United States.
And if they hold to that conviction about America, is it asking too much that our own leaders believe the same?
If such questions have a familiar ring, it is because they are so fundamental.
They are questions about our country, our national character, and our duties, leaving us with choices like those that Ronald Reagan put to America fifty years ago tonight.
For all his conviction and eloquence, it’s worth recalling that the great majority, one week after Reagan’s speech chose a different course.
Barry Goldwater, so gallant in his own right, lost 44 states.
And not until 16 years later did Reagan become president, by winning 44 states.
Great changes in direction are often like that – slow in coming.
And you and I in these years have done our own share of waiting, wondering when the moment will come again for the cause we believe in.
As that chance draws closer, let us be as clear in our purposes, as confident in our principles, and as cheerful in the contest of ideas as Ronald Reagan was all through the journey that began on that October night in 1964.
He liked to remind us that “the American dream lives” – not only here, but in other free nations, in oppressed nations, and everywhere that people look to America for leadership.
“As long as that dream lives,” he said, “as long as we continue to defend it, America has a future, and all mankind has reason to hope.”
Thank you very much.
This speech was given on October 27, 2014 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.
Text of the speech:
Thank you all very much. It’s a real privilege to join you this morning on a beautiful autumn day in London. I’ve been looking forward to it.
I can’t claim to know this city well, but I have spent some time here over the years going back to the mid-Seventies when I was a flyer stationed in the U.K.
I wasn’t in such distinguished company back then – and neither were my travel companions – but it’s the same welcoming place that I remember.
Outside the States, there’s not a city in the world where an American feels more at home and I appreciate your very kind hospitality.
In a setting like this, I can’t help but think of all the far more illustrious figures who have passed through the Institute in your 183 years of history. It’s remarkable to me that the best minds of military science have been convening here since 1831.
Think of it this way: In the same decade this Institute was founded, Texas was a proud and sovereign country. Not long afterward, we became a mere state, which just goes to show you what happens when a nation lets its defenses down.
But it worked out all right, and this afternoon I bring to all of you the respect and good wishes of the people of Texas.
And I’m sure that all the armed service members and veterans of my state would want me to offer a special word of respect for the senior vice president of RUSI, who happens to be a four-star U.S. Army general. In a 38-year career, he left his mark as one of the great battle captains of our time – a military leader who measured up when everything was on the line.
Few names command more admiration and gratitude, in my country and well beyond. If it was the founding design of the Duke of Wellington to keep master tacticians always at the heart of this enterprise, you found a leader as good as they come in General David Petraeus.
I might add that the name Petraeus is known and honored in Iraq as well, as it is in Afghanistan. As are the names of such outstanding British commanders such as Lieutenant Sir Graeme Lamb, and General Sir David Richards.
So many people in Iraq knew what fate would be in store for them if the general and his forces were to fail in their mission. Everything depended on the success of that surge of operations. Our troops and all the innocent people they were trying to defend were looking at the prospect of a complete collapse of security with just about every bad actor in the region ready to move in.
That’s what the Iraqi people were spared – at least for a time. That was the achievement of a bold counterinsurgency carried out by the ablest war fighters on earth, including some of the finest of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
If anyone had doubts back then about all that was at stake, the question is surely settled by events in Iraq and Syria today. We’re all aware of the scenes unfolding there right now. And for those of you devoted to studying the military disciplines I can hardly think of images that better confirm what a vital and worthy pursuit that is.
I’m guessing that not a person in this room needs persuading of the stakes and of the absolute need to prevail. The fate of millions and the security of our people are in the balance and all this at a time when the international order is being tested on other fronts, from the Ukrainian border to the South China Sea.
It is one thing to speak earnestly about the international order that our nations have helped to establish these past 70 years, and something else altogether to see that it is defended. That, once again, is what is required of Western nations
and the great alliances we have formed. And as you know better than I, this cause will draw heavily on our wealth, our will, and our wisdom.
The plainest imperative of all is the resources we commit to the common defense, holding nothing back if it will better assure our security. And the nations of the West had better get about it, and never take for granted our military superiority.
For us, in the present conflict, the difference that superiority makes is the difference between those people – the jihadists of ISIS – in control or in retreat.
We know what they do when they’re in control, and they try very hard to make sure we see it. In all of our conduct toward this enemy, there can be no illusions, and no compromise of all that we are defending.
Least of all we must never lose faith in the values that unite us to this day – the enduring moral inheritance that gives our nations their special strength and character.
In the Islamic State and elsewhere, these values are mocked and hated by men of different character. Their contempt and rage testifies, perhaps better than anything that you or I could say, to the rightness and truth of the values of the West.
It’s our values, after all, that lead us to spend so much effort trying to defend the lives of innocent Muslim people – whether it’s Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan today, or Kosovo in the 1990’s.
Even so, Western involvement in the Middle East has gone on for so long now, with so much complication and trial, that there’s a temptation at times to just look away and let the troubles of that region sort themselves out.
Sometimes it is even said, quite plainly, that the Middle East is ultimately no concern of ours, and in any case beyond our narrow understanding of different cultures and faiths.
The great error, as some see it, is any attempt to apply our Western values to whatever might occur in places so foreign and so far away. Follow this reasoning far enough, and you get questions like: Who are we to say how women and children should be treated in another culture?
What looks to us like bullying, subjugation, or worse, is held by others to be divinely mandated, and some say we are just trying to impose our own standards where they don’t belong.
Whether it’s Britain or America, moreover, there are always people ready to insist that our societies could stand some improvement too – that we have our own injustices to correct.
Such a posture of moral equivalence is seen now and then on the Left, and sometimes even at the U.N. – an institution founded on Western ideals. And it pretends not to see the most basic of distinctions.
The shortcomings of Western democracies, the systematic savagery of the enemy – to a certain way of thinking, it all gets mixed up as one. They’ve got bad guys over there, we’ve got a few of our own – what’s the difference?
This attitude of cultural relativism certainly doesn’t approve of harsh or violent practices imposed elsewhere, but does question the right of Britain, the United States, or other Western powers to do anything about it.
Now leave aside the threat of mass-casualty attacks in our own countries that our terrorist enemies abroad are forever talking about. And leave aside the strategic commitments, crucial interests, and close friends that our nations have in the Middle East. These include some very brave friends who, without us, would soon face the most desperate circumstances.
Even if you set all that aside, the attitudes I’m describing reflect a deep confusion at a time when moral clarity is at a premium. And this confusion can weaken the confidence we need in our own values – the values of Western Civilization.
In the Islamic State, and all that goes with it, we’re dealing with a particular breed of fanaticism that leaves us with few options. And the short of it is that we have every right to judge, and every reason to act.
Watching scenes from Iraq and Syria lately, in fact, let me tell you what really strikes me. It’s not the differences in culture, it’s the commonality that should speak to us most. Such vast suffering has been inflicted on the people of that region. Who can look upon such scenes and think, “How very different they are from us”?
I think of whole villages emptying out at the approach of these so-called religious warriors of ISIS. Imagine the raw fear of the Yazidis, those thousands of people chased up a mountain this summer and saved just in time by allied air strikes.
We know exactly what they escaped by the fate of those who didn’t. The enslavement, the beheadings, the crucifixions, the mass executions, the forced conversions. And all of this, of course, by men who tell themselves they are doing God’s work on this earth.
Who cannot identify with a mother or father running with their babies from this horror, with an elderly woman struggling to keep up with the others, with the children who got away, but saw what happened to their parents?
There are men and women alive in Britain today, elderly survivors of the blitz, who can recall just what the experience is like. The victims of jihad today have far more in common with you and me than they ever could with their tormentors.
And when they look up and see an RAF, Danish, or American bomber coming in, they feel precisely as you and I would feel. That sight must seem like the answer to a prayer, a prayer that can be expressed in every faith: “Save my family, save my home, save my village, save me, from this evil.”
There’s not a Middle Eastern cultural standard that allows for the atrocities committed by ISIS – any more than there is some North Korean custom that allows for concentration camps or mass starvation. And when the radical Islamists, or their apologists in Britain or Europe, claim to speak for any respectable culture or creed, we should not indulge that lie for a moment. Their twisted version of Islam amounts to a creed of human cruelty – pure sadism, and nothing more.
It matters that we understand all of this, for one reason especially: Without confidence in the truth and goodness of our own values, the great moral inheritance of our own culture, how are we going to deal with the falsehood of theirs?
This is not a rhetorical question. It’s a quite practical and pressing question, as you well know. When a guy apparently educated in the U.K. executes bound men on their knees in the Mesopotamian desert for all the world to see you know you’ve got a problem. And you’re not alone.
That few minutes of video was another glimpse of a disturbing situation, and of a serious challenge that we had all better get right.
A fair-minded response begins by acknowledging what we all know to be true. In the nations of the West today, we have many Muslims who live in the spirit in which they or their parents were first welcomed. They immigrated in search of an open, tolerant, peaceful way of life. And why? Usually because they had seen the exact opposite in the countries they left behind.
When they look abroad and see the merciless crimes of ISIS and the like they react as some leading British Muslims have done in each case, with unreserved condemnation. They know barbarism when they see it. They are people of conscience and character, and whether it’s London, England, or Dallas, Texas, such men and women are right where they belong, and the equals of any other subject or citizen.
And then there are those who act in an altogether different spirit. News of a terrorist attack abroad is the occasion, in some quarters, for celebration. Authorities investigate some state schools, only to discover that they are being taken over by Islamic radicals. A young British woman, in the Luton neighborhood where she grew up, can find herself harangued by the same type of people, insulting her country and calling her filthy names.
Likewise, radicals confront strangers on the street, telling them to get out of, quote, “Islamic areas.” What do they want, in those corners where extremists are gaining the upper hand?
They want, and actually expect, the ways of the sharia code to replace British law and British liberty. Similar groups and intentions can be found on the Continent, where extremists treat French law, Dutch law, Belgian law, German law, and in general European standards all with equal contempt.
“No-go zones,” an odd term we’re hearing lately, doesn’t fit well in the vocabulary of Western societies. Yet suddenly, here are closed enclaves in great cities where you’re not welcome unless you’re part of the group. You have to be a fellow fanatic in good standing, or at very least a fellow Muslim.
And, of course, we all know who’s especially unwelcome in these nasty little no-go zones – a Jew.
The hatreds of unassimilated radicals only draw further attention to anti-Semitism in general. It’s a familiar problem in a new time. In Europe it ranges, as in times past, from thuggish abuse to desecration to commentaries on Israel that cover crude dislike in the veneer of respectable opinion.
There is a way to deal with anti-Semitism, and it’s not by smiling politely and hoping that it goes away. The full force of law, when people and property are harmed, is only the most obvious response.
Just as important is what Chancellor Merkel did a few weeks ago, to her great credit, when she called this sin by its name. She has stated in confident, unmistakable terms that tolerance ends where anti-Semitism begins.
It shaped Europe’s past, in ways that everyone regrets and no nation can afford to let it shape Europe’s future. What all of these various hate groups have in common is a disdain for, and a wish to destroy, our Western way of life.
And someone needs to tell them that the meeting has already been held. It was decided, democratically, long ago – and by the way through great and heroic sacrifice – that our societies will be governed by Western values and Western laws.
Among those values are openness and tolerance. But to every extremist, it has to be made clear: we will not allow you to exploit our tolerance, so that you can import your intolerance. We will not let you destroy our peace with your violent ideas. If you expect to live among us, and yet plan against us, to receive the protections and comforts of a free society, while showing none of its virtues or graces, then you can have our answer now: No, not on our watch!
You will live by exactly the standards that the rest of us live by. And if that comes as jarring news: then welcome to civilization.
Forbearance in the face of vicious ideas and conduct is not tolerance. It is weakness. It is to cooperate in one’s own decline. It signals a lack of confidence in truths and ideals that are great, not only because they are Western, but because they are universal.
There is no place on earth where the principle of human equality does not apply and will not make life better. There is no society that will not fare better if its institutions are built on the consent of the governed, and uphold the rights and dignity of the individual. And maybe the greatest advantage we have with our Western ideals is that they are ideals, and not just prideful, suffocating dogma.
So much of the moral tradition we share is aspirational. So much of our history has been a quest to learn and discover, starting in humble recognition of things unknown. And if these Western values of ours have been an improving influence on the life of man over these many centuries, it is because those values instill a yearning and a hope to be better and to do better by others.
They are outward-looking ideas, lifting our sights beyond the tribe and the group to see the worth and goodness of everyone, to respect others, to empathize with them, and to include them in the progress of humanity.
You don’t find all that in every tradition. Its abundance in our Western tradition is to be cherished, tended, and protected. And as I say that, I realize that even a proud, patriotic Texan has got nothing to teach the British people about defending freedom.
Sometimes, it takes a friendly outsider to come by and point out the obvious.
In the case of your country, you might not always appreciate something: When we in America think of enduring Western values — when we think of so many qualities that we admire and love in our culture — we think of you, the people of this island.
It’s not just because to an American, you British always sound so darned smart and refined, no matter what you’re saying. And it’s not just because of your many cultural exports: from James Bond and Julie Andrews to Simon Cowell and One Direction. Let’s just say it’s been a mixed bag.
We Americans feel this affinity, and we admire you as we do no other nation, because of who you are and what you stand for.
So many good things in the world began in Britain. So many good things to this day depend on Britain.
For Americans, there is no surer sign that we are in the right cause than when our two countries are in common cause.
May it ever be so, as it was for our parents, that we have the courage of our best ideals, the confidence to serve great purposes, and the wisdom to go forward together.
Thank you very much.
This speech was given on October 14, 2014 at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
Happy Texas Independence Day! GOD Bless Texas!
DELEGATES OF THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS.
In General Convention,
at the town of Washington,
on the 2nd day of March, 1836.
When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of their inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rules for their oppression.
When the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed, without their consent, from a restricted Federative Republic, composed of Sovereign States, to a consolidated Central Military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood, both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, the ever-ready minions of power, and the usual instruments tyrants.
When, long after the spirit of the constitution has departed, moderation is at length so far lost by those in power, that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms themselves of the constitution discontinued; and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet.
When, in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements: in such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation, the inherent and inalienable right of the people to appeal to first principles, and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases enjoins it as a right towards themselves, and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government, and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness.
Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is therefore submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken, of severing our political connexion with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.
The Mexican Government, by its colonization laws, invited and induced the Anglo-American population of Texas to colonize its wilderness, under the pledged faith of a written constitution, that they should continue to enjoy that constitutional liberty and republican government to which they had been habituated in the land of their birth, the United States of America.
In this expectation they have been cruelly disappointed, inasmuch as the Mexican nation has acquiesced in the late changes made in the government by General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, who, having overturned the constitution of his country, now offers us the cruel alternative, either to abandon our homes, acquired by so many privations, or submit to the most intolerable of all tyranny, the combined despotism of the sword and the priesthood.
It hath sacrificed our welfare to the State of Coahuila, by which our interests have been continually depressed, through a jealous and partial course of legislation, carried on at a far-distant seat of government, by a hostile majority, in an unknown tongue; and this too notwithstanding we have petitioned in the humblest terms for the establishment of a separate state government, and have, in accordance with the provisions of the national constitution, presented to the general congress a republican constitution, which was, without just cause, contemptuously rejected.
It incarcerated in a dungeon, for a long time, one of our citizens, for no other cause but a zealous endeavor to procure the acceptance of our constitution and the establishment of a state government.
It has failed and refused to secure, on a firm basis, the right of trial by jury, that palladium of civil liberty and only safe guarantee for the life, liberty, and property of the citizen.
It has failed to establish any public system of education, although possessed of almost boundless resources, (the public domain,) and although it is an axiom in political science that, unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self-government.
It has suffered the military commandants stationed among us to exercise arbitrary acts of oppression and tyranny, thus trampling upon the most sacred rights of the citizen, and rendering the military superior to the civil power.
It has dissolved by force of arms the state congress of Coahuila and Texas, and obliged our Representatives to fly for their lives from the seat of government, thus depriving us of the fundamental political right of representation.
It has demanded the surrender of a number of our citizens, and ordered military detachments to seize and carry them into the interior for trial; in contempt of the civil authorities, and in defiance of the laws and the constitution
It has made piratical attacks upon our commerce by commissioning foreign desperadoes, and authorizing them to seize our vessels and convey the property of our citizens to far-distant ports for confiscation.
It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a National Religion calculated to promote the temporal interests of its human functionaries rather than the glory of the true and living God.
It has demanded us to deliver up our arms, which are essential for our defence, the rightful property of freemen, and formidable only to tyrannical governments.
It has invaded our country, both by sea and by land, with intent to lay waste our territory, and drive us from our homes; and has now a large mercenary army advancing, to carry on against us a war of extermination.
It has, through its emissaries, incited the merciless savage, with the tomahawk and scalping-knife, the massacre the inhabitants of our defenceless frontiers.
It has been, during the whole time of our connexion with it, the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions, and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrannical government.
These and other grievances were patiently borne by the people of Texas, until they reached that point at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue. They then took up arms in defence of the National Constitution. They appealed to their Mexican brethren for assistance. Their appeal has been made in vain: though months have elapsed, no sympathetic response has yet been heard from the interior. They are, therefore, forced to the melancholy conclusion that the Mexican people have acquiesced in the destruction of their liberty, and the substitution therefor of a military despotism; that they are unfit to be free, and incapable of self-government.
The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.
We, therefore, the delegates, with plenary powers, of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and DECLARE that our political connexion with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a FREE, SOVEREIGN, and INDEPENDENT REPUBLIC, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent states; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the supreme Arbiter of the destinies of nations.