DOLE ON VALUES
MAY 23, 1996
A speech given by Senator Bob Dole this morning at the annual convention of the Catholic Press Association in Philadelphia. He focused on values and moral leadership.
SEN. BOB DOLE, Republican Presidential Candidate: There are many issues at stake in this election. Renewing the strength of America by restoring our social and moral order has got to be somewhere near the top of the list. America's greatness has always depended not on our economic or military power alone but on our strength of character. And every great nation needs ideas and convictions and shared hope that hold it together and ennoble its life. And we have those unifying convictions, but many Americans today look at our culture and wonder what's to become of them. And at times, those values seem to have vanished from our national life. And as a society, we can't shake the feeling that our culture is in trouble and our values are under assault. Our welfare system discourages work, undermines families, and perpetuates poverty. If so many of our country wanted to undermine the fabric of American society, it could not inflict anything upon us worse than the welfare system we've inflicted on ourselves. We all know that too often a baby born on welfare belongs to a girl who's herself almost a baby who was born on welfare. And we are just beginning to recognize that perhaps half of the fathers of these babies are grown men, 20 years or older. In other words, a central feature of the plague of illegitimacy is older men preying on young girls. And solving the welfare problem must include ending the epidemic of these male sexual predators. And that is why I issued a call to our nation's governors. Enforce the statutory rape laws you already have on the books and make them stronger where need be but enforce them to the fullest. And I believe the governors will respond. And there are things the government can do.
There are things the government can do to help. Social Security, which I think I can correctly helped save, along with Sen. Moynihan in 1983, has lifted generations of elderly out of poverty. Food stamps and the WIC program, which I helped to create, have provided nourishment to the most vulnerable Americans among us. The Americans With Disabilities Act, which I proudly sponsored, opened the door for millions and millions who had been shut out far too long, and Medicare, which I and others are fighting to preserve, has helped protect millions of elderly and disabled Americans. America does not lack community organizations or parishes or synagogues. It's willing to help restore goodness to our country. The problem is these organizations often lack the resources they need to do so. To this end as President, I will propose a charity tax credit which over time would allow taxpayers to earmark a portion of their annual taxes to private and religious charities, faith-based or not, that spend over 75 percent of their money on poverty relief.
This credit will be up to $500 for individuals and up to $1,000 for couples. And finally, Americans look to the White House, as they should, for moral leadership. Yet, in some ways, we have an administration that reflects the most troubling features of our culture, an administration that seems to believe in everything and nothing, an administration that talks about the politics of meaning and with such talk reinforces for far too many the meaningless of politics, an administration guided by nothing more profound or permanent than the latest polling data, an administration constantly exhorting itself and lecturing the public but itself fundamentally adrift, without direction or moral vision. And the saddest evidence came last--this last month when President Clinton vetoed a bill to prevent partial birth abortions. And let me speak on this issue as simply as I can. I am opposed to abortion on demand. I am pro-life. But I understand that reasonable and decent people can disagree on certain points here. But this was an easy call. Here was an issue where all Americans or nearly all Americans could come together, pro-choice, pro-life, the American Medical Association, and with his veto, President Clinton pushed the limits of decency too far. And if I am President, I can tell you exactly what I'd do. I will ask Congress to pass a bill banning the practice, and I will sign it into law.
And I've learned from experience from the media that on this issue, in particular, there are those who seek to focus on what divides us. Everybody has that right. It's a free country, but I prefer to focus on what unites us, and the values that hold us together as a people, and it's in these values I have found my strength and our nation has found our strength.