|GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH|
August 3, 2000
The GOP presidential nominee reflects on his family and takes a look at America's opportunities.
Renewing America's purpose
Mr. Chairman, delegates, and my fellow citizens ... I accept your nomination. Thank you for this honor. Together, we will renew America's purpose.
Our founders first defined that purpose here in Philadelphia ... Ben Franklin was here. Thomas Jefferson. And, of course, George Washington -- or, as his friends called him, "George W."
I am proud to have Dick Cheney at my side. He is a man of integrity and sound judgment, who has proven that public service can be noble service.
America will be proud to have a leader of such character to succeed Al Gore as Vice President of the United States.
I am grateful for John McCain and the other candidates who sought this nomination. Their convictions strengthen our party.
I am especially grateful tonight to my family. No matter what else I do in life, asking Laura to marry me was the best decision I ever made. To our daughters, Barbara and Jenna, we love you, we're proud of you, and as you head off to college this fall. Don't stay out too late, and e-mail your old dad once in a while, will you?
And mother, everyone loves you and so do I. Growing up, she gave me love and lots of advice. I gave her white hair.
And I want to thank my father -- the most decent man I have ever known. All my life I have been amazed that a gentle soul could be so strong. And Dad, I want you to know how proud I am to be your son.
My father was the last president of a great generation. A generation of Americans who stormed beaches, liberated concentration camps and delivered us from evil. Some never came home.
Those who did put their medals in drawers, went to work, and built on a heroic scale ... highways and universities, suburbs and factories, great cities and grand alliances -- the strong foundations of an American Century.
Now the question comes to the sons and daughters of this achievement. What is asked of us?
This is a remarkable moment in the life of our nation. Never has the
promise of prosperity been so vivid. But times
Making use of every moment
Prosperity can be a tool in our hands -- used to build and better our country. Or it can be a drug in our system -- dulling our sense of urgency, of empathy, of duty.
Our opportunities are too great, our lives too short, to waste this moment. So tonight we vow to our nation. We will seize this moment of American promise. We will use these good times for great goals.
We will confront the hard issues -- threats to our national security, threats to our health and retirement security -- before the challenges of our time become crises for our children.
And we will extend the promise of prosperity to every forgotten corner of this country.
To every man and woman, a chance to succeed. To every child, a chance to learn. To every family, a chance to live with dignity and hope.
For eight years, the Clinton/Gore administration has coasted through prosperity. And the path of least resistance is always downhill. But America's way is the rising road. This nation is daring and decent and ready for change.
Our current president embodied the potential of a generation. So many talents. So much charm. Such great skill. But, in the end, to what end? So much promise, to no great purpose.
Little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed and, with the leadership of Presidents Reagan and Bush, that wall came down. But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton/Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence.
Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report ... Not ready for duty, sir.
This administration had its moment. They had their chance. They have not led. We will.
This generation was given the gift of the best education in American history. Yet we do not share that gift with everyone. Seven of ten fourth-graders in our highest poverty schools cannot read a simple children's book.
And still this administration continues on the same old path with the same old programs -- while millions are trapped in schools where violence is common and learning is rare.
This administration had its chance. They have not led. We will.
America has a strong economy and a surplus. We have the public resources and the public will -- even the bipartisan opportunities -- to strengthen Social Security and repair Medicare.
But this administration -- during eight years of increasing need -- did nothing. They had their moment. They have not led. We will.
Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential values -- to show we have grown up before we grow old. But when the moment for leadership came, this administration did not teach our children, it disillusioned them.
They had their chance. They have not led. We will.
An appointment with greatness
And now they come asking for another chance, another shot. Our answer? Not this time. Not this year. This is not a time for third chances, it is a time for new beginnings.
The rising generations of this country have our own appointment with greatness. It does not rise or fall with the stock market. It cannot be bought with our wealth.
Greatness is found when American character and American courage overcome American challenges.
When Lewis Morris of New York was about to sign the Declaration of
Independence, his brother advised against it,
We heard it during World War II, when General Eisenhower told paratroopers on D-Day morning not to worry -- and one replied, "We're not worried, General ... It's Hitler's turn to worry now."
We heard it in the civil rights movement, when brave men and women did not say ... "We shall cope," or "We shall see." They said ... "We shall overcome." An American president must call upon that character.
Tonight, in this hall, we resolve to be, not the party of repose, but the party of reform. We will write, not footnotes, but chapters in the American story. We will add the work of our hands to the inheritance of our fathers and mothers -- and leave this nation greater than we found it. We know the tests of leadership. The issues are joined.
We will strengthen Social Security and Medicare for the greatest generation, and for generations to come. Medicare does more than meet the needs of our elderly, it reflects the values of our society.
We will set it on firm financial ground, and make prescription drugs available and affordable for every senior who needs them. Social Security has been called the "third rail of American politics" -- the one you're not supposed to touch because it shocks you.
But, if you don't touch it, you can't fix it. And I intend to fix it.
To seniors in this country ... You earned your benefits, you made your plans, and President George W. Bush will keep the promise of Social Security ... no changes, no reductions, no way. Our opponents will say otherwise. This is their last, parting ploy, and don't believe a word of it.
Now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to end the politics of fear and save Social Security, together.
For younger workers, we will give you the option -- your choice -- to put a part of your payroll taxes into sound, responsible investments.
This will mean a higher return on your money, and, over 30 or 40 years, a nest egg to help your retirement, or pass along to your children. When this money is in your name, in your account, it's not just a program, it's your property.
Now is the time to give American workers security and independence that no politician can ever take away.
On education ... Too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade-to-grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge.
This is discrimination, pure and simple -- the soft bigotry of low expectations.
And our nation should treat it like other forms of discrimination ... We should end it.
Ending "one size fits all" politics
One size does not fit all when it comes to educating our children, so local people should control local schools.
And those who spend your tax dollars must be held accountable.
When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn. And if they don't, parents should get the money to make a different choice.
Now is the time to make Head Start an early learning program, teach all our children to read, and renew the promise of America's public schools.
Another test of leadership is tax relief.
The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason ... We were fighting World War II.
Today, our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend. But they've got it backwards.
The surplus is not the government's money. The surplus is the people's money.
The GOP presidential nominee discusses education, bureaucracy, and the search for a mandate.